Way back in the ancient home automation year of 2013, I was introduced to the first Chamberlain MyQ Garage. The first generation MyQ Garage was my first introduction to smart home products and gave me an interesting look at an age where my smart phone would be a gateway companion to my home rather than just a way to communicate with people and surf the internet. 5 years later, we’re back at it with the newest edition of the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub. The product has largely remained the same, but the landscape has changed. The Chamberlain MyQ is a Wi-Fi enabled smart device that partners with your existing garage door opener to help you open and close it through your smartphone.
Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub is a piece of home automation history
While tremendously helpful, the first gen MyQ wasn’t without its flaws. Since it came out during what’s now basically the prehistoric age of home automation, it wasn’t able to keep pace with a lot of technological and customer experience enhancements. It also suffered from some really weird nuances, like the fact that it would occasionally momentarily kill the Wi-Fi connection in my home when the garage door was in motion (and it was trying to push an open/close notification to my phone.) It was also only supported by a 2.4Ghz internet connection.
While it began to catch up to partner networks as they were released, the first generation MyQ came out at a time before things like Homekit or Works with Nest were released. This isn’t something you can really hold against the original generation, but as customer expectations have changed, the product has needed to adapt too. Chamberlain did release a MyQ Bridge last year to retroactively add Homekit functionality to its products, and it’s something you can buy directly through them. It will run you roughly $100 Canadian.
Getting the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub to work for you
Before you rush out to grab the newest MyQ, there are a few things you should know. The first and most important thing is finding out whether your garage door opener is supported by MyQ. Chamberlain has a very simple compatibility page that might help. The best thing to remember, however, is that the MyQ only works with most garage door openers with photo eye sensors that are around 24 years old or newer. The previous MyQ worked with openers from 1993 and newer, but this one is ‘94 or newer. There are a couple exceptions if you have an Overhead Door or Genie opener which you’ll find on the page I linked above.
You’ll also need to be running either iOS 10 or Android OS 5 at a minimum for this to work. Both operating systems have been out for well over a year now, so I gather this shouldn’t be a breaking point in your decision. However, MyQ does have to be constantly plugged in to work, and needs to be within a couple feet of your garage door (or it can be placed on top if you don’t want to or can’t permanently mount it—but you might not get the fastest results that way.)
Unboxing the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub
If you have an existing MyQ, you’ll notice that the contents are similar, albeit in a smaller box. The hardware looks pretty similar. Inside the box are an AC Adapter, hardware mount, a door sensor which has to sit in a place visible enough for your MyQ to detect it, and the Wi-Fi Hub itself. Hardware installation can take as little as 30 seconds (if you choose not to permanently hardware mount your MyQ) or about 10 minutes. The only tools you’ll need are a drill (for permanent mounts) and your smartphone.
Installing the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub
Installing your new Chamberlain MyQ is really simple. All you have to do is install the mount, slide the MyQ onto it, and then plug it in. Be sure that your MyQ is placed more than a couple of feet away from the opener itself. The door sensor runs on a battery and will probably need to be replaced every couple years or so. The first battery I had on my sensor died at some point without my noticing, and I don’t believe I was sent a notification. The second battery hasn’t been installed long enough for it to have died and for me to see if the software does send notifications now.
Software synchronization is different depending on whether you are an iOS or Android user, and will require you to stay up on a ladder to coordinate the signal between your MyQ and your garage door. Instructions are included for both operating systems, and I would say it’s a 5 minute process tops. One thing I did notice again was that unfortunately, MyQ still doesn’t recognize 5G connections. It’s not really a big deal, but I try to space out the smart home products I have running, and I was a bit surprised.
Operating the Chamberlain MyQ
Operation of the Chamberlain MyQ in its simplest form is easy. Running off the native app, you simply tap the garage door icon on the centre of the screen to open the door, and then again to close it. Since MyQ is running off your Wi-Fi network, a strong and consistent signal means that you can open the garage door from anywhere you are. You’ll also get notifications every time the door opens and closes, and at any time you can check to see if the door is open or closed.
This is something that you can do with partner apps too. Chamberlain keeps a list of partners on its website as they increase in number. As of this review, Chamberlain partners with Nest, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and more. If you’d like to use Apple Homekit, you’ll need to purchase the bridge I mentioned earlier. The nice thing about that bridge is that it brings Homekit functionality to all of the different compatible Chamberlain products (if you decide to get their lights and other garage products, for example) but it appears that it too needs to be plugged in close to your opener. I wouldn’t be able to support this luxury since I only have one free outlet near my garage door opener, which is currently occupied by the MyQ.
One other rather puzzling decision is Chamberlain’s adoption of a subscription fee to partner it with IFTTT and Google Assistant. You get a 30 day trial at the point of installation to give these a try and then you have to subscribe to use it further. To be fair, the IFTTT angle does add a lot of really cool functionality though. While you can check in any time to see whether the garage door is open or closed through your app, IFTTT partnership can do things like alert you if it notices that the door has been open for an uncomfortably long time, or if you’re forgetful and you need the thing to operate on its own once in a while.
Lastly, the Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub doesn’t really have major temperature restrictions for operation. You should be able to comfortably operate this year round. A review I read from someone in the greater Ottawa area said that his MyQ has been working comfortably this winter in the grotesquely cold -30 weather. My winters don’t get -30 cold here in Vancouver, but my old MyQ never failed me during our coldest winters, and I anticipate the new one won’t either.
I’ve found this new MyQ to be a bit more reliable and responsive than the old one, even when I compare it to when it was fresh out of the box. I remember having to reset the old one a few times in the weeks following installation before it finally started operating at 100%, and I haven’t had to do that this time around. It’s always been a pleasure to have the convenience of the MyQ at my fingertips (especially when I’ve had to let my mom or dad in the house when I’m not home), and I’ll continue to be a fan.
Should I upgrade my existing Chamberlain MyQ to the Smart Garage Hub?
Being very honest, I don’t think you need to rush out to upgrade your existing MyQ if it already serves what you need it for. If you’re really seeking Homekit integration, Chamberlain has a MyQ Bridge you can purchase from them that will give you that without having to buy a new hub. The other thing you’ll need to keep in mind is the software requirements. This is the first home automation device I’ve seen where Apple users need to have iOS 10 to run and where Android users need OS 5. Granted, both operating systems have been out a while, but if you have an older phone, you may not have made the switch.
Otherwise, if you’ve got to be on the forefront of home automation technology, then it’s worth giving a try. Likewise, if you don’t have a MyQ right now, then it’s a good time to consider one.
The Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub is now available at BestBuy.ca