Priced at $268, the fancy Chamberlain Wi-Fi Garage Opener comes with all the hardware necessary to intall a garage door opener you can control from your mobile device. It uses the Chamberlain MyQ mobile application to talk directly to Android and iOS phones and tablets. So equipped you'll be able to open or close your garage door from anywhere you can get online. Likewise the Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener combined with its app can alert you of any door activity as it happens.
Unlike the, this kit is no add-on device. It's a full-fledged garage door opener, and installing it is no minor home improvement project. This is especially true if you're like me and have no experience completing or even attempting the task. That's why choosing the Chamberlain Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener over conventional options makes sense, but only if you need to completely replace an archaic system and of course plan to use its connected home capabilities.
Switching out a perfectly good opener just for this machine's slick smart home functions alone simply isn't worth the expense and potential installation headaches when you can buy Chamberlain's easy-to-install add-on kit for less.
From appearance alone you'd never guess the Chamberlain Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener was any different from the legion of similar products lining store shelves. In fact the egg-shaped machine looks identical to practically all of Chamberlain's garage door opener lineup, whether chain or belt driven.
Built to be mounted on support brackets on your garage door ceiling and garage door, the product consists of two primary components. You get the oval-shaped electrical motor housing, and the long rail mechanism that contains the device's plastic belt. Other pieces of the puzzle include a pair of infrared sensors that have to be wired to the main motor housing. The sensors are a safety system designed to keep an eye out for objects or people blocking or standing in the path of the open garage door.
The opener comes with a wall-mounted door control panel that you also need to wire directly to the central unit. Additionally, you get two standard visor remotes bundled with the system, each with three programmable buttons. Made to clip to car sun visors, you can set the remotes to control multiple garage doors or toggle the opener's lights on and off. The last bit of hardware in the Chamberlain kit is a wireless numeric keypad that enables keyless or remoteless entry with a programmable four-digit PIN.
Strong, silent and prepared for trouble
Tucked inside this machine are a few enhancements that go above and beyond your average garage door opener. The Chamberlain Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener model I installed, model HD950WF, represents the company's top-tier smart product.
A robust 1¼-horsepower motor powers the lift system that in terms of sheer strength certainly outclasses my old ½-horsepower devices. The same is true for ¾ horsepower units you might find in many homes. Sure, it's overkill to have this much lifting muscle at your disposal -- enough to conceivably operate a 4-car garage door all by itself -- but I admit it's comforting.
Chamberlain also explained to me that the benefit of a stronger motor isn't limited to lifting bigger loads. A muscular unit typically lasts longer too. While I can't verify this claim, it's a mechanical reality that the less an electric motor has to work over time, the greater its expected longevity. I also appreciate how the belt drive train is crafted for quiet operation. Anything that produces less noise than my medieval chain-driven openers I count as a positive.
Another welcome feature is its backup battery. Sitting inside a compartment on the left side of the opener, in the event of a power outage the rechargeable battery can operate the garage door for one to two days. The battery continually charges when the opener is connected to an AC outlet as well and reaches full charge within 24 hours.
A few words about installation
I can't stress enough that upgrading your garage door opener is not a task to take lightly. Even with the help of CNET's crack technical editor Steve Conaway (and his impressive bag of tools), I ran into trouble and a few frustrating setbacks.
My original 30-year-old openers and drivetrain tracks were about 6 inches longer than the new Chamberlain hardware. This forced me to reposition the ceiling mounting brackets, including drilling more holes, closer to each of my garage doors.