HomeKit options for Chamberlain garage door openers

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So you have a Chamberlain (or LiftMaster) garage door motor and want to enable it in HomeKit? There are a few ways to do this, the most obvious being Chamberlain’s own Home Bridge device with HomeKit support.

It’s worth considering whether this is the best option, however. Chamberlain hasn’t been making any friends in the smart home market of late, with what could be called anti-consumer behavior. Without getting into details, there have been a number of cases where access has been blocked, dropped or pay walled. The ongoing nature of these disruptions creates some uncertainty with any access you may have to their MyQ service going forward.

There are, however, good alternatives for smart door openers in general, and for HomeKit a couple of options stand out depending on your current setup and budget. Let’s take a look at the official solution first.

MyQ Home Bridge

✔ Supports HomeKit, Google, IFTTT
✔ Wall mount included

✘ Poor setup instructions/support
✘ Still needs internet connection
✘ US compatibility only

Up Front Considerations

The first thing to keep in mind is that for any official smart home support, you’ll need a MyQ enabled garage door opener. MyQ is Chamberlain’s proprietary communication system that allows their door motors to talk to other things like remotes, lights, and their internet service.

Many garage door openers now support MyQ, and not just one’s from the Chamberlain group. This only allows them to talk to other MyQ devices, though. To actually use that feature, you’ll need a bridge device in order to connect to it with a smart home platform or smart phone app.

Keep in mind basic physical security as well. All these smarts are great, but if a thief can simply open your door with a piece of wire, then having a door in the first place is a bit pointless.

What is the MyQ Home Bridge

This device acts as a translator between MyQ and WiFi. The Home Bridge devices (both Chamberlain and LiftMaster branded equivalents) are specific models designed with HomeKit support in addition to that basic function.

You don’t need both types for a set up to work on HomeKit, the Home Bridge model will suffice, and will also act as a normal MyQ bridge/gateway allowing connection of you door opener to Chamberlain’s cloud service and MyQ app.

The two models you’ll be looking for are either the Chamberlain MYQ-G0303-SP or the LiftMaster MYQ 819LMB. They’re identical apart from the label.

If you’re outside the US, you’re likely out of luck. The bridge only supports US voltage sockets, and only US garage door frequencies. Many countries have different frequencies approved for door openers, so they won’t be able to communicate even if they have MyQ. The alternatives below will work though.

MyQ Home Bridge Features

The bridge is a typical smart hub, in that it’s a box that plugs into power and connects to your WiFi. There’s not much else to it physically, and all the configuration takes place in Chamberlains MyQ smart phone app. Even if you opt to only use HomeKit, you’ll still need to set up this app first.

Once you have you door joined to the bridge and the bridge to HomeKit, you’ll get a fully functional garage door accessory in the Home app. You can open and close the door with a tap, or with Siri voice commands. The MyQ service also communicates the door state quite well, with not only open and closed status, but when it’s in transit as well. You can configure notifications on the door so it pings you when it opens and closes, and constrain those messages by time and who is at home (based on your Apple Home membership).

The notifications can be a little temperamental at times, although I’ve found them reasonably reliable. Sometimes you won’t get a notification until you check the Home app and force a query against the MyQ service. It’s unclear if this is a HomeKit issue or due to the fact that all the status info is still passing through the Chamberlains cloud service as well.

Installation

As the bridge needs to communicate wirelessly with both your door opener and you home network, you’ll need to find a location where it can do both. MyQ is reasonably reliable as a radio protocol (it has to be able to receive the remote signal from the car after all), but you don’t want to place it too far from the garage.

A power socket is required, which will limit placement options, but as it comes with a mount it can be fairly easily installed on the wall or ceiling of the garage and make use of the sockets in there.

Setup

This is where things can get problematic. So long as you are installing the Home Bridge as your first MyQ bridge, it’s not too bad. You get the bridge installed and powered up, then download the MyQ app on your phone and do the setup from there.

Yes, you need to set up MyQ and an account on their cloud service first, get your garage door paired with it, and only then do the HomeKit pairing, also from the MyQ app. HomeKit allows for secure local control, but as the Home Bridge is still a normal MyQ device as well, it still expects and needs to have access to the MyQ internet service to work at all.

If you have a MyQ bridge already, transferring a door opener from a non-HomeKit bridge to the Home Bridge has caused a lot of pain for many, and is not well documented.

Real World Usage

While the Home Bridge is still dependent on the MyQ cloud, response time is not impacted as much as I would have expected. However, because you’re going through the bridge, a mandated warning period is built in for safety reasons. This is a regulatory requirement for any ‘remote access’ so that anyone in the garage knows the door is going to move.

The rather annoying requirement here is for a five second audible alarm. Flashing the light on the motor is also required, but less of an issue.

This is specifically a US example and other regions will vary. Australia, for example, doesn’t require the alarm, only the light. This isn’t Chamberlain’s fault, of course, but a consequence of accessing the door control through a device that means you may be ‘out of line of sight’.

A bigger concern, however, is the number of users that have had issues with the Home Bridge product. Issues range from simply not responding reliably or giving notifications in a timely manner through HomeKit, WiFi issues, and losing configuration after a power failure. Almost 20% of user reviews cite these kinds of problems, which would give anyone pause.

Alternatives

iSmartGate

✔ Supports HomeKit, Google, IFTTT, SmartThings
✔ Door position sensor included
✔ Supports time limited user access (in app)
✔ Local control

✘ Instructions only online
✘ Most expensive option

Garage door motors typically have a wiring terminal block that is used for various things, such as obstruction sensors, lighting, or a hard wired open button. The latter is used by a number of third party smart opener add-ons like this one. They simply connect to the button terminals and trigger the door in the same way as a physical button would. Be sure to confirm you’re specific opener model is supported using their compatibility checker.

While this is the more expensive option, the iSmartGate LITE (formerly known as GoGoGate) offers better platform compatibility, and true local HomeKit control. There’s also no subscription required for any of the supported platforms, and it’s usable in any region. There’s also a PRO model that allows wiring up to three door openers from the one device, so this is a great option if you have a garage with multiple doors.

As the device doesn’t have any awareness of the motor state via the button terminals, it also comes with a wireless door position sensor. This simply sticks onto the garage door and tells the device whether it’s up or down.

Keep in mind this is a critical piece of the solution, though, and the batteries used are a bit uncommon, known as LR1 N size E90. You’ll probably want to have some on hand, as when the sensor stops working the Garage door will show as Not Responding in HomeKit. Apart from that the biggest issue people have had is not having setup instructions included with the product.

The iSmartGate website does have good step by step instructions and video to cover this, but if you’re trying to follow that on your phone at the same time as doing the steps it can be a bit clumsy.


Meross Smart Wi-Fi

✔ Supports HomeKit, Alexa, Google, SmartThings
✔ Door position sensor included
✔ Local control
✔ Easy Installation

✘ Door sensor is wired

The Meross Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener (you’ll want the MSG100HK model) operates along the same lines as the iSmartGate in that it connects directly to the button terminals on the door motor and pretends to be a physical wired opener button. In the same vein you’ll need to confirm if you’re particular motor is compatible with this approach using Meross’ compatibility table.

The device is a simple, no frills remote door button, and is reliant on the included wired magnetic sensor to determine if the door is open or closed. This can has caused some users issues as using any other means to operate the door, such as a car remote or physical button, will result in the door state being out of sync. This can cause HomeKit to not trigger automations based on the door state, and report the door state incorrectly until it’s cycled again to get the states matched up again.

The door sensor also is on the cheaper side, and needs to be placed where the wire can run back to the device. That being said, it largely works well and offers a very affordable alternative for the cost sensitive. See our full Meross review.


MyQ Garage Hub

✔ Supports Google Assistant, IFTTT
✔ Inexpensive

✘ Requires DIY additions for HomeKit
✘ Cloud based

This option is a little more complicated, but potentially offers the cheapest way to get your door into HomeKit. This depends on what you already have in your setup, specifically if you already have an existing (non-HomeKit) MyQ bridge/gateway like the Chamberlain MYQ-G0301 shown here.

If you do, or if you have a Homebridge setup (the open source bridge solution, not the device), then combining the two provides a pretty robust solution. You can set up this solution pretty easily now and run it on a small Raspberry Pi device, just like any other smart hub. If you don’t have either then you may be better off going with the iSmartGate from a cost perspective, as the LITE model will probably run you less than getting everything for this DIY solution.

Using the MyQ homebridge plugin, you’ll get full HomeKit support including door state and transit, notifications, and the ability to integrate it with automations. Chamberlain updates their API regularly which tends to break things, but the developer is actively supporting it and along with good community support you’ll have an update within a couple of days to get things working again.

This is my current solution, and it works pretty well apart from the odd outage noted above. It’s worth noting that the plugin developer does own an official Home Bridge device, but uses this method instead because it’s more reliable.

The Verdict

If you’re in the US and want to add HomeKit support to your MyQ garage door opener, you can certainly opt for Chamberlains official bridge. But there are good reasons to be concerned about reliability and support, as well as Chamberlain’s apparent desire to monetize people’s access to their own hardware. Of course, if you’re not US based then this device is not an option anyway.

Thankfully there are good alternatives. Both off the shelf with the iSmartGate, Meross Opener, or DIY using a third party Homebridge install along with a standard MyQ Garage Hub.