The following is a guest post from Angelo DiGangi, a garage door expert from Home Depot.
If you think about it, our garages are our own little ports. They’re where we build things, store things, and they’re usually our daily point of departure and return. So it should come as no surprise that developers have put out some great apps giving us more control of such a vital – if oft-overlooked – area.
A new wave of app-and-hardware combinations are hitting the market, though, offering an affordable way to make that aspect of every day life just a bit easier, covering everything from basic garage door openers to a pretty moderate level of affordable home automation. Are they a luxury? Maybe – but most things in our homes that were so-called luxuries 30 years ago are considered necessities today.
Here are a five popular garage-control apps that should give you a taste of what’s going on in this market at the moment.
GarageMate is a great place to start if you’re looking to dip your toes in the garage app market. It is a simple system allowing you to open your garage door from anywhere. Security is key with GarageMate, as it requires physical access to the door-opener receiver for its initial pairing and setup. This prevents potential burglars from accessing the opener by hacking your phone. Yes, you do have to purchase the receiver from GarageMate for $50 and install it yourself, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind, and it makes sense given how often you’ll use it. Also, the installation is very easy.
If your phone is password-protected, no one can open the garage-door except for you, even if your phone is lost or stolen. This is just one more feature that sets GarageMate apart from traditional openers and some other apps.
Liftmaster is the alpha male of this group in terms of technology, functionality, and price. It actually consists of three pieces of technology: the Liftmaster garage door opener, an Internet Gateway that connects to your home network and communicates with the garage door opener wirelessly, and of course the Liftmaster MyQ app for Android or iOS.
After the app is downloaded, you’ll be able to open and close the garage door from anywhere in the world, and the app can show how long the garage door has been open or closed. Liftmaster also serves as a sort of Trojan Horse into the world of home automation, as the system can also turn on house and garage lights with just a finger swipe. The system works with most Android, and Blackberry smartphones and its cost plus installation normally runs in the range of $350-$500.
Tap It Open Garage Door Opener
The garage door opener is super-simple to install – it only takes five minutes – and it is even simpler to use. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with Tap It Open, and its range is only about 200 ft, but its simplicity is what makes it popular.
There’s virtually no learning curve, so anyone who has the app and security access to your garage door can operate it. So, for example, if the house-sitter needs to get into your garage to feed the dogs, you no longer have to give her the opener: she just downloads the app and you text her the password.
Be A Garage Sale Boss
A clever app covering an entirely different aspect of garage use – the garage sale – is called Garage Sale Rover. This app brilliantly searches popular community posting sites and maps results for yard sales and garage sales in your area. Once you select a pin indicating a sale, the app gives you turn by turn directions to the home. Garage Sale Rover is available for Apple and Android phones.
A similar app is Yard Sale Treasure Map, which also searches Craigslist for yard sales in your general area, as well as descriptions of the content of the sales. A nice feature of this app is that you can add new sales directly through the app, which would be handy when you’re looking to unload some of your junk for cheap. Apple and Android both carry the Yard Sale app and it is free.
Think It Over
While it’s understandable to be skeptical about new technologies, there have been a lot of improvements made in the way that we interact with our garages. If you can cheaply and easily ease the load for your family, and maybe even take a step forward by improving the safety of your house, why wouldn’t you?
Angelo DiGangi is a Home Depot sales associate in the Chicago suburbs and writes on garage doors and other exterior doors for Home Depot’s website. In addition to garage doors, Angelo also provides tips on garage door openers for the website.