I love the dream of the smart home. Sadly, the dream of the smart home of the future is still probably a few years off, but things are getting better. Over the last couple years I’ve added a couple of smart technologies to my home:
- A Nest Thermostat
- A Ring Doorbell
- A pair of Belkin WeMo Switches
- A few Hue Lightbulbs
- A couple of D-Link webcams
- An Amazon Echo and an Echo Dot
- and my latest edition, the Chamberlin MyQ garage door opener
I first learned about the Chamberlin MyQ from Casey Liss. I was immediately intrigued and added the MyQ to my Amazon watchlist using the PriceRadar price tracking App and kept my eye open for a good deal. Last month a deal came up on an open box unit from Amazon’s Warehouse Deals and I jumped on it.
Following Allison Sheridan’s lead, I’ll first tell you the problem to be solved. I’ll regularly be driving to work in the morning and have this nagging suspicion that I forgot to close the garage door. More often than not, I turn around and swing back by the house to check. (For what it’s worth, I’ve never found the door open - but if I don’t check it will nag me all day.)
About a year ago I had the bright idea to install an inexpensive D-Link webcam in my garage. While this won’t help me in the event I actually leave the door open, it does allow me to check whether or not the door is open or closed without having to turn around and drive back home. For under $50 (depending on the model you buy) this was a pretty good solution and worth the peace of mind.
But, the webcam really didn’t solve the problem if I actually left the door open. While I do have keypad outside my garage to allow someone entry, it would be nice to be able to let someone into my garage or house without actually being home or giving them a code. And, truth is, I really liked the idea of being able to remotely open and close my garage door from my cell phone. So I decided to give the MyQ a try.
The beauty of the MyQ is that it works with most garage door openers. Mine’s a basic Genie model that was installed by the builder. The MyQ is two pieces, one is a sensor that mounts to the garage door to detect if it is open, closed or in motion. The other piece is the base station mounted in your garage and acts as a remote that will will relay a signal to open or close the door. Note that for this setup to work you have to have reasonable Wi-Fi reception in your garage.
Once the two pieces are mounted in your garage you are walked through the process of downloading the companion App and connecting the MyQ to your home network. If you’ve ever setup any connected home product you’re probably pretty familiar with this setup. You either share your iPhone’s network settings over bluetooth, or temporary join a Wi-Fi network created by the MyQ to provide the credentials to connect to your network. You also have to create an account with Chamberlin.
Once you have your account setup and the MyQ connected to your Wi-Fi, you finish the setup by configuring the MyQ basestation to control your garage door. If you’ve ever programed a new remote to control your opener you should be able to do this. Press a button on the box connected to your garage door, give the MyQ some information about the type of door you have, then put your Garage door in pairing mode.
Total setup time, including mounting the various pieces in the garage, took less than 15 minutes. Chamberlin provided fairly detailed instructions and I’m confident any geek should be able to accomplish this setup with no problem. Just make sure you follow all the steps in order and don’t jump ahead.
In my two months using the MyQ I’ve been pretty happy. I can open and close my garage door from the companion App on my iPhone. I’ve also setup a few custom rules to alert me immediately if my garage door opens or closes during certain times of the day (like times when normally there’s no activity at my home) and I’ve setup a notification to let me know if my door has been open for more than 15 and 30 minutes. These are great features if you have a family and want to know when people are coming and going.
There are a few things that could be improved. First, the Chamberlin MyQ is not currently compatible with HomeKit, IFTTT or Amazon’s Alexa. So for now, I have to open and close my garage door from their App on my iPhone. (Like an animal!) As a safety feature, the MyQ will implement a short delay and will make a loud noise and flash a light if you’re closing the garage door using the App. This is to provide someone at the home warning the door is about to be closed remotely. While this is probably a good idea, it can get old. (Damn lawyers!) Finally (and probably my only legitimate complaint) have had 2–3 false positives in the 2 months I’ve been using the MyQ where it has reported the garage door has been open when it was really closed. While this is not a high failure rate, it’s enough to make me keep my backup D-Link camera system in place.
As with any home automation product I suggest that you use a strong and unique password that you change frequently and connect the MyQ to a secure network.
List price on the Chamberlin MyQ is $130, though you can usually find it for just under $100 on Amazon. If you’re willing to buy an open box or refurb, you can get it for even less. Overall I’ve been happy to have the MyQ as an addition to my smart home, I just wish these all these smart home devices would work interoperate with each other so I didn’t have to keep so many different apps from different companies on my home screen to control my house.
This article first appeared in the July 2016 Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits/