How to Find the Right Commercial Garage Door Operator for Your Building

If you’re the owner of a large commercial building and need a new garage door opening system there are many considerations to make.

Some businesses, depending on what they do and how often they will be using their garage doors, will need an operating system that can handle the constant opening and closing of the doors.

These systems will need to have a lot of horsepower and will need to operate efficiently to last for many years. Whether you’re looking to expand your space, or are just wanting to redesign your building’s exterior, you have no shortage of options to choose from. In this post, we will provide an overview of all things you need to consider before buying a new commercial garage door operating system.

LiftMaster MT garage door opener

This trolley garage door operator is the LiftMaster MT model.

Commercial Garage Doors vs. Residential Garage Doors

Commercial garage doors are significantly different than their residential counterparts. First off, these types of garage doors have to handle a much larger workload than a residential garage door. Commercial garage doors are usually opened and closed 20 to 50 times in a single day whereas your standard residential door gets opened and closed about 2 times a day.

This massive difference in use is the main reason why these doors will require different operating systems. Overall, a commercial door is made to be functional. While this is also true of residential garagedoors, they are also made with aesthetics in mind, whereas a commercial door design is more about utility.

Dimensions and Weight

Because commercial spaces like warehouses, car dealerships, or any other industrial building usually have a large space to load and store goods, inventory, and other items, commercial doors need to be larger. Their massive size also makes them much heavier than your typical residential door.

With that in mind, a commercial garage door will require a much more efficient and powerful operator that can handle the day-to-day operation cycle. Having the right operator will ensure that your garage door system lasts and won’t need to be updated every year.

Commercial Garage Door Operation Cycles

As we briefly mentioned, commercial doors are built to handle being opened and closed many times throughout the day. These high operation cycles result in consistent use which can add up to 100,000 cycles over the entire life of your commercial garage door. That’s a lot of revolutions for your commercial operating system. The power and energy efficiency of commercial operators cannot be compared to residential door opening systems simply because they are designed for two completely different functions.


Horsepower will vary from model to model, however, for the most part, commercial operators are usually pretty powerful to handle the multiple operation cycles on any given day. Not to mention the fact that they need to be able to lift very heavy commercial garage doors, which require a tremendous amount of power and efficiency.

Here are some loading dock doors. These garage doors are the G-1000, 8' x 8', Heron Blue by Garaga.

These garage doors are the G-1000, 8’ x 8’, Heron Blue by Garaga.

The Two Main Types of Commercial Garage Door Operators

The two types of commercial garage door operators are trolleys and jackshafts. Where these operators are set will depend on your building's space and requirements. Typically, these operators are either placed on the wall or ceiling.

Trolleys are electric garage operators that are installed from the ceiling, center to the door. They are installed at the far end of the rail that pulls the door up and pushes it down. This rail is where the trolley is located and will ride along it to lift the door. This operator is best for standard lift doors because it functions by pulling the door horizontally.

Jackshafts are slightly different than trolleys in that they are wall-mounted garage door operators installed directly next to a commercial door. Through the use of rotation, a torsion bar is turned to create the necessary force to move the door up and down. Unlike a trolley, it can be used with all types of door movements.

Here is the LiftMaster GH garage door opener and the LiftMaster LJ8900W (jackshaft) garage door opener

This is the LiftMaster GH (on the left) and the jackshaft LiftMaster LJ8900W model (on the right).

Having explained the two primary types of garage door operators, you can now have a better idea of which to choose. We recommend garage door operators from LiftMaster

Your Business Needs

The type of garage door operator you will need will ultimately come down to the type of business you have. Warehouses will need an extremely powerful operator that can handle the constant wear and tear of opening and closing the doors to take in and export heavy items. Car dealers might also want an energy-efficient and powerful option considering that many cars will be pulled in and out of the service area.

Apartment and Condo Garage Door Operators

Your choice for your apartment building or condo complex will largely come down to how many units your building has. Huge multi-unit complexes with hundreds of residents will need a robust system that can handle all the traffic. Smaller buildings that have fewer occupants might not require the most powerful system but should still pick one that is reliable enough to handle the workload it is tasked with.

NOTE: The operation cycle can influence the horsepower required and the cost of the garage door operator.

A couple of other additions you might want to think about installing are a loop detector and a pneumatic reversing sensing edge. The latter is a hose in the bottom weatherstrip of the door. It allows the sensor system to force the door quickly upward when it touches an object.

Large Car Garages or Car Dealer Garages

For these types of commercial garage doors, we recommend jackshaft operators. This allows for your ceiling to be clear of any equipment and can allow you to have more storage space overall. These garages could greatly benefit from loop detectors and mid-stop accessories.

Loop detectors are sensors installed on your garage door that can detect approaching vehicles prompting the garage door to open automatically. This makes moving cars in and out of your space a quick and easy process.

These types of commercial spaces can also benefit from a mid-stop. This device makes it so that your door doesn’t open all the way if it isn’t necessary. This can help your building retain more heat during the cold winter months.

Car Washes

Car washes need garage door operators that can withstand moisture and humidity. Overall, these businesses require commercial industrial-grade doors for insulation and security. Which operator you choose will largely depend on your building’s floor plan, however, having a strong operator is a must for every car wash.

Take the time to determine your needs. This step will help you find a suitable operator and accessories that suit your needs!

Fire Stations

Most fire stations have glass garage doors so that they have better visibility when needing to leave the station quickly.

This full view garage door is a G-4400, 14' x 16', Anodized extrusion.

This full view door is a G-4400, 14’ x 16’, Anodized extrusion.

Because time is of the essence in an emergency fire situation, fire stations must invest in reliable door operator systems. The last thing you need is an operator that won't last the number of cycles necessary for a fire station that constantly opens and closes its doors.

This blog from FireRescue1 explains why LiftMaster’s smart garage door operators can make a huge difference in firefighters' day-to-day work.

Fire crews can also increase their efficiency and response time with a control panel installed on the wall. This can allow for all doors to be opened at the same time from one spot allowing for all trucks to be driven out of the station quickly and efficiently.

Contact A Commercial Garage Door Operator Professional

Choosing the right garage door operator can be tough, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Luckily there is a team of dedicated professionals at Charlie's Overhead Door who can point you in the right direction. Whether you’re looking for a new system, a new commercial garage door, or both, we have you covered.

If you’re interested in checking out some of our previous projects you can take a look at our image gallery. Once you’ve got an idea of what type of setup you’re interested in, don’t hesitate to call one of our experts who can help guide you through the process one step at a time.

Contact us today at 519-539-2988 or visit us in person to talk about your plans. We will evaluate your project based on your needs and send you a free quote by email!

Here is the garage door opener LiftMaster GT model

This is the LiftMaster GT model, a heavy industrial-duty trolley door operator.

If you already know which electric garage door operators you want, then you’re ready to install them! Having certified garage door experts that can install your door operator with the proper equipment and experience will be critical to ensure that your door is installed correctly.

At Charlie's Overhead Door, your safety is our number one priority. Contact us today to make sure your door is installed right.

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