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Advanced Access: Top-Rated Garage-Door Openers

Timed Close • Internet Connectivity • LCD Controllers

The latest garage-door openers can close automatically, can be controlled by your smartphone and incorporate LEDs rather than conventional light sources.

Genie

Don't you just hate it when you drive away from your garage and a gnawing question pops into your head: Wait, did I close the garage door?

Fortunately, consumers who are paranoid—or just forgetful—no longer have to worry. Manufacturers increasingly introduce garage-door openers that can be programmed to close automatically or that can be monitored and controlled by your smartphone, so you can close it from any location.

Meanwhile, the arrival of models that have built-in LED fixtures means that you never have to change a light bulb, manufacturers say. Finally, new wall-mount controls add LCD or touch-screen features that alert you to operational problems and prevent the need for fetching a ladder to program remote controls (or remotes) or change system settings.

FORGET ABOUT IT. Four manufacturers now have models that close the garage door automatically. You preset the garage-door opener to close the door from 30 seconds to 99 minutes after it opens. In other words, if you preset the door to close automatically at its fastest setting, you’ll have 30 seconds to back out of the garage, which we found to be an adequate amount of time to enter and settle into a vehicle, fasten a seat belt and back out of the garage.

Chamberlain, Craftsman and Liftmaster introduced so-called timer-to-close features in September 2011, followed by Raynor in January 2013. Marantec was scheduled to introduce the feature on two models in December 2014. Skylink says it will add the feature to one of its garage-door openers in 2015. In all, we found 19 models that incorporate this feature at press time, the least expensive of which is a $208 model from Chamberlain that has a 3/4-hp motor and a chain drive. That model costs $38 more than the company’s other 3/4-hp chain-drive garage-door openers that don’t have a timer-to-close function.

Chamberlain says timer-to-close capability doesn’t add to the price of its garage-door openers, but other features, such as LCD wall-mount controls, contribute to increased costs among openers that have a timer-to-close feature. (In addition to the timer-to-close function, the $208 model includes a keyless entry system and a laser-guided parking-assist feature, which the lower price model lacks.) Craftsman, Liftmaster and Raynor say the same about the added cost, or lack thereof, for the timer-to-close function. Marantec says timer-to-close capability will add about $15 to the price of its garage-door openers. Skylink says the feature will add to the price of its garage-door openers but wouldn’t say by how much.

Models that have timer-to-close capability emit an alarm to alert anyone who might be standing near the door before it closes automatically; however, those models also have the standard safety feature that forces the door to open when sensors detect that a person or object is in the way. Some models allow you to adjust the closing time in seconds, while others include settings that are in 1-, 5- or 10-minute intervals. Settings are accessed and changed through buttons that are on a garage-door opener’s wall-mounted controller. You can shut off the feature or override it temporarily if you want to keep the door open, such as during a garage sale or while you clean the garage.

Genie takes a different approach. In November 2011, the company introduced a remote that, after you press a button on the remote to close the door, flashes a green light and emits short beeps to confirm that the door closed. The remote flashes a red light and emits long beeps when the door doesn’t close, such as when a pet or other object interferes with the garage-door opener’s safety sensors, which can cause the door to reverse and stay open. The $45 Closed Confirm remote is compatible with Genie’s ChainMax, IntelliG, PowerMax, SilentMax and TriloG garage-door openers.

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Dave Osso of Genie says the Closed Confirm remote has a 1,000-foot range as long as an open line of sight exists to the garage door, which is twice as far as the company’s other remotes. If you’re within 1,000 feet of the door, you can attempt to close it again, although Osso suggests that you return to the garage to determine what prevented the door from closing in the first place.

WORLDWIDE REMOTE. In the past 4 years, five garage-door-opener manufacturers introduced add-on hardware that allows you to connect a garage-door opener to the Internet, so you can control the opener with a computer, smartphone or tablet computer. Chamberlain, Craftsman, Liftmaster, Linear and Skylink have such hardware, which connects a garage-door opener wirelessly to your home’s Wi-Fi router.

Chamberlain’s HD930EV ($248) and Craftsman’s 3043 ($330) are the only garage-door openers that we found that come with all of the necessary add-on hardware for connecting to the Internet, including the Internet gateway device that wirelessly links the garage-door opener’s wall-mount controller to your router. Other garage-door openers by Chamberlain and sister brand Liftmaster that carry the MyQ label on their packaging, as well as Craftsman brand garage-door openers that bear the AssureLink label, require you to purchase an Internet gateway device separately for about $50. Models that are manufactured after 1998 that don’t bear the MyQ or AssureLink labels aren’t directly compatible with such an Internet gateway device, and, therefore, require  a kit that includes a second piece of hardware, which brings the total cost to as much as $131 to connect to the Internet.