Review: LiftMaster 8500 Elite Series Jackshaft Garage Door Opener

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LiftMaster is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Garage Door Opener systems, with a full line of door openers. And sitting at the top of their product food chain sits the 8500 Elite series. A wall mountable door opener that takes a different approach at lifting doors. Instead of mounting in the center of your ceiling and using a long chain, belt or screw to reach over and pull the door up, it simply grabs hold of the drive shaft and turns it. Wow, what a simple idea!

The two biggest benefits of a jackshaft garage door opener are:

  • It takes up no room in the middle of your ceiling, or can be mounted in a situation where the ceiling is extremely high or angled.
  • They are extremely quiet. Even the quietest ceiling mounted opener will be perceptible inside the home because it will vibrate the ceiling slightly. A jackshaft opener has no such issue.

LiftMaster 8500 Jackshaft Opener Components

First of all, I have to say that the box the 8500 came in was awesome. They actually have a built in box opener strip which allows you to zip the top right off the box in order to get at the contents. WHO DOES THAT??? No one, that’s who. And everyone should. Kudos to LiftMaster for this brilliant touch of genius, and I think its a testament to the details that go into the products in general.

The 8500 Jackshaft opener system includes a number of different components:

  • The actual opener. A compact wall mount unit with a Lifetime motor and 5-year parts warranty. Attaches directly to the shaft with the spring that goes across the door.
  • Wall console. This is the remote control unit which mounts on the wall to open the door and turn on the light. Also has a “learn” button on it so you don’t have to do that on the main unit!
  • Infrared Safety Beam Sensors. These mount at the bottom of the rails and prevent the door from closing with something in the way.
  • Power Locks. They automatically lock the door when it shuts. No need to manually use the slide lock that came with the door originally!
  • Cable Tensioner Sensor. Measures the tension on the cable that raises the door and halts the opener if it detects a problem. This protects the door.
  • Remote light. A wireless unit that can be plugged into any 110v outlet and triggers with each door opening. Can also be triggered with the wall mount opener.
  • One remote control. A three button programmable, remote control unit. In my case buttons 1 and 2 control doors and button 3 controls exterior lights.
  • Cabling and mounting hardware

To get this out of the way before we get into the entire review, the Liftmaster 8500 should run around $650 installed. You might also be able to get a small discount, or perhaps a free battery backup, but you shouldn’t have to pay much more.

Keep in mind that even a cheaper opener is going to run you $350-400 at a minimum. And those are not going to last as long, they’ll be noisy, and have none of the cool features this unit has. Its not worth it if you ask me. And this is a case where the top of the line product is only a little more expensive than a bare bones unit. Don’t you wish the spread between a cheap computer and a top of the line was only $250?

But I digress…

The most important thing to note about the LiftMaster 8500 system is that it is infinitely upgradeable to do all kinds of things! Control your door via Apps and the Internet, switch lights on and off remotely, provide monitoring devices in the home to quickly alert you to open doors, and more. So lets get into some of the really cool features of this system.

LiftMaster 8500 Remote Internet Control

The MyQ gateway installs easily. One power plug and an ethernet cable and you’re done. Next step is to go to http://www.myliftmaster.com and create an account. Its as simple as picking a username and password, then confirming with an email.

At this point you’ll be able to access to your system through a web based gateway on MyLiftMaster.com, or you can download the iOS or Android app. Although the iOS app seems to be only designed for the iPhone, it works perfectly on my iPad Mini without looking bad.

One note is that whenever the LiftMaster app is opened on either platform it requires you to re-enter your password. This is a small inconvenience in the name of security, though I’d rather the apps gave the user the opportunity to remember the password too. In my case, all of my devices are already protected with a master PIN. So people can’t gain access to the apps anyway.

Once the gateway is installed, adding a door is drop dead simple. On the web site just choose “+Manage Places”, then Add New Device. Follow the on screen prompts, which really just tell you to push the learn button on your opener – and BAM. Done!

LiftMaster Add Device

Although I was adding the devices from my laptop, I happened to have the app up on my Android phone and I noticed the devices were being added in near real time within the app! It was fantastic!

LiftMaster 8500 Accessories

Its nice to have remote controlled doors, but its no fun to have different apps for the doors than everything else you might have laying around. So LiftMaster also offers a couple of other items you can add on to your system.

825LM Remote Light Control

The 825LM Remote Light Control allows for remote control of any lamp plugged into a wall outlet from your garage remote control. That’s right, you could turn on a lamp in your house when you drive up by pressing a button on the remote after you open your garage door!

823LM Remote Light Switch

The 823LM Remote Light Switch allows you to accomplish the same thing, but with an actual light switch in the wall. Simply replace your existing switch with the 823LM and bingo, turn on some lights with the push of the remote button. We wired this switch up to our exterior lights so we could turn on the driveway lights with the remote control.

829LM Door Monitor

The 829LM Door Monitor is a very handy remote monitoring device that can be placed anywhere inside the home, and will notify you when a door is opened as well as allowing the door to be remotely shut. This monitor is especially useful because of the quiet operation of the door. It would be impossible to detect the opening of a door inside the home without it.

When the Door Monitor issues a command to close the door, the 8500 door opener responds by issuing an alarm inside the garage to notify anyone near the door that it is being shut. It is the same alarm that sounds when the door is closing automatically on a timer.

877MAX Wall mount Wireless Entry

The wall mount remote is one of my favorite features because it ensures that you’ll never be locked out of the garage as long as you can remember a 4 digit code.

The remote will also control up to 7 or 8 doors! Just train it for each door with a different code. And it has one particularly cool feature! If you have multiple doors open, you can hit the ENTER button and close them all simultaneously with a single button press. Awesome!

HomeLink Repeater

The new 8500 door openers use the new 900mhz frequency for the remotes, so if you want to program an in-car Home Link system with a vehicle that is older than 2012 you’ll probably need a little repeater/translator which the installer should have. Just remember to mention that you’re going to use a HomeLink so you can get the parts you’ll need.

LiftMaster Battery Backup

With all this technology opening your doors, the last thing you want is to be locked out of your garage when the power goes down. So for $79 you can bolt on a big battery backup that will keep the opener going through pretty much any sort of blackout conditions.

Additional Remote Controls

Since each unit only comes with a single control, you might need extras for your other vehicles (if they don’t have HomeLink built in).

LiftMaster 8500 Install Notes

Messing with garage doors is best left to a professional. There are a lot of dangerous components under tension. The springs at the top need to be adjusted in order to take the load off the opener. But doing so could cause serious injury. In addition, the cables connecting the rod at the top to the rollers at the bottom of the door are under tension, and could really hurt someone if they came loose.

Speaking of tension, the doors need to be adjusted properly in order for the openers to actually operate. Half of the time spent on our installation involved adjusting the doors to correct pre-existing problems.

The guys from Plano Overhead Door who tended to my installation also clued me in on a few issues with my brand new garage doors, which had been installed by another company (unfortunately). Although we had installed the most expensive doors money can buy, the rollers that came with the door were plastic, although they could have been upgraded to steel or nylon coated steel for very little more money. The nylon coated steel are the way to go because they’ll last much longer, run smoother, and be quieter.

The combination of the 8500 Jackshaft opener with nylon coated steel rollers is the most quiet garage door you’ve ever heard. When opening the only sound is the slight hum of an electric motor. You’ve never NOT heard anything like it!

If you have an older LiftMaster, from 1998 to current), you can actually upgrade to the remote opening system as well by purchasing the 888LM wall console, the Gateway, and your remotes. You’ll basically upgrade everything but the motor and you can use the apps to open your existing door!

Be aware that after you install the 888LM wall console you need to power down the opener, and then power it on and give it a few minutes to sync up with the console. With the 8500 it took about a minute or two to sync up.

A Note About Plano Overhead Door

Although we only had the doors installed on the garage a couple of months prior to the new LiftMasters going in, the Plano Overhead crew discovered and remediated several obvious mistakes the original installers made.

  • The doors didn’t fully seal to the floor
  • The manual locks, which were replaced with automatic locks controlled by the openers, were not installed properly, contributing to the inability of the doors to seal with the floor. It would have only taken a small adjustment during install to be correct.
  • The garage doors wouldn’t open fully because the angle iron in the ceiling had been installed in a manner that prevented the door from actually opening all the way!
  • The spring on one of our doors was the incorrect size! (A $275 part!)

Bottom line. If you are anywhere in the Dallas area and you need garage doors or garage door openers, my first hand experience with Plano Overhead Door was outstanding and I’d strongly recommend going with them.

To Sum it All Up

I didn’t know that I could actually love a garage door opener, until I got these LiftMaster 8500 Jackshaft units. They are ultra quiet, ultra connected, and ultra cool. As Ferris Bueller once said, If you can afford it, I highly recommend picking one up.

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About The Author

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John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter and Google+.

4 Responses

  1. Alice Ross

    Thank you for sharing this review! I am very sure that this garage door opener is wonderful. It is really essential that we make sure our cars and other stuffs in your garage are safe. We should remember that once our garage will be intruded there is a big chance that they can even get inside our house which is the scariest. So indulging yourself to a durable and secure garage door is really important.

  2. Kevin

    This looks like a really nice opener. But all the new Lifemasters with the ability to connect to the app cannot be integrated into a home automation system. This may not be a problem for most people but anyone that want to use Control4, Elan, Savant, URC Total control, Crestron… this opener will not integrate into the system (Yes you can build a mechanical arm or a robot that can presses the button, but come on…). The communication between the remote and drive are encrypted, there is no contact closure input like on older openers.

  3. Thomas

    I am all about connectivity when it comes to gadgets and electronics around the house. Your review was very comprehensive concerning the details and features of this opener. However, Over 12 years ago I purchased a Wayne Dalton Opener that turns the torsion bar as well. Even though this garage opener does not have the device connectivity, it is very quiet almost no noise while standing next to it. And there is one more feature that I think was worth writing this comment. Lifetime Warranty on the motor and I have replaced it under the warranty once, what great and easy customer service. I forgot to also mention the price $350. Total.

    Thanks for all the work you guys put into the gadget reviews.