Ever have a delivery arrive at the house and wish you could open the garage door so your Trump Steaks don’t bake in the sun? Ever find yourself locked out and in need of an easy backdoor inside? The Internet of Things offers many solutions to such problems, but smart garage door openers provide a particularly promising fix to many of life’s little inconveniences.
Skylink, best known for its DIY home security system, recently expanded into smart garage door openers (GDO in the company’s parlance). If you’re a hardcore DIYer, such a system might be compelling.
Skylink calls the Atoms garage door opener “compact, powerful, and quiet,” and the gadget succeeds reasonably well on those fronts. It’s almost disconcertingly tiny—I dare say even stylish, for a garage door opener—but it works just fine. The mechanism on the model I reviewed(a 3/4 horsepower system) includes a belt drive, which uses a rotating sprocket attached to a long rubber belt to roll the door up and down. Belt drives are relatively quiet, at the expense of speed. The opener is $200 and set up like any old GDO.
To make it “smart,” you need an Internet Hub(another $100) which connects to your Wi-Fi router via an Ethernet cable. It is basically a bridge between your Wi-Fi network and the garage door opener, letting you use a smartphone app to control it and configure IFTTT applets, a feature Skylink calls a first for GDOs.
If you’ve never installed a garage door opener yourself, you’re in for a treat. And by treat I mean eight hours of dirty, backbreaking work putting up a replacement (because you can reuse some existing hardware), or at least ten hours if you’re starting from scratch. This was the second time I’d installed a garage door opener and it still dominated most of a frustrating weekend.
My biggest complaint by far is that Skylink’s installation instructions are laughably out-of-date and often flat-out wrong, as if the instructions for three or four different products were mixed up in the editing process. Even the unit’s YouTube instructions—generally more helpful than the printed version—are inaccurate in places, and tend to gloss over some of the most difficult aspects of installation. (If you’re strong enough to simply slip the belt over the rear pulley as shown at 4:00 in the video, you don’t need a mechanical garage door opener, you can simply open it with the flick of the wrist.)
Skylink initially sent me the wrong Internet Hub, and it took two tech support calls to get it working properly (again, the written instructions are poor at best). But by day four, I finally had the system running, and beyond some hiccups with the Hub, things continue working largely as promised. I can use IFTTT to text me any time the garage door opens, or have it flick on Philips Hue bulbs in the stairs when I’m coming home. Or, I can … actually, those are the only reasons I can fathom wanting to hook IFTTT into my garage door, but Skylink has other suggestions for you if you’re not too exhausted from the installation itself to tinker with it.