Which drive should you choose for side hinged garage doors?


When deciding to install a garage door, many people also consider purchasing an automatic actuator. Which drive will be best for a side hinged garage door? What should you pay attention to when choosing the right model? Read our guide and find the answers to these questions.


When deciding to install a garage door, many people also consider purchasing an automatic actuator. Which drive will be best for a side hinged garage door? What should you pay attention to when choosing the right model? Read our guide and find the answers to these questions.

How do actuators for side hinged garage doors work?

An electric motor is responsible for the opening and closing of the side hinged garage door mechanism, driving the mechanical or hydraulic systems that initiate the movement of the garage doors when requested on the remote control. The use of such mechanisms makes using the garage doors very easy and convenient. The motors are usually very quiet, so there is not additional noise when opening and closing the doors.

The advanced technology used in the mechanisms for side hinged garage doors let you take advantage of many very useful solutions. Electrically powered actuators switch off automatically when the garage door reaches a set angle or when it is closed. The possibility to only open one door is also very useful, especially if you only need a narrow entrance.

Modern drives for side hinged garage doors also have integrated safety systems, making it possible to automatically close the doors, and also stop the process if the doors encounter an obstacle while closing. The mechanisms are powered by electricity, and are relatively easy to assemble.

What should you base your choice of drive on?

You should base your choice of side hinged garage door drive mainly on the technical specifications, but also on your own needs. So before deciding which drive to buy, you should carefully analyse the technical specifications of your garage door. Also think about any additional functions that your remote control system should have.


The first aspect to pay attention to is the weight of the garage doors, that is the mass that the mechanism will have to move. Finding information about the weight shouldn’t be a problem, as it is usually written in the user’s manual. You can also contact the manufacturer for further information if necessary. The weight of the doors is important to assess the necessary torque of the drive motor.

The drive should never run at full speed, so it’s best to always leave a margin of 20 – 25% of power. Otherwise, the drive might wear out very quickly.


The second important aspect to pay attention to when choosing the drive is the width of the doors. The power of the drive should also be chosen based on the width of each garage door. In this case you should also leave a margin, choosing a drive for slider wider doors. Sometimes the doors will come across additional resistance due to strong gusts of wind, so the motor will have to generate a lot more power than just for the width of the door, which could damage the mechanism. For example, if your side hinged garage doors are 2 metres wide then you should choose a mechanism suitable for 3 metre wide doors.

Frequency of using the garage doors

When considering which drive to choose for side hinged garage doors, you should also take into account the frequency of using the doors, that is the number of opening and closing cycles each day. You can then choose between standard actuators and ones intended for intensive use. Mechanisms intended for a greater number of daily opening and closing cycles are designed with higher loads in mind.

Opening only one door

If you want to be able to enter the garage by only opening one door, you will need a special drive intended for this purpose. And if you only want to take out your bicycle or simply go inside to get something, then you will not have to open both doors.

Which drive should you choose for side hinged garage doors with narrow and wide posts?

Whether the posts are narrow or wide is determined by the distance measured from the edge of the post to the hinges. In the case of wide posts, you will need a longer actuator than in the case of narrow posts. Using an inappropriate drive could make it difficult to open the doors to the very end, as well as close them. Luckily, manufacturers provide information about the type of posts the actuator is intended for.

Additional functions of side hinged garage door drives

By analysing the technical specifications of the garage door, you should be able to assess whether a given actuator is suitable or not. However, if you want to fully take advantage of this solution, you should also consider additional functions that could come in useful. One of them is the option to manually unlock the doors. This function lets you open the doors manually, usually by using a key, which can be very useful in the event of a power cut, or if the motor breaks down.

Another feature worth considering are safety sensors, which automatically stop the doors from closing if an obstacle is detected. The system will therefore stop immediately if a child or animal is detected in the path of the closing door. This is very important when it comes to safety.

Memory settings can also come in very handy, letting you save various settings for personalised opening and closing cycles. This could be the degree to which the door should be opened, etc. Automatic closing is yet another useful feature, as it can help you avoid leaving the garage open by mistake. If you leave the garage open, after a while the mechanism will close the doors automatically.

In addition to the above-mentioned features, which are the most commonly expected, modern garage door mechanisms also have various types of security and structural reinforcements, making the garage doors suitable for use in more demanding conditions. Such additional functions are of course optional, so you will have to pay more than for a standard actuator, but when you consider the benefits it could be worth the extra cost.

Which actuator should you choose for side hinged garage doors?

When it comes to the appearance of the motors for side hinged garage doors, they are all more or less the same. The size and power of the garage door actuators depends on the technical specifications of the doors for which they are dedicated, while the drive usually comes in a PVC box. The body of the actuator is made of a corrosion-resistant material, i.e. aluminium or stainless steel. The case is similar for all the telescopically connected parts. The whole structure is resistant to weather conditions, so it will work well in any garage.

When it comes to electricity consumption, this depends mainly on the frequency of opening and closing the garage door. Knowing what types of actuators are available is also necessary in order to choose the best garage door drive.

The first type are screw drive actuators. In such actuators the drive elements moves linearly, ensuring the transmission of force to each door. This is the most popular solution for side hinged garage doors. However, it may not be effective if the posts are too wide, in which case a drive with a folding arm will be better. In the case of such drives, the force is transmitted via articulated arms.

The last type are actuators that can be installed below the surface of the ground. This solution is more expensive than the other options, as you will additionally need to ensure adequate drainage around the underground mechanism, but the lack of visible mechanism will make up for it. This solution is no less effective that the other options.

We have already mentioned that the choice of actuator for side hinged garage doors should depend on the weight of the doors. Appropriate torque values expressed in Newton metres (Nm) are associated with specific weights. For light doors, weighing around 150 kg each, a 600 Nm motor will be a good solution. Medium weight doors, on the other hand, which weigh around 200 kg each, will require a 600 Nm actuator.

Heavy side hinged garage doors, which could even weigh 300 kg each, should be equipped with an actuator with a torque of 1000 Nm.

Side hinged garage door drives for professional use

Drives for side hinged garage doors are a solution aimed not only at private users. They can also be used in various types of companies. If you are thinking about opening a car garage, side hinged garage doors are a great option anywhere were cars are used. Industrial garage door drives intended for intensive use will be a good choice if you run a courier company, warehouse delivering goods to shops, or a car garage. Such drives will also be a great solution for car rental companies.

What drive should you choose for side hinged garage doors – summary

As we discussed in the article, choosing the best drive for side hinged garage doors is not as simple as it could seem. It all depends on the garage doors it is supposed to power. First of all, you should pay attention to the basic technical specifications, such as the weight of the doors, their width or the width of the posts. Choosing too weak an actuator could result in the doors not closing or opening properly, or could even be harmful for the actuator.

So if you are not sure whether a specific model will work with your garage doors, it is better to consult the seller or manufacturer.

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