Over the last few months I’ve been going full-steam ahead upgrading the gadgets in my home. Slowly but surely my smart home dream is coming together. I’ve got a smart home security system, a smart sprinkler system, smart lights, a great home entertainment setup which can talk to my smart appliances. I’m a user of IFTTT, Workflow and Stringify to tie everything together and I can’t wait for iOS 10 to become official so I can start using Apple’s new Home app. I’ve even got an IoT (Internet of Things) security device (the Cujo, which I’ll be reviewing soon). But one big thing is currently missing from my smart home setup: a smart garage door opener.
Like all of my list posts these days, this article was born out of personal research into a product I really want. In my case, I bought a house a couple years ago and ended up with a standard garage door opener. And, like most Americans up until now, I’ve been plagued with a burning question almost every time I leave the house: “Did I remember to shut the garage door?”
So right off the bat I like the fact that a smart garage door opener can let me know the answer to that question no matter where I am (just down the street, at the store, in another state or even in another country).
But I love the idea of home automation. I’d like to have my garage door open automatically for me when I get home. I’d love to have it shut automatically when I leave.
And then there’s security. For people with kids, it’s great to be able to grant access to the garage with different privileges for different family members. And if the garage opens when it shouldn’t, you can get an alert, see a camera view of what is happening in real-time and even set off an alarm.
In this article I concentrated my efforts on researching the best smart garage door openers that will work with “old” non-smart garage door openers. Kind of like a smart add-on. Essentially, the devices I’ve featured here can retrofit your current setup to bring it into the connected age. But if you’re buying a new home and need a brand new garage door opener with internet smarts built right in, I’d recommend checking out Chamberlain’s smart garage door opener lineup. For everyone else, please read on.
Chamberlain MyQ Garage
The Chamberlain MyQ Garage is a device from one of the leading manufacturers of traditional garage door openers: Chamberlain. And while Chamberlain does make several models of smart garage door openers with MyQ technology built right in, this particular device allows you to make your existing (“dumb” or non-internet-connected) garage door opener, well, smart.
This smart garage door controller is designed to work with most garage door openers that were made after 2003. If you’ve got safety sensors that reverse the garage door when they detect an object in the way, you’re probably good to go in terms of using this product.
The smart functionality here is pretty basic: open and close your garage door remotely using either an iPhone or Android phone. Additionally, you could set things up so that the MyQ system also controls the lights in your house, but personally I think I’d leave that kind of automation to an actual smart home hub or something like Apple’s new Home app (in iOS 10).
The MyQ Garage comes with a Wi-Fi Hub, a door sensor, a mounting bracket and power cord (so everything you need to get up and running) and it looks like there is some pretty decent installation and support material online for getting things setup.
Plus, at just $99 on Amazon right now this is the most affordable smart garage door controller of this group. Yes, this controller has been out for awhile, and that probably has something to do with the wallet-friendly pricing, but at the same time the reviews are solid and all the questions you could possibly ask about this product have already been answered.
Like the Chamberlain MyQ Garage, the Garageio is a smart garage door opener that attaches to your existing non-smart garage door opener to let you open or close your garage door using your phone from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. But the Garageio is a bit smarter and has the ability to do much more.
One feature I really like about Garageio is the ability to grant access to important people in your life (family, kids, friends, dog sitter, etc.) and then monitor their access/usage. This means you could give someone access to your home while you are away without giving them a physical key (similar to what you could do with a smart lock on your door or doors). I could see this being useful if you needed to let someone into your house to check on a pet or maybe water some plants while you’re on vacation.
Garageio also promises real-time alerts which notify you if you leave home and the garage door is still open.
What I really like about Garageio, though, is all of the useful smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) integrations that tech geeks and enthusiasts can really appreciate. For instance, you can hook Garageio up to IFTTT (If This Then That) for some serious automation and you can also control it with the Amazon Echo using your voice.
This is a newer product that isn’t perfect, but it’s feature set is undeniably great.
In this case I really have saved the best for last (in my humble opinion). The Gogogate 2 does everything the MyQ Garage and Garageio can do but it takes the concept of a smart garage door opener to an entirely different level. And yes, this system works with your existing garage door opener (rather than being a standalone smart garage door opener).
Yes, you’ll be able to open, close and monitor your garage from your smartphone (works with iOS and Android). Yes, you’ll get IFTTT integration (like with the Garageio). Yes, you’ll get notifications from the Gogogate 2 when you leave your garage door open, but you’ll have the option of phone or email notifications.
But here’s where things really start to get interesting…
The Gogogate 2 has integrated video monitoring so you can see — in real time — what is actually happening in your garage (rather than having to use another hardware and software solution). That is very cool, but it gets cooler: the Gogogate will also record “event” — similar to my Canary home security camera — which you can go over at anytime. The one downside is that this feature requires a subscription.
What might be my favorite feature about this system, though, is the Apple Watch integration.
And I have to say that the app looks much more full-featured and better-designed than the competition. I mean, you can even get a temperature readout or have an acoustic siren go off if there was an unauthorized entry.
There’s even more to explore with the Gogogate 2, so make sure to check it out further if you’re interested.
Recommendations and Conclusion
- If you’re looking for the cheapest option from this roundup, go with the Chamberlain MyQ Garage.
- If you want the most bells and whistles go with the Gogogate 2, hands-down.
- If you want to limit access for friends and family members with some basic automation, but don’t need a ton of extra features beyond that, check into the Garageio.
You can’t have a complete smart home without a smart garage door opener, but still, there’s one thing we all probably care about when it comes to these devices more than anything else: knowing whether or not we left that pesky garage door open or not!