Chamberlain Belt Drive Garage Door Opener Review

I replaced a 10 year old noisy chain drive garage door opener with a Chamberlain® Whisper Drive garage door opener featuring MyQ™ Technology with Battery Backup and am pleased to write this product review. The Chamberlain® Whisper Drive with was true to the company claims “Quiet, Fast, Smooth”.

Chamberlain Belt Drive Garage Door Opener HD920EV 349544 WD962KEV

Why Choose a Belt Drive Garage Door Opener?

I’ve had several homes with chain drive garage door openers – all were noisy and sent grinding vibrations through the wood framing that was heard all through the house. At a former home in Florida, I replaced a chain drive opener with a Genie screw drive model and it was a nice improvement. The issue with the chain- and screw drive door openers is the T-rail or screw drive must be well lubricated and problems can arise in cold weather when the grease thickens, causing the motor force sensor to think something is blocking the door and the door stays open.

Belt drive garage door openers have a reputation for being the quiet and I settled on the Chamberlain® 3/4 HP Whisper Drive unit for the following reasons:

  • Quiet – a bedroom is over the garage and I wanted as little noise as possible.
  • Lifetime motor warranty
  • Lifetime belt warranty
    The box states “15 years”, however the Installation Guide warranty page says “10 years” and the Chamberlain web site specifies “Lifetime” warranty. I e-mailed Chamberlain customer support who replied the next day and confirmed the belt has a Lifetime warranty.
  • Battery backup – to operate the door in case of a power outage
  • Security+ anti-burglary rolling code security technology.
  • Motion-Detecting Smart Control Panel – a modern wall switch with an illuminated blue LCD that displays the time, temperature and command menus for programming remotes and an automatic “time to close” feature. The motion sensor turns on the opener lights when you pass by or the door safety sensor beam is broken; my wife really likes this feature. Saves hunting around for the light switch and turns off automatically after a few minutes.
  • Time-to-Close – programmable timer to close the door after 1, 5 or 10 minutes. Never worry about leaving the door open all day or night again! This can be overridden by pressing the “Hold” menu button the Smart Control Panel if you’re outside and want to keep the door open.
  • 3/4 horsepower – My old unit was 1/2 HP. I didn’t spending a little more for a stronger motor that would less stressed.
  • Wireless outdoor keypad – great for opening the door when working in the yard.
  • Accepts 100 watt light bulbs – either compact florescent or incandescent for 200 watts total. I like a lot of light in the garage.
  • MyQ™ Garage Door Monitor – table top unit that displays the garage door open/closed status, chimes when the door opens or closes and remotely closes the door with the push of a button. Note: LiftMaster® is a Chamberlain company.

Chamberlain® Battery Backup with MyQ Technology Garage Door Opener Packages

The Chamberlain 3/4 HP belt drive garage door opener with battery backup is sold with different MyQ™ accessories in the three different packages:

  • Model #: 349544 with the table top MyQ Garage Door Monitor.
  • Model #: HD920EV with MyQ Remote Light Switch.
  • Model #: WD962KEV with myQ Remote Lamp Control.

All MyQ enabled Chamberlain Whisper Drive door openers include the:

  • Smart Control Panel®
  • Wireless Keypad
  • Two remote controls with visor clips for the cars
  • Door safety sensors

Additional MyQ accessories can be purchased separately to expand your system.

How Quiet is the Chamberlain Whisper Drive?

This next video is a demonstration of the 10 year old 1/2 HP chain drive garage door opener that will be replaced with the Chamberlain Whisper Drive. Couple of pointers:

  • The door itself makes a lot of noise. A good cleaning and oiling of the hinges and tracks is needed.
  • The door stops hard and shakes back and forth at the top of its travel. You’ll see this at the 19 second mark in the video.
  • The grinding motor hum and vibrations transmitted through the house framing isn’t very apparent in the audio.
  • A slight shimmering in the video is due to the camera auto-focus getting confused by the door movement.

Chamberlain Whisper Drive Demonstration

The operation of the new Chamberlain belt drive model 349544 garage door opener is demonstrated in the next video. Notice the following:

  • The door tracks and hinges have been thoroughly cleaned and lubricated, greatly reducing the door noise.
  • The Chamberlain belt drive motor makes a higher pitched whirring noise compared to the low grinding noise of the belt drive. The vibration transmitted through the wood framing to the bedroom over the garage is greatly reduced, but not totally gone. The “Whisper Drive” name shouldn’t be taken literally, however it’s a big improvement and the door isn’t heard throughout the house.
  • The door stops gently at the top of its travel and doesn’t shake!

Chamberlain Belt Drive Installation Highlights

The Chamberlain installation guide for the 3/4 HP belt drive models with battery backup and MyQ technology is well written with numerous illustrations and available here. Best to read the entire manual and familiarize yourself with all the parts before installing the garage door opener. I’ll show highlights of what I thought were the more interesting parts of the installation.

The kit contents as I unpacked the box:

Chamberlain 3/4 HP Belt Drive Garage Door Opener: Box Contents

Give yourself plenty of room to arrange everything on the floor to identify the parts and installation hardware. I used a tape measure to ensure I had the correct length bolt or pin as called for at different steps in the instructions.

Chamberlain 3/4 HP Belt Drive Garage Door Open: Kit Hardware

Remove the Old Garage Door Opener

The old garage door opener was apparently installed by my old friend, the original homeowner, who as I found time and time again, usually botched or goobered the job. This was no different – the safety reversing sensors are taped together to override their purpose!

Safety Sensors Taped Together on Old Garage Door Opener

The old garage door opener is removed by:

  • Unplug the power cord.
  • Disconnect all the bell wires.
  • Remove the two bolts from the ceiling mounting bracket.
  • Support the motor head on top of a step ladder.
    I couldn’t just set the motor head on the floor because the T-rail would hit the cross strut on the garage door.
  • Disconnect the lift arm from the garage door bracket by removing the clevis pin and retaining ring.
  • Disconnect the T-rail from the wall bracket by removing that clevis pin and retaining ring.
The old motor still worked OK, so I donated it to Goodwill.

Old Garage Door Opener Removal

The rail sections snapped together without any problems. The inner & outer trolley is slipped onto the rail (not shown), then the rail is slipped onto the U-bracket on the motor head. Tip: The U-bracket bolts are already installed on the motor head; remove these to attach the U-bracket. The long bolt in the photo has a square head and installed in the hole indicated by the yellow arrow.

Chamberlain 3/4 HP Belt Drive: Rail Attachment to the Garage Door Opener

This review is continued in Chamberlain Belt Drive Garage Door Opener Review – Part 2.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2016 HandymanHowTo.com   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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24 Responses to Chamberlain Belt Drive Garage Door Opener Review

  1. MikeS January 13, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    I have an old craftman garage opener now, can I use the same location in terms of where the new brackets should be?

    • Bob Jackson January 13, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

      You should be able to reuse the support brackets from the old Craftsman door opener. The Chamberlain opener has five mounting holes to pick the best alignment.

      The ceiling joists in my garage run left to right across the garage door and I therefore wasn’t able to relocate the ceiling bracket… unless I installed some 2×4’s to span two joists. The Chamberlain door opener is several inches longer than my old unit and you can see in the photo how the ceiling brackets angle backward to support the opener in the last mounting position. The ceiling bracket only supports the weight of the opener (in tension like a rope) so this isn’t a problem.

      Thanks,
      Bob

  2. MikeS January 14, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    Bob,

    Thanks for answering my question about the location I can use for my new opener. Are the Chamberlain openers longer, shorter or the same length as other openers? I was wondering if I need extra brackets to hook it to the ceiling or the existing bracket that are on the ceiling enough to completely and securely install the new opener?

    • Bob Jackson January 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

      Different garage door openers will have setbacks that vary plus or minus several inches. I’ve replaced 3 or 4 garage door openers over the years and never had to relocate the ceiling mount brackets.

      Detailed explanation:
      The door opener rail length is proportional to the height of the door. The length of the rail is the main measurement that determines how far back from the door the opener must be mounted. Chamberlain and most residential garage door openers are made to fit a standard 7 feet high door. This isn’t to say the rail is exactly 7 feet long, because it’s longer to allow for the motor, fittings, gears and travel adjustment. (Doors over 7 feet high will require an optional rail extension kit.) The opener bracket has several mounting points to allow for differences between brands, so it’s uncommon to have to relocate the ceiling mount brackets.

  3. MikeS January 15, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    You are the best! Thanks for the information you gave, now I can install my new opener with more confidence.

  4. Wally July 11, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

    I purchased model lw 500ev. my problem is during programing the up and down movement i can’t get the door to stay down. i get excessive down code 43. help please

    • Bob Jackson July 12, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      I think you meant the LW5000EV model, correct?

      Page 29 “Adjustments” of the LW5000EV installation manual states:

      “Your garage door is designed with electronic controls to make setup and adjustments easy. The adjustments allow you to program where the door will stop in the open (UP) and close (DOWN) position. The electronic controls sense the amount of force required to open and close the door. The force is automatically adjusted when you program the travel. [emphasis added]”

      What exactly happens when the door closes?
      * If the door closes completely followed by the motor making a stalled sound (like “errrrgggg!”) before the door reverses & opens the down travel is set too far and needs to come up some. With experience you can tell if the door is properly adjusted just by listening to it. It should close completely compressing the bottom weather strip without slamming and jarring.
      * If the door does not close and reverses then something is obstructing the door travel. The door should be well balanced and move freely without catching on the tracks. The door wheels may be catching on a slightly misaligned section track, or the track and wheels may need cleaning and lubricating. See the How to check the balance of your garage door video by Chamberlain. Disconnect the trolley and manually open & close the door checking for balance problems, positions where the door has to be forced along the track, etc.

      Chamberlain Customer Support can help, too.

  5. Chris L July 17, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    I need to replace my 10 year old I-Drive. Since I have no large springs do I need them with the Chamberlain opener? The door is an insulated aluminum 18′ x 7′. Thanks, Chris.

    • Bob Jackson July 19, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

      The purpose of the springs is to balance the weight of the door. The garage door opener motor isn’t really working against the full weight of the door but just opening & closing a balanced door supported by the springs. The motor is far too weak to lift the full weight of door without springs acting as a counter-balance. If you’ve ever tried to open a door with a broken spring it’s apparent just how heavy the door really is!

      See the How to check the balance of your garage door video by Chamberlain to determine if your door is properly balanced. If it’s balanced you should be fine.

  6. Debbie August 7, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    My chamberlain belt driven garage door opener has been working fine for several months and I returned from vacation and the door closes, but at some point later the door goes back up. I’ve tried closing it 4 times and it continues to go back up at some point (been timing the latest closing and it has stayed down for 5 minutes so far). Do you have any recommendation of what to do. There are no codes showing. Thanks.

    • Bob Jackson August 8, 2015 at 10:15 am #

      Hmm… the door closes completely but opens by itself several minutes later. It could be a bad circuit board but try eliminating the other possible causes that could be commanding the door to open.

      * Remove the batteries from all handheld remote controls, power Off and/or disconnect all MyQ accessories.

      * Identify the wall-mount door control wires that connect to the motor unit. It should be the red & white wires (left set of wires next to the green light in this photo). You’ll need a step ladder to reach the motor. Close the door then disconnect the door control wires from the motor unit.

      Wait 30 minutes. Did the door open by itself?

      If the door opens by itself then it’s probably a bad garage door opener circuit board and you’ll need to contact Chamberlain customer service for repair/replacement.

      If the door stays closed, the wall-mount door control may be malfunctioning or possibly a short in the door control wires. Replace the red & white wiring between the door control and the opener. Open & close the door to see if stays closed. If it opens the door control is bad.

      If the door remains closed replace the batteries in the remote controls and see what happens. Lastly reconnect the MyQ accessories to isolate the problem.

  7. Erik October 27, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    I installed a 1/2 HP craftsman chain drive opener identical to this one. I have a newer balanced garage door. Sectional aluminum.

    I noticed the square sectional rail slightly bows up when door is fully closed. I’ve tried adjusting arm position and travel. I can not get it to completely go away. Chamberlain tech support days there should be no bow/flex in the rail. Do you have any ideas? Thanks.

    • Bob Jackson October 28, 2015 at 12:27 am #

      Adjusting the door travel should do it. I’m not sure how finely the Craftsman door travel adjustment control is but I wouldn’t worry about a slight bow – say 1/8 inch or less – because some downward force on the arm (which acts against the rail) is needed to compress the garage door bottom weather seal when fully closed on a well balanced door.

      • Erik October 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

        Thanks for the reply. The adjustment in my opinion isn’t sensitive enough. There’s just a up and down button you press and let go of.

        Too soft and barely any bow, about 1/4 inch bow and I can see a sliver of light under the door. Fully sealed and I get about a 1/2 inch of bow. No in-between, I’ve tried for hours ha. I’m guessing this is made by Chamberlain and re branded because that’s what’s marked on the power cord. Guess I’ll just have to live with it!

  8. Ken December 1, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    Thanks for the very informative article. I am installing my new Chamberlain WD1000WF,
    1-1/4 HPS , belt drive. I installed according to directions and I just want to make sure I
    did this correctly. I notice that the motor end hangs significantly lower , about 4 inches,
    than the rail connection at the door header. As I said, I followed directions that came with the unit.
    Is this normal? Just seems to hang much lower than any I’ve noticed. Thanks, Ken.

    • Bob Jackson December 1, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

      Your door opener installation is fine.

      Given that the header bracket is installed first on the ceiling or wall above the highest point of the garage door travel (see page 11 of the Chamberlain WD1000WF Installation Manual), then the motor head by resting the rail on a 2×4 laid on top of the open door (page 12) it’s common that the two heights aren’t the same. Only 4 inches difference between the header bracket and motor end of the rail is quite good.

      • Ken December 2, 2015 at 5:16 am #

        O.k. great, thanks again for the help.

  9. Gary. February 13, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    I installed a Chamberlain 1/2 H.P. belt drive to replace my Sears 16 year old chain drive which was still working but very noisily….suspected the worn out drive gear?
    The Chamberlain belt drive worked fine for about three weeks until it turned cold, about 5 F below zero. Then the inside control panel wouldn’t do anything, although the green indicator light was working O.K. as well as all the remotes. Chamberlain support support told me to remove the panel and connect it with short (about 6 inch) wire, right at the motor and verify if the Motion Detector Control panel worked in that close position, then that would prove faulty wiring should be replaced.. I did this as directed and everything seemed to be working fine. I also used a meter to verify the continuity of the wiring to its former location. O.K.
    I replaced the unit back on the wall and everything worked as it should. This was a much warmer day.

    Two days later with an outside temperature overnight of -12 F, nothing works on the unit. again….Thus having to use a remote to open and close the door!

    I believe this isn’t the first Motion Detector Control Panel that had been reported to Chamberlain re: cold weather operation?

    Why hasn’t this been corrected and re-called for a proper operating unit?

    • Bob Jackson February 13, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

      > I believe this isn’t the first Motion Detector Control Panel
      > that had been reported to Chamberlain re: cold weather operation?
      I’m pretty sure you’re the first homeowner to report this particular problem here.

      > Why hasn’t this been corrected and re-called for a proper operating unit?
      The control panel probably has a bad solder joint that opens due to metal contraction when it’s really cold. Have you contacted Chamberlain for a replacement now that you know it’s not a wiring fault? That would be the more productive instead of posting accusations on the web.

      After you call Chamberlain for a replacement control panel please post an update here. I’m sure they’ll make it right.

      • Gary Bodden February 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

        I initially contacted Chamberlain and followed their suggestion as noted above, to connect the unit close to the motor (about 3 inches) to see if their is a problem with the wiring? I couldn’t understand their thinking because the green indicator has always been lit as it should be? I also used a meter to verify the wiring. When I replaced the unit to it’s previous location it worked 100%…………….until the temperature dropped the next evening.

        It is still not working at all (except for the green light) and the outside temp. is -12C. in Southern Ont. Canada. I have sent another report to Chamberlain by email rather than waiting 35 minutes on the telephone. explaining the above results to their initial request.

        You are probably correct in thinking a “cold solder joint” could be the problem? and I have read in another web-site that another person living in Winnipeg (verrrry cold there) did report the same situation as above.

        Thanks for your reply and yes, I will let you know what happens next.

  10. Gary February 15, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    I have rec’d a prompt reply to my email from Chamberlain and they are sending me a replacement unit.

    I hope this solves my problem, and I’ll be in touch with the actual results once received and and installed.

    Gary

  11. Ben April 8, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    I installed a Chamberlain 1/2 H.P. belt drive to replace a Sears year old chain drive which was still working but very noisily and worn out wires.
    The sensors of Chamberlain belt drive however do not work as should.. It doesn’t sense an object in the middle of the door unless the object is very close to the sensor. It comes hard and hit an object before it reverse. It almost killed a puppy.
    Changed an new sensor still not resolved. It seems there is no communication between the sensors and the unit.
    The installer told me never seen this before. Chamberlain has not been helpful so far.

    • Bob Jackson April 8, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

      > It comes hard and hit an object before it reverse. It almost killed a puppy.
      The down force is probably too much and should be adjusted to a lighter setting. The downward closing force only needs to be enough that the door closes reliably without slamming. The door opener senses when the downward force is excessive (as offset by the current force adjustment setting) and automatically reverses if it detects an excessive condition. Lubricating the door tracks will greatly reduce the required closing force. See Chamberlain’s Adjust the Force for details. Simply grabbing the door bottom with your hand when it’s about 1/2 way down should cause it to reverse.

      RE: Safety Sensor Troubleshooting
      The safety sensor with the amber LED is the sender and the other one with a green LED is the receiver. The amber sender emits a beam of infrared light that is detected by the green receiver. When the beam is blocked by an object in the path the green LED turns Off. The sender/amber LED is always On.

      > It doesn’t sense an object in the middle of the door unless the object is very close to the sensor.
      This suggests the beam behaves as if it were very broad instead of a narrow focused beam, hence the obstruction has to be very close to the sensor to block it.

      I believe the problem is the sensors are out of alignment and you’re getting a reflection off the floor. Maybe the beam is reflecting off a wet or painted garage floor? Bare concrete can be reflective too. This would explain the object having to be very close to the sensor to block it (green LED turns Off). Wiggle the sensors up/down & right/left to get an idea of the beam center. I just checked my sensor beam alignment. When kneeling at the center of the door I can block it with my index finger held horizontally at an exact spot. Otherwise the green LED flickers if my finger is slightly off. This confirms the beam is very narrow.

      Thanks,
      Bob

  12. Jim April 28, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    Recently purchased Chamberlain Whisper opener and had it professionally installed to ensure that it worked properly. The day after it was installed the door would start to go down but then go back up and the lights blinked. Called helpline and it was determined that the sensors were malfunctioning and new ones were sent. We had to have installer come back out and replace sensors for an additional charge. I am aware that warranty states that Chamberlain is responsible only for parts and not for labor but the sensors were defective from the factory and not by anything the installer did. I feel Chamberlain should have covered installation fee of sensors.

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