I am a technology nerd. I am a HomeKit nerd. In fact, I am an Apple nerd. I love all things Apple. Add in the fact that I love to tinker, improve, and upgrade. While I am by no means an expert, I have a fair amount of experience with HomeKit. One of the things I connected was my garage door opener. I started with the Chamberlain myQ system. After encountering problems with that, I witched to the iSmartgate. With that as a basis, I can now give a detailed breakdown of Chamberlin myQ vs. iSmartgate.
So how does Chamberlin myQ vs. iSmartgate compare? The Chamberlin myQ system requires more parts. You need a hub to attach to the garage door opener. Then you need a hub to connect to your home network. Then of course you need a door sensor. The entire thing is wireless which sounds good in theory but has drawbacks. The iSmartgate is one hub and a door sensor. The hub wires into the garage door opener. I have found this to be a more stable setup for me. Each has an interface with Apple HomeKit as well as a standalone app. The iSmartgate gives you the option to control the door in HomeKit only.
What I Have Learned
So now you may be wondering where it all went wrong with the Chamberlin myQ. I will admit that I bought this system because I have a Chamberlin garage door opener. It is some years old so it does not have any wireless technology of its own. So I figured if I needed a bridge between the opener and HomeKit, why not use the same company.
Let’s be clear, the system worked. My problem is that it did not ALWAYS work. What made matters worse, was the troubleshooting was to disconnect the whole thing. So now I had to start from scratch with a process that was neither intuitive nor fast.
When I got the iSmartgate there were some stumbles during setup. They were equal parts my fault and the manufacturers (mine more than theirs!). Once it was running, it was bulletproof in operation and performance. With that, we can dive into the Chamberlin MyQ vs. iSmartgate debate.
Chamberlin MyQ vs. iSmartGate
My first foray into the myQ system started with a mistake on my part. I purchased the MYQ® SMART GARAGE™ HUB. It said it could control your door from a wireless device.
I should have noticed that it did NOT say it would connect to HomeKit. That is my fault.
So I also needed to buy a MYQ® HOME BRIDGE. Notice what it says it will connect to:
Adds HomeKit™ compatibility to these products that are already enabled with smartphone control:
- LiftMaster and Chamberlain Wi-Fi enabled garage door openers (has a myQ and Wi-Fi logo)
- LiftMaster and Chamberlain myQ Garage
- LiftMaster and Chamberlain myQ Smart Garage Hub
I did not have the first two. I had bought the third so that is what would work.
This is not myQ’s fault, but it seems odd that they make you buy two devices to connect a legacy opener to HomeKit. So away I went. That being said, already a strike against the myQ in the Chamberlin MyQ vs. iSmartgate debate.
This should have been a red flag. The setup was clumsy. I needed to connect the hub to my garage door. Then I needed to connect my bridge to my home network. Then I needed to CONNECT THEM TO EACH OTHER. To make matters worse, none of the steps were easy. I encountered errors and a lack of connection every step of the way.
Contrast with the iSmartgate. There were some bumps in the road here too (again my fault). From the get-go, I should have gone to their setup video. It was clear and covered every step. Have you ever done something like this and the video does not match exactly with the equipment you have? Not a problem with the iSmartgate. Best of all, it has worked every time.
More Details of The Chamberlin myQ
There were two issues I had with the myQ:
- The setup was difficult and often involved a call to tech support to complete
- It was very hit or miss in operation
Let us start with the setup first and then get into the operational issues.
As noted, I needed to connect the garage hub to my door. This involved setting up the hub to receive a remote signal from the door. Then I needed to send the signal from the opener.
This worked, but it took a few tries. No idea if this was the opener, the hub, interference, or some other issue. Then I needed to connect the home bridge to my home network. Again, this worked but it took a few tries.
The biggest issue was connecting the two together. This was when I ended up on the phone with tech support. It was a process of setting one up to see the other. Once I had the hub speaking to the bridge, I needed to change the settings on the hub so it was not acting as a “bridge” as well.
Remember that the hub is a wireless device, but it cannot communicate with HomeKit. This process was a lot of holding buttons, waiting for lights to flash and then change color. The entire process took several minutes. That was assuming it all went well and you did not need to start over! Another strike against the myQ in the Chamberlin MyQ vs. iSmartgate comparison.
I cannot speak to why I had the operational problems I had. That is beyond my technical expertise. I can run down what those issues were.
First was that the system would lose communication with HomeKit. This was rare but when it happened I had to start over completely. That is, delete everything and re-install.
The second was that I would get false indications. HomeKit would say the door was open when it was actually closed. The myQ app said the same thing so the issue was with the myQ system and not a HomeKit issue.
The third and biggest issue would be that it would not work. I would hit the button to close, the device would emit its warning beep, and then nothing. So I would come home, expect to find the door open and it was not. What’s worse, there was not a solution while you were in your car.
This issue was frustrating. In the myQ app, you would get an error saying the solution was to open and close the door using the opener button. If this happened once in a blue moon so be it. For me, it became an issue at least a couple of times per week. Thus, it was time to move on from myQ.
More Details of The iSMartgate
When I began to search for a new solution I looked at Apple’s list of devices. I looked at the iSmartgate and chose it for two reasons:
- It is a wired device
- There was only one hub as opposed to two
My thought was the less equipment used, the less chance of issues. I liked that the design meant I would connect it to the door via wire rather than in a wireless manner.
This was a bit hit and miss for me. I tried to read the instructions manual and use the app. This was tough for me because the manual was generic and tried to tackle several scenarios.
I then wised up and watched the install video. It covered each step in a clear manner.
The setup used the iSMartgate app but then asked you to switch to HomeKit to add it there. So be ready to be going back and forth between the app and HomeKit on your phone.
One issue was that at one point I got the choice to add the device to one of my rooms. Pretty standard for adding devices to HomeKit. The issue was that below that it had a link to “discover” the device. I tapped that the first time I tried to install the device. I ended up with a device that showed up as “not responsive” in Home Kit.
So I reset the device and did it again and skipped that link this time around with success. I never dug into what that link was for since I now had a working hub.
One note, the iSmartgate app will give you a choice at one point in the setup. Will you use only HomeKit or do you want to use their app as well? If you choose HomeKit, you stop the setup and you’re done. I did not need the app so I cannot speak to what happens if you continue with the setup.
I wish I could give a long and rambling description of the operation. There is not one to be had. The thing works!
To date it has:
- Never stopped working
- Lost communication with HomeKit
- Given me a false sign of the door status
My guess here is that my belief that less is better is what is working here. You install the device by running a wire from the hub to the opener. You do this in the same spot that the wire for the wall-mounted opener button connects to the opener. Think of it as having two buttons to operate the door. One is on the wall, one is the hub and by extension, HomeKit.
Which One Should You Choose In The Debate of Chamberlin myQ vs. iSmartgate?
Let me be clear I have seen tons of great reviews for the Chamberlin myQ. It did not work well for me. That is not an indictment of the product, it is my experience. That can probably be said of many of the products I have tried over the years.
I would say that if you have an older opener that has no wireless capability, I like the iSMartgate. Also, if you do not need to connect to HomeKit, the myQ hub and the myQ app will most likely work fine.
I would say that I’m impressed with how simple the iSmartgate system is. It is easy to setup and install, and it is bulletproof it is in operation.