Garadget: An Awesome and Open Approach to a Smart Garage Door Opener
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article talking about several smart garage door openers. In it, I ended up picking the Linear GoControl as my favorite. One of the smart openers that I didn’t really get into, though, was the Garadget.
Why didn’t I include this smart garage door opener? Honestly, I just didn’t find a lot about it at the time. It seemed to be a newcomer to the playing field and I wanted to focus on devices that had been around for a while. It only had 70 something odd reviews on Amazon, compared to hundreds for other garage door openers.
A few days ago, I got a message on DadInASmartHome’s Facebook page asking me to review it. I’m always open for review requests, so I started checking it out. Then I noticed that the person who messaged me was none other than the founder himself, Denis Grisak.
After talking with Denis for quite a while, it was evident that he was someone that stood behind his product. He had designed Garadget on his own to meet the same need that I had when I first got into smart homes: wanting to know whether or not I closed the damn garage door before I left.
I jumped into learning more about the Garadget itself. It started with a very successful kickstarter campaign. Denis then started posting updates as soon as the process started. At some point in the process, he even posted about how to create your own home-grown Garadget. On top of all of that, there’s a Github repo with the firmware. It was clear that the community around this device was actually thriving, primarily due to how committed Denis was to his users.
I then started looking at the technical specs of Garadget. Once connected through the app, the device talks over WiFi. Instead of having to run a door sensor like other garage door openers use, Garadget uses a laser pointed at your garage door to determine if it’s open or not. While integration with SmartThings isn’t as simple as some other devices, it is possible to get it integrated (we’ll step through this shortly). IFTTT works well and Amazon Echo support is coming soon. For the latest list of devices they support, check out this page on their website.
To power the device, you simply plug it into an outlet using the supplied plug and USB cord. Setup does get a little tricky, in that it requires you to wire it directly into your garage door opener. This is going to be the case with almost every smart garage door opener you purchase that isn’t already part of your dumb garage door opener (we’ll step through this too, shortly).
The more I read, the more I became interested. I reached out to Denis and asked him if I could have a review unit to test. He promptly sent it out to me and here I am now.
Note: I know I mentioned it above, but I wanted to make it clear that I was supplied a review unit for this article.
I’ve mentioned it before that my initial reasoning for wanting a smart home was so I could automate my garage door. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this point, but I’m excited to finally start this chapter of my smart home adventure.
Step 1 – Unboxing
Denis has mentioned before that he wanted to keep the packaging eco-friendly.
Our plan is to minimize the environmental impact by relying on the recycled materials and minimal ink. Garadget’s packaging is going to be a molded pulp tray (think egg carton) inside of corrugated brown box with black print. – source
Let’s look at what you get in the box.
The packaging is very clean. Along with the hardware, you also get a letter from Denis talking about the Garadget.
In the box is the Garadget itself, a usb cable and power plug, 2 double-sided adhesive pads, 2 reflective pads, some cable to connect to your current garage door opener, and a tiny little screwdriver for the wire insert.
The actual device itself is about the same size and weight as a laptop mouse. The material it’s made out of doesn’t seem very fancy, but it does feel solid. For something that is going to live in my garage, I’m not concerned about it being pretty. I want it to last a long time. No-frills plastic will do just that.
The laser and sensor are at the front of the device. The back has the micro-USB port for power and the plugs for the control wire.
The buttons on top let you reset the device and change the mode. There’s also an LED that lets you know the current status.
The bottom of the device doesn’t have any buttons or ports, but it does have the mounting surface.
Step 2 – App Install
Note: If you want to go through setup instructions directly from the source, check out this page on the Garadget website.
A big reason for having one of these is the ability to not only control it from my phone, but also to check on the garage door itself. The app will let me do that no matter where I am. To start things off, let’s download the app.
I’ll be going through the Android app. You’ll also want to make sure that your Garadget is plugged in at this point. There’s no need to have it in your garage since we’re just going to get it linked to the app. Keep it alongside you for now.
When you first download the app, you’ll have to create an account. After doing that, you’ll be greeted by the following screen:
Since we don’t have any garages added yet, it’s just blank. Let’s add our garage door opener. Click on the Add Door button at the bottom.
Follow those instructions and click on Ready.
Your Garadget is going to create its own Ad-hoc wifi network. We are going to want to connect to it directly so we can update the settings on the device. Select the network that starts with Photon here.
The app is now going to ask you what network your house internet connection is on. The reason Garadget needs this is so it knows where it should connect to for internet access. After selecting your house wifi and entering the proper credentials, the app goes off and does a bunch of setup stuff.
Once all is said and done, you’ll see the following screen:
Your phone will also switch back to your house wifi at this point.
Now that we are all set up, your screen should show a garage door on it.
One of the things I really like about the app is all the triggers and alerts you can set. You can be notified every time the door opens, or closes. You can be notified if the door is open between certain times. There’s a lot to play with here. I chose to be notified if the door is open between 10:00pm and 6:00am.
I did have some minor issues with the Android app. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the interface when trying to change the settings of the device. Every time I tried to change the name, it would show a loading circle and move my cursor over. It also seemed like the app would sometimes get out of sync with the actual device. Fortunately for us, there is a beta build of the Android app on the forums that I’ve heard solves a lot of quirks.
Step 3 – Device Install
Important Note and Warning: If you are not comfortable doing electrical work, please hire a professional to wire your Garadget into your garage door opener. The $60 it’d cost to have someone knowledgeable do this is much cheaper than the hospital costs of you potentially messing up and shocking yourself, or worse, you killing yourself. Please don’t start a fire.
This part involves you finding the proper terminals to plug the Garadget into, as well as getting it attached to your ceiling.
Note: If you have a Security+ 2.0 opener, follow this guide to get your Garadget set up.
You first need to find where your current remote attaches to. Here’s a picture of what my garage door opener looks like.
It’s hard to see, but my garage door opener plugs into Push Button and Com. You can now take the wires that came with Garadget and plug them into each one. You can then take those same wires and plug them into the Garadget itself.
An area of improvement for the Garadget team are the wires themselves. Since one end of the wire loom is guaranteed to plug into your Garadget and polarity doesn’t matter, they should add an easier connector so you don’t need to deal with the screwdriver and tiny wire ports.
I did find my wire ends to be a bit long, so I ended up snipping them a little bit until I didn’t have much exposed wire on either end. At this point, let’s plug everything in and test our connection. No need to mount it just yet.
I loaded up the app on my phone and clicked on my button. Much to my excitement, my garage door closed! Pressed it again and the garage door opened. Seems pretty straight forward.
Step 3 – Add the Laser Tag
I believe the proper term is reflective tag, but I really wanted to say Laser Tag. I recommend using some tape to add the reflective tag at first so you can make sure you have it lined up correctly before you permanently affix it to your garage door.
As soon as you plug your Garadget in, it will start pulsing its laser. You can use this to determine where you want to mount it. I ended up putting mine on the far left of my garage door opener.
I also put my reflective tape on the top of my garage door.
Please excuse my dirty car. You can see the circular reflective tape on the top of my garage door, about half-way across.
Step 4 – SmartThings
At this point, you are set up and good to go. You can now control and check the status of your garage door from the convenience of your phone. How awesome is that!
Once I had this set up, I wanted to go to the next step and get it integrated with my SmartThings hub. I’ve said it over and over again that I don’t want to have to use a whole bunch of different apps if I don’t have to. I was very excited to hear that Garadget does have SmartThings support, even if it means having to do a little extra work to get it set up.
Follow this guide to get the device imported into your SmartThings account. I didn’t take screenshots along the way, but here it is step-by-step.
- Log into https://graph.api.smartthings.com/login/auth
- Click on My Device Handlers and add a new device handler.
- Click on From Code at the top and paste everything from this webpage. Literally, select everything on that page and paste it into the box.
- Click on My SmartApps and add a new SmartApp.
- Click on From Code at the top and paste everything from this webpage. Literally, select everything on that page and paste it into the box.
- Once it’s added, click on the title of your new app. You’ll be taken to a new page. On the right hand side, you’ll find a button labeled App Settings. Click on that.
- Scroll down to OAuth and enable that. Then click the Update button on the bottom. You then want to go back to that same webpage from Step 6 and click on the Publish button. Select For Me.
- If you’ve done all of this correctly, the status of your SmartApp will be Published and it will say true in the OAuth column.
- You’ll now want to go to My Device Handlers. Click on the title of your device and publish it the same way you published the SmartApp.
Once all that is done, we’re going to go into the SmartThings app on your phone. Click on Marketplace and scroll to the bottom to find + My Apps.
If you don’t see My Apps listed there, log out of the app and log back in. If you still don’t see it, you’re probably having the same issue I did at first. Fortunately, it’s easy to fix. Go back to the SmartThings website from earlier. Click on My Locations and click on your home. You’ll probably have to log in again. Once logged in, repeat the steps I mentioned above starting at Step 2. Done correctly, you’ll find My Apps listed at the bottom.
Once clicking on My Apps, you’ll see the following screen.
Click on the Garadget link there.
Put the same credentials you use to log into your Garadget account.
Click Next to go to the next screen. You’ll be walked through setup.
Click on Select Device to find your Garadget. If you have more than one, you’ll see them all listed on the following screen.
Once you’ve made it through everything, you’ll see Garadget listed in your SmartApps tab.
You’ll now see your Garadget listed in the device listing for your hub.
Click on that to see all your options.
As you can see, SmartThings exposes enough settings that you don’t necessarily need to go back to the official Garadget app. This is perfect for someone like me who only wants to deal with 1 app for everything. While using it, I also found it to be a bit more accurate as far as knowing when the door is up or down.
Step 4A – Website
If you don’t want to deal with apps on your phone, there’s also an awesome website that Denis has built to manage your garage door openers. You can find it at https://www.garadget.com/my/.
Clicking on the garage door icon allows you to open/close your door. The website functions exactly as the apps do. If you have multiple garage doors, they’ll all be listed along the bottom right of your screen.
Step 4B – Amazon Echo / Google Home
Since I’m going through SmartThings for everything, I already have control of the device. It’s not as clean as it can be, but it works and it works well. I simply say “Alexa, turn Left Garage On” to open the door. I then say “Alexa, turn Left Garage Off” to close the door. If the door is already open, on doesn’t do anything. If it’s already closed, off doesn’t do anything.
Essentially, Alexa treats it as a switch. I’ve also read that Google Home does the same thing.
The install was pretty easy for me. I will say that I’m not too thrilled with the Android app, but I love the website and SmartThings integration. I’ll probably access the device through those options before I go for the app.
I’m also a little concerned about the laser. I thought it was really cool at first, but as I was pulling into my garage I started wondering where the laser was pointed. Was it going to blind me as I opened the door? I’ve decided to point the laser above my garage door. When my door is closed and on the ground, my Garadget has full line of view of the reflective tape. This makes it think the door is down. When my garage door is up on its tracks, the beam is broken. This makes the Garadget think my door is up. Utilizing this setup, I don’t have to be concerned the laser getting into someone’s eye.
So if this thing goes as well as I’m expecting it to go, what’s next for me is to buy a 2nd one and get it installed on my other garage door. Having the ability to remotely operate these doors and check on them while I’m away is awesome. I also really enjoy and appreciate the open source nature of this device. When companies close-source their products, you are at their whim when it comes to updates. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Samsung decided to close up shop? Your SmartThings hub will no longer be as helpful to you. By opening up both the hardware and software to his device, Denis has ensured that his product can live on for a long time.
Read next: Best Smart Garage Door Opener Options