NOT AN open-and-shut CASE
GARAGE DOORS ARE BECOMING MORE TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED
BY PETE ALFANO
We live in the age of “smart” technology. We have smartphones, smart TVs, smart cars, and smart houses. By utilizing the Internet, a person can raise or lower the thermostat, turn lights on and off, talk to someone at the front door, and arm or disarm the home alarm system, all from the workplace, grocery store, or in the car heading home.
Few people know, however, that garage doors have been technologically advanced, if not “smart,” for more than 100 years. According to garage door websites, inventor C.G. Johnson created the first overhead garage door in 1921 that could be manually lifted and which ran on rails. Five years later, Johnson invented the first electric garage door opener, which opened and closed garage doors by pressing a button. In 1931, the remote opener made its debut.
This history lesson won’t make you feel better if you once owned a house where you had to get out of the car in the pouring rain to lift the garage door. It is also worth noting that many garages were separate buildings, modeled after carriage houses in the horse and buggy days. And back in C.G. Johnson’s day, only the wealthy could afford an electrically powered overhead garage door.
Fast-forward to today when garage doors are not just an overlooked appendage to the house but very much a part of the design element and smart house technology. Websites such as OverheadDoor.com and LiftMaster.com display the updated design of garage doors, which can be opened and closed using an app on your smartphone or a key chain fob to avoid having a remote on your car’s visor or programed into your car. You can search for a dealer near you on each website.
Garage doors come in wood, fiberglass, vinyl, aluminum, insulated steel, and what LiftMaster calls Thermacore, or insulated steel. There are a variety of colors to match the rest of the house’s exterior, or you can opt for a glass-paneled frameless door that is sleek and modern. Other styles include barn door and carriage house for more rustic or traditional home designs. In addition to remote entry from a phone app or key fob, a keypad can be installed outside the door so a homeowner can program it for additional security. And in the not-too-distant future, garage doors may include solar panels to help generate electricity.
Depending on what kind of door a homeowner chooses and whether it is for a single, double, or three-car garage, the cost for all the bells and whistles can exceed $5,000. For that reason alone, garage door experts caution against making this a Do-It-Yourself project. Garage doors are heavy, and a person has to be comfortable with the electrical and mechanical components of installation. Garage doors will come with a warranty covering any damage that occurs when it is professionally installed. However, the warranty will be voided if damage is caused by a homeowner trying to install the door. Thus, the safest and “smartest” thing to do is leave it up to the professionals.