The Best Smart Garage Door Opener Controller of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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The Best Smart Garage Door Opener Controller of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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Everyone has experienced some version of this scenario: You’re packed up and heading out on vacation. An hour into the drive—or deep in the airport security line—you realize that you don’t remember whether you closed the garage door. This is why a smart garage-door opener controller is a must-have sanity-saver.

Smart garage controllers don’t work with all door openers. Most companies offer a compatibility tool for confirming whether yours will work as is.

Installation typically requires a ladder and connecting wires from your controller to your garage door opener. If you need help, hire a professional installer.

Some smart controller kits include cameras so you can check a live video feed or saved motion clips to confirm whether the door is open or closed.

Newer garage-door openers often come with integrated smarts so you don’t have to buy a standalone controller. Check your opener’s features first.

This relatively simple smart device attaches to and elevates your existing door opener so that you can monitor or control it from anywhere—some let you view your garage through a camera—and receive alerts about any activity. You can also share access to your controller through the app with family members or anyone else you trust who regularly visits your home.

The Tailwind iQ3 Smart Automatic Garage Controller Pro is the best smart garage-door opener controller we tested. It offers a strong mix of durable, professional-grade hardware, easy in-app control, advanced features such as auto-open and auto-close, and an impressive variety of optional smart-home integrations.

Offering sturdy construction and a reliable geofencing feature, this is a controller that you can rely on for years.

Compatibility: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Control4, Crestron, Google Assistant, Home Assistant, Hubitat, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

The Tailwind iQ3 Smart Automatic Garage Controller Pro’s sheer number of compatibility options and advanced features, coupled with its solid hardware, excellent performance, and reasonable price, made it the overwhelming favorite in our tests.

This smart controller comes with a module and a wired door sensor that connects to the module and your garage-door opener. Although this model’s installation is comparatively involved because of that wired door sensor (the other controllers either lacked a door sensor or connected wirelessly), the Tailwind app for Android and iOS walks you through every step along the way.

In our tests, we found that the installation was worth the extra effort because the wired door sensor translated to particularly reliable performance with no errors, inaccurate alerts, or inconsistencies.

This controller works with up to three garage doors. It also supports automatic open and close, which worked seamlessly during our testing.

For a decade I covered smart-home technology at CNET. I’ve wrangled robot vacuums, jumped inside washing machines, hated on smart displays, and appeared in videos as a creepy electrician and Santa—for science.

Smart garage-door opener controllers give your existing garage-door opener smart capabilities. A controller makes sense for anyone who wants to monitor the status of and make changes to their ordinary garage-door opener through an app or with voice commands. It’s also an easy way to remotely let your neighbor into your garage so that they can borrow a rake.

Even if the above sounds like you, there are some factors to consider before you buy to make sure that a smart controller will work for you.

First, you need a steady Wi-Fi connection in the area where your garage-door opener is located. None of these devices operate optimally without a decent connection, no matter how well reviewed they are. If your speeds are slow and the connection is spotty, a smart controller might not be a good fit, unless you boost your Wi-Fi with a range extender or otherwise improve the connection in your garage.

Compatibility with your existing garage-door opener is another important consideration. Tailwind offers compatibility checkers for you to confirm whether your opener can support a smart controller. Confirming the type of opener you have before you buy will help you narrow down your options—or you may find out that your opener already offers some degree of smart functionality.

Most owner manuals also say that you need a ladder for the installation. Depending on how high your current controller is mounted, that may be true, but I comfortably got away with a smaller stepladder rather than a full-size ladder. Check the distance to your controller beforehand and you might be able to avoid hauling out (or having to borrow) a bigger ladder.

Rather than test every single controller available, we came up with guidelines to determine which models would make the cut for testing. First, we determined that a smart garage-door opener controller must:

In addition to satisfying that list of requirements, any smart controller we tested would ideally:

We’ve been testing smart garage-door opener controllers since 2016, and our testing has changed over time. In general, when we test a smart controller, we’re looking for:

The Chamberlain Group, of which Chamberlain, Liftmaster, and Craftsman garage-door openers are a part, owns over 70% of the US market, according to a 2018 study.

Chamberlain makes the myQ Smart Garage Control device, which we did not name as a pick due to its confusing lack of smart-home integrations (more on that in Other good smart garage-door opener controllers). Newer Chamberlain Group openers featuring a yellow “learn” button are not compatible with non-Chamberlain smart garage-door controllers but do work with the myQ device.

Some newer Chamberlain Group openers even come with built-in myQ smart control and don’t require a separate smart-controller purchase.

Although newer garage-door openers are not compatible with third-party smart controllers, Tailwind offers optional hardware accessories that might enable you to use one of these devices even if your opener technically doesn’t support them.

Offering sturdy construction and a reliable geofencing feature, this is a controller that you can rely on for years.

The Tailwind iQ3 Smart Automatic Garage Controller Pro offers an excellent combination of durable hardware design, straightforward app control, an intuitive auto-open and auto-close feature, and support for a huge variety of smart-home platforms. It even offers a workaround if you have an initially incompatible garage-door opener with a yellow “learn” button.

One Tailwind controller can work with up to three garage doors, though you’re supplied only one door sensor in the package and so would need to pay $30 for each additional door sensor.

Its hardware feels more durable than that of the competition. The door kit in particular separates the Tailwind controller from the rest of the pack. It’s made of metal rather than the standard plastic, and because of that it has a much better chance of standing up to years of use. Out of the box, you get the smart controller, one door kit, and a variety of wires, cables, and hardware to connect everything together.

In addition to its durable metal design, the door kit is a wired device, which translated to better overall performance in comparison with some wireless competitors. I encountered absolutely no issues while testing this controller. When I asked the app or a voice assistant to open or close the door, it worked without fail, which is exactly what you want from a smart garage-door opener controller.

Tailwind offers tons of features and flexibility. This smart controller works with up to three garage doors (with additional door sensors purchased separately). In addition, the app offers auto-open and auto-close so you can come and go without ever thinking about the garage door, and Tailwind even gives you options if either your phone or your car is incompatible with automatic open and close.

Android users whose cars aren’t equipped with Bluetooth, and all iPhone owners, need a little $20 battery-powered vehicle sensor to enable the auto-open and auto-close feature. I have an iPhone, so for our testing Tailwind sent me a vehicle sensor in addition to the main kit. The car sensor installed seamlessly in minutes, and it consistently closed the door for me automatically when I drove away and opened it when I returned.

It even works with newer Chamberlain openers. Maybe one of the most underrated things about this smart controller is that Tailwind provides a free device for compatibility with a garage-door opener with a yellow “learn” button. As the company states on its website, “If you have a Chamberlain, Liftmaster, or Craftsman branded opener that has a round yellow ‘learn’ button, be sure to select ‘YES’ during checkout when our website asks if you have one of these. Your opener requires special hardware.”

My garage door was compatible, so I didn’t have to take that step, but it’s a nice option if you own a newer opener that doesn’t support third-party smart controllers.

It’s the smartest of the smart garage-door controllers. No other smart controller I tested had as many optional smart-home integrations as the Tailwind model. Offering Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant support is great. Also including support for Control4, Crestron, Home Assistant, Hubitat, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings is especially great.

For more details, read Tailwind’s privacy statement.

It has a more-involved installation. The wired door sensor requires installation on the door track, which means running wires all the way from the door to the controller. As a result, we found the Tailwind controller to be more of a pain to install in comparison with the other models we tested, which had wireless sensors (such as Chamberlain’s controller) or no sensors. I was initially intimidated when I opened the box and saw the extra wires, but the Tailwind app walks you through the entire setup from start to finish.

The details in the app tutorial that relate to installing the door sensor, however, show a last-gen version rather than the updated door kit. Fortunately, on YouTube I found a detailed installation video that explained how to install both the older door sensor and the newer Pro Door Kit sensor, and that’s the video I used to install my Pro Door Kit sensor.

There’s no camera (for now). Tailwind currently doesn’t offer a camera for you to check a live video feed to confirm the status of your door. The company confirmed for us that it is working on a camera, which will cost around $40. Tailwind will offer it to current customers first, and availability is slated for fall.

If you don’t care about smart integrations or voice control: The $30 Chamberlain Smart Garage Control might be a solid choice for you. In our tests, it was the easiest smart controller to install, and the price is low for the core kit. However, it supports only Google Home, and that requires using IFTTT, which charges a monthly fee for more than two automations. By our standards, this Chamberlain model barely qualifies as a “smart” garage-door opener controller.

Even worse, Chamberlain has added and dropped various smart-home integrations over the years unexpectedly, making its offerings unpredictable from one day to the next. Its own customer support was confused about the current options when I called.

If you worry about privacy or prefer to store your data locally rather than in the cloud: The $180 iSmartgate Pro is a good controller. It supports all of the main smart-home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings. You also have the option to add an iSmartgate-branded camera for an extra $60 or to add one from a long list of supported third-party cameras.

Tailwind says it is working on a camera accessory for fall 2023 that will cost about $40. We plan to test it and will report back. The company is also working on an LED garage light. We don’t have more details yet, but these additions are promising, and they could make the already impressive Tailwind controller darn near perfect.

This list includes only recent models we have reviewed, plus those that we considered for this guide but ultimately decided not to test because they failed to meet our selection criteria.

We initially considered testing the Nexx Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Controller, but news reports indicated it had a major security vulnerability that left it open to hacks.

I was intrigued by the newer iSmartgate Mini due to its lower price (a little more than $45). However, this model doesn’t have a built-in speaker or LED to sound or flash before the garage door closes, so it doesn’t meet UL 325 standards for safety.

This article was edited by Jon Chase and Grant Clauser.

Keeping your Family Safe When Using Automatic Garage Doors, UL Standards Matter Blog

Steve Kuscsik, Convenience and Safety Working Together: Unattended Operation for Residential Garage Door Operators, UL, June 19, 2019

Molly Price, Best Smart Garage Door Opener of 2023, CNET, July 25, 2022

Megan Wollerton is a product tester and an award-winning feature writer. Previously she spent a decade at CNET reviewing all manner of gear and writing long stories about nature. Before that, she blogged for NBC’s SYFY Channel. In her spare time, she tries to convince her family to move to a remote cabin in the woods, and she eats much more dessert than is socially acceptable.

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The Best Smart Garage Door Opener Controller of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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