Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener Installation Guide
The beauty of Wi-Fi garage door openers is that they are VERY easy to install. In fact, they're designed to be connected to existing garage door openers, simply providing the command to open/close that activates the door opening system.
To install your garage door opener:
Step 1: Connect it to the power source. You'll need a power socket fairly near the garage door, as most garage door openers run on wired power rather than battery power. (This is a good thing, as battery power can be spotty when the batteries are running low on juice.)
Step 2: Install the Wi-Fi hub. The Wi-Fi hub is usually designed to plug in, clip on, or screw in place atop the main system. However, some will require you to mount the system to the ceiling or wall. You may need a hammer, drill, screwdriver, and other tools for this part of the job. Once it's installed, plug it in and turn it on.
Step 3: Connect with the garage door opener. Most Wi-Fi garage door openers require you to connect to their existing network (via their app). You may need to disconnect from your home network in order to connect to the Wi-Fi signal streamed from the garage door opener. The good news is that this is usually a one-time thing, as connecting once will pair the device with the garage door opener for future use.
(Note: Make sure to read the manual/instructions on how to connect the device to the network, and your smartphone to the device. The steps can be a bit tricky or complex, not to mention frustrating if you can't get it right the first time.)
Step 4: Install the sensors. Once your smartphone is paired with the opener, you need to install the sensors that will tell you if the garage door is open or closed. Thankfully, it's usually fairly easy to secure it to the garage door. The smartphone app will walk you through the steps of pairing the sensor to the device.
Most garage door openers will take 10 to 20 minutes to install, and may require a little bit of DIY skill (drilling into concrete, for example). However, once they're installed, they tend to be fairly low maintenance and reliable.
Common Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener Problems
Every brand of Wi-Fi garage door openers are GUARANTEED to have some problems. Perhaps the issue is in the initial connecting/pairing with your device, or they begin to have technical problems after a few months of use.
Here are a few of the most common problems you can expect to deal with, along with potential solutions/fixes:
LED lights flashing or not on. Many garage door openers use LED lights to indicate the connection status with your network. The LED lights will usually be a solid green (the standard color for good connection). If it's blinking, it may indicate that the IP address of the opener is valid, but it's not able to connect to the internet. If there is no LED light, the router isn't providing the garage door opener with an IP address to connect it to the internet. You may need to check your internet connections and router settings to troubleshoot this problem.
Bluetooth connectivity issues. Bluetooth has a much shorter range than Wi-Fi, so your phone may not be able to connect because you're too far away from the garage door opener. Try connecting from inside your garage. If that doesn't work, navigate to your Bluetooth settings, find the name of the garage door opener, and click "Forget this device". Repeat all the steps to connect the smartphone to the Bluetooth device as if it is a brand new phone.
Can't connect to Wi-Fi hub. In some older Android phones (with OS Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean), the operating system may prevent you from automatically connecting with the Wi-Fi signal from the garage door opener's Wi-Fi hub. You'll need to go into your phone's Advanced Wi-Fi settings and uncheck the box next to "Check for internet service".
Poor signal. If you have spotty connection in your garage, the Wi-Fi signal from the garage door opener may be weak as well. You need at least two bars for the garage door opener to work, but 3-5 bars is always better. If you have poor signal, try using a Wi-Fi range extender to amplify the signal from your router. Or, simply move the router closer to your garage.
"No response". If you try to open/close the garage door and the app sends a message saying "No response", it may be a sign the Wi-Fi hub is having problems connecting to your home Wi-Fi network. Either consider relocating your garage door's Wi-Fi hub or using a range extender to amplify your home network signal.
If you encounter any other problems, the user manual will give you most answers, or you can call customer support for help.
How Secure are Wi-Fi Garage Door Openers?
Back in 2017, ABC 7 Chicago published an article examining the ways that hackers could potentially invade your home using the various Wi-Fi devices, including doorbells, thermostats, light switches, and garage door openers.
The article stated that "the garage door opener was the most secure device on the network". This means that the security features installed by the manufacturers of Wi-Fi garage door openers are reliable.
However, the article made it perfectly clear that even garage door openers could be hacked, particularly by compromised or hacked smart devices installed in the home. If any devices are connected to the home Wi-Fi network, all the other devices connected are equally vulnerable. One Garaga article found that a kid's toy could be used to hack electric garage door openers.
On the plus side, some Wi-Fi garage door openers operate on a closed system. Take the MyQ Chamberlain, for example. One user complained that the garage door opener couldn't be integrated with any of the other home automation devices, even those manufactured by the same company.
This may seem like a design flaw, but it could actually insulate your garage against attack. If the only way to access the opener is via the app and not via the home automation software, it provides a deterrent for hackers trying to get into the system.
Are Wi-Fi garage door openers perfectly safe to use? Unfortunately, in the modern age of technology, criminals and hackers will ALWAYS look for new and creative ways to break into your home and steal your data. There's no such thing as "thief-proof" or "hack-proof".
Does that mean you shouldn't use a Wi-Fi garage door opener? Not at all! What it means is that you need to take extra precautions to protect your garage.
Security Tips to Protect Your Garage
Here are a few simple steps you can take to enhance the security of your garage, one of the most vulnerable points in your home:
Secure your Wi-Fi network. This should be Step 1, something you do the moment you first install the wireless router in your home. An open network is not only vulnerable to hackers, but to literally ANYONE passing by. Your home network should always have a password, and not the standard password that comes with the router. Securing your Wi-Fi network will decrease the chance that someone will be able to access it—and ultimately your home automation system or garage door opener—from outside.
Block the release cord. Some clever thieves have created hooks that they insert into the gap above the garage door and try to hook the release cord. If they can pull the cord, it disconnects the garage door from the opener, thus allowing them to lift the sliding door and get in easily. You can make a simple "shield" by installing a piece of plywood on the arm of the garage door opener. With this shield, no one will be able to hook and pull the release cord.
Monitor the garage door sensor. The Wi-Fi garage door opener will come with at least one sensor that indicates whether the door is open or closed. ALWAYS check that sensor when leaving or entering the home—the last thing you want is for someone to slip into your open garage door when your house is vulnerable.
Consider video cameras. Many home security systems can be paired with video cameras that are triggered when the garage door opens. To ensure your garage is as safe as possible, consider installing video cameras to keep an eye on this vulnerable entry point.
Set it to automatic. The good thing about most Wi-Fi door openers is that they can be programmed to automatically close the garage door after a few minutes. The app that comes with the device will give you a range of features—use them!
Improve your garage's security features. Install a deadbolt on the service door to your garage, along with a heavy duty strike plate—both of which will make it as thief-proof as possible. Lock the entry door that leads from your garage to your home EVERY time you use it. Cover up the windows of your garage door so thieves aren't able to see inside. Bright lighting activated by motion sensors will usually be enough of a deterrent to keep thieves away from your garage door. Consider installing a security system to monitor the exterior of your home as well as the interior.
A few simple precautions can go a long way toward keeping your house and garage safe!
DIY A Wi-Fi Door Opener
Did you know you can build your own garage door opener using a few simple parts available at any electronics store?
Hack A Day has a handy guide to building a DIY garage door opener. All you'll need is:
- A Bluetooth headset
- A Bluetooth-enabled smartphone
- A single transistor
The headset used for this DIY garage door opener is the Samsung HM1100, but you can use literally ANY Bluetooth headset.
Watch how it's done in this video…
If you want another effective DIY garage door opener, Fritzing.org has a project you can follow. It's compatible with the Fritzing app, and though it's a slightly more complex device, it's one most people could build simply by following the clear instructions laid out in this handy guide on Code Project.
Lifehack also has a link to a video that shows you how to turn old garage remotes into smartphone-enabled remotes. It requires Particle Core products, but it's significantly cheaper to build your own than buy ready-made garage openers.
Watch how it's done in this video…
Are these DIY garage door openers as secure as the ones we have on our list. The answer: probably not.
Most manufactured garage door openers come with built-in security, both in the firmware and app software. However, they can be very pricey systems, so for those looking to save money, a DIY smartphone-enabled garage door opener can be a good option to consider.
Be warned: you may need to look into ways to improve the security of your DIY garage door opener. The connection may be open (not password-protected), or the transmitter may seek to pair with any and all smartphones in the area. If you're going to DIY a garage door opener, make sure to do your homework and research the options for installing security features. The last thing you want is for your DIY project to make your home vulnerable!