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Smart Garage Door

Published January 2, 2018

In continuation of our IoT series, first with c-wires for Wifi thermostats and then smart wireless light switches, now I want to discuss smart Wifi enabled garage doors.

For this, after doing a couple weeks of on and off online research, I went with the MyQ Garage and MyQ Home Bridge from Liftmaster or Chamberlain - it is the same thing.  

The MyQ Garage 821LM works for many garage door openers that do not have built in Wifi already.  They use the learn button on the garage door, tied to a door sensor, where it connects to your Wifi and lets you open and close your garage door(s) via an app.  The only reason I got the add on MyQ Home Bridge is because I wanted to add support for Apple HomeKit, so I can manage the garage doors in the native Apple home app and via Siri voice control. If you do not care about that, you can skip the Home Bridge because the standard MyQ Garage 821LM does everything you need.

Truth is, it is incredibly confusing using both the devices, I wish they simply sold the MyQ Garage as a standalone device with Apple HomeKit support built in.  I now have two different devices and sensors to manage the garage doors, which seems a bit redundant.  The reason I guess they did this is because the MyQ Garage 821LM came out without HomeKit support, so they added a Home Bridge later on to add the support.  The bad part for Google or Alexa users is that if you want to control the garage via voice, you need to pay a monthly fee.  I opted not to hook it up to Google Assistant because the off chance someone yells outside "Okay Google, open the garage door" and it can pick up the voice and open it from the outside.  You can't really do that right now with Apple Siri, so it is nice that way.

Not only can you open and close your garage doors via the app but you can set alerts if you forget to close the garage.  Sometimes, in very cold temperatures, the garage doors will get stuck and not close fully.  Sometimes I won't notice and the garage door can be left open all night. This app, with the alert, will notify me via push notification and/or email alert of such an issue:

Here is the push alert from the Chamberlain app:

In addition, you can open your garage door to let people drop off packages or let guests in when you are not home.  It can also send you alerts when the doors are opened or closed and you get full history of all open and close activities. 

With HomeKit, you get Siri controls and of course operations in the native Apple Home app:

You can see the garage door on the bottom right next to my lights.  And you can tap on it to open or close the door. You can set routines via Apple Home for things to happen based on opening the garage door or based on geofencing and much more.  Also, the native alerts are a nice add on:

Again, if you do not need the Apple integration, no need for that add on.  Plus, it is a lot easier to install just the one device over the two devices - the documentation is really poor for adding the Home Bridge hardware. The big downside of this solution are the monthly fees for Google or Alexa integration.

There are some pretty good videos on how to set these up at the Liftmaster of Chamberlain web sites and many DIY videos on YouTube as well. 

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Barry Schwartz is the CEO of RustyBrick, a New York Web service firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales. Barry is also the founder of the Search Engine Roundtable and the News Editor of Search Engine Land. He is well known & respected for his expertise in the search marketing industry. Barry graduated from the City University of New York and lives with his family in the NYC region.

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