If you’ve ever left the house in a hurry and driven away, only to forget whether or not you closed the garage door, or glanced outside in the evening only to realize you’ve left the door open for hours unattended, then a smart garage door opener is a must-have device to add to your Smart Home upgrades.
Even though I had experience with Smart Home devices, when I first heard about the idea of a smart garage door opener, I’ll admit that I wasn’t immediately sold on the idea. I had some terrifying vision of the robotic device going haywire and closing on my vehicle as I drove out, or disobey my command and lock me in. After doing some research and having tested out a few different models first-hand, I can safely say that my fears were completely unfounded, and the practical applications for a Wi-Fi garage door opener make life considerably more secure.
Here is our rundown of what a smart garage door opener is, which are our choices for the best smart garage door openers, and how to install a smart garage door opener, so you can be an expert in beefing up your Smart Home with this simple device that adds security and control.
Prices and availability of products discussed were accurate at time of publication, but are subject to change.
What is a Smart Garage Door Opener?
A smart garage door opener or smart garage door controller is an electronic device that interfaces with the mechanical and electric systems of the garage door, which enables users to control opening and closing via smartphone app on a Wi-Fi network.
Smart garage door openers also usually have features built-in that monitor the position of the door, sending mobile notifications to the user if the door is opened or closed. Some even have reminder notifications if the door is left open for too long, or auto-close features. Along with the ability for users to remotely control operation, most Wi-Fi garage door controllers keep a use log, so open and close events are recorded for reviewing at any time.
A key benefit for many people looking for solutions to make their garage opener smart is the use of voice assistants like Amazon Alexa (on the Amazon Echo or Fire devices) or Google Assistant (on the Google Home devices), where voice commands can open or close said garage doors.
How to Make a Garage Door Opener Smart
For the adventurous and tech-savvy DIYers, there are ways to rig up a DIY smart garage door opener that can be used to remotely open and close the door. However, for those of us who want all the bells and whistles that these companies throw into the interface and the simplicity of a plug-n-play design, there are two types of smart garage door openers.
The majority of the smart garage door openers available today are made up of the add-on controllers, or sensor kits. There are variations from brand-to-brand, but the general premise is the same. They hard wire up to the motor unit for control, and use some sort of measurement device — either a laser, Bluetooth sensor, or wired open/close sensor— to track and record the door position.
With add-on controllers they are cheaper than replacing the entire motor unit, they require far less installation, and there are more options available today. These have variable compatibility by brand and model, however most can operate with a wide swath of the motors on the market and retrofit to the current system..
Replacement motorized units
Alternatively, the other option is to go with an entire replacement of the motorized unit. This option removes the traditional garage door motor, and installs a new one that has all the Wi-Fi compatibility included within the complete unit.
While these complete smart garage door motors are more expensive and more difficult to install, they offer a solution for those who are replacing a broken motorized unit, and also for those looking to outfit a new building.
Complete motorized systems of smart garage door openers can be belt drive, chain drive, or screw drive operation. This is important because the new motor drive method must match the type or additional hardware in place, otherwise the mechanical components of the track need to be replaced as well.
What are the Best Smart Garage Door Openers for 2019?
The Genie Aladdin Connect smart garage door opener is one of the best because it has the ability to control up to three separate garage doors at once. This model also uses a Bluetooth sensor bolted to the garage door for the door positioning monitor device, so it is not going to fall off or lose connection.
With the Aladdin Connect, users can also set parameters for door activity that would result in triggered actions. For example, if the door is left open longer than a desired amount of time, there is a mode available that would automatically close the door. Alternatively, there is a time range mode that allows users to open or close the door on a specific time schedule, in addition to having remote operation and push notifications for open and close events. With the extent of control this Wi-Fi device offers, it absolves any situation where the door can be unintentionally left open or accessed without the owner knowing.
Genie’s Aladdin Connect integrates with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, and a variety of other garage door opener brands. Read our full Genie Aladdin Connect overview here.
Functionally speaking, the Nexx Garage shares a lot of the same characteristics of the Genie Aladdin Connect. It too offers alerts for door opens and closes, as well as push notification reminders for doors left open. One difference is the door position monitoring method, which Nexx uses via a wired open/close sensor that stretches from the control unit to the position on the garage door.
The Nexx Garage is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, and gives a seven-day use log of open/close activity. Read our full Nexx Garage overview here.
Garadget was funded on Indiegogo, and similar to the aforementioned models is compatible with the full range of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. Additionally though, this smart garage door opener also works with HomeKit, SmartThings, and a few other smaller protocols. The standard open/close functionality and usage updates are included with the Garadget model, however the design by which it operates is different from the others on this list.
The Garadget method for determining whether or not the garage door is closed relies on a laser, shot from the smart controller. This laser bounces off an adhesive reflector that users stick to the inside of the door, and when it does not make contact the door is deemed to be open. Another unique factor of Garadget is the open source angle, where they have an SDK available for advanced users to use an API to customize their own smart garage functions. Far out of my league, but for those so inclined Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or other development boards can be used to fashion more customized automation systems with the garage door. Read our full Garadget overview here.
Chamberlain and Liftmaster are both under the same corporate umbrella, and their myQ platform offers users the standard open/close remote control, and push notifications for events. The myQ app also allows users to set daily schedules, and customize their notifications based on actions and preference.
myQ is interesting from a design perspective because it includes an LED light that can be also set to activate on its own schedule. The myQ model is the only smart garage door opener on the list to also include Key by Amazon integration, whereby Amazon packages can be delivered into the garage for safekeeping. That by itself opens up other conversations, but the option is available for those who need it.
It is worth noting that this controller works with other brands of garage door opener motors, even though this brand makes their own motors (just like Genie). Now, there are some limitations when it comes to the myQ’s ability to communicate with voice controllers. While Apple HomeKit is a straight up integration, Amazon Alexa is only possible via a backdoor IFTTT workaround. Also, IFTTT and Google Assistant require a $1/month subscription beyond the 30-day demo, or $10/year if done annually.
Garageio’s smart opener has been around for a few years, and also uses a Wi-Fi connection to control opening and closing of up to three garage doors along with notifying users of activity via push notification. Unlike other smart garage door openers though, Garageio also has a web-based dashboard, which allows users to view activity without a smartphone.
Stringify, Amazon Echo, and IFTTT are all compatible with this controller, and Samsung SmartThings is on the horizon as well. The system uses a wireless door position sensor to monitor the status of the opening, and at $129 it is on the pricier side of the spectrum on the models we have here.
GoGogate2 offers users the full suite of voice controller compatibility, with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Apple HomeKit. Where the GoGogate takes a different direction from previously discussed smart garage door openers is in the versatility of the product, as it can be used to both automate garage doors and motorized gates, with up to three doors or gates on one controller. Additionally, GoGogate2 can pair with most popular IP cameras or utilize their own to deliver video recording of opens and closes. The ability to link up a smart camera to the garage door controller is rather helpful, especially when opening or closing the door remotely it offers added comfort having eyes on scene.
Some of the GoGogate2 kits come with an indoor or outdoor camera, or users can opt to leverage their own camera. However, if using another camera there is a $30/three-year subscription that must be purchased. When the cameras are hooked up, individuals can view a log history, view the video, and control access from Apple Watch or PC as well as smartphone app.
The Senclo Fi smart garage door opener is the only one of the bunch that has a separate control panel, which uses a touchscreen LCD panel in place of the traditional wall-mounted button. While all the functions can be controlled via app, Alexa, or Google Assistant, they can also be executed “manually” through the control panel.
Additionally, the system can enter lockdown mode, whereby the garage door does not open except with the pin code. The Senclo Fi unit can display activity logs from the app or the screen, along with standard date, time, and weather information. This opener does include out-of-the-gate geofencing control, so that the garage door automatically closes when it detects the vehicle leave, as well as opening when users drive up to the door, which is pretty nice. Vacation mode is also included in the features, which disables any control of the door within a set time period.
Home8 has had their crack at a couple different types of Smart Home starter kits, and this one includes the garage door controller, network router, as well as a 720p Wi-Fi camera. The Home8 model uses the network router as a hub for any Home8 devices that one could own, and has dual firewalls built in along with encryption to the cloud storage, along with a 100dB alarm.
Features for the Home8 system include 24/7 recording, with flags for periods of activity along with mobile push notifications for unnatural events as well. Remote operation for opening and closing the garage door is also available, however no voice assistant integration or IFTTT is available at this time.
Asante’s crack at the smart garage door opener also features a camera component, with a 480p included Wi-Fi camera in the kit. Similar to other smart cameras included with garage controllers in the running, it has IR (infrared) capability. Also in the box is a wireless range extender, to help transmit the video across the main Wi-Fi network for remote viewing.
Now the Asante does need to have the camera wired to the actual garage door controller, so that does limit the locations it can be placed. The camera doesn’t allow for video motion detection or recording, however the app does allow for push notifications when the door is opened or closed, as well as remote operation. Up to two doors can be operated via the Asante controller, however there is no integration with IFTTT, Alexa, or Google Assistant.
How to Install a Smart Garage Door Opener
Whether you choose an add-on controller or a full replacement motorized unit for your smart garage door opener, the level of difficulty in the installation process will vary considerably. For simplicity’s sake, this is how you install an add-on controller.
- Plug in the smart garage door controller to a wall outlet near the garage door motor, and connect the wires from the controller to the terminals
- Download the app from the Google Play store or App Store, and follow on-screen instructions.
- Pair the device to the Wi-Fi network
- Mount the reflector, Bluetooth module, or open/close sensors (whichever your particular model utilizes) on the garage door.
- Test the system, set preferences in the app, and you are done.
Are Smart Garage Door Openers Safe?
With IoT and devices connected to the internet, there are always inherent security concerns of hacking. While that is a valid concern — and one that should be held in the highest priority for everyone— home burglaries are far more common with a crowbar than via hacking.
Smart garage door openers are indeed safe to use, and a main purpose for choosing one would be to increase awareness of the state of the garage. However, just having the smart controllers connected to the Wi-Fi network does make them vulnerable to a certain degree to malicious behavior though, so like with any Smart Home device exercising proper security practices with passwords and closed networks helps increase the security of the system.
One must-follow practice is to always set a unique password for any smart device, as they often are distributed with universal passwords that can be used to gain access to any of their devices, and therefore any network they are connected to.
The queen of the voice assistants, Amazon Alexa leads the pack as the most popular of the bunch with over 50,000 different skills in her library. Of course, being the most popular there are several smart garage door openers that work with Amazon Alexa. The Genie Aladdin Connect, Senclo Fi, Garageio, and Garadget, all work outright with Alexa-enabled devices. The Chamberlain/Liftmaster myQ technically can use Amazon Alexa, but only through an integration with IFTTT and not outright via the Alexa Skills.
While the options for the Alexa ecosystem cover almost every option, smart garage door openers that work with Google Assistant are surprisingly far less plentiful. The Senclo Fi, Garadget, Genie Aladdin Connect, and Chamberlain/Liftmaster myQ are all compatible with the Google Home devices. Now, for those who use the Google Assistant voice assistant platform and are considering a Chamberlain/Liftmaster myQ, know that in order to use voice control you will have to pay $1/month for an integration cost.
Smart Garage Door Openers that Work with IFTTT
While Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are certainly the most popular integrations for Home Automation control, I’m very fond of IFTTT (If This, Then That). IFTTT is a free software that links up various devices, no matter which protocol they actually operate on, whether it is Zigbee, Z-Wave, or regular old Wi-Fi. Through this linking, IFTTT connects device actions together in scenes or “applets”, so that individual triggers can set off a series of automated processes.
The Genie Aladdin Connect, Garageio, Garadget, Nexx Garage, and Chamberlain/Liftmaster myQ smart garage door openers now work with IFTTT. It should be noted though, that the Chamberlain/Liftmaster myQ setup will also charge a $1/month integration fee for the use of IFTTT, as they do with Google Assistant. Since some automated garage controllers don’t have geofencing built-in, the ability for users to leverage the IoT technology of these devices alone is not at its full potential. Without IFTTT, users would need to unlock their phones, and manually hit the button in their smartphone app if they wanted to raise or lower the garage door (without the physical remote of course). However with IFTTT, this action could be automated along with several others.
For example, if users have an IFTTT-compatible smart garage controller and another IFTTT-compatible device that has geolocation (like the Nest thermostat), a custom action can be created for the garage door to open or close when the Nest geolocation detects the smartphone in question is within an appropriate distance. The possibilities are far and wide with IFTTT, and we will definitely see this technology increase in popularity.
How to Build a Smart Garage
While most would agree the higher priority on the Home Automation food chain is the security and efficiency of the living quarters, there’s no doubt building a smarter garage can offer some great value for the home as a whole. What you need to build a smart garage is really dependent on the type (attached to the home or detached), if it has windows or doors and how many, what utilities are available inside, and how often it is used.
The one critical component to any smart garage is the controller of course. Once you have this piece implemented, other elements should follow. However, if you have a small, detached garage with little space for anything but a vehicle or storage, this might be all you need to keep your space safe and secure.
Depending on which Wi-Fi garage door controller you chose, you may or may not have a camera included in that setup. If not, and your garage space does not currently include a smart camera covering the access points, I would recommend adding one. Some garages have windows or side doors that can be weak points for crooks looking to get into the home.
Often, families lock the external doors to the house, but with a connected garage the door to the house is sometimes left unsecured. Whether it is accidental, because the locked exterior door and garage door provide “enough” security, or just out of habit, this leaves the opportunity for burglars to target a hole in the defenses and gain entry to the rest of the house.
Having smart cameras either positioned inside the garage facing the entry points or outside covering a wider area is a good way to ensure security is maintained and any suspect activity is captured. Some outdoor smart cameras can be multi-purpose, like smart floodlights or smart lighting fixtures, which make the most use of the space. Naturally, all smart cameras allow for remote viewing and a variety of other options from motion-detection video capture to instant push notifications, night vision, and sometimes custom motion-detection zones for tailored security.
If external windows or doors are present, it is worth considering opting for some smart sensors to secure the garage from unwanted access through secondary entry points. If a full alarm system is not utilized, simple one-off door and window sensors can offer some similar benefits without the cost.
The most common types of smart window sensors are those that detect glass breakage, which send an immediate push notification so users can know that their property has been damaged. While these are specifically designed for windows, open/close sensors can be used for any type of window, door, or cabinet to alert when two contact sensors have been separated from one another. This comes in handy to keep an eye on the secondary access portals in the garage, or even throughout the whole home.
One of the most common cases of damage to homes isn’t from burglary, but actually flooding, due to burst pipes or faulty connections. For those who have their water heater or water main located inside the garage, smart water leak sensors are a highly effective way to minimize any potential damage. Smart leak detectors work by using metal (often gold) connectors that make contact with the floor of whatever surface they are placed upon. It is a good idea to place them under areas that often have pipe failure or leaks: under sinks, water heaters, connections between different plumbing materials, washing machines, and so forth. When water is detected on the little metal connectors, immediate alerts are sent to the mobile device, so users can pinpoint the location in the home that is suffering damage.
Stepping up the security and control even more, these satellite smart water leak detectors can be linked to smart water valve controllers to actually stop the damage right in its tracks. Not only do these devices enable users to remotely turn off or on the water main via app, but they can be paired with the leak sensors to automatically shut the water main when leaks are detected. For anyone that has ever suffered flood damage, you know the huge pain and cost it causes, and these devices give a preventative measure to avoid both altogether.
Automating yard irrigation systems is one of the easiest plug-n-play ways to save energy and have more control over the Smart Home. At their core, smart sprinkler controllers have variable program settings that allow users to customize run times, water usage based on plant type, soil type, and region via app. These smart controllers can adapt watering schedules based on the weather automatically, ensuring maximum efficiency for maintaining the lawn or garden without overwatering. While many of the options for smart sprinkler controllers are suitable for outdoor use, most houses likely have their controllers mounted in the garage and this adds a new level of connected tech to the Smart Home ecosystem.
Top Smart Garage Door Openers
Unlike other areas of the Smart Home space, the smart garage door opener market has a relatively low level of saturation. Often that can be a detriment if the options have limited features or functionalities, but in this circumstance I think it is a rather good thing. No overwhelming mountain of products to sift through to determine which is the best, the list of the top smart garage door openers is all here, in no particular order: Genie Aladdin Connect, Nexx Garage, Garadget, Chamberlain/Liftmaster myQ, Garageio, GoGogate, Senclo Fi, and the Home8 Garage Door Opener.
When it comes to Smart Home technology there are always new developments that change the game, but the development of smart garage door openers has tapped into a new vertical entirely. It’s clear that there are great benefits when it comes to home security, to controlling the garage door remotely and having automated systems in place for linking multiple devices together. The next generation of connected home devices will likely go above and beyond what we are aware of now, but adding Wi-Fi control to a garage door gives users more security, accessibility, and control than ever before today.
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Note, all prices and products are accurate at the time of article publication, although some may have changed or are no longer available.