The Best Basic Garage Door Opener

PLEASE NOTE: In this article we are using the Chamberlain C203 garage door opener as an example of a great option for rental homes or anyone looking for a basic opener. We chose this unit for the reasons laid out in this article. When trying to select an opener for your home, try to find one with similar features that has great parts and service support in your area.

The best garage door opener for rental homes or anyone looking for a basic opener is the Chamberlain C203 1/2HP Chain Drive Opener. This opener features a standard 1/2HP AC motor with a chain and cable drive system that has a proven track record. The Chamberlain brand can be serviced by any garage door company and parts are available everywhere. The opener has all the necessities like a remote, safety sensors, and wall button. Perfect for anyone looking for a simple, reliable garage door opener.

Some people might ask… Why rental homes? The reason we choose to use “rental homes” as the main subject is because this is where so many service calls could be avoided if the automatic garage door opener that was installed made a little more sense for the owner of the home. Rental homeowners need simple. Simple reduces phone calls to property managers, issues, and service calls. Simple saves money. I believe many homeowners would love to reduce service calls at their personal homes as well.

The Best Basic Garage Door Opener for Rental Homes?

Chamberlain C203 Garage Door Opener
Chamberlain C203 Garage Door Opener

The Chamberlain C203 garage door opener is not the only opener on the market that would work great for rental homes. We chose this unit because it is made by The Chamberlain Group who also manufacturers LiftMaster openers. While Chamberlain and LiftMaster openers are not exactly the same, they do share many of the same features and accessories which means most servicing dealers in your area can provide service on your Chamberlain opener.

The basic chain and cable form factor is proven, reliable, and just plain simple. Half of the drive system is chain while the other half is cable. In comparison, LiftMaster openers feature a 100% chain drive. I’m certain the cable was used to save money, but in reality the cable’s on these units don’t break very often. The basic AC motor, chain/cable drive system, and push together rails have been around for many years. While there is no garage door opener with a perfect track record, I feel this model or something similar checks all the boxes for basic, reliable functionality.

The C203 model features a non-adjustable electronic safety reversal system. It comes with the motor, rail, basic doorbell wall button, safety sensors, and one remote… the basics. The design of the unit has been around for many years and is serviceable by any garage door company. Why is this important? We are going to break that down further in the article below.

Doorbell Wall Button is Simple

Chamberlain doorbell style wall button is simple. There are no additional buttons to learn or accidentally activate.
Chamberlain doorbell style wall button is simple. There are no additional buttons to learn or accidentally activate.

The doorbell wall button is what you want on a rental home. The reason for this is the button is designed to open and close the garage door… that’s it. There are no additional light or lock buttons like you see on deluxe wall buttons. This is important because property managers get phone calls from tenants every day saying their remotes are no longer working.

The reason for this is the vacation “lock” button has been activated which disables the remotes from working. What usually happens next is the property manager will call a garage door company out who will charge a service call to press a button to deactivate the vacation lock. Not having this feature will reduce issues you have with your tenants or any family members as they use the garage door opener every day.

Super Easy Remote and Keypad Programming

Chamberlain accessory programming is a matter of "pressing and releasing" the learn button and "pressing and releasing" the button on the remote you want to use. Very simple!
Chamberlain accessory programming is a matter of "pressing and releasing" the learn button and "pressing and releasing" the button on the remote you want to use. Very simple!

If you are a property manager, realtor, or owner of a rental home and you like to reprogram the remotes yourself, there is nothing easier to program than a Chamberlain garage door opener. Many other brands like Genie and Marantec make you jump through hoops and download long complicated manuals to be able to program a new remote or clear the circuit board. Nothing is easier than a Chamberlain garage door opener.

The only tool needed is your finger. Newer Chamberlain garage door openers will have a yellow learn button on the motor head where the wall button and safety sensor wires are connected to the unit. If you are getting the property ready for new tenants, you will first want to clear the circuit board. All you have to do is hold down this yellow button until the LED light goes out. Now you have cleared the circuit board removing all remotes, keypads, and vehicles that were programmed to the unit.

To program the remote back to the opener, PRESS AND RELEASE the yellow button and then PRESS AND RELEASE the button on the remote you want to use. The garage door opener light will flash and the unit will make a clicking noise. You have now programmed one remote. Repeat the process if you have multiple remotes to program.

To program an outside keypad, PRESS AND RELEASE the yellow learn button and then walk up to your keypad and type in a four-digit code and press enter. Once again, the light bulb should flash on the garage door opener confirming you successfully programmed the keypad.

Non-Adjustable Safety Reversal System (Force)

Manual open and close force adjustments
Manual open and close force adjustments

All garage door openers feature a safety reversal system or “force” adjustment. This tells the garage door opener how hard to push the door down when closing and how hard to pull up when opening. In years past, these adjustments were done manually with a screwdriver like the blue dials pictured above.

This gave you great control of the force adjustment, but it also allowed anyone to make adjustments. If a tenant or family member in your household was to max out the force on your garage door opener, it could do lots of damage to your garage door if the spring broke or if the door came down on something. A garage door spring is what pulls the weight of a door up. When it breaks, the door is dead weight.

A standard 8×7 garage door weighs around 90 lbs and a 16×7 garage door weighs around 160 lbs. A garage door opener is only designed to lift around 10-15 lbs max. If the up force is maxed out, the garage door opener will pull as hard as it can to open the door and most likely bend the top section in the process causing hundreds of dollars in damage.

Electronic adjustments on newer garrage door opener
Electronic adjustments on newer garrage door opener

Most newer garage door openers have electronic limits built into the circuit board. The system learns the proper force based on the last few cycles the opener ran when opening and closing the garage door. This is automatic and can’t be adjusted by anyone. This is a great feature because it eliminates any tampering with the opener adjustments and dramatically reduces repair costs.

No Outside Keypad Included

At first this might sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. Not installing an outside keypad is a good thing because it removes one more thing in the mix that can go wrong. Every day garage door companies get called out to rental homes because the battery has died in the outside keypad or the tenant has lost or forgot the code. This is another unnecessary expense a rental homeowner does not need.

The other thing to consider is when the tenant moves out, the outside keypad will need to be cleared and reprogrammed due to security concerns. If there is no keypad, it is one less thing to worry about. An outside keypad can be purchased for any unit if you wish to add one later.

No Built-In Wi-Fi

The Chamberlain C203 does not include Wi-Fi built into the unit, and that is a good thing when it comes to rental homes or security minded family members. While it can be connected to a smartphone, it would require an additional accessory that is not included. This is good for rental homes or anyone wanting a basic garage door opener without Wi-Fi as the unit will not connect to a smartphone right out of the box. Any time there is less interaction with programming a garage door opener you have fewer problems.

Many times when garage door opener remotes, keypads, and Wi-Fi are being programmed, everything ends up getting cleared out including vehicles that are programmed which usually means a garage door company is called out to fix the situation. This is another unnecessary service call that could be avoided by installing a basic garage door opener.

Security minded family members will appreciate this as well because there are many people who are turned off by the fact their garage door opener is online. While this doesn’t bother me, I understand their concerns. For some reason in life, the greatest things always come back to keeping it simple.

Bolt Safety Sensor Brackets to Garage Door Tracks

Chamberlain safety sensors snappy bracket bolted to the garage door vertical tracks. This prevents the sensor bracket from coming off the track if its bumped or hit. Reduces service calls.
Chamberlain safety sensors snappy bracket bolted to the garage door vertical tracks. This prevents the sensor bracket from coming off the track if its bumped or hit. Reduces service calls.

If you are having a new Chamberlain garage door opener installed, make sure the installer bolts the safety sensor brackets to your garage door vertical tracks. The reason is this will reduce issues with tenants knocking the sensors off as they use the garage door on a daily basis. The safety sensors will stay aligned preventing unnecessary service calls.

Safety sensor issues are the number one phone call garage door companies receive. The first thing anyone says when they have a sensor issue is they have to hold down the wall button to close the garage door. This is a manual override on garage door openers so you can close your garage door if the safety sensors are out of alignment or defective. By having to physically stand there, you are aware of anyone or anything that might be in the way of the garage door as it is closing.

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Make Sure It’s Installed Correctly

The hanging brackets used in the photo above are the standard brackets that come in the box. They are very thin and have a tendency to break. Using a good installation kit with heavy punched angle will eliminate any issues.
The hanging brackets used in the photo above are the standard brackets that come in the box. They are very thin and have a tendency to break. Using a good installation kit with heavy punched angle will eliminate any issues.

If you are installing the garage door opener yourself, you want to make sure to use good punched angle and hardware. The angle or strap that is included with most garage door openers is cheap and usually breaks. Try finding a universal kit online that includes heavy-duty punch angle, hardware to attach and mount, and a heavy duty opener bracket to mount on the garage door. Doing it right the first time will prevent unnecessary service calls down the road.

Ask for a Remote Deposit

One of the biggest issues with tenants is the owner of the home does not get the garage door remotes back once the tenant moves out of the property. This can be very costly for a rental homeowner because they will most likely have to call a garage door company out to program new remotes. Once you include the service call plus the cost of remotes, this can cost over $150.

You can write up a simple one-page contract and have the tenant sign it once you hand them new remotes for the garage door opener. Take a picture of the remotes you give them so you can file it away with the contract. You will want to state on this contract that the cost of the remotes plus a service call will be deducted from the deposit if the remotes are not returned. This deposit can be refunded once you receive the remotes back in good condition when the tenant moves out.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking for a garage door opener for your rental home or a basic unit for your personal home, the Chamberlain C203 Chain Drive garage door opener is recommended for its simplicity and proven design. The unit can be serviced or repaired by any professional garage door company that carries the LiftMaster brand. Chamberlain and LiftMaster overlap quite a bit throughout their parts and accessories lineup. This is a simple unit that should offer years of reliable service.

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