A few years ago I wrote an article about how nice it would be if I had a way of checking on the status of my garage door when I was away from home. The reason, of course, was that I came home from a weekend away and found that I’d left the garage door wide open the whole time (the door from the house to the garage was locked, so the only things thieves had access to were boxes of old books, a snow blower that didn’t work and my beer fridge). Home automation professionals could cobble together solutions with motion sensors and remote triggers, but that all required custom programming and expense. About three years later, there are now several very effective and affordable Wi-Fi connected garage door openers and smart phone apps. Read about 5 of them here.
One of the most popular of these Wi-Fi garage door accessories is the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. It’s a smart and simple-to-use device that does exactly what I wanted, and a little more.
The MyQ Garage isn’t an actual garage door opener. It’s just a supplemental controller for your existing opener. What’s good about that is that if you already have a motorized garage door opener with wireless control, you don’t have to replace it. The MyQ will work with most openers manufactured after 1993. If you’re starting from scratch or need a new opener anyway, Chamberlain offers an integrated device, the MyQ-Enabled Garage Door Opener.
For the rest of us, the MyQ Garage is good answer. It consists of three parts: a Wi-Fi hub, a door sensor and a smartphone/tablet app. I was surprised at how absolutely easy it was to install and set up. Essentially, if you can hang a picture frame or sync a Bluetooth speaker, you can install the MyQ Garage.
The sensor is a palm-sized device that attaches to your door. It acts like a little gyroscope to detect whether the garage door is vertical or horizontal, which corresponds to open or closed. I attached that to my door with supplied Velcro strips, but if you have a wood door you could use screws. Next I mounted the Wi-Fi hub to the garage ceiling next to my opener. I pressed a button to sync the two, then synced the hub to my iPhone via Bluetooth and downloaded the MyQ app. The app automatically configures the hub to your Wi-Fi network (Android users will follow a slightly different sequence). You can turn off your phone’s Bluetooth after setup is complete.
Next you follow a few prompts from the app to allow the MyQ to configure itself to the brand of opener you have. The prompt says it can take up to 15 minutes, but within a minute, MyQ was opening the garage door.
The whole process took me 15 minutes, and most of that time was spent looking for the battery for my screwdriver. MyQ Garage is one of the easiest smart home devices I’ve installed.
The MyQ Garage app is pretty basic. On the front page there’s a picture of a garage door with the current status displayed. For instance, right now my app reads “Garage door closed for 2 hours,” because it’s been two hours since my wife left for work. You can set up rules for alerts if you want to know when the door has been opened or closed. This is a nice way to monitor when people come and go in your house. You can select push notifications or emails. You can also check the door’s use history on another page.
To check how well the system can be controlled over the internet, rather than directly via my home Wi-Fi network, I took a walk down the street. I went far enough away so that my phone switched from Wi-Fi to the cellular network (LTE in this case), but kept within sight of the garage door. I opened up the app, tapped the door icon, and about 30 seconds later I could see the garage door opening.
It’s important to remember that the MyQ Garage is not meant to be a replacement for the wired button in your garage or the wireless remote you keep clipped to your car’s sun visor. It’s a supplement mostly useful for monitoring the door’s activity, and it will occasionally come in handy when you need to open or close it when you’re way—to let someone borrow your lawnmower, for instance. Just last night I received a notification that the door opened at 7:30PM while I was away. I knew from that that my wife had come home early to let the dog out, so I didn’t need to rush home from my appointment.
If you want to integrate the MyQ Garage opener into a whole smart home system, your choices are a little limited right now. It’s not a wireless Zigbee or Z-Wave device, so you can’t directly connect it to many of those popular controllers. It is compatible with the Wink smart home system and is part of the “Works with Nest” family of products. Officially it doesn’t work with SmartThings, but some users have found an adequate hack to make it work. Hopefully compatibility with IFTTT and Logitech Harmony Home will come as well.
One annoying feature of the MyQ is a loud beep (you can hear it on the video below) and flashing light that begins about 30 second before the door begins to close. I understand the reason—to give people a warning that the door is about to close, but I wish I could turn the volume and duration down. My garage door has an obstruction detector, so no one’s going to get crushed anyway.
An Internet of Things garage door opener might seem like an unnecessary device in the greater smart home universe, especially when you actually use the app to open the door only occasionally, but for the couple of times you do need it, the extra security and convenience is easily worth it.
This article was originally published on April 28, 2015 and was updated on June 14, 2015.