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What is the right connected garage door opener to buy?

We’re trying something new on the Internet of Things podcast where we take and respond to listener questions about connected devices, standards or whatever else y’all have on your minds. As part of that, we’ll run a variation of the response here on the weekend in case others have the same question. So, let’s hit the mailbag!

Dave writes:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]I enjoy the Internet of Things podcast, but I’m not quite ready to jump into the deep end. I’m a cheap engineer as well, so that’s another problem. However, I’m curious if you know of a stand alone garage door monitoring solution that could grow into more sophisticated automation over time?

In a follow up email, Dave mentioned that he has two garage doors to monitor thus boosting his overall cost.

Dave, not sure how you define cheap, but you could go with the dedicated MyQ from [company]Chamberlain[/company] which will work with both Nest, HomeKit and likely other systems going forward. It’s about $129 and took me 15 minutes to install. Additional sensors cost $50. Here’s my review from a bit ago before it announced its plans to be more open.

The other option is using a stand-alone sensor. I think you could try an open-close sensor stuck on the side of your garage on the inside. Almost all hub systems will have a monitor that should work for these which could cost between $40-100 for the hub and then $30-$50 for each sensor, but then you’re possibly buying a system. ConnectSense makes some good Wi-Fi sensors, but the stand-alone Wi-Fi sensors cost about $150 for each open-close sensor.

Another option that is pretty simple and versatile is a video camera. Point an outdoor IP camera (or indoor if it’s inside I guess) at your garage door for between $50 and $200. Different cameras will work with different systems, but there are tons of options. I’d look for one with a mobile app. Setting up an alert might be tricky, and if that’s your thing you’ll want a camera with a motion sensing capability and alerts.

For the rest of the podcast, which includes the details on Google’s new physical web plans as well as an interview on when we’ll get to autonomous cars and what systems we’ll need to have in place before then, click below.

6 Responses to “What is the right connected garage door opener to buy?”

  1. This is the best way to go about it:

    Buy a magnetic reed switch sensor (cost less than $3.00), mount to your garage, and connect it to pins on a PCDuino (approx $70) — has ethernet, runs linux, and has GPIO pins that match an arduino. You can send current on the wires and determine if the circuit is open or closed. This will tell you if the garage is open/closed.

    To control opening/closing the door, hack open an existing garage remote (or buy a new one – approx $10) and solder the leads on both sides of the button of the remote to an optoisolator. You can then virtually “press” the button by sending signal to an optoisolator, which, with the current 9v or 3v battery still being used on your remote, will complete the circuit and open/close your garage. Connect the optoisolator/hacked garage remote to the PCDuino as well.

    Finally, create a web server on the PCDuino. I used Python, used a self-signed certificate for encryption, and added basic authorization for security. Then open a port on your router and point it to your PCDuino (hopefully your router also has DDNS so you don’t have to remember IPs), and you’ll have created your own solution. I access this little website via shortcut from my phone and control and see the status of my garage door. (I also did this for my front entry gate, hacking its remote too.)

    I taught myself how to do all this with Google and YouTube. I had some wires already running to my garage when I bought my place, so that helped a little. They were unused and were for a different purpose, so I extended them to the garage door with some cat5 cable, soldered to the reed switch, and wired up to the PCDuino at their termination point in my closet. Just used hot glue for the reed switch.

    Other benefits of this set up: I used the PCDuino to replace my existing home alarm system (it basically does the same monitoring of the garage door on all my doors and windows), and I was able to terminate the monthly alarm monitoring fee by using email/sms notifications and cutting out the middle man.

    No monthly fees, no additional connectivity to a cloud service required, and full control. I resorted to doing this myself after experiencing first hand how horrible/delayed the SmartThings platform and developer support was.

      • You’re welcome. In light of the desires from the original inquirer, I definitely don’t think this is too daunting for
        a) an engineer who is
        b) cheap,
        c) not quite ready to jump into the deep end on IoT platforms, and
        d) looking for a stand alone garage door monitoring solution that could grow into more sophisticated automation over time.

        It’s a perfect match. :)

  2. Andrius Bruno Rimkūnas

    In Europe there are much more popular GSM/GPRS controllers, such as ELDES ESIM120. Two relay outputs, inputs to get the status and smooth configuratiob with various tools. Of course, you need separate SIM card then.

    Also, try working around with your intrusion alarm control panel. Usually they have nice connectivity and PGM outputs