If you have an automatic garage door opener, you probably don’t think about it much. You push a remote control button, and the bay door lifts up. You push it again, and it closes. All is good in the world.
That is, until you’re at work, and you can’t remember whether you tapped the close button on your remote control after you pulled your car out of the garage. Then panic sets in. You take stock of all the things that garage pirates could wheel out in a jiffy — bikes, the lawn mower, a pressure washer, you name it. You begin thinking of ways to be able to leave work early while frantically texting your neighbor to see if they happen to be home so that they can check for you.
But instead of panicking, what if you could just check the status of your garage door from an app on your phone, and then close it if it’s open?
Chamberlain now offers garage door openers that let you do that very thing, and the peace of mind they provide is glorious. I had a chance to test out the B1381 ($338), which not only offers a corresponding app that you can use as an additional remote control for your garage door, but also lets you have Amazon packages delivered inside your garage via Key by Amazon (more on that later). Here are some of my thoughts about the Chamberlain opener.
The garage door opener, which you’ll most likely need to have professionally installed, comes with the overhead light and motor, a keypad, sensors, two small remote controls for your car or wherever, and a controller that you mount on the wall inside the garage. All in all, it took a professional about two hours to swap out my old system for the new one.
One thing I noticed about the new system right away is that the LED light system makes my single-car garage brighter than ever. While most garage door openers emit a dark, depressing, almost creepy light, the B1381 brings a bright splash of light to the entire garage, making a second light unnecessary when looking for something or working on a project.
My favorite thing about the garage door opener is that I can use my phone as a remote control.
The second thing I noticed is how quiet and smooth the opener is. I didn’t think our old opener was loud until it was swapped out. If you own a home with a bedroom next to a garage and it’s noisy, it might be worth your while to make the swap.
Lastly, it should be noted that the garage door has a battery backup that allows you to open the door even when the power is down, which is a nice feature.
Beyond how quiet and bright the system is, my favorite thing about the garage door opener is that I can use my phone as a remote control. More than once, my son requested his bike out of the garage while I was inside the house. No problem — I just opened the app on my phone and opened the door for him (he’s too short to reach the keypad). I closed it the same way.
The app also allows you to set up alerts, so you can be notified if the door has been open for a long time, and set it up so that you can automatically close the door on a reoccurring schedule.
Are you an Amazon Prime member who’s terrified of porch pirates? You’ll dig this, then: Chamberlain’s B1381 garage door opener connects to the Key By Amazon app, which allows delivery people to leave packages inside your garage and then close it up and leave.
In order to use the app and the Key By Amazon service, you’ll most definitely need a wifi range extender.
Here’s how it works: You connect your garage door opener to the MyQ app, then download the Key By Amazon app. Log in to your Amazon Prime account, and from there you can follow steps to get a package delivered inside your garage. When you order stuff from Amazon, an “in-garage delivery” option will show during shipping preferences. You’ll be able to monitor progress of the delivery through the app.
If there’s one negative about Chamberlain’s garage door opener (or any smart garage door opener, really), it’s that home Wi-Fi is typically weak in the garage. In order to use the app and the Key By Amazon service, you’ll most definitely need a range extender. While you can get one for between $20 and 30, we wish the garage door opener just came with one in the first place. I had trouble keeping the door connected at all until I added a range extender, but even after I did, connectivity dropped from time to time.
Overall, though, Chamberlain’s newest offering helps you make sure your garage door opens when you want and shuts when you want. Nifty, indeed.
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