We Tested 6 Smart Garage Door Controllers: This $30 Option Won Us Over

We Tested 6 Smart Garage Door Controllers: This $30 Option Won Us Over

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While you’re probably still spending a lot more time at home, your family might regularly head out of the house for work, gym class, or band practice. Smart garage door controllers give you an easy way to manage garage access without having to spend all day programming remotes for your entire household. And if you often have that nagging feeling that you may have left the garage open, smart garage controllers give you an easy way to double check the door or remotely close it, adding peace of mind for your family.

Smart garage controllers let you control your existing garage door opener via your smartphone or smart home setup. We installed the most popular garage controllers and extensively tested each model to find the best smart garage door controllers.

Best smart garage door controller overall

The Chamberlain MyQ can manage up to two garage doors and the wireless hub makes it easy to install. With a price tag of only $29.99, it’s also an excellent value for a basic smart garage controller.

Best for multi-garage door homes

Genie’s garage expertise carries over to the Aladdin Connect, which includes tools for any installation setup out of the box. You can also control up to three garage doors with the Aladdin’s large three-button panel.

Best for advanced smart homes

The iSmartGate Pro comes with a premium price tag, but you’ll get a suite of features including multi-door, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, and IFTTT support.

Eric Chiu/CNNChamberlain MyQ-G0401

The Chamberlain MyQ-G0401 is our top pick because it strikes the perfect balance between cost, features and simplicity.

Unlike most smart garage controllers, the Chamberlain doesn’t rely on a bird’s nest worth of wires in order to run. The hub and door sensor are both wireless (save for the hub’s power adapter), which makes installation a breeze. Thanks to the MyQ app and its in-depth video walkthroughs, it only took a few minutes to pair the hub to our garage door opener (the process is like connecting a standard garage door remote) and set up the controller. The Chamberlain was, by far, the easiest and quickest hub to install among the controllers we tested.

Installing the Chamberlain’s hub takes a little more work, since it needs a clean line of sight to the garage door opener — you can’t tuck the MyQ behind a shelf or inside a cabinet. Fortunately, Chamberlain includes a handy mounting plate (complete with screws and drywall anchors) for the hub to streamline the installation process. Simply install the plate close to the nearest power outlet (Chamberlain recommends installing it at least six feet above the ground, though we had to install in a less-than-ideal space between shelves roughly five feet up the wall and encountered no issues), screw the hub on, and you’ll be all set.

Throughout our testing, Chamberlain’s quick performance and simple app design really impressed us. The Chamberlain opened and closed our garage door in around three seconds, putting it right in line with our competing garage controllers. The hub’s front LED light briefly flashes before it closes the door, giving your family an extra safeguard if you have kids or pets.

The MyQ app conveniently lays major features like your access history and automatic door close scheduling right at the bottom of the screen. As with all of our evaluated controllers, you can remotely monitor your door status and close or open the door from the app. You can also add authorized garage users like your family or give limited access to guests like a handyman within the app.

Eric Chiu/CNNThe MyQ app can track when your garage door has been closed or opened.

The MyQ app has limited support for geofencing (the ability to trigger smart home routines — like opening a garage door — based on your location). MyQ geofencing is limited to Teslas, newer Mitsubishis, and cars with Alpine Connect or STEER Tech hardware. But with the controller’s Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and IFTTT compatibility, it’s possible to create something close to geofencing if you’re willing to build and troubleshoot your smart home routine.

We weren’t the biggest fans of the small advertising banner on the MyQ app’s homepage, which plugs other MyQ smart home products, but the rest of the app is thankfully ad-free.

The Chamberlain can also control up to two garage doors from one hub — you’ll just need to buy a second door sensor ($29.99). Most multi-door smart controllers either cost more than the MyQ or require you to run wiring across your garage, making the Chamberlain’s wireless and multi-garage door support huge pluses. You can also add video support with Chamberlain’s MyQ Smart Garage Camera ($149.99).
Best of all, the Chamberlain costs only $29.99. It’s one of the most affordable smart garage door controllers on the market and covers nearly every base (with the exception of Alexa support) for most smart home users.

Eric Chiu/CNNGenie Aladdin Connect

Genie brings its name-brand expertise in traditional garage door openers to the smart garage controller concept with the Aladdin Connect.

The Aladdin can control up to three garage doors at once and Genie includes everything you’d need for any installation setup out of the box. With the included accessories (ranging from wire clips to bolts and drywall anchors), you can install the hub up by your garage opener’s mount or down near a door.
The Aladdin Connect’s hub can also be used as a standard garage control panel thanks to its manual door buttons. The top section of the Connect has power and Wi-Fi status lights, while the bottom three buttons control each garage door. If you mount the hub down near ground level, you can get the best of both worlds: a normal garage control panel that also connects to your smart home. While we kept the hub up near the opener during our testing, Genie’s included 25-foot wire spool means that you can run wire from the ceiling to the ground or wherever else you’d like to install and still have ample leftover wire for other openers.

On the software side, the Aladdin Connect’s app is just as full featured as its hardware. Using the app’s walkthroughs, we flew through the installation process and quickly connected the hub to our Wi-Fi network and the Aladdin’s door sensor.

The app is cleanly laid out with a homepage that lists all your connected doors. The device setup section, which lists information including your Wi-Fi and sensor connection strength, was also a nice added touch. Wi-Fi connections can start to falter in your garage and the app’s Wi-Fi indicator makes it easy to see if your Aladdin and Wi-Fi router are forming a reliable connection. We had no Wi-Fi problems in our test area (an attached garage around 30 feet from the router), but would recommend adding a Wi-Fi extender if you are installing your controller in a detached garage that can’t get a reliable Wi-Fi signal.

Eric Chiu/CNNThe Genie app has easily accessible door controls.

Genie doesn’t have its own smart home product lineup, so you can’t connect the app to a camera. But with the Aladdin’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and SmartThings support, it won’t be hard to find a compatible camera that you can build routines with to improve your garage security.

The Aladdin also lacks built-in geofencing support, but Genie recommends installing the app from third-party provider Yonomi if you want to build advanced smart home and geofencing routines. Yonomi’s geofencing tool is straightforward to use, as you’ll set a trigger location with your address and phone GPS, but Yonomi automatically adds a roughly 300 foot radius around your geofencing location.

With Yonomi’s wide geofence radius,your garage will open when you’re down the street from your house, but you’ll need to move your listed address around if you want more precise geofencing that keeps your door closed until you’re in the driveway. We also had problems getting Yonomi to consistently trigger geofencing routines until we added our local Wi-Fi network to the geofence location — the app uses your Wi-Fi connection status to confirm whether or not you’re home.

It’s easy to monitor garage access. You’ll access the door management tab by simply clicking the door from the app homepage. Unlike the management apps from some of the smaller manufacturers we reviewed, it was nice not not having to hunt through endless submenus to find each door setting.

You can use the Aladdin app to set schedule and duration-based rules to automatically close the garage during certain times or if it’s left open for too long. The Genie’s schedules are a handy fail-safe if someone in your family tends to be forgetful, but you can’t create a rule that opens the door within the app.

We understand why Genie limited its schedule features — it’s safer to make customers open the garage rather than let them do so automatically and run the risk of accidentally leaving it open, and the Chamberlain MyQ shares the same close-only restriction. But at the same time, competitors like Nexx allow users to set open and close rules on a garage door. While the utility is pretty limited, an open rule could potentially be useful if you’d need to regularly let someone like a home care worker into your garage, but don’t have an easy way to give them guest access.

Eric Chiu/CNNYou can edit rules and grant access for each garage door in the Aladdin Connect’s app.

Genie’s virtual key system also lets you give full garage access to family members or limited access to guests. For example, you could give a dog walker a temporary virtual key that’ll let them into the garage only during their shifts.

It typically took the Genie app around five seconds to open the garage door, which wasn’t bad but it was slightly slower compared to other controllers. At 5 by 5 inches, the Genie is also fairly large compared to the competition. While the Genie’s door buttons are a plus if you’re planning on mounting the Genie near an interior door, the added bulk can be tricky if you’re trying to discreetly mount the controller or working with limited ceiling space.

Eric Chiu/CNN iSmartGate Pro

At $179.99, the iSmartGate Pro definitely isn’t the most affordable smart garage controller but it offers a bevy of features for power users who know how to tinker with their smart home setup.

On the outside, the iSmartGate has a clean, Ring-like circular design that includes Wi-Fi, power, and wall sensor sync indicators. On the side and back, you’ll find a USB port and wire terminals for up to three garage door openers and sensors. You’ll need a flathead screwdriver to secure or loosen the wire ports and they’re a minor inconvenience compared to the simpler push terminals found on competitors like the Genie Aladdin.

Surprisingly, iSmartGate includes only two pieces of double-sided tape to secure the hub and door sensor. Although the iSmartGate’s backside has a notch for a hanging screw, we would’ve preferred a more secure mounting solution considering the iSmartGate’s premium price point.

That said, we liked the iSmartGate Pro’s waterproof door sensor. Although the pillbox-sized sensor is bigger compared to other wireless door sensors, it’s watertight seal comes in handy if you’re mounting the iSmartGate to an outside gate or if you live in a humid area.

Eric Chiu/CNNThe iSmartGate home page has a control button and event log.

The iSmartGate has quirks like the app needing several seconds to connect to the hub every time you open it up, but after that, you’ll be taken to the app’s homepage. Once there, you’ll have quick access to a door control button and an event log that shows when it’s been opened or closed.

All of the iSmartGate’s controls are hidden on its settings page, which leads to a little bit of clutter. The iSmartGate has standard features like multi-user support and door status push notifications alongside video and Ethernet adapter settings. We prefer the approach taken by competitors like Genie and MyQ with apps that keep the most important features front-and-center for users.

Eric Chiu/CNNThe iSmartGate has numerous options within its settings page.

But design missteps aside, the iSmartGate’s biggest advantages compared to the competition are under the hood. The controller supports HomeKit, Google Assistant, SmartThings, Alex

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