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MyQ Garage review: A smart-home gateway drug

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The Good The Chamberlain MyQ Garage is one of the most affordable smart garage-door openers, and also one of the easiest to install.

The Bad It works with a growing list of other smart home products, but notables like SmartThings and Revolv still don't have official support.

The Bottom Line Chamberlain's MyQ Garage should be the first on your list if you want to add some smarts to your garage door. Just prepare your wallet for the urge to link it to other devices.

8.2 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Usability 9
  • Design 8
  • Performance 9

The $100 Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Opener lets you open and close your garage door from anywhere with an internet connection. It also grants you the ability to set custom alerts and monitor whether your garage door is open or closed. Google Assistant, HomeKit and IFTTT support are all options with the MyQ, none of which are free. Understandably, subscriptions for these services rub a lot of consumers the wrong way. If you don't mind paying the premium, the MyQ system offers the broadest smart garage compatibility available.

There's plenty to like about the MyQ. Installation is simple. Broad compatibility means the MyQ should work on your current garage hardware. Chamberlain's inclusive attitude also means you can coordinate the MyQ to interact with a growing number of connected home platforms.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

You'll find that interoperability to be crucial to the MyQ achieving its full potential. The basics of the MyQ all work as expected, but soon after you install it you start wondering what else it can do. What if it could learn when you're coming and going and respond automatically? Wouldn't a camera in the garage also make sense?

Between its comparatively low cost and its ease of use, the MyQ is recommendable in that it that delivers on its core promises with little fuss. Just be prepared to feel the itch to add more smart products once you start using it.

Installs in a flash

The world of connected garage door openers is surprisingly broad. In addition to Chamberlain's own fixed units with built-in connectivity, it shares the same MyQ technology with sister brand Liftmaster. Sears' Craftsman also has it own line of connected openers using a tech it calls AssureLink. You'll also find at least half-a-dozen options on the retrofit market.

Those retrofit devices include GogoGate2, Garageio and others, with prices ranging from $89 for the MyQ to $180 or so. Although it's one of the least expensive devices in its class, the MyQ is also one of the easier units to install, requiring no wired connection to your existing opener.

The entire MyQ kit itself is made up of of two main hardware components; a base station that attaches to the ceiling of your garage near your current opener, and a sensor unit that adheres to the garage door.

Installation should take about 15 minutes. Start by screwing a small bracket to your garage ceiling near a power outlet (wood screws as well as drywall screws and anchors are included). Slide the base station onto the bracket, plug in the power cable, then link your phone, your wireless network, and the garage opener to the base station, via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

Go through the typical iOS or Android Bluetooth pairing process to link the devices and share your home Wi-Fi settings between your phone and the MyQ base station. That step puts the hub on the internet, granting you access to your garage door opener from anywhere you can get online with your phone. Via the MyQ app, you then make an account and add the device via the serial number from the base unit.

Select the make and model for your opener within the app, and then follow the prompt to hit your opener's program button. Chamberlain says the MyQ is compatible with any photoelectric sensor-equipped opener made after 1993. The opener will then broadcast the open/close code for the hub to memorize. Lastly, attach the door sensor to your garage door via the included adhesive strips and hit the test button to pair the sensor to the MyQ hub.

None of these steps are terribly onerous. Yes, you'll need to get up on a ladder and drill into the ceiling of your garage (unless you mount the hub some other way). There's no need to mess with breaker switches or hard wiring the hub to anything, making it an exception in its category. It matched the photoelectric signal to my Overhead Doors Overdrive opener on the first try.

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The MyQ app gives you a fair amount of control and insight into your garage door activity.

Screenshot by Rich Brown/CNET

Chamberlain also deserves credit for making the Wi-Fi receiver in the hub rather strong. My iPhone registers only one bar of Wi-Fi signal strength coming from my house to my detached garage, and sometimes it doesn't find the signal at all, but I've always been able to find the MyQ remotely and send signals to it in the two weeks or so that I've had it installed.

Smart, but it could be smarter

As easy as I found the MyQ installation, there's no getting around the fact that it's far easier to simply reach up and hit the old-school opener clipped to the windshield visor in my car. Replacing that routine with an app isn't really the point of the MyQ, though.

Instead, the idea is that it will let you check the status of your door remotely, and then do something about it if you don't like what you see. The kids left the garage door open? Your neighbor wants to borrow or return a tool when you're not around? MyQ lets you intervene from your bedroom, the beach, or pretty much anywhere with Wi-Fi or a cellular data signal.

One usability quirk with the MyQ comes when you have multiple residents in a home. Via a custom rule I made in the app software, my MyQ unit will tell me when the door has been open for 45 minutes. My wife works at home though, so when I get an alert telling me the door is open on a workday, I'm never exactly sure where she is or what she might be doing around the house.

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This sensor tells the hub whether the door is up or down.

Colin West McDonald/CNET

I'm not worried about accidentally crushing her with the door. When you tell the app to close, the MyQ base unit beeps and flashes a light for about 15 seconds before it actually starts closing. That and the standard motion sensor already installed across the threshold of my garage ensure that no one will be hurt or surprised by the MyQ.

But if my wife is for some reason counting on the garage door staying in a certain state -- maybe she's taking in groceries, or playing in the driveway with our kids -- there's no way for me to see what's going on remotely via the MyQ app.

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