Smart Garage Door and Gate Opener

I’m not sure this is the best place to ask this question, but worth a shot. I have been researching smart garage door openers, and there are several that seem pretty nice, but I’m not sure if any of them are exactly what I’m looking for.

I currently use a liftmaster 3-button remote to control my gate and garage door. I use the learn button to sync them. I would like to have the ability to use my phone to control both the gate and the door from any internet connection. Ideally , it would be able to open the gate and door with one button, and even based on proximity so that if I’m pulling up on my bike I don’t need to stop and pull my phone out of my pocket or bag.

A sensor for the garage door would be great, and a video camera would be a bonus, but the main goal is what I have stated above. The products I have seen so far seem overly complicated for what they do. It seems like you could take something as basic as the 3-button remote and add wifi capability and a controller. Is anyone aware of something that can do what I am looking for? Thanks!

This is certainly something that’s do-able in SmartThings… at least mostly, but it would involve a number of devices and possibly some custom coding. Understand that there’s a lot of ifs or buts involved here as I have no idea what equipment you have, so please do your homework before taking the plunge, but here’s how I’d do it:

  1. Put a tilt sensor (such as SmartThings MultiSensor) on the garage door to know if it’s open or closed.
  2. Put a relay (such as Linear Z-wave) on the garage door opened to be able to trigger open/close remotely
  3. Put an open/close sensor on the gate to know if it’s open or closed (might have to find a way to weather proof it).
  4. Put a relay on the gate opening to remotely activate it (again, weather proofing might be needed).
  5. Setup your phone as a presence sensor, or get one of the Zigbee presence sensors.

So that’s the hardware… obviously need a hub too.

Software wise:
A. Setup the “I’m Back” routine to open the gate and the garage doors. – Now when you arrive home these should automatically open.

B. Setup a link between the relays (Smart Lighting App) so that if one goes on the other goes on. This means when/if you’re manually opening the gate, the garage will auto open (you’re “one button” requirement). Note that if you do this, you’ll want to change the “I’m Back” routine to only one one of your device other wise you’ll end up getting a bunch of “open” commands send which could be a problem.

C. Add camera if so desired.

Okay… now there’s some big things you need to be away of before heading now this road:

I. Presence sensors have always been a bit of an issue with SmartThings. The hardware tags they sell use a very low powered radio to preserve battery life, but this does mean poor reception at times. Geofencing with your phone can also be problematic. For some people it’s great, for others, big problems.

II. Distance can be an issue! Depending on how far your gate is from other devices and/or your hub you may not get solid z-wave or zigbee communication to the gate. Generally if you’re talking over 100’, you’ll likely have some issues. These can be alleviated somewhat or completely if you have a power source somewhere in between where you can add repeaters.

Thanks so much for the suggestion. I should clarify that I do not own a Smart Things hub, and am ignorant to most of what you mentioned. I have been interested in Smart Things and I’m perfectly capable of putting together systems like you suggested, but not sure if it’s the road I want to go down. I currently own an ecobee3 thermostat, my Honeywell security system is connected to the internet via envisalink, I have a couple of wifi cameras available over the internet, the Amazon Echo, and I have been running a WAN server (with Plex) for years. I have been looking into integrating all of this and adding more smart elements such as the garage door opener and possibly smart locks. But I’m a little overwhelmed by options and disappointed by lack of one particular full featured smart hubs. I like the idea of building blocks to make a system very customization, but I also don’t want to make it my full time job setting up and maintaining everything. Any overall suggestions for my situation?

Many years ago in my first class that worked with Unix the professor said: Unix is the worst operating system out there… except for all the others. What he meant was that Unix has lots of problems, issues, complications, and things that make it not always nice to deal with. But on the other hand, so does every other OS out there. And the others have MORE problems or BIGGER issues or LESS options than Unix. So while you might cries, cuss, or complain about Unix, remember that you’d do even more with other OSs. (Whether that’s still true today vs. back then it’s a matter of debate for a different forum.)

So, in the spirit of the above paragraph, let me declare that: SmartThings is the worst HA Hub out there… except for all the others. Truth be told I personally haven’t used any other, so I can’t say that from personal experience. But based on many other personal accounts here in the forums and what reading/research I’ve done, I think that nearly every Hub at this point will have it’s limitations and problems. ST just has fewer than others.

And final thought… not that this will come as a surprise for you as you seem to be well aware of the tech world, but the old saying: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” very much applies here. I’ll occasionally see some really impressive looking marketing for new up and coming systems, but until they are physically out and available and the specs and software are released, assume they are vapor-ware.

Great points. Thanks for your input. I’m going to have to do a bit more research. But this gives me some direction.