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Home8 ActionView Garage Door Control Relay System review: This smart garage kit doesn't do it all

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Home8 is a DIY security platform with a line of starter kits that tackle everything from door and window sensors to smoke detectors and even medication dispensers. Home8's kits work as standalone products or as part of a broader Home8 system. The Home8 ActionView Garage Door Control Relay System costs $100 and adds remote access and voice commands to your garage door. 

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6.5

Home8 ActionView Garage Door Control Relay System

The Good

Home8’s smart garage door system offers reliable live streaming and works with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.

The Bad

The kit doesn’t include a sensor, so door status and specific open and close commands aren’t available. The Home8 app includes lots of nongarage menus and functions.

The Bottom Line

Home8’s garage door system works best as part of the larger Home8 system. Other camera-friendly garage door controllers do more for your money.

If you're intent on using Home8 products for your smart home, the garage kit is a good piece of that puzzle. If not, the Home8 ActionView kit isn't quite smart enough as a standalone kit to recommend over other garage systems with more garage-focused apps and broader integrations.

This smart garage kit from Home8 keeps an eye on your garage

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Installation

The Home8 ActionView Garage system comes with a standard-definition camera, a hub called a "security shuttle" and a garage door controller. There aren't any garage door sensors included in the kit, so you'll need Home8's $50 tilt sensor to know whether your door is open or closed. To check whether your garage door opener is compatible, visit Home8's website.  

Home8 gets points for ease of setup. It took me just a few minutes to plug in and connect each product. The devices pair up quickly, thanks to the security shuttle that connects directly to your router. Once I downloaded the Home8 app and created an account, the camera and garage door controller paired automatically with the security shuttle and connected to my wireless network. 

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The Home8 security shuttle connects to your route and acts as the system's hub. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Connecting the garage controller follows the method used by most smart garage controllers. Using the provided adhesive tape, attach the white, mouse-shaped controller to either your existing garage door opener or the wall beside your opener's push buttons. Plug it into a nearby standard power outlet and attach the two wires from the controller to the open and close command nodes on your push button or opener.  

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The Home8 Garage Door Control Relay attaches to your existing garage door opener. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Video confirmation

When it comes to smart home video, the garage is one place where I see the appeal of remote monitoring. I like the idea of having a live look at your garage and visual confirmation of the garage door's status. Home8's Wi-Fi camera isn't the fanciest, but it does a fair job for the price. The camera includes night vision, motion detection with adjustable sensitivity and the option to record and save video while live streaming. Finding the live feed in the Home8 app is easy, and I found the picture clear enough, even with a standard-definition camera (640x480-pixel resolution). 

Home8's camera is rated for a temperature range of 32 to 113 degrees, so if your garage gets below freezing in the winter, the camera might not perform well. Other smart garage devices such as the Gogogate2 allow for the integration of higher quality cameras like the Nest Cam Indoor. The option to integrate a better quality camera would be a big improvement for Home8. 

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The Home8 Wi-Fi Camera includes night vision, motion detection and standard definition live streaming. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

The Home8 app

Home8's app is unique among garage controllers we've tested, in that it's built to support every Home8 device available. The app itself isn't garage-focused, so if you only own the Home8 ActionView Garage Control System, your home screen and subsequent menus might feel a bit bloated with options you'll never use. 

On the flip side, if you do have other Home8 devices, it's a handy one-stop shop for controlling everything in your home. There are even options to link up smart home devices from other brands such as NestPhilips Hue, Schlage, Yale, Kwikset and Honeywell for convenient control.

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Screenshot by Molly Price/CNET

Extras aside, the app's control of your garage door isn't exactly intuitive. You'll need to navigate through several taps and a confirmation window to control your door remotely. Once you've hit the right buttons though, the commands are responsive. Each action is logged in the notification section of the app for a full history of garage door activity. 

Users and remote access

Making the most of the Home8 ActionView Garage kit isn't free, but there is a basic plan that comes with your kit purchase. The basic plan allows one owner and one authorized user for free. You'll also be able to stream video of up to four connected cameras.

Live streaming video with Home8 is free with your ActionView garage kit purchase, and you can press a record button in the app's video feed to keep a clip of what you're watching. Viewing recorded clips triggered by the camera's motion detector in the VideoGram section of the app, however, requires a $10 per month subscription. To put that into perspective, Gogogate2 gives you 24 hours of video clip storage for a three-year, $30 subscription (less than $1 per month). That makes Home8 feel pretty pricey.

You'll get more than just video storage with your $10 plan, though. The plan also includes one owner, two authorized users and unlimited emergency contacts to be notified if an alert happens. Additional cameras beyond the first four or additional authorized users cost $5 each per month. Again, the camera-friendly Gogogate2 garage system comes out ahead with 10 free users.

Remote access works well through the Home8 app. For geofencing or scheduling, you'll need to use Home8's If This Then That (IFTTT) service. Home8 isn't the only garage system to take this approach to automated or scheduled opening. Garageio and Gogogate2 also use IFTTT to enable these features. Chamberlain's MyQ system allows IFTTT integration, but for a fee. Still, without a sensor, Home8's IFTTT action simply presses the garage control button, so it's possible that entering the geofenced area would close the door, if someone at home left it open.

Smart home integrations

The Home8 ActionView Garage Control System works with Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands. Setting up the assistants isn't difficult to figure out. Both have a dedicated tab inside the Home8 app, but setup starts with the assistant's app. In the Alexa app, you'll enable the Home8 skill and sign into your Home8 account. Google Assistant's app works much the same way, by asking Google to talk to Home8. From there you'll log into your Home8 account.

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Amazon Alexa and Google Home accounts are linked within the Home8 app. 

Screenshot by Molly Price/CNET

Both assistants prompt you to create a PIN for an "extra layer of security" when opening your garage door via voice command. There's a checkbox to enable this feature, but when I tried to proceed without enabling a PIN, Google Assistant asked me for one anyway.

Home8 does better in the voice assistant category than the Garager, a camera and garage controller hybrid that doesn't yet work with Google Assistant or Alexa at all. It might even be a step above the Gogogate2, which relies on IFTTT to create Google Assistant and Alexa commands. Still, easy account linking can't right every wrong, and there are a few quirks about the way Home8 works with these platforms.

Since there are no sensors on the garage door itself, you'll only be able to ask your assistant to "press the opener," not open or close it specifically. Both assistants responded quickly after I provided my PIN, but there wasn't any indication of whether I was opening or closing the door. To check that, I needed to either physically look at the garage door or check the video feed in the app. Adding the tilt sensor to this kit would certainly improve the voice assistant experience. Most kits, like the Gogogate2, Garager and Garadget include some type of sensor along with the garage controller, so paying extra for one isn't appealing.

Language for the voice commands is also a bit clunky. Both assistants use the phrase, "Tell Home8, press opener." A custom IFTTT command could make this a bit more colloquial.

Is Home8's garage system for me? 

The Home8 ActionView Garage Door Control System works as a standalone smart garage controller, but with Home8's catch-all app and a few quirky characteristics, it didn't win me over.

Garage controls are just one of the many smart home categories Home8 addresses, and if you've got your heart set on Home8 products for your whole home, you'll be happy with this kit as part of your system. If not, I'd recommend the Gogogate2 for broader camera integrations and a more garage-focused, intuitive app. 

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6.5

Home8 ActionView Garage Door Control Relay System

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 6Design 6Performance 7