In the futuristic world dubbed the Internet of things, some will doubtless ask, “Do I really need to be able to open my garage door from 200 miles away?” The answer is, you may not need to, but it sure can make life easier.
Chamberlain’s MyQ Garage is a remote control for your garage door, allowing you to open and close the door using an Apple or Android smartphone. The $130 package includes a controller that communicates with the door opener and a home Wi-Fi network. Owners download a separate app to their smartphone, which can also alert users whenever the door is opened or closed.
Installation and Setup
Physically installing MyQ’s two pieces of hardware is straightforward. A door position sensor attaches to the inside of the top panel of the garage door using either a pair of stick-on Velcro strips or a back plate that can be screwed on. The second hardware component is a waffle-sized wireless controller box that plugs into a wall outlet and can be positioned anywhere near the garage door lifter. For this review, the MyQ was paired to a Chamberlain ½ HP Chain Drive Garage Door Opener and easily made the wireless connection to the door-lift mechanism, as well as picking up a distant Wi-Fi signal that other devices have struggled to detect in my garage.
Getting the hardware’s remote functions working was a more arduous process. First you have to register the hub (meaning the MyQ controller box) online, and then register the garage door opener. Next, you have to tell the site you have a sensor and then test it by pushing the sensor’s test button (so that it recognizes open from closed positions).
But wait, you’re not done. The Chamberlain cloud service still needs to know what kind of garage door opener you have and the color of the program button on the device (run back out to the garage and get on a step stool to find the programming button). Yellow? Okay, then go back and push the programming button.
Once all these steps were completed, the site recognized my garage door, informing me of how long it had been open. Closing the garage door completes the registration process.
The MyQ Home Control app (for both iOS and Android) allows you to remotely operate the door. It works well enough and tries to make its features conspicuous by providing a splash screen that points out various functions. However, it still could use some streamlining. To set up alerts, for example, you have to go to the events tab, then the menu button and select “view alerts.” Then you’ll encounter the option for setting up alerts (text or e-mail?). The process should be compressed to a single step.
Living With MyQ
In turns out there are several scenarios that make the MyQ Garage a welcome convenience. At home, it can save you from those senior moments following a day of chores around the house. Several times I could not remember if I closed the door after returning ladders and tools to the garage. Instead of trudging all the way around the house, I simply checked the app; if the door was open, I closed it without getting up off the couch.
MyQ offers a level of reassurance. Have the kids been in and out of the garage?
On at least one other occasion, I forgot the remote door opener for the car. Fortunately, I just used the app in my phone to open the garage door without having to get out in the rain.
When you’re not at home, MyQ offers a level of reassurance. Have the kids been in and out of the garage? Did I close the door when I left? When I was away, I also appreciated the e-mail alerts telling me that someone was playing with the door (again).
When you’re at the office, it also allows you to open your garage should the need arise for, say, a service call, allowing an HVAC person to service systems in the garage or basement without giving them access to the rest of your house.
The MyQ works well within its limited scope. Over several weeks of use, I didn’t encounter any glitches. The accessory works with a variety of Chamberlain and LiftMaster garage door openers, and the company claims it should work with “a majority” of openers from other companies made after 1993, including models from Craftsman, Genie, and Stanley.
MyQ’s hub design is clearly intended to work with other future devices, but right now the only other MyQ accessories are a couple of lighting controllers (a compatible lamp controller is $40). Integration with lighting is a smart idea (the door goes up, the lights go on), but having it work in conjunction with a Web cam would be even better so that any time the door opened or closed you received a video of whoever (or whatever) was coming or going. Better still, opening it up to work with home automation and security systems from other companies would improve MyQ’s appeal.
That issue may be partially addressed this fall when Apple’s iOS 8 with Homekit is released. Apple listed the MyQ Garage as one of the devices that would work with the new software, although Chamberlain declined to comment on the timing of the release.
Besides, remote garage door opens from others, such as AT&T’s Digital Life model, have to be professionally installed and are more expensive. The AT&T controller costs $50, plus installation, as well as a $4.99 month fee on top of AT&T’s $39.99 security subscription fee.
For do-it-yourselfers, Chamberlain’s MyQ is a handy, inexpensive option.
- Alerts owner whenever door is opened or closed
- Simple operation and physical installation
- Works with a variety of garage door openers
- Overly complex software setup
- Does not work with other security and automated home systems