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September 27, 2018

Chamberlain MyQ is an easy way to smarten up a garage door

by John_A

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Just because you can make something smarter doesn’t necessarily mean you need to.

Not everything needs to be “smart.” Not everything needs to be “connected.” Sometimes, simple, dumb products still do what needs to be done better than something more expensive, more complicated, and ultimately not necessary.

So has been my foray — twice now — into smartening up my garage door.

I’ve got a smart security system on my windows. I can unlock my front door from anywhere in the world. But when it comes to my garage door, I’d always relied on the old RF receiver. Hit a button in the car, and it does its thing. Neither of our cars her has HomeLink, so things won’t be opening on their own.

It’s simple, and it works. Time to change that.

See at Amazon

The MyQ Smart Garage Hub system from Chamberlain takes your dumb garage door and makes it smart. It’s a quick and easy retrofit. A sensor goes on the door, and another module plugs in near your garage door opener to actually control things.

The one big caveat here — you’ll need to make sure you have a Wifi signal in your garage.

chamberlain-myq-5.jpg?itok=XNTOE-tTSetup was relatively painless. The instructions walk you through where to place the hardware. (And it’s pretty self-explanatory, too. One goes on the door, the other near the garage door opener.) Fire up the MyQ app on Android or iOS, and you’re on your way. You’ll hook it up to your Wifi (and doing that is always a little bit of a crapshoot, but I got the job done after a couple tries) and then you’ve got the ability to open and close your garage door from your phone. Cool.

Or, actually, not really that cool. Because this is one of those instances when opening up an app just to open and close a garage door isn’t all that quick or helpful. It’s a nice backup, I suppose, if your remote control dies, or if you need to give someone else access and don’t have a keypad. But the simple fact is that a cheap, plastic remote control that’s always at the ready works the first time, every time. If you have HomeLink built into your car, even better.

So, fine. It’s not great for that. It works, but using your phone in this instance maybe isn’t the best idea. But MyQ does have a few other tricks up its sleeve.

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First is that it connects with a few other services. The list is short, but distinguished. It’ll work directly with:

  • Nest
  • Wink
  • Xfinity Home
  • Google Assistant
  • IFTTT
  • Alpine
  • Clare ControlsEVE Connect for Tesla

When you go to connect one of those services (and note that there’s no Amazon Alexa, but you can hit it up with unofficial skills, or through IFTTT), you’ll be met by something that actually surprised me at first — a payment plan. That is, it costs a dollar per month (or $10 a year) to connect to any one of those services.

I’ll admit, I balked at that, at first. Maybe it was because you have to pay by credit card and there’s not other method by which to do so. No Google Pay. No Apple Pay. No PayPal. No easy in-app billing. (And there’s also no payment information on Chamberlain’s site. With whom have they paired for processing? Is it a reputable service?)

That aside, $10 a year actually isn’t bad. I think it was a mental roadblock more than anything, and you get a month’s free trial to see if it’s actually worth it.

And that’s the real question here. Is MyQ worth it? All in all it’s not a bad product. It does what it advertises — it allows you to open and close your garage door with your smartphone.

But here’s my thing — while I have Nest stuff all over my home, I don’t need to pay to control it from the Chamberlain app. It works just fine in the Nest app — better, really, because the Nest app is a much better app. I don’t need to pay to control my garage door via Google Assistant, because I’ve never once needed to control my garage door via Google Assistant.

No, this is one of those times in which the simple timer on the garage door itself (it closes automatically after a set amount of time) and the basic keypad outside my home (please don’t break in) and the cheap remote control in my car (which very much still works) means the door always closes at some point, and it’s easy for anyone who needs to to open.

Sometimes that’s plenty good for an everyday product. If you need more, MyQ Hub can do more.

I just don’t need it to.

See at Amazon

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