SmartThings Community

Trying to Build My Own Z-Wave Garage Door Opener (Looking for a Relay Switch Suggestion)


(Matt B) #1

I’m trying to build/create my own Z-Wave Garage Door Opener following the directions discussed here: https://blog.smartthings.com/how-to/automate-garage-door/

However, I’m trying to find the Evolve Relay Switch they mention (Evolve LFM-20), but it seems that it’s no longer sold anywhere. Not sure why it’s no longer sold, but I’m curious if anyone has suggests for a cost-effective Relay Switch that would work in place of the Evolve LFM-20. I have everything but this switch and am trying to avoid having to spend upwards of $100 to purchase a specialty “Smart Garage Door Opener.”

Thanks,
-Matt


#2

These days, most people just buy the gocontrol garage controller. It has two devices, not just one: both the garage door controller and a tilt sensor, and typically costs about $85. It’s on the official “Works with smart things” list so support will help you if you have any problems, and it has all the necessary built-in safety features to be UL listed. That’s significant, because the fact is garage doors can kill people, and having one you can close while you’re still at the office 20 miles away doesn’t exactly reduce the risk. :scream:

Save your creativity, energy, and dollars For a more interesting project personalized specifically to your house and maybe you’ll make the “impress your friends“ list in the project report section. ( my personal favorite is the secret bookcase room. :sunglasses: )

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section#Quick_Browse_Links_for_Project_Reports.2FQuestions

But now that the gocontrol device is available, there’s not much point in yet another DIY garage door controller anymore.


(MarkTr) #3

There are several relay switches in thesmartesthouse clearance sale mentioned here:

But as JD points out, none of these have the safety features of a dedicated system.


#4

Or a tilt sensor, which is useful when you want to distinguish between “open“ and “closing,“ a distinction that can be important in home automation. :sunglasses:


(Matt B) #5

Thanks, both of you, for the quick responses. I really do appreciate it. I have quite a few multi-sensors laying around (picked a bunch up a while back on clearance somewhere and forgot I had them), so I figured I could just build a garage control myself on the cheap, as all I’d need would be the relay switch. However, the safety point is well-taken. I’ll definitely check into the Go Control. Thanks again!


(JIm) #6

Just curious what does the gocontrol have to make your garage door safer? The door opener itself has all the safety features including the eye across the door. All the gocontrol does is function as a automatic push button.

I have one and it is continually giving me problems. I have to unplug it about once a week or it quits working. Admiditly I don’t use it that much, only rarely. We usually just use the remote from the car.

I was thinking of installing a relay controlled by a smart plug to work like a push button. Just really didn’t have the need.

So just curious as to my original question, what does the go control have that makes it safer?


(Andy - United Kingdom) #7

Have a look at this thread…


#8

UL Safety standards make a sharp distinction between a handheld remote intended to be operated by someone who is within line of sight of the door and an automated system that could be operated from 20 miles away (or on a schedule without any human involved at all).

The additional features are designed to reduce the damage from some specific kinds of accidents, including the door hitting the trunk hitting Of a car that was extending into the door space but not interrupting the trip beam (something which did happen to a community member here), The door coming down and crushing the arm or leg of a person who had fallen with a limb in the door space, but again not interrupting the trip beam, And preventing repeated hits to the same object.

So the UL standard now requires the following safety features, all of which the gocontrol has:

  1. An audible “beep beep beep” just before the door first begins to close.

  2. A visual flashing light warning at the same time.

  3. not accepting more than one command every 30 seconds

  4. ensuring That the button on the wall will override any of the network commands (so if someone is standing in the garage and an automated rule starts the garage door closing and they don’t want it to close, that person can hit the button and override the network command)

  5. If the garage door does hit something, and then starts to go back up, disable network commands until there has been a local manual command. This addresses the situation where you have an automated rule to close the door which has been open for X amount of time, The door starts to close and hits, say, the trunk of the car and goes back up. If you don’t have this safety feature, It’s very likely that the automated system will issue another close and hit the same object again. And again. And again. This did actually happen to a community member who had used the relay method.

Note that it is also possible for a car to be parked inside the garage with the liftgate up and a person to be standing in the driveway leaning forward to get something out of the back of the car and not have the trip beam broken. This is a frequent Black Friday shopping trip unloading scenario. The automated rule might cause the garage door to start coming down, it can then hit the liftgate, which can then hit the person.

All of the safety features above will help reduce the problems of this situation. The audible beep and the light will warn the person that the door is about to start moving. The manual button override allows that person or someone else to hit the button and stop the door. And the limitation on repeated commands prevents the home automation system from sending the door down again right away.

You don’t get any of these safety features if you just use a relay – – in that case you’re Essentially just hotwiring the system And allowing it to be used by someone who is 1000 miles away and has no idea what the actual situation in the garage is at that moment. :scream:

So UL felt that there were significant differences between an automated remote option and a handheld remote and that’s why they added the additional safety requirements. And gocontrol met them and was able to get their Z wave device UL listed For automated garage door control. :sunglasses:

More on the “unattended” requirements. (The Linear device mentioned is the same as the gocontrol: the manufacturer sells these under several different brand names.)


(Johnny Dang) #9

Great info, JD. Thanks! It’s very rare that I do open/close my garage remotely but only while i’m staring at the camera in the garage.


#10

If you want to go REALLY cheap and low-tech. You can build your own out of a smart-outlet, an old 12v wall-wart and a 12v relay. Basically, you connect the 12v power supply to the smartoutlet and the outputs to the coil side of your realy. You cut into your existing garage door button’s wire and connect to the switched side of the relay. And bam…you’re basically creating a virtual switch that pushes your garage door button for you. Now, this doesn’t give you the status of your garage door like the fully integrated solutions do but it’s a cheap and dirty method to do it. You can follow the instructions here. I did it a few years ago before I got a more integrated solution.


(Bobby Boucher) #11

If your garage door opener has the ability to use a wired switch, the most simple and cheap way to do this is with:

esp8266 http://r.ebay.com/SziJAO $4
5v relay http://r.ebay.com/kuAZTs $5
ST_Anything [RELEASE] ST_Anything v2.9 - Arduino/ESP8266/ESP32 to ST via ThingShield, Ethernet, or WiFi $FOSS

Optional
tilt sensor http://r.ebay.com/89YM7N $23

I have used these setups for all kinds of switching and monitoring, things like:

I retrofitted a chest freezer with a door sensor and a temp sensor, and SmartThings now can send an alert when the door is left open, or if the temperature rises.

I monitor the temperature of my water heater in the garage.

I built my own SmartThings setup for turning my sprinklers on and off.


#12

I recently went with a mimolite relay and a wired sensor. Both on Amazon. Then used the following device handler code. Really happy with it.

Wireless Z-Wave Multi-Input/Output Dry Contact Bridge; Cert ID: ZC08-16040002 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B6RZ7MM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Cc6HAb0WV0T3G

Potter Amseco ODC-59A Overhead Door Switch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000GUSNQW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_Df6HAbBB54ZTX


(JIm) #13

JD, thanks for the detailed explanation. As always you come thru. I wasn’t aware that it was a requirment that a remote opener had to make sound, flash, etc. I have never used mine remotely. I generally use it if I am outside and only have my phone with me.

I probably wouldn’t even have a remote opener if I hadn’t found a deal. About 1 1/2 years ago I was browsing Lowes online and saw them for $10. So I ordered one. When I went to pick it up the gal told me it was probably a mistake and I got lucky.

I guess since I don’t use it very often it gets locked up somehow. ST still sees the thing, but it won’t respond or report if the door opens. I have to power it down for about 10 seconds and then it works again.

So I’m going to leave it as is. And hopefully remember to use it every couple days or so to keep it active.

Thanks again for all the info.


(Daniel Ionescu) #14

You will buy the opener and automate the control. This has little to do with the safety features that are built into the garage door opener. Remote and button only tell it to open or close. The rest is part of the purchased opener. If the opener has safeties builtin, you’re good to go. You can also implement all safety requirements (if not already present in the opener) through webcore.
Another option is this Garage door opener using Inovelli NZW37
You still need some contacts or tilt switches to know that door is open/closed.


(Joel W) #15

I built mine and it uses all the safety the Garage door has, as all it does is press the button. Do a search for the Poor Mans Garage Door Opener. I works perfectly every time and even uses Alexa. I have it working on two doors. The only time I use it remotely is when someone is at my home standing by the door and calls me to open the door. Same for closing. It also doesn’t bypass the photocell door safety or the pressure safety.


#16

I understand what everyone is saying about “the safety features are already built in to the garage door mechanism”, but that’s just not what UL says. (So argue with them, not me.)

After over five years of review, they revised the standards for garage door controllers to distinguish between “unattended” (home automation) and traditional handheld garage door remotes.

They felt that there were additional safety issues introduced by unattended operation that were not met by the existing garage door safety features, and they specifically discussed the use of relays to control a garage door. (You will see this mentioned in the article I linked to upthread.)

Specific dangers introduced by unattended operation

Their specific concerns with a relay type system were:

  1. they wanted a way for someone in the garage to immediately override an instruction sent by the home automation system. So it is now part of the UL 325 standard that the button on the wall override a home automation command. That won’t happen if you just use a relay.

  2. they were particularly concerned about instructions which might be sent multiple times in succession even if the door had hit something when closing the first time.

Testing the scenario

Anyone who has set up a system using a non-UL listed relay can easily test this. Open the garage door. Block the pathway above or below the detection beam with something that won’t damage the door, a lot of people use toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Now close The door using the mobile app. After the door hits the towels And reverses (without ever closing all the way), wait until you see the “door open” status in the mobile app and again issue a close command. If the door goes down and hit the towels the second time, that’s a violation of the UL 325 standard.

The fear, again, is that someone might be at the office, get a notification that the door is open, hit the close button, not realize that the door was hitting an obstacle, and issue a second close command. Even worse, it is quite possible to set up an automated rule, for example one that checks to see if the door has been open for more than 10 minutes, and have the automated rule keep re-issuing the close even though the door is hitting an obstacle each time.

As I mentioned, this did happen to some community members using a relay method and the previous “ridiculously automated garage door” smart app.

Managing the Message Traffic

Neither of these two points will be addressed by the existing safety features built into the garage door itself. They require additional safety features which manage the message traffic from the home automation network, mostly to ensure that those messages will be ignored under certain specific conditions.

This is why so few of the phone app devices originally available for sale ended up being UL listed after the 2013 and 2016 revisions of UL 325. MyQ is for Chamberlain, the Linear/gocontrol zwave Device is, and I believe there are now a few others. But there are many systems which did not provide any way of addressing the two points listed above. The home automation system just sent the command and assumes that the garage door features will handle all the safety issues. UL felt that was not sufficient for remotes which could operate “unattended”. (Again, argue with them, not with me. :wink: )

It’s probably a choice, just make an informed choice

Most US jurisdictions don’t have a law requiring that you meet the UL standard for your own home (although many do if you are installing equipment for someone else, you are a landlord, you have a daycare business in your home, or you operate under Airbnb or similar service). But you should understand why there is potential difference once you add home automation to a garage door and why the existing garage door safety features probably don’t address all of the “unattended operation” hazards.

And again, this isn’t theoretical. We have had community members who had their own cars damaged when a smartapp operating a simple relay repeatedly tried to close the garage door even though it was hitting the car trunk. :disappointed_relieved: That won’t happen with the gocontrol device. It might hit the car once, but after that the home automation commands will not be accepted until someone physically in the garage has okayed continued operation.

Obviously each person has to assess these issues for themselves, but in order to do that, you need to know what the issues for unattended operation are.


(Paul Haskins) #17

My 2 cents. I went with the MyQ setup. It does not interface with ST and that is fine. I do not “trust” St enough to guarantee that it will not inadvertently open it at some oddball time. Plus, I really have no need for it.

I have the in-house unit that Chamberlain sells, it’s kind of useless really, but it was cheap. It shows if the door is open(red light) and has a close button. Activating that button does the beeping, light flashing, delayed close. Using any of the supplied remotes does not activate that routine.

My Q allows notifications, notification rules and some other features that I do not use.

FWIW - I also have ST notifications and alerts by using a window/door sensor (not a tilt ).

I replaced the opener last year, all of the upgrades were $50.00 or so over a regular Chamberlain. PO’d that I found I needed an interface for my built-in car xmitter. Did not for the old Chamberlain, but they improved the security.


(Daniel Ionescu) #18

My DirectDrive (Sommer) will not close second time no matter what remote/automation I try to use. It’s in the mechanism controlling the motor.

Any link? Maybe they have some older openers.

Link?


#19

Excellent. :sunglasses:

Any link? Maybe they have some older openers.

Definitely could be, the thread was from before the 2016 UL change.


(Daniel Ionescu) #20

Wrong programming does not make for non conformance.
And to quote you on that

JDRoberts Helpful Jun '15
My bad, then. But the point is still that it’s not the device, it’s the device handler.

What event triggers the garage door to close?

Would @garyd9 's device handler for this device work any better?