Automatically open garage door when I drive home (Arduino proximity sensor?) Suggestions needed (UK)


I have a new garage and extension being finally completed in the next week or so, so getting everything nice and automated.

I have a Smarthings hub which I used for basic lights + Arlo security at the moment, but the garage door opening will have a Somfy Tahoma system and Somfy opener.

I’d like to have the doors open automatically when I arrive home, but I don’t want them opening all the time - so whilst I could do this with a presence sensor, I want it to be more clever than that. Daughter is 8, and if she works out she can open the garage by tripping a beam sensor or waving my phone or keys outside she’ll be doing it all the time! Am relatively new to automation, but can work most things out if I can get a few hints.

So far i’m considering:

  • Arduino ultrasonic proximity sensor in the garage itself: can tell me whether there is a car in the garage first. Also allows me to put something like a LaMetric LCD display at eye level when i drive in to tell me whether I am close enough to the wall (car doesnt have front parking sensors)

  • Life360 for presence. I guess I could use something like Webcore to make it triggers only at more likely commuting times of the day, but still worried there will be too many false positives. There is a village pub 200 meters from my house, so am often sneaking off for a pint - don’t want the garage door opening if for whatever reason I’ve not parked the car in the garage before! This together with the above will likely be my solution - but doesn’t feel 100% fool proof

  • Velleman photoelectric beam sensor. Could put in front of the garage itself, so expands potential data sources to allow me open only there is no car in the garage, i am home,and that beam is cut. This would remove most false positives- but does mean I have to wait a few seconds for the garage to open if the beam is close to the door. Whereas in my mind at least, the door is opening as I pull into my drive and open by the time i’ve made it to the garage entrance!

What other ideas to create a fool proof system for opening the doors when I return? If there any way to use data from Life360 to flag only if i arrive at a certain velocity for example…? Doesnt feel likely but am sure some very clever people here have better suggestions than I’ve managed to come up with…

Many thanks

Before going too far, are you in the US or the UK? The various device options do differ. And which model of the smartthings hub do you have?

As far as the issues with your daughter, the simplest solution to that is to create a habit of putting your keys in a locked drawer. My brother has an all too clever child and starting around age 5 they converted one of the kitchen drawers To a locked mechanism and it solved all kinds of issues for them. :sunglasses:

Hi … can’t see an obvious way to identify my SmartThings hub version, but it was purchased new in July 2018 and is running firmware 24.00011

Yes, if main issue were just keeping keys from a child I could definitely work that out myself without expert support … I guess my point is less on the “why” I want a fool proof system and don’t want to take a more pragmatic route; It’s more the “why not”. I’ve love the satisfaction of seeing that door open as I pull into the drive …

Am UK based also.


The hub will have a model number on it, and also they look a little bit different.

Yours is the UK model, right? Using the UK zwave frequency?

BTW, a lot of people just keep the SmartThings branded presence sensor in the glove box, not on the key ring. That works well as long as you are only trying to create automations which will work as the car goes in and out, not just the person. :sunglasses:


Hi - away from the house at the moment so not able to check, but yes UK model and assume being only a few months old it’s the most recent version.

And yeah, I guess sensor in the glove box is pretty straightforward, although have read the ST precense sensor can be a little unreliable ?

Here is the presence FAQ (this is a clickable link)

Presence can be very significantly affected by local conditions, so some people find the ST presence sensor works great at their house while other people find doesn’t work at all. Sometimes you just have to try it and see.

Great - thanks JD, that is an extremely useful link.

I have about 3 weeks before the doors get installed, so will put a battery back into my ST sensor and leave in the glove back for now, and then keep a log of how reliable it has been. The wife won’t ever use the garage, and have a classic-ish car in the other bay that won’t often leave the house - so it’s just the daily driver that I need to worry about. If ST presence works fine, I don’t need to engineer further - although I still like the idea of an arduinio and an ultrasonic sensor hooked up to an LCD to help guide the car in (plus could tell me other things, like temperature of the house; whether people are home, etc).

Also - i checked the other link, I have the 2015 model hub so no Wifi. Can you have two hubs in the same house? I wonder whether if ST sensor isn’t reliable I might improve accuracy with a second Wifi hub in the garage itself…

Thanks again!

The ST Sensor in the glove box works remarkably well for my 2 car family.

I do suggest that you combine the logic to require both your phone AND the sensor to be present before opening the door. That way, if someone steals your car (or just the ST fob), they don’t get easy access to your classic car as well (surely there are papers in your glove box that list your home address).

(You could also set it to open the garage door only when the house is in Home mode - which it likely should be if you have “arrived”, but that can be hit or miss also).

Just be warned - the sensor thing in the car may not be 100% reliable - to conserve battery, the sensors don’t check in all that frequently. So you may experience a delay sometimes. My wife and I grumble about having to lift our hand off the steering wheel to push the garage door remote from time to time, but mostly I just chalk it up to my exercise quota for the day :wink: .


We have presents sensors in both our cars (glovebox also) and I have a zigbee outlet inside the house on the wall the garage is on acting as repeater. Both have been pretty reliable for us.

1 Like

The only hubs that work together on the same account are the ones from the Wi-Fi mesh model line. You can’t combine your current hub with one of those, or with any other smartthings hub for that matter.

And on top of that, the stronger the Wi-Fi, the worse your zigbee connection will be. :disappointed_relieved:

Instead, just put a zigbee pocket socket or an IKEA tradfri smart bulb in the garage or maybe in a first-floor room on the same side of the house near a window, and that will extend the zigbee signal to the sensor in the car. :sunglasses:

Remember that Zigbee repeat only for zigbee, zwave repeats only for Z wave, and Wi-Fi doesn’t repeat at all.

1 Like

Great - makes sense, sorry for newbie questions!

I have a smart plug from the starter kit … and wanted it to connect to an electric heater anyway to warm things up when temp is below freezing on comuting mornings. That does the job I assume ?

Also: sensor now in the glove box and car is flagging as present … will be interesting to see how it fares next week when I’m in and out of the drive.

1 Like

Yes, the pocket socket in the starter kit is a zigbee repeater. :sunglasses:

1 Like

Cool - will give that a go for the first attempt.

Interestingly , picked up a Maker magazine at the airport tonight and they had an article on how to get APNR number plate recognition working with an IP camera and a Raspberry Pi 3. So if the ST presence sensor doesn’t cut it … that may well be the way to go!

1 Like

Just remember that if you do that someone can take a picture of your number plate, put it on another car, and get your garage door to open…

I’m not saying that some random thief would do that, but you might not want to tell too many people about your system. :wink:

If they are that creative and want to take that risk plus avoid all cameras as well, then you might argue they deserve the car! :wink:

Could include a presence sensor as well as a fail safe - but then… if that works, there is no need for the APNR!

1 Like