Let’s take a look at your Smart Garage

5 December 2021

Other than wifi, cameras and lighting there aren’t a lot of smart home applications for your garage other than your garage door opener. As Debbie are are building a new home I’ve been doing some research on smart garage door openers to make sure they integrate with our overall smart home plan. If you have an older automatic garage door like we currently do, a smart garage door opener is your best and most inexpensive smart home option for you to make it ‘smart.’ It’ll give you all the control from your smartphone and inform you when it’s being opened and closed.

A smart garage door opener connects to your existing garage door and links to your wifi network so you can monitor it from anywhere. Plus, it can linked it to other smart home devices, so if you open it at night, you can set your smart lights to turn on. Or, you can set your smart locks to lock when the door closes.

Before you buy a smart garage door opener, you should make sure it will work with your existing garage door. Usually, you can find out which doors an opener is compatible with on the manufacturer’s site. However, the vast majority of smart garage door openers will work with most garage door openers made after 1993.

The best smart garage door openers are designed to attach to existing non-smart garage door openers and generally cost less than $100. As you may be shopping for a new garage door opener due to extended Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, Chamberlain, Genie, Skylink and Ryobi all make wifi-connected models ranging in price from $169 to $300. So you don’t need to purchase additional accessories to control them from your smartphone.

Some smart garage door openers can only control one garage door, while others are able to control two or three garage doors. Be sure to check the product to make sure it will control what you need it to.

The best smart garage door openers have wifi, while others use Bluetooth to connect to your phone. From a simplicity perspective, I’d recommend sticking with wifi models as they’ll allow you to remotely monitor your garage door. As other smart home elements like locks, cameras and lighting will require wifi connectivity anyway it just makes sense. Plus as garages also double as work spaces, wifi also gives entertainment options like streaming music and video. How convenient would a wall-mounted flat panel be for running YouTube videos for DIYers? Bluetooth models will only work when you’re within about 20 feet of the garage.

You also want to find out how many smart home systems each garage door opener is compatible with. The more, the better, because you’ll have more options when building out your smart home.

If you’re buying completely new garage door openers like we will be, there are many models from Chamberlain and Genie that include all this technology built in.

To determine what’s the best smart garage door opener for you, I’d recommend looking to see how easy it is to physically install (if you’re doing it yourself) and how easily it connects to our home wifi network. As with any smart home product, the best smart garage door opener should have an intuitive app that makes it easy to operate, receive notifications and troubleshoot issues. A good smart garage door opener should also be compatible with the leading virtual assistants and be easy to link to them.

Another compatibility I’m personally looking for is Amazon Key. With the growth of online shopping and sadly, a growth in online delivery theft, Amazon offers a solution. And it’s easy to use — once set up with Amazon, when adding items to your Amazon cart, choose “Key Delivery” at checkout, and receive them in your garage. It helps prevent missing deliveries, guard against damage, and protect packages from bad weather. Besides Amazon orders, it also includes Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market deliveries. There’re neat options too like the ability to watch deliveries with an optional camera and choose when you use in-garage delivery. You can check to see if Amazon Key delivery is available in your zip code here.

Chamberlain smart garage door openers typically sell for less than $40, half the price of most of the competition. The MyQ works with Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and IFTTT and others, though it does not work with Amazon Alexa.

If you have an Alexa smart home like we do or looking for a smart garage door opener that works with Alexa, Tailwind may have the garage door opener for you. Setup is not as easy as Chamberlain, but Tailwind does work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and SmartThings — and supports multiple users.

Liftmaster has several new smart garage door openers that have Chamberlain MyQ technology. The Secure View, has a built-in 1080p security camera, a 2000-lumen LED, and battery backup. To save video from the camera, a yearly subscription costs $30 for 7-day backup, or $100 for 30 days of storage.

Here are some other options I’d recommend for your smart home and why:

Chamberlain MyQ-G0401

  • The myQ works with a variety of smart home systems — Google Assistant, IFTTT, Vivint Smart Home, XFINITY Home, Alpine Audio Connect, Eve for Tesla, Resideo Total Connect and Key by Amazon
  • Wireless: Wifi
  • Quick setup and easy to use well-designed mobile app (iOS and Android). Clear, easy to understand directions for set up and help. Works with Amazon Key.
  • Doesn’t work with Alexa and two-factor authentication not on by default

Tailwind iQ3

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT
  • Wireless: Wifi, Bluetooth — If you have an Android phone, it can use your car’s Bluetooth connection to trigger your garage door to open and close automatically when you arrive or leave home. (iPhone owners have to use a separate dongle). It’s clever and works well, but you can’t adjust the range at which it activates.
  • Alexa and Google Home integration and can sense when you arrive or leave. Many customizable features.
  • Installation isn’t very intuitive, but once set up, it works nearly flawlessly. It has a simple app, notifications and compatibility with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and IFTTT. You can also buy versions that work with one, two, or three garage doors. Some openers require an additional adapter. IPhone users need a car sensor

Chamberlain MyQ-G0301

  • Works with Wink, Nest, SmartThings, Xfinity Home, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT. The MyQ app, available for Android and iOS devices, lets you check to see if your door is open, and then close or open it remotely. MyQ also pairs to Google Assistant to control it with your voice. If you want it to be one of the best HomeKit devices, you need to purchase a $49 adapter. This will let you control your garage doors using Siri, and create scenes so that the lights come on when the door goes up.
  • Wireless: Wifi. It includes a sensor for your garage door as well as a hub that connects to your Wi-Fi network. When you send a command using your smartphone, it is relayed to the hub, which then goes to the sensor that activates your garage door.
  • Simple physical setup requirement. Simple app interface. Can manage multiple devices.
  • Doesn’t work with Alexa

NEXX GARAGE Remote Garage Door Opener

  • Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home. The Nexx Garage is the best smart garage door opener for Alexa users, but works with Google Home too, so you can open or close the door using voice commands.
  • Wireless: 2.4GHz 802.11 wifi
  • Simple app and hardware design. Can manage multiple users. Setup is a little tricky as you have to run a wire from your garage door to the garage door opener.
  • Nexx owners can give permission to multiple users, and a calendar in the app lets you see when the door was opened, and by whom. In addition to asking Alexa or Google Assistant to open your door, a feature called Just Drive uses geofencing to detect when you’re arriving home, and will automatically open the garage door of you so choose.

Garadget

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, IFTTT
  • Wireless: 802.11 (2.4GHz)
  • The Garadget smart garage door opener uses a laser that shines on a reflective tab that you mount to your door. That means there’s one less piece of equipment with a battery that can run out, but it also makes setup a bit tricker than other smart garage door openers, as you have to align the laser precisely.
  • Garagdet’s app gives you alerts in real time if your door is opened or if the door stays open for too long. Though occasionally it will send false alerts.

GarageMate

  • It doesn’t work with many other smart home systems. However, using your smartphone, you can use Siri or Google Assistant to voice launch the app and automatically open the door.
  • Wireless: Bluetooth 4.0. This means that you can’t check on its status, nor operate it, when you’re away from home.
  • Simple to set up.
  • The GarageMate smart garage door opener also has GarageMat’s Activity Log that lets you monitor who opened your garage for added security, and it works with up to eight users. If you’re looking for something simple, cheap, and secure, this is one to consider.

Genie Aladdin Connect

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings. The Aladdin Connect works with a variety of garage door openers made after 1993, and not just those from Genie. It’s compatible with some Chamberlain, Liftmaster, and Craftsman garage door openers, too. You can program your doors to open automatically if smoke is detected on a smart smoke detector, or if CO2 levels get too high. You can also set up geofencing, so that it’ll open your doors when you get home.
  • Wireless: Wifi
  • Pricier than MyQ
  • The Genie Aladdin Connect attaches via two wires to your garage door opener, and then connects wirelessly to your home wifi network, letting you control your garage door via an app. While the Aladdin Connect only comes with one door sensor, it can control up to three garage doors. In addition, you can add up to 19 virtual keys to give others access, and control the garage door from your smartwatch.

Refoss Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, SmartThings. It connects directly to your wifi though you’ll need a HomeKit hub (such as an Apple TV or HomePod mini) in order to use it with Siri.
  • Wireless: Wifi
  • The Refoss Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door controller is a fairly simple device that attaches to your existing garage door opener and lets you control it remotely from your smartphone. Unlike other smart garage door openers, the Refoss relies on your existing garage door sensors to know whether the door is open or shut.

As you can see there is a huge selection of options for automating the opening of your garage door. I’d stress making sure you do your homework though to make sure whatever you choose aligns with the technology road map you’ve developed for your smart home. Hopefully I’ve done a lot of that legwork for you here to save you some time.

In our case, being a current SmartThings and Amazon Alexa driven smart home, the options are clear. I haven’t made a final decision yet though as I’d love to see a Zigbee or Z-wave option as I’m looking to minimize reliance on wifi as that connectivity tends to be dependent on internet access for operation. Imagine an internet outage and not being able to open your garage door — other than manually or via keypad. I’ve covered Zigbee or Z-wave earlier to outline the pros and cons of different connectivity options but I like them for their ability to process locally, without the dependence or latency that comes with wifi and cloud solutions.

I’m curious if any of you have these installed at your home and what your thoughts are about it. I’d especially like to hear from you if you’re already using the Amazon Key service for package delivery. Leave us a comment, DM or email and let us know.

Regarding our home build progress, we’re nearing the point of final floor plan and exterior elevation. I’ve started working with the architect on the electrical design of the house due to the smart home footprint. This may be a near future topic I’ll cover as there is a list of special considerations that includes things like electric vehicle charging, whole home battery backup, smoke/CO2 detectors, powered window shades and POE device placement.

We’ve also had conversations with some potential builders that have been less than encouraging thanks to supply chain, budget and labor challenges. They’ve recommended that we delay our build up to 3 years because of all the current issues in home building. The cost of lumber has come down over the course of the year but other building material cost have risen. One example is brick, which every vendor we’ve spoken with ,have warned of cost increases as of January 1, as much as 20%. So stay tuned as we move forward as we have some critical decisions to make in the short term that could have some significant lng term impacts. Until next week …

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Seasoned professional sports information technology executive with a passion for out of the box solutions to complex challenges.