This winter when temps hit double digit below zero, my trusty old Genie garage door opener started struggling. After a couple days, it quit working completely. It was well over 10 years old, so this wasn’t totally unexpected.
I decided to replace it with a Chamberlain Smart Garage Door Opener.
My new Chamberlain smart garage door opener works like a charm. It handles my 16 foot garage door with zero effort. It’s way more smooth and quiet than my last opener. Plus, the WiFi features help me make sure I will never forget to close the garage door at night again.
Do I really need a smart garage door opener?
Before I had a smart garage door opener, I would occasionally leave the garage door open all night long. I never had anyone steal anything (that I know of), but there has been more than one occasion where I wake up to a mess of leaves or snow inside my garage.
Now, with a smart garage door, I have multiple ways to make sure it gets closed at night. For me, this is the main benefit of a smart garage door.
Using the Alexa integration (see below), I added a “close garage door” action to my “Good Night” Alexa routine.
As a backup, I also use the schedule feature in the MyQ app to have my door close every night at 11pm.
Difference between MyQ Hub and Smart Garage Door Opener
If you already have a working garage door opener, There isn’t much advantage to replacing the entire garage door opener it with a new smart garage door opener. Instead, you can make your old garage door opener smart by using a smart garage door controller like the MyQ hub (here’s a list of other available smart garage door controllers).
For the last year, I’ve been using the Chamberlain MyQ smart garage hub (here’s my review) connected to my old Genie opener. It’s served me well, and until now I had no reason to swap out my working garage door opener for a new smart garage door opener.
- The MyQ hub is really low-cost compared to a brand new opener. I paid $30 for the MyQ hub and my new Chamberlain opener cost $180.
- Plus, the installation of the MyQ hub is way quicker than a completely new garage door opener. In the end, I spent about three hours installing the new Chamberlain opener, which wasn’t bad. I’m sure I could do it quite a bit faster the second time, but I’d never be able to match the 15 minutes it took to setup the MyQ hub.
- The MyQ hub relies on a “tilt” sensor that sticks to your garage door to determine when your garage door is opened or closed. If the sensor loses connection to the hub due to low battery or some weird interference, the MyQ hub will not work. The Chamberlain smart garage door opener does not have this problem. The open/close sensor is built into the opener so there’s never a risk of a lost connection.
Can I Connect MyQ to Alexa?
All the Chamberlain smart garage door products use the the MyQ app. The app connects to Google Assistant and IFTTT with a subscription (currently free), but Alexa integration is curiously absent.
I happily use Alexa with MyQ, so how do I do it?
There is a lesser known free app called SimpleCommands which provides a bridge between your MyQ account and your Alexa account. I’ve been using it ever since I bought the MyQ hub and it works well. I explain in detail how to do it here.
Does it have a reliable WiFi connection?
One aspect that differentiates the Chamberlain brand from other garage door openers is the MyQ app. It’s true, other brands have connected openers as well, but Chamberlain has a head start. The MyQ app has been out for a few years now and they’ve used that time to work out the kinks. In the beginning there were a lot of connection issues with the app, but now it seems to be humming along quite nicely.
One thing you do have to make sure of is that the WiFi signal in your garage is strong. I have a detached garage so my garage is pretty far from my home’s WiFi router. When the garage door is closed, the WiFi signal is not strong enough to be reliable from inside the garage. Therefore, I used a power line adapter to extend my network to my garage (here’s how). Now, the garage door opener connects directly to the garage WiFi and never has any problems.
Belt Drive is super quiet
The model I purchased has a belt drive. The main reason for choosing a belt drive is quieter operation.
It may have been because my old opener was on its last legs, but that thing sounded a bit like screws in a garbage disposal. Compared to my old opener, this new one is whisper quiet.
Noise isn’t a huge concern for me since I have a detached garage. I’m constantly making all kinds of noise out in my shop so a little extra noise from the opener doesn’t mean much. However, the smooth, silent operation of my new opener is nice.
For those of you with an attached garage, you may prefer the quiet of a belt drive as rooms right next to the garage might otherwise get “polluted” with noise from a chain drive opener.
Do I need the extra horsepower?
As you’re shopping for garage door openers, you’ll probably see options ranging anywhere from 1/3 hp to 1 1/2 hp. The fact is you don’t really need much power to open and close a properly installed garage door. A standard 1/2 hp opener should be able to handle just about any residential door.
If that’s the case, why do opener companies make 1.0+ hp versions with a premium price tag?
If you look closely, you’ll see that the higher power openers usually have a longer warranty. This is because electric motors have a tendency to wear out much more quickly if you regularly stress them to their capacity. Since a 1/2 hp motor is being pushed much closer to its limit when opening or closing a garage door, its expected lifetime will be shortened much more than a 1.0 hp version.
A garage door opener is the sort of thing you usually only notice when it’s not working correctly. So far, the only time I notice my new garage door opener is when I notice how quiet it is compared to my last one.
To be fair, I’m sure you could buy just about any new garage door opener and have it work well in the beginning. I think the real test is how well it’s performing 5-10 years from now. That said, I know that Chamberlain’s MyQ app has made the smart part of the garage door opener very easy and reliable to use which gives it an advantage over its competitors.