Using Your Smartphone As A Garage Door Opener

The garage door opener hasn’t changed an incredible amount over the years – it’s still a fairly simple device albeit one that gets used practically every day by many homeowners. However, the widespread popularity of the smartphone has opened up a whole new avenue of possibilities for the garage door opener by allowing homeowners to connect their smartphones to the garage door opener, essentially turning the smartphone into a high-tech garage door opener remote.
Currently, two of the leading industry manufacturers (Craftsman and Liftmaster) offer garage door opener models that are designed to work with a smartphone (as well as a variety of other Internet-capable devices including tablets and desktop or laptop computers).

The Craftsman offering (AssureLink) consists of an AssureLink-compatible garage door opener and an included dongle that plugs into the router at your home and allows your smartphone to communicate with the garage door opener via Craftsman’s propietary app. More than just a garage door opener remote – the app also allows for you to check if the garage door is open and close it if necessary – or even open the garage door in advance of your arrival home so you can roll right into the garage without waiting. Craftsman also offers a number of other features with the package including a wireless keypad that can be mounted just outside the garage door as well as a pair of standard garage door opener remotes and a battery back-up system so even if the power goes out, you’ll still be able to use your garage door opener.
The other major player in the market Liftmaster’s smartphone-compatible garage door opener utilizes its parent company Chamberlain’s proprietary MyQ technology. By itself, MyQ is a simple means of allowing a homeowner to turn lights on or off, check that the garage door is open or closed, etc. – via a simple wireless remote that works within your home’s confines. However, Liftmaster has gone a step further and adapted myQ technology to allow connectivity via the homeowner’s smartphone. Similarly to the Craftman offering, Liftmaster provides a “black box” that connects to the router at your house and a downloadable app that allows for you to monitor and operate not only the garage door opener but any other MyQ-connected devices in your home. The other standard features like battery backup and the like are also included.
So you’re thinking this sounds good – but he downside here is that you do have to buy a completely new garage door opener and Craftsman at least does charge an annual activation fee for use of the AssureLink technology. For the really hardcore DIY types who are comfortable with technology – there are even directions on the Internet for hacking your existing garage door opener to allow your smartphone to be used with the garage door opener. The basic process involves wiring an Ethernet board into the garage door opener, essentially allowing it to act as a server and receive transmissions from an app on your smartphone. Bear in mind of course that unless you know what you’re doing, this isn’t recommended and of course there’s no tech support if something goes wrong.
Justin Krutz is a tech and home improvement enthusiast who writes for GSM Garage Doors, a home improvement company that specializes in garage door repair San Diego services.