Garage Door Security

5 ways to make the biggest entrance into your home impenetrable.

The Garageio from Alottazs Labs adds Wi-Fi connectivity to the garage door, enabling it to be opened and closed from a smartphone app.

The Garageio from Alottazs Labs adds Wi-Fi connectivity to the garage door, enabling it to be opened and closed from a smartphone app.

BURGLARS WHO BREAK INTO YOUR GARAGE have two terrific opportunities to ply their trade:

  • They can steal a bunch of stuff from your garage. Besides your car, this area can and usually does hold some valuable items like lawn equipment, bicycles, snow blowers, and if you’re handy, expensive tools.
  • They can easily gain entrance to your house for a bigger haul, since attached garages have an inside door (usually unlocked or poorly protected) that leads straight to the mother lode.

For those of you who think that the garage door is not a frequent access point for break-ins, 9 percent of burglars go through the garage. Not necessarily a high percentage, but when you consider that there are over 2 million home burglaries reported each year in the U.S. (that’s just reported), you realize that the number is in the hundreds of thousands. What’s more, a YouTube video demonstrates how a thief can open a garage door in just 6 seconds by manipulating the emergency release lever on the inside with just a wire hanger.

All is not lost, however. The often-neglected garage door can be made much safer with some of the smart home technology that is so effective at protecting the other parts of your home.

App-Controllable Garage Door Systems
The job of a smart garage door system is remarkably simple:

  • It lets you know if your garage door is open or closed.
  • It allows you to open and close your garage door from anywhere, via an Internet connection and a downloadable app (usually free).

There are other nice features available (audible alarms, text or email notifications, etc.), but these are the basics. With that said, there are a number of systems on the market that can perform this two-fold chore quite well:

  • Garageio from Alottazs Labs, pictured at top, can be easily added to an existing garage door opener. It allows the garage door to connect to a home Wi-Fi network, so that users can open/close it from a smartphone via Garageio’s proprietary app.
  • GoGogate lets homeowners operate their garage door or gate from anywhere. They can also share and control the access to it from a single app.
  • With the MyQ Universal Smartphone Garage Door Controller from Chamberlain, you can control your garage door from anywhere in the world via Wi-Fi and your smartphone. It works with your home’s Wi-Fi and features a free app with no service fees.
  • Use the Telguard GDC1 Universal Garage Door Control Switch with a home automation system to receive notifications if the garage door has been opened or to ensure that the door closes at a specified time each night.
  • The BTMate GarageMateControl allows control of multiple garages with a single app. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 and offers free unlimited app licenses.
  • The Linear GD00Z-4 Z-Wave Garage Door Opener Remote Controller Accessory is compatible with virtually any automatic garage door opener. It can open or close the door remotely through a Z-Wave certified gateway or security panel.

Systems from SecuRemote, Mobile GDO, and Asante are also worth a look. Craftsman’s AssureLink is a quality product but works as an upgrade for existing Craftsman door openers only.

Motion Detectors
It’s likely there’s a light fixture right above or next to the garage door. Replace it with a light fixture that features a built-in motion detector. Alternatively, you can add a standalone motion detector that will connect to the existing lights. Whether integrated with a light or operating on its own, a motion sensor can be set up to trigger an alarm and/or text your smartphone should it detect activity around the garage door.

SadoTech, Chamberlain, Aeon LabsFIBARO, Honeywell, iSmartAlarm, Samsung, and the Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion Kit are all worth a look.

Door Contacts
A garage door contact is a version of the magnetic switch used to protect windows and standard doors, but built tough enough to withstand the harsher outside environment to which the garage door is exposed.

A garage door contact is installed on an overhead garage door and connected with low-voltage wiring to a home security system. It can be an extremely effective security tool, sending out an audible alarm when the garage door is opened. What’s more, a remote door sensor can be set up to trigger a silent alarm by sending a signal to a remote monitor or receiver when the door is opened. This functionality can be greatly enhanced by pairing the sensor with a wireless home security system, which can include video surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and other smart devices.

(Overhead door contacts should not be confused with the photoelectric garage door sensors that prevent the door from closing on an object.)

There are a number of good door contacts out there, but start with the Honeywell Ademco 958 Overhead Door Contacts, the SECO-LARM SM-226, and the SmartSense Multi Sensor.

Protect the Other Doors
Once a burglar is inside the garage (specifically an attached garage), it can be quite easy to get through the inside door that leads into the house. And don’t forget, many garages have a side door that is often as improperly protected as the inside door. In any plan to protect the garage, these doors have to get strong consideration. At the very least, put a deadbolt on both of these doors. A keypad or touchscreen smart lock, such as the ones offered by Kwikset, Yale, and Schlage, will provide an excellent level of protection.

Other Stuff
There are a variety of other ways to make the garage door more secure, including the addition of surveillance cameras, motion-activated floodlights, even peephole viewers. The level of security you add should be based on the value of the items stored in the garage, how well protected the inside doors are, and your budget. But whatever you do, make sure the garage door has a prominent spot in your overall security scheme.

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