For the last few weeks I’ve been testing a Chamberlain MyQ garage door opener, which does exactly what you think it does — it opens my garage door from a tablet or smart phone. I mentioned the $129 device on the podcast when I first installed it, as well as the trouble I had getting it to install using my Android handset, but I still think it’s a fun gift idea, especially with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up.
The garage door opener attaches to most garage doors installed after 1993, and lets you open and close the door from a smart phone. The app shows you the state of the door and offers alerts via email or push notification if your garage door stays open longer than a time frame you’ve selected.
Installing the MyQ is about a 10-15 minute operation. First you pop the palm-sized sensor on your garage door using supplied velcro tape (removal about 2 months later was a snap). Then above your garage door opener, you place the systems hub and plug it in. Most garages should have an outlet near the opener to supply it with power, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Screw the hub to the supports holding the opener (or zip tie it as I did) and all of the hardware is in place.
The next step was where I had a few issues. The MyQ should work with both Android and iOS devices, but my Android handset couldn’t detect the signal the hub put out. A spokesman for Chamberlain said that some Android devices running Jelly Bean might have problems, but they should eventually work. I didn’t want to wait, and so used my iPad to set it up. The device puts out a Wi-Fi network signal or Bluetooth to connect to the app and then to your home network. Once online I had the app running on both my iPad and my Android handset.
Finally, you link your garage door remotes to the MyQ. Once set up I could check the status of my garage door and started getting email alerts if it was open for more than 15 minutes. In the two months I had it installed, I never used the app to open or shut the garage from my car, although apparently some people do. Last month I got an email from Chamberlain about some customers having trouble opening the door from their app because the servers running the MyQ had fallen down on the job during a regular upgrade.
For those considering using your phone as the sole control for the garage, you might end up caught out if a problem occurs in the cloud or your network goes out. I didn’t use the app every day, but I liked having the ability to check the garage and get alerts if it were open. I would have liked it more if I could have tied it into my other smart devices in my home, but so far Chamberlain isn’t opening up its API.
The spokesman explains that it wants to tread carefully because security is such an important element to the Chamberlain family of products. Today, there’s a connected light switch (open your garage and your porch light goes on) and later there will be other connected home products.
All in all, since I’m not sure that many people are worried about using their garage as a trigger for other things taking place in the home, I think this is a well done product for people who are prone to forget about closing their garage door or worry about leaving it open. However, if you use your garage door as the main entry to your home and want to wander off without your remote, you might want to install a keypad or bring your house key in case the internet or Chamberlain’s servers are out.