Smart Garage Doors

Smart Garage Doors

Having a smart garage door opener can be a huge help to your home. Controlling and monitoring your smart home garage door can take on several forms.

At the simple end, you can keep your eye on whether the door is open and get an alert pinged to your smartphone if it’s accidentally been left ajar.

If you want to go all-in, you can install a smart garage door opener so you can slide into the driveway and on into your garage without jumping out the door or struggling to winch up a roller-shutter.

We’ll look today at a variety of smart garage door openers and appliances so there’s something for everyone.

First, though, we’ll take a more detailed look at the mechanics of garage door openers before getting into the “smart ones.”

Garage Door Openers

If you decide you want to invest in a smart garage door opener, you’re faced with a choice of 5 type of mechanism straight off the bat:

  • Chain-Drive
  • Belt-Drive
  • Direct-Drive
  • Screw Drive
  • Jackshaft

Chain-Drive

Chain-drive garage door openers are affordable and dependable but they do kick out quite a lot of noise and they’re also prone to vibrate.

If you have a garage attached to your house, chain-drive openers are not the best bet.

As long as the noise doesn’t bother you, the strength and durability of chain-drive garage door openers mean they continue to remain one of the most popular choices.

Belt-Drive

Belt-drive garage door openers work in much the same way as chain-drives but with a belt rather than the chain in place.

You’ll get a noticeably quieter and smoother action but you will need to pay more for the privilege.

Direct-Drive

With a direct-drive garage door opener, the motor acts as the trolley and raises or lowers the door as it travels the track.

With just one moving part, you’ll get less noise and maintenance in these reliable units.

Screw Drive

This type of garage door opener uses a threaded rod to shift the lifting mechanism.

A little quieter than belt-drive alternatives, you’ll get few moving parts and blissfully little maintenance with a screw drive garage door opener.

You’ll be able to use this radio protocol with clickers (keypad controllers), burglar alarm modules, and passive lighting switches.

Jackshaft

This type of garage door opener uses a threaded rod to shift the lifting mechanism.

A little quieter than belt-drive alternatives, you’ll get few moving parts and blissfully little maintenance with a screw drive garage door opener.

You’ll be able to use this radio protocol with clickers (keypad controllers), burglar alarm modules, and passive lighting switches.

Features of The Best Garage Door Openers

While functionality varies considerably from model to model, there are a few common factors worth thinking about if you’re looking at garage door openers.

Auto-Reversing

Safety is critical with garage door openers.

All of the best units come with automatic reversing so the direction of the door is switched in the event it encounters any unexpected obstacle.

While this came to market in 1982, it was signed into federal law by 1993 so all compliant door openers mitigate risk in this way.

If you’ve got an older garage door opener dating to 1982 or before, it’s worth checking to make sure you and your family are not in any danger.

Manual Door Release

While a manual door release might seem to go against the grain of automating entry in the first place but it’s a vital component.

Smart garage door access is awesome but how about if there’s a power cut? You might very well still want to get into your garage and a manual door release allows you to get in even if there’s no power.

Unfortunately, the manual release in older models is a weak point with burglars able to hook the manual release from outside. If you have a garage door opener that doesn’t seem well protected in this area, use a couple zip ties to keep the release catch out of harm’s way.

Rolling Code Technology

One of the inbuilt problems with smart home technology is the concern about hacking.

While no system is invulnerable, the safest garage door openers make use of rolling code technology. In plain English, each time you use your garage remote, a fresh code is generated. With over 1 million codes, the chance of being compromised is negligible.

This kind of coding technology has been about since 1993 so if you have an existing garage door opener pre-dating this, you might want to ask yourself a few security questions.

Power

You’ll need to angle for just the right amount of power for the job.

If you’re too ambitious, you’ll get an overpowered unit that saps electricity. Sell yourself short and you might even end up in danger with the door opener unable to perform its duty putting you or your car in jeopardy.

For most fairly new garage doors of a typical size, a ½ HP motor is sufficient. If you’ve got double doors or a larger structure, you’ll need a garage door opener powered accordingly.

Battery Back-Up

We’ve glimpsed at the pros and cons of a manual door release but how about battery back-up in the event of an interruption to your power supply?

While you’ll only enjoy a limited number of uses from this reserve, it’s well worth having on hand and is invaluable if you suffer any extended loss of power.

Security Lights

Generally, smart garage door openers come with integrated security lights.

Also, depending on the approach you take, you can use your opener in combination with a range of other smart home appliances and modules to enhance functionality, and make your life safer and easier.

With motion sensors thrown into the mix, you can fully secure your garage door for less than you might imagine.

Other Garage Door Solutions

Perhaps the idea of automating access to your garage is not for you.

That’s the beauty of smart homes, there’s no prescribed solution simply what meshes best with your needs.

If you don’t fancy a smart garage door opener, you could think about a keyless entry system or a simple monitoring kit.

We’ll look at each of those to round out our look at smart garage doors…

Keyless Entry Systems

Perhaps you’re not interested in using your smartphone or an app to control your garage door.

Keyless entry systems allow to choose and distribute a numeric code so you stay in complete control of who enters your property through the garage door.

The immediate benefit of this type of system is the fact you can go out without being burdened by keys.

You’ll also be able to set multiple codes so this is ideal for large families and also for properties rented out on Airbnb or similar.

The main thing to keep in mind is that a keyless entry system does not make a garage door security system. You’re simply replacing one type of access with another.

These keyless entry systems certainly have their place as an extra layer of convenience to make your life easier but how about if you want to keep your eye on who’s at home?

Monitoring Kits

With a monitoring kit, you’ll get alerts sent to your smartphone if your day is left open when it shouldn’t be.

Staying in control of any security breaches from afar is simplified no end when you can get in-app alerts and often watch footage of your entry if you’re using a monitoring kit alongside other devices in your smart home.

You’re not going to get any help with the door being physically opened for you, but if you want to stay abreast of who’s at the door even if you’re not home, think about a simple garage door monitoring kit.

5 Best Smart Garage Door Opener & Appliances

We’ll highlight 5 of the best smart appliances so there’s something for everyone covering all main bases of intelligent garages.

If you want to double down on smart garage door openers, use our guide as a starting point and carry out some further research on which type would work best for you.

We’ll look now at a broad spread of smart garage door appliances so you can get an overview of your various options…

1) Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Door Opener with Hub

One way to assume remote control of your garage door is to invest in Chamberlain’s classic MyQ smart garage door opener that comes with the hub needed to get going straight out the box.

With MyQ, you simply add the hub to your existing garage door then you can control access using MyQ app on your phone.

You’ll be able to control who goes in and out of your garage even if you’re not at home, and you can set up scheduling to streamline things further.

You’ll able to link up with Nest appliances and arrange for the AC to come on when the door is opened or the heating to go off as it closes. You can also use Google Assistant but you will need to pay a monthly fee. The subscription also applies if you want to make use of IFTTT devices in your smart home so you can create customizable scenes and schedules.

Pros

  • Works seamlessly with existing door openers post 1993 so you can enjoy remote garage door access from your smartphone
  • Get alerts and customized notifications when anyone comes and goes using the garage door
  • Integrates with Google Assistant and IFTTT for a modest subscription fee

Cons

  • Lack of geofencing is less than ideal

2) Insteon 74551 Garage Door Control & Status Kit

If you’re already invested into Insteon, you’ll be well aware of how effective their dual-mesh smart home products are.

For anyone with an older 2-wire smart garage door opener, this control and status kit lets you assume remote control using your smartphone while also receiving notifications in the event of any security breach. Alerts are dependent on the hub which is sold separately.

This opener is the perfect combination of peace of mind and convenience. No more grasping for your keys when your hands are full and no more worrying if you really did close the door on your way out.

It’s well worth considering an extender so you can boost the range of your Insteon network.

Pros

  • Powerline communication to open and close your garage door from your smartphone
  • Sensors alerting you to the status of the garage door
  • Build out your system with a wireless camera

Cons

  • You’ll need an Insteon hub but this is a multipurpose unit well worth adding to your smart home
  • Only works with traditional 2-wire garage door openers