Garage Sensor: Contact or Tilt?

So I’ve got my garage doors opening / closing upon command but would now like to take it to the next level by adding a Contact sensor or Tilt sensor.

However, my concern is the price and weather resistance (particularly operating temperatures).

In Ohio, where I live, temperatures in the winter can be -20F or more or 104F+ in summers.
Obviously batteries don’t like extreme cold temperatures and with dirt, dust, and humidity, tilt sensor balls can get sticky I’m sure or cause malfunctions I’d imagine…

I’m looking for a solution with the least false alarms.

I’m guessing a door contact sensor would offer the most reliable “open/close” or at least not completely open / closed status but a tilt sensor would offer more information as far as partially open / partially closed or whatever…

What are your opinions and if you’ve tried both, which do you prefer?

I’ve seen loads of complaints about tilt sensors and false alarms and I’m concerned before purchasing.

Josh, I’m also in Ohio with an unheated garage. I do not do open close, but wanted the ability to know when one of the 2 of us would leave the door open.

I did not want a tilt because I calculated the best I could get would be 3-4 inches “UP” before triggering.

I’d planned on mounting on the track, or maybe the side rails. Neither would work due to issues. I have a new door and side rails but the opener is an OLD Sears/Chamberlin. What I ended up doing is attaching another arm that I made from some scrap aluminum, it holds the magnet and I mounted the sensor on the door header.

I had to shim the arm pins as there was too much wobble, as well as shim the arms to offset the opener rail (scrap wood) . So far, it works flawlessly. I end up with the magnet falling within 1/2" or less each time.

If I get 6 months of battery life I’m fine. I have all sensors screw mounted, but can snap the sensor apart , the base stays in place and replace the battery - ladder required.

This was one of the main reasons I started using ST and “stuff”. Added a zwave light switch to the garage, sensor turns on the garage lights as well.

I have a RGB light that I use to indicate door is open and/or the lights were left on.

Take a good look at your rails/headers/ etc. for ideas. I dived in and did not think it out and still spent less than 2 hours fabbing it all from the junk box. Worst part was the 20 trips up and down the ladder tweaking,

Thanks for the info… just curious your reasoning for putting the contact sensor at the top on a rail versus near the bottom? or even within reach near the middle?

Guess I’m assuming it’s due to temperature? and to keep it away from any weather blowing in on it?

I just could not find a place or way to mount it. I’d seen a pic where some one mounted one on the top rail, the one where the drive chain or belt goes, but I could not do that either.

I think every situation is different - mine isn’t pretty, but works. Need to change the 20 year old opener next summer and that will change everything.

My “arm” is a foot or so long and has some wobble, but always hits close enough to work. I thought I might need to add a piece to channel it into place, or a stronger magnet but so far no issues.

using the ST / SmartSense multisensor on the garage door as device type “SmartSense Garage Door Multi”, was the first device I installed about 14 months ago.

It’s been a great application, no issues with temperature down to -10F and up to 90F. Battery started at 100% now 38%.

I have both… I mounted the door sensor one… on the right side top of the door. with the magnet part on the wall.

I got myself the MyQ system. I have 2 garage doors and I got the kit for one door for $80 plus I bought the garage door sensor for $35. For me, it is a more complete solution since you can close/open remotely, you can be notified, it integrates with ST and if ST fails you, you have notifications from MyQ as well.

A multi-sensor by itself is good, but if you left your house and are alerted, you will have to come back to close your door. A z-wave solution, sensors and wall on/off switch for the garage would be more expensive than MyQ.

Nah, I can already open and close the door remotely from ST with my current setup.
At this point I’m just looking to fill the status gap of knowing open / closed status to do programmatic changes. I also happen to have CCTV cams in the garage so I know if it’s open right now I just would like to be able to have more info about it’s state programmatically.

Then I would go for the multi-sensor. In my opinion, more reliable than sensor balls.

I am in central Indiana and use the Smartthings Multipurpose sensor (tilt garage door function, not the contact sensor). My garage is unheated and I have had zero issues in single digit temperatures. If you go this route, be sure to mount the sensor towards the top of the door (vehicles could block the Zigbee radio if it is mounted low).

Central IL here, and have been using the Ecolink Tilt sensors for a couple of years on our garage doors. Never had any weather related issues. Still on the original batteries.

Trying this out. It’s just an iris contact sensor and for now it seems to be working okay. It comes a bit close to the rail when going up but as long as it doesn’t touch it should be okay I think…

You could always change the magnet to one of those super powerful smaller ones if needed.

I need to re-check, but I don’t think my sensor would fit there.

That’s true, didn’t think about that… any earth magnet would work if it’s aligned just right.
There is enough space between the wood and the rail for me to get in and slide the battery compartment upward to change the battery. It’s barely enough, but it’s enough :slight_smile:

I think there is also a way to do it at the top of the door. As long as when your door goes up it clears the battery pack you should able to do this at the very top of the door.
That would take a bit more planning though and a bit more accuracy while your door is slightly cracked to check if it would clear probably.

But using it perpendicular to the magnet was how I did it for this setup. So perpendicular on the top of the door would probably work too but may be riskier.

Also, considering people do crazy stuff like this:

Obviously the door quickly produces a gap as soon as it’s open between the top and the door. If you were to adhere the battery to the top of door itself and then the magnet attached to the wall above the door while it’s closed, it could potentially clear the magnet when the door opens causing it to move to open.

That’s another way I believe.

Here is a diagram of what I’m going to experiment with next…
As long as the door clears the magnet I’m thinking this should work just fine. You could always embed the magnet into the wood framing above the door by carving it out and making it lower profile I’d think.
I’ll try this when I get home today.

Screw one of these in instead of the bulky magnetic contact somehow with the right pole angled just right and you could probably get the sensor to trip with a low profile setup.

I just don’t like the idea of the sensor on the door, too much vibration and figured it would beat it to death.

As I’d said earlier. I mounted an arm to the hockey stick in your diagram , sensor on the wood above the door.

Meh, not too worried about vibration given the components within these are not that complex.
Just some ideas. :smile: