2020 Garage Door Opener Review

The latest generations of openers do much more than just open and close garage doors.

It reminds me of how coffee was served before Starbucks.

On a recent Southwest Airlines flight the stewardess asked me “cream and sugar?” when I requested coffee.

Black, with cream and/or sugar? That’s it! Those are your choices.

Life was simple.

But then Starbucks came along and crushed our simple idea of a cup of coffee. Like a faded Polaroid being tossed in the trash with the wet coffee grounds after the barista makes a cappuccino.

Starbucks menu
Starbuck’s Menu

Starbucks and its competitors offer us so many choices (most of which I can’t pronounce) that I sometimes get frustrated. (Just give me a fricken) “a small black coffee please.”

I stay polite when they respond with “So you want a “tall” coffee? We have the Sumatra dark roast or the Kopi luwak made from coffee beans plucked from civets’ feces.”

Whatever happened to Folgers? During the ’60s and ’70s in their TV commercials, Mrs. Olson told us it was “mountain grown — the richest kind.”

With the current state of garage door openers, you also have a lot of choices. So many in fact, that it becomes confusing and difficult to choose the right one for you.

THE GOOD

In California, backup batteries are now required with all new openers.

When fires and floods strike the “Golden State,” electric service to homes is frequently interrupted. The backup battery allows occupants to escape through the garage even during a power outage.

The State’s government passed a law requiring (new and replacement) openers to have a battery. Whether you agree with the law or not, remember the cliché “as California goes so goes the Nation” … you’ve been warned.

MyQ Mobile App
MyQ Mobile App

Mobile apps give you access to the opener from anywhere on the planet as long as you have a good connection. So if someone needs to get into your garage when you’re not home, you can let them in by pressing a button on your phone.

MyQ Activity History.  An audit trail of when the door was opened and closed.
Activity History

Your neighbor, the police, fire department or other emergency people can either break into your home causing a lot of damage or you can simply let them enter through the garage using your phone app.

This may not make sense until you really need to let someone in. Let’s say someone gets hurt inside your home when you’re not there, and they are incapacitated.

Did you know that many burglaries start with criminals stealing the garage door remote from your car? Yep, they break your car window, grab your remote and wait until you’re not home to empty it out. With a phone app, it’s a lot more difficult if not impossible to get access through the garage door.

The app can also remind you that the door has remained open for too long. You can close the door manually or you can set it to automatically close after a certain period of time has elapsed or at a specific time.

File:Amazon Key logo.png

Using their app, Amazon now has the ability to drop packages inside your garage so they don’t get stolen — provided you grant Amazon access to your opener.

Amazon Key screenshot on iPhone
Amazon key

 

Don’t worry about an Amazon delivery person or anyone else stealing stuff out of your garage, because you can watch (and record) them with the opener’s HD 1080P surveillance camera.

Then you can give them a heart attack by yelling at them on the 2-way audio (speaker/microphone) “RUN! THE POLICE ARE ON THE WAY!!!”

Manufacturers are not only adding new features, they constantly improve the reliability and user experience of their openers.

The built-in LED lights that are so bright, that your neighbors may mistakenly believe that it’s morning when you open your garage door late at night.

Silent (quieter) operation is being achieved with:

  • super strong, long-lasting belt vs noisy chain drives
  • nylon ball bearing vs screechy steel rollers
  • smaller and quieter DC vs loud AC motors

These are just a few examples of recent incremental improvements.

And that’s just the beginning of the new features that are available with the latest garage door openers.

THE BAD

Genie uses the Aladdin Connect® system, Chamberlain (Liftmaster, Sears, and several other brands) uses the MyQ system. Other manufacturers use their proprietary communication protocols.

Their technology hasn’t learned to play together. It’s like the Biblical Tower of Bable. The systems don’t understand each other and can’t communicate with each other.

 

From a classic movie Cool Hand Luke

For consumers, it’s reminiscent of the 1980’s standards battle between Sony Betamax and JVC’s VHS

This issue transcends garage door openers and is representative of the entire smart home industry.

Alexa, Google, Siri … it’s sooo frustrating! I feel like Rodney King — “Can we all just get along?”

And even if you’ve done your homework and made some compromises to put together a working system, history tells us that it won’t be long ’till it’s all obsolete.

And just like with all other “free” technology, are you comfortable with Google, Apple, Amazon, and others tracking your every move? Each time you open and close the door, someone (we don’t know who) is able to track and store your activity. Hey, just because I’m paranoid — that doesn’t mean they’re not after me!

The Best Garage Door Opener – with garage door app

If you appreciate the convenience, and the benefits of the new technology — like me — there is no choice.

Hands-down, I love the ability to open and close my door when I’m not home — even when I’m in another city.

I was out of town when I received an alert that my garage door just opened. I thought that my wife was at work (like many husbands, I didn’t pay attention when she told me her work schedule … but I digress).

So I texted her just to confirm that there wasn’t a burglary in progress.

SMS communication

Is this more evidence of my paranoia?

We like to give our customers choices. We have a process for helping people decide just the right opener for them.

  1. Budget. What can you afford? The top of the line opener costs 3 times more than a basic model. How long will you remain in your home? If it’s a short time, you may not want to spend a lot on a fancy opener you’ll end up leaving behind (unless you have money to burn). If you plan to be in the home for a few years and you have the money, the extra cost amortized out over the years of enjoyment — is nothing.
  2. Features. If you’re a technology doofus, keep it simple. You’ll drive yourself and your rescuer go-to computer nerd crazy trying to operate all the tools that are available on the high-end openers. On the other hand, if you love the features as I do, splurge a little.
  3. Safety. It’s always possible for someone to enter your home, but eliminating the remote control unit makes it much more difficult for criminals. Breaking into your phone is a lot harder than smashing the window of your car and grabbing your remote — which is a common way burglars use to rob homes.

Here are our 3 favorite garage door openers for our customers.

Chamberlain C205

A heavy-duty chain-drive 1/2 HP unit, MyQ garage door opener app upgradeable. Inexpensive.

LiftMaster 8355W

Mid-range price and features. Our most popular model. Quiet belt drive with MyQ garage door opener app built-in. Great value.

LiftMaster 85503

The best garage door opener in our opinion for most home is this Top-of-the-line model from Liftmaster! This beauty does it all. HD Video, 2-way Audio, MyQ, etc. and it works with Liftmaster’s garage door opener app. For those who only want the best.

 

If you’d like to have some of the MyQ features but it doesn’t make sense for a replacement garage door opener, there is a way to install a The LiftMasterr retrofit package that includes a MyQ Control Panel, a LiftMaster Internet Gateway, Remote Light Controls, and a Remote Light Switch.

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