What’s the difference between automatic and electric garage doors?

Automatic garage door

Opening your garage door is typically something you don’t think twice about. As long as it opens when you need it to and closes behind you, most homeowners are satisfied. However, not all garage doors are created equal. If you’re looking to upgrade or replace your garage door, it’s important to understand the key differences between automatic and manual openers.

Though the terms are used interchangeably, there isn’t actually a difference between automatic and electric garage doors. Automatic garage doors operate via an electric motor which does all the heavy lifting, offering greater security and more convenience for property owners.

What is an automatic garage door?

If you’re used to manual doors, you may be wondering “what is an electric garage door?”. Electric or automatic garage doors effortless convenience and kerb appeal compared to their manual counterparts. The heart of the system is the motor, powered by electricity and a chain, belt or screw drive depending on noise preference and door style. This motor transmits power through a drive system to the door itself, guided by tracks and supported by hinges and rollers for smooth movement.

The door sends a signal through a remote, keypad or even your smartphone app, which communicates wirelessly with a receiver near the motor. Photoelectric beams or pressure sensors act as an additional safety measure, stopping the door’s movement if they detect anything in its path. Once the door reaches its destination, the motor shuts off automatically.

Bonus features like automatic closing and smart home integration add further convenience, while backup batteries ensure access even during power outages. Remember, though, even automatically operated doors need a little TLC – regular maintenance is key to keeping your automatic garage door functioning smoothly and safely.

Key Differences Between Automatic and Manual Garage Doors

When it comes to automatic garage doors Sussex customers should be aware of the key differences between electric and manual operations. Here are some of the main distinctions between the two types of garage door systems.

  • Operation: The most obvious difference is that automatic garage doors open and close with the push of a button, while manual doors must be physically lifted open and pulled down closed. This makes automatic doors much more convenient, especially for those with mobility issues or homes with larger garages.
  • Safety Features: Automatic garage doors come with more built-in safety mechanisms like auto-reverse sensors that detect objects in the path of a closing door and reverse its direction to prevent damage or injury.
  • Security: Electric garage doors can be integrated with home automation systems and locked remotely, which adds high levels of security and control not always possible with manual operation.
  • Installation: Installing an automatic garage door system requires expertise to get the motorisation components, wiring and sensors set up properly.
  • Cost: Automatic garage door systems have a higher upfront cost which varies depending on the door size, features and installer. Manual doors have a much lower material cost so may be well suited to those on a tighter budget.
  • Power Outages: Manual doors can still be operated during power outages when automatic doors lose functionality unless they have battery backup.

So, in summary, automatic garage doors provide more convenience, safety and security, while manual doors are simpler and more affordable, but less convenient.

What to Consider When Choosing an Automatic Garage Door Opener

When deciding between automatic garage door openers, there are several factors homeowners should take into account.

Drive System

There are several drive systems to choose from:

  • Chain drive: This is the most affordable, but they can be noisy. Choose a heavy-duty chain for larger doors.
  • Belt drive: Quieter than chain drive, but more expensive. It offers a smoother operation and typically has less maintenance requirements.
  • Screw drive: The quietest and most powerful option, screw drive doors are ideal for heavy doors and high-wind areas. However, they’re also generally the priciest choice.

Door Weight and Size

Ensure the opener’s horsepower is sufficient for your door’s weight and size. Underpowered openers can strain and wear out faster, which will result in costly repairs and replacements. Consider how additional features like battery backup or smart home integration will affect the door’s motor capabilities.

Noise Level

If noise is a concern, prioritise belt or screw drive openers as these are quieter. Insulated doors are also a great option for improving the noise level but also the comfort and energy efficiency of your garage.

Smart Features

Do you want to control your door with your smartphone or integrate it with your smart home system? Choose an opener with compatible features and consider your future needs when choose an automatic garage door.


Be sure to set a realistic budget and compare features and quality within your price range. Remember, cheaper openers may require more frequent maintenance or replacement, so opting for the cheapest option may not always be the most cost-effective.

When it’s time to replace your outdated or broken garage door, carefully considering the differences between garage door styles will ensure you choose the right option. We provide a range of electric garage doors Surrey and Sussex customers can trust, from leading manufacturers. Our automatic doors provide years of reliable access to your garage and are available in various materials and styles, from up and over to side-hinged doors. To arrange a free quote, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.