Do you wish that your old garage door opener would be able to open automatically as you drive up to your home, or close after a certain period of time? Wouldn't it be nice if you could open your garage remotely to allow a parcel to be placed inside and then close it yourself whilst you're miles away? If you have an already existing garage door opener in your home you may not want to get rid of a perfectly working mechanism for the sake of replacing it with a new smart system. Thankfully there are a number of smart add-ons that are available for your current unintelligent garage door opener.
A smart adapter for your needs
There are a few solutions for the myriad of garage door mechanisms out there. If you have a newer system that has a learn button, companies like Chamberlain offer kits like the MyQ to upgrade your current opener to add a client remote that has intelligent functions that works with Wink, Nest, SmartThings, Xfinity Home, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and IFTTT.
Gocontrol offers Z-wave connectivity with there products that are compatible with Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Lowe's Iris and the like.
Finally, if you have an older system that does not have a learn button or uses dip switches for it's method of radio transmission, there is the Gogogate2 smart kit that will give the oldest of devices* new life by directly attaching to the opener's wiring. Since my garage door opener that came with my new house seems like it belongs in a museum, it was this last product that I opted for.
Note that any device that does NOT have safety eyelet sensors is not supported by any of the products listed for safety concerns.
Enter the Gogogate2
The Gogogate2 garage kit ($129) is a Wi-Fi capable system that comes with a raspberry pi based controller, a wireless door sensor and temperature gage, and a freely downloadable app. It will work directly with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and a bit more indirectly with your iOS devices via IFTTT (although Gogogate's FAQ says that it is not HomeKit compatible "for the moment" so there is hope for the future). Each kit can control up to three garage doors and is IP camera ready if you have such a device available.
Setup of the Gogogate2
Although there is an online installation wizard you can follow, the physical setup is simply the connecting of two wires to your existing garage door opener wall switch. It doesn't matter which wire you connect to which post and it couldn't have been any easier. I optionally connected the Gogogate2 directly to the screw posts on my garage door opener itself to give it a better location for Wi-Fi connectivity. Next you plug the pre-configured wiring harness into the Gogogate2 controller and plug it into an AC outlet. That's it for the hardware.
The software side proved a bit more difficult albeit because of my non-default Wi-Fi setup. The steps consist of connecting temporarily to the Gogogate2's Wi-Fi network so that you can enter all of the pertinent information concerning your own network settings, your garage door settings and usernames. You can have up tp 10 users for free and then you can purchase a module for more users from Gogogate. You also have a unique identifier and a remote access activation code that only works for your account so that you can remotely open and close the garage as needed from wherever you are.
That was all straight forward. The issue came when trying to connect to my Wi-Fi network. Since I have 3 Wi-Fi access points (AP) for the same SSID, the Gogogate2 couldn't figure out which AP to connect to and as such it would never allow me to connect to it via my network. Luckily, my Wi-Fi router allowed me to create a guest network on a single AP. I connected my Gogogate2 to that guest network without issue. The only caveat is that I'm connecting to the Gogogate2 via the remote access connection rather than a direct connection. Functionally there is no difference between a remote connection and a local one.
If you do not have a Wi-Fi AP close enough for you to connect a Gogogate2, you can set up the device to be it's own AP and when your smartphone is within signal distance, it can connect and you can control the garage door that way.
Finally, the setup of the Gogogate2 doesn't remove any remote control functionality that you previously had. If you have remote clickers then they too will still function on top of giving you smart access.
Using the Gogogate2
Not having Siri integration is admittedly a bit of a drag. However, using the opener is pretty straight forward. Open the Gogogate2 app, slide the icon up to open, slide the icon down to close.
But the magic really happens when using IFTTT (and acronym for logic recipes meaning If This Then That). IFTTT is free and is a web facing service that allows for logical statements to be run in association with a great many internet connected devices. Need to be able to open the garage door when your location is at a certain distance from your home? No problem. Install the recipe from the IFTTT app freely available in the App Store or optionally create your own recipes.
Although you can't use Siri to close the garage directly, you can set up a IFTTT recipe that will send an open or close request via text message to an IFTTT provided number that will trigger the opener. For example, once you set up your IFTTT account, you have access to a personally assigned number that you can enter into your contacts as "My Garage" for example, and tell Siri to: "send a text message to My Garage hashtag Close". The number provided allows for up to 100 messages a month free of charge.
As nice as this is, I really REALLY want Siri integration and since the Gogogate2 controller is essentially a raspberry pi computer, I'm hoping that a software update will give us HomeKit compatibility in a future update ever since Apple has added a HomeKit software layer in iOS 11.2.
Note that your functionality with IFTTT is only as good as your recipes. My wife and I both want to be able to open the garage when approaching our home. When we are not driving together, this works wonderfully. However, when we are traveling together, both of our location services will toggle the IFTTT recipe to toggle the garage door. What then happens is an initial "open" command, followed by a second command that will pause the garage door mid-opening. Then only a manual toggle on my iPhone will complete the opening of the garage door.
- Makes your dumb garage door opener "smart".
- Much less expensive than buying an entirely new smart garage door opener.
- Simple to install the hardware.
- Remote access works really well.
- IFTTT compatibility gives you great smart capabilities.
- Works with very old garage door openers without a "learn" button.
- No HomeKit integration.
- IFTTT can cause conflicts when activated by multiple users.
- Complex Wi-Fi networks can cause a problem for Gogogate2 connectivity.
I love my Gogogate2 in spite of any of the drawbacks. That there exists a solution for my old hardware makes me especially contented. There is something Jetson-esque about approaching your home and then seeing your garage door automagically start opening for you. A royal welcome of sorts. I also get a lot of packages via amazon at my home. I can now get a doorbell notification on my video doorbell and tell the delivery person to place it in the garage that I can remotely open and then close to keep the package safe whilst I'm away from home. We are no longer waiting for a someday technology future. We are living the future. What a time to be alive!
How about your? How have you connected your home with smarts? Let us know in the comments!
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