Garage door openers are not new home automation technology; they have been around for almost a hundred years!  For a long time the lowly garage door opener has been taken for granted but recently there has been a renaissance and the old technology is new again.  Loads of new features are available thanks to smart phones, internet connectivity and integration into IoT and Home Automation systems.

According to one study 71% of people indicate that they use their garage door daily and many use the garage as their main door replacing their front door as the main way they access their homes.  If you are part of that group upgrading your garage door opener can help improve efficiency and security.  On top of that it can just be plain fun.  

What We Love:

Gogogate 2

Why We Love it:

The Gogogate2 garage door opener has loads of features and integration options.  According to Gogogate it works with all brands and as you may have guessed from the name it also works with gates.  The applications work with both iOS and Android. One controller can manage up to three doors and gates.  The hub can function as a standalone unit and will function with limited features without internet connectivity.  The standalone functionality also means that you do not need to store personal information in the cloud.  This is particularly great if you are concerned about privacy and security or are unable to connect to the internet for any reason.  There are options for either wireless or wired connectivity between the controller and the tilt sensors (gate sensors are wired only) with the wireless options using AAA batteries that are estimated to last for a year and a half.  

It has a nice application interface packed with lots of information including temperature, battery life and the last event which tells you if the door is open or closed.  You can see a live view of the garage door with the optional IP camera integration and can quickly swipe between the doors or gates you can control.  Controlling the door uses an intuitive swipe up to open and down to close gesture.  There is a smartwatch application that allows you to control or monitor your garage from your wrist.  

There is granular user access control.  The user access includes unlimited access for full control, restricted access for users that can only operate a door on certain days and times and temporary access for users who can operate a door for one day.  The temporary access is handy for parcel delivery or pickup and admitting guests or technicians.  

The Gogogate2 includes some of the best logging and tracking options we have seen for a garage door system.  The logging displays the most recent events on the main page of the application and includes a calendar that lists when and who opened or closed a door.  The calendar also allows you to schedule door events.  The detailed log can include a video clip of the event if you subscribe to the additional video monitoring plug-in subscription.  The subscription is currently available for $30 USD for three years and includes one gigabyte of storage monthly and one gigabyte of renewable video storage to keep track of events.  The application can also email or send you phone alerts letting you know when the door is opened or closed or if it is left open.  

The Gogogate2 integrates with IFTTT and Amazon Echo.  These technologies expand the functionality significantly allowing geolocation triggers to open or close the gates and doors and hands free control.  For example, you could (notice we say could, this is not something we recommend relying on!) ask your Echo to open the garage door then as you drive away have IFTTT close the door or perform the actions in reverse upon returning home.  With those triggers you would never need to press a button or open an application or even pull out your phone.  That not only makes the system easier to use on a day to day basis it improves your security and is some next level wizardry that is sure to impress friends and family.

The Gogogate2 has been designed as a DIY product and requires no special skills to install or setup.  

Hmmm:

The setup and configuration although not difficult is one of the most complicated and can take up to three or four times longer than other similar products.  That said, the Gogogate should be easy to install in less than an hour.  It should be installed in less than an hour but another nightmare can be the lack of documentation.  Gogogate recently launched an interactive installation guide to help with this persistent user complaint but we will need to see over time how it works out.  It is tricky trying to work with every option available and in every scenario possible so we can give them some forgiveness for this but it would be nice to see a bit more information included in the package.  

Other features also caused some of the same issues where advanced features equal complications.  The multiple accounts that allow for access without internet connectivity cause you to need to configure multiple levels of security.  The multiple accounts therefore require multiple logins.  The flexibility in configuration that allows the system to work with any garage door opener where you can wire the controller either directly into the opener as is common with other units or connect it to the pushbutton controller can be confusing.  The option to have wired connections for the gate and tilt sensors can make for lots of wires to figure out.

The app is also more confusing than some of the others due to the additional features.  Once you get beyond the nicely laid out front page there are smaller fonts and the layout isn’t as user friendly or functional as it could be.

The integration with IFTTT is a fantastic feature but as anyone who uses IFTTT on a regular basis knows it isn’t the most reliable solution.  Driving away and counting on IFTTT to close the door is not something we would really do or recommend with any confidence.  Having the IFTTT triggers configured does add another layer of security though and we recommend building them just don’t rely on them.

Works Best With:

The Gogogate2 works best in a DIY home automation setup that uses a smartphone or tablet as a primary controller.

Great For:

This is a great fit for home automation setups that use IFTTT for integration.  

You Might Also Love:

There are lots of options available right now and some of the other options may be a better fit for you if you have different needs or based on the technology you already own.

MyQ by LiftMaster – Also known as Chamberlain, Sears/Craftsman and Raynor.  These guys know their stuff and own a majority share of the garage door opener market.  There is a good chance you have one of their openers already installed.  If you do, you know that they have a solution that will work and is easy to install. If you decide to go with a MyQ solution you will need to know your model, how old it is and check their site to ensure you pick the one that works with your garage door opener.   The MyQ system integrates with Nest and Wink controllers and has options that will allow you to control lights as well.  This solution was a close contender for our Stuff We Love pick but was edged out for a few reasons:  1) lack of features (some were cut out e.g. IFTTT integration and geolocation triggers were omitted to focus on safety), 2) there are no guest or user account options, 3) false alerts where the system indicates that the door is open when it is actually closed are a commonly reported issue.

Aeotec Z Wave Garage Door Opener – This solution is one of the most flexible and advanced solutions available.  It will fit right into a Z Wave home automation system and is packed with cool features.  It has many of the basic features you would expect to find like the ability to control from your phone or any other home automation remote or it can be manually operated from a button on the controller.  The ability to integrate into a centralized home controller adds the powerful functionality of scenes, single application control and geolocation triggers.  It includes eight LED warning lights and integration with security cameras and other automation devices such as lights and thermostats.  It is relatively straightforward to install with a few clips to piggyback a connection to your existing motor connection ports.  It also includes the ability to upload MP3’s to customize your audible warning (audible warnings are an essential safety feature for long distance remote control solutions).  I’m thinking “Danger Will Robinson!” or something along those lines.  The tilt sensor batteries are estimated to last up to two years and the sensor includes a tamper detector.  Aeotec is an innovative company that makes many Z Wave devices and knows automation technology inside and out.  Although their products can sometimes be hit or miss for reliability the features they bring to the table make them a strong contender.  They deserve serious consideration especially if you are growing a Z Wave based home automation system.  The downsides are the complexity of configuration and the need for additional components for the added functionality.  If you use a Z Wave controller and don’t want to use the Aeotec garage door opener another good alternative is GoControl.  The GoControl garage door opener is a solid, basic solution without some of the extra bells and whistles found in the Aeotec opener.  

Asante Garage Door Opener with Camera Kit – a slightly more expensive option that bundles a camera to monitor your garage (which is a fantastic idea BTW!) as the unique selling point.  This solution looks good, does all the basics, supports multiple users, has good wireless range and is not difficult to install.  Like our top pick, the Gogogate2, it also allows you to visually double check the doors and security of the garage from one application.  On the downside, Asante does push you to use their application for all the features to work.  This makes it more difficult to integrate into a larger home automation system.  Asante offers additional home automation tools including irrigation controllers, smoke detectors and music/light gadgets. The garage door opener application can be a bit cumbersome with buttons for opening/closing the garage door located very close to the ones that change the camera from day to night vision causing the doors to be opened or closed sometimes when you are only trying to look at what is going on.  If you like the Asante ecosystem or want a solution that integrates a camera seamlessly this solution is a good one.

Stuff We Really Like:

GarageDoorBuddy – these guys sell the garage door opener and the garage door monitor separately.  This allows you to only purchase the part you want.  This is a nice solution if all you are looking for is the ability to check to see if the door is up or down.  Unfortunately they only ship to the USA.

Garageio – This one looks like it will have lots of potential and they are developing some interesting features like “Garageio Delivers” which will theoretically be an integrated and seamless solution that opens the garage door for the delivery guy when he arrives and closes it when he leaves.  On paper the product has a great list of features and integrates well with some interesting and different services such as Stringify (as well as IFTTT).  If you are looking for a specific feature that only Garageio offers it is worth considering but it is just not as polished or full featured as our other recommended options.

Garadget – This is a crowd funded project that has some interesting features including the awesomely StarTrek sounding Particle Photon P1 module <grin>.  The Garadget sticks to the bottom of your garage door opener and uses the photo sensor rather than a separate tilt sensor making it simpler to setup. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the audible and visual warning system required for UL325 certification so there are some safety concerns with remotely operating the door.  

If you are handy there are loads of people building their own garage door controllers with Arduino and Sparkcore.  Check out sites like MyDoorOpener.com to see what is possible. This is a great introduction to building your own automation technology if you are interested in that type of thing.  

What’s Not To Love:

While the Gogogate2 doesn’t try to be the platform like some other home automation vendors do it doesn’t integrate as well as other systems and without an API it is difficult to access advanced functionality under the hood.

When the Alternative Might Be Better:

The Gogogate2 sacrifices integration potential for ease of use.  It works best as a standalone solution despite the integration with IFTTT and Amazon Echo.  If you are looking for a solution that plays nicely with other automation technology and is a piece of a larger puzzle then one of the Z Wave options is probably a better solution for you.   

For some people the standard garage door opener they already have works just fine.  They may only want to know if the door is open or closed.  In that case something like the GarageDoorBuddy monitor is an easy to install option.  Also simply setting up an IP security camera (see what we love here) is another great way to keep an eye on whether the door is closed and the camera has the added bonus of allowing you to see what is going on.  

Finally, if you are worried that someone is messing with your garage door and maybe has a code or some way of opening your door that you can’t control there is a simple trick to manage that.  You simply install an automated power adapter like those used to control a lamp or similar household item.  By setting the outlet control to be part of a vacation or an away mode you could disable the outlet your garage door opener is connected to while you are away for extended periods of time.  You could also configure the outlet to be disabled during times when you know you will not need it; such as during the week while you are at work or in the wee hours of the night.  This effectively disables the garage door opener and ensures that no one can use an opener to get in (even you!) so use this solution with caution.