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Cool technology, but 100% false advertising on horsepower rating
on January 5, 2016
UPDATE - July 27, 2016 -- WOW....I never knew that a review about a garage door opener would reveal a divide bigger than Trump vs. Hillary. Some folks seem to understand the point of my review (i.e., this opener has a motor that is much smaller than advertised), while a lot of folks have tried to defend Chamberlain's horsepower rating (which I still say is false).
Let me see if I can settle this once and for all -- I do NOT care if this opener has gears. I do NOT care if the motor is AC or DC. Neither of those matter as long as the thing works. At the same time, nothing prevents Chamberlain from providing an HONEST and ACCURATE measure of the size or horsepower of the motor used in this opener.
In fact, I think I have finally solved the mystery. Inside one of the light covers on the head unit is a UL sticker that contains the following info: Volts = 120, Amps = 2.7. I have added a photo which shows this sticker. If you do the math, that tell us this unit consumes a maximum of 324 watts (watts = volts x amps).
Horsepower is nothing but a measure of power, just like watts is a measure of power. Some quick research suggests that 1 horsepower is roughly equivalent to 746 watts. Therefore, 324 watts is equivalent to about .43 horsepower.
THAT is my complaint with this opener -- Chamberlain falsely advertises that this thing has a motor which is "similar" to 1.25 horsepower. Actually, it's not even half that much -- it's a piddling .43 horsepower (in truth, the motor is probably less since some of those 324 watts are used to run the electronics).
At the end of the day, if this thing opened my door quickly and quietly, I would not care anything about the HP rating of the motor. But this unit is not (at least in my view) either quick or quiet, and it certainly does not have a motor that's "similar" to 1.25 or 1 1/4 horsepower.
Below is my original review:
PREFACE: I love new techie stuff -- I'd be happy if every appliance included wi-fi (dishwasher, oven, fridge, ceiling fans, etc.) On the other hand, I hate low-quality products (made in China junk), so I am always a little cautious about what I buy -- it's great to buy new devices, but not if they don't work.
Having said this, my house was built in 1999 and we have a 4-car garage with two double-width, standard height (around 7') garage doors. Both doors had the same builder-grade 1/2 HP Liftmaster belt-drive opener. These units were very quiet (almost silent -- seriously), but a few months ago one of the units stopped responding to the remote unless you were within a few feet of the door. Changing the remote battery didn't help, and buying a new remote also didn't help. Time for a new opener....and since we have two doors, I decided to replace both at the same time.
I really liked the look of these Chamberlain units -- they include built-in Wi-Fi, and I loved the wall-mount LCD screen.....so modern looking! After putting it off for several months, I finally pulled the trigger and got two identical openers here on Amazon. Having lived with these for a few weeks now, I have somewhat mixed feelings about them.
First, the good stuff:
-- Wi-Fi is great. The fact that these units are connected to Wi-Fi is both cool and also useful. I like the fact that I can open/close the door with an app on my phone, though I'm not sure how frequently I will actually use this. If I went out of town and wasn't sure if I had left the door open, it's nice to know that I could check my phone, see if the door was open or closed, and then close it if necessary.
-- LCD wall screen. In terms of quality, I was actually NOT super impressed with the wall-mounted button/screen units. The actual units feel extremely light and not terribly solid. Is this a huge deal? Not really...they still look a lot better than a boring standard wall button, but I just felt they could have been a bit more sturdy/solid. Having said that, the wall units ARE extremely useful. You can use them to program new remotes (no need to climb a ladder and push a button on the motor itself). But again, a minor complaint -- the LCD screens display the temperature (cool feature), but you can't see that information on the app.
-- Motor units look clean/modern. I guess compared to my old units which looked tired, dirty, etc., anything new would be an improvement.
-- Motion sensor for lights. The wall units have built-in motion sensors that turn on the lights when you walk by. Not a massive thing, but this is a feature my old units didn't have, and it's actually very useful.
-- App tracking open/close history. Overall, the Chamberlain app is fairly disappointing -- the only thing you can really do with it is check the door status (is it open?) and of course you can open/close the door. But, one sort of fun thing is you can turn on the "history" feature which beeps your phone every time the door is opened/closed. The app also shows a list that tell you what time the doors opened/closed. I can imagine this feature would prove extremely valuable for parents who want to know what time their kids arrived home, etc.
Now for the bad stuff:
-- Horsepower rating is 100% false. If you're in the market for a garage door opener, you will quickly realize that cheaper units have smaller motors (typically 1/2 horsepower) while the more expensive units have 1 HP+. This unit is clearly priced at a premium, and Chamberlain advertises them as "1 1/4 HPS", which sounds like they mean 1.25 horsepower. NOT SO FAST -- if you read the fine print on the package, you'll see this slick little disclosure -- "HPS" does NOT mean "horsepower" (plural); it means "horsepower SIMILAR". HUH? WHAT?
As far as I can tell, what happened here is Chamberlain is using a fairly small motor (maybe 1/6 HP at most) which runs through a reduction gearset to increase its pulling power. So, the unit actually has a very small motor, but because it's turning a reduction gear, it's able to lift a fair amount of weight....perhaps similar to what an actual 1.25 HP motor could lift without reduction gears.
Honestly, I will be shocked if the FTC or some class-action lawyer doesn't pursue Chamberlain for this. It's just completely misleading to put 1 1/4 HPS on the box when the motor is nowhere near 1.25 horsepower. This also leads to my next two complaints....
-- Door opening speed = S-L-O-W! As noted above, I have two garage doors, and after I installed the new Chamberlain unit on one door, I checked its open/closing speed against the old Liftmaster unit. The results were not even close -- the Liftmaster was almost twice as fast opening the door (the speed advantage was slightly less when closing). The Chamberlain unit didn't seem to struggle or anything....it was just very, very, very slow at lifting the door. I am sure this is due the fact that the motor is NOT 1 1/4 HP as advertised.
-- Loud Whine From Motor/Gears. Some other reviewers have mentioned this as well, but the motors/gears emit a loud whine when in use. The noise is sort of hard to describe other than it just sounds like a small motor working hard to turn gears...sort of like an electric drill, but with slightly more gear noise. This is clearly due to Chamberlain using a small motor in connection with gears, rather than a more powerful direct-drive motor. Is that a dealbreaker? Not really....the noise is not intolerable.....but it's also much louder than it should be. Again, my old Liftmaster 1/2 HP units sounded nothing like this...the motors were barely audible.
-- Motor track comes in short sections. Not a huge complaint, but my old Liftmaster units had solid metal (one piece) tracks running from the door header to the motor, whereas the Chamberlain track comes in 4-5 fairly short sections that are fit together into one long track. This still works OK, but I am slightly concerned about having the door-pulling trolley thing sliding over all those joints in the track....I can picture the trolley getting stuck or making a "clack-clack" noise as it wears out. I guess time will tell.
CONCLUSION -- I know this review may sound somewhat negative, but overall I do like these units...I just feel slightly scammed by the horsepower issue. The LCD sceens on the wall units made this an irresistible tech buy for me, but seeing how slow the doors open, I question whether I would have been better off with something else. My dad has the older Genie Excelerator opener which whizzes his door up at super-fast speeds....that's what I was hoping for with the Chamberlain units, but sadly, I didn't get it.