After about the 50th time waking up in the morning realizing that either my wife or myself had forgotten to close the garage door, I figured it was time to make my garage doors “smarter”.
It isn’t that big of a deal in our neighborhood and that is probably why we forget sometimes, but even in really safe neighborhoods…it isn’t a good idea to leave everything exposed for the taking in the middle of the night.
I started searching around and came up with several criteria that I wanted in a smart garage door opener.
- It had to work with Alexa for voice control inside of the house.
- It had to be a one time buy with no subscription model.
- It had to have location monitoring to open/close automatically with our cars.
- It had to be an easy/clean install on my existing openers.
I did some research and landed on the Tailwind iQ3 smart garage door opener. With the bundle of one vehicle sensor (which is normally $29.95), the total package came out to $79.99 for one garage door (adding only $10 to the price for the vehicle sensor)
Installing the Tailwind iQ3
I didn’t want to bore you with a long install video of the Tailwind in the video review. Tailwind already has a very extensive install video that I will put below. If you know how to run a wire and use a screwdriver, this should be an easy install/setup for you. Not only does Tailwind have multiple instruction manuals and videos on their website…but they also run you through the process with video in the app as you setup the controller. I don’t know if they just got excessive tech request calls or what…but I have never bought a product with this much available information.
The two wires connected to my garage door opener and I ran the wire across the structure of the garage door. The finished product ended up looking like it isn’t there at all which is exactly what I was looking for. Depending on your garage door setup and ceiling height, you might wanted to route the wire differently from the sensor like I did from the install videos. The big deal is to have it safe and out of site.
The new sensor setup installed easily in the door with a couple of self taping screws. They provide some additional spacers but I didn’t have to use them in my setup.
Tailwind App Setup
The process of setting up the app to connect to the control unit was a simple process. One thing to keep in mind…you have to connect to a 2.4ghz wifi signal and not a 5ghz. This is true of most smart home devices. My Amplifi HD has a simple switch to separate out the 2.4ghz network but you will have to check your setup to see how that can be accomplished. Again…the instructions for getting that setup was almost over the top. More information the better I guess!
Vehicle Sensor Setup
Once I had all of that setup, I moved onto the vehicle sensor which was easy to add. You get to name the vehicle and set specific settings for that vehicle for when the garage door opens and closes. I then moved onto the Alexa setup which was as easy as adding the Tailwind connection. Side note…it is treated like a door lock so you have to use the “lock” and “unlock” functions instead of open/close. Also…it might be my paranoia but I didn’t not name it a common name like “garage door”. With voice controlled locking devices, even though you have to have an additional voice code to unlock, I do not like the ability to trigger it through voice through a window.
Tailwind iQ3 Review and Real World Use
I will say…the first time you pull down the driveway and the garage door just automatically opens for you…you feel like Iron Man. It is a really cool functions and it actually makes things easier than you would think. That system will not activate until you leave the house by over 2,500 feet so if you are worried about moving cars around the driveway or someone opening your garage door from a parked car…that isn’t possible.
Smart Home Integration
The Alexa function works exactly like advertised. I can close the garage door through voice and I can also add it to our scenes in the house so when I say “going to bed”, closing the door is part of that function with the lights and locks in the house. When you do not have one of those setup you can set a schedule through the app as well. If you are not an Alexa user, you can also integrate Smart Things, IFTTT and Google Home. Adding my wife and her car was also very easy as the app sends her a verification email (you can add as many users as you need and control their access).
One thing to note on the vehicle sensors. If you have an iPhone, they are necessary for the auto open/close function. If you are an Android user, you can actually connect to the system for that same function. We are an all iPhone house so I will have to get sensors for the other cars.
Installation and Setup
The entire system was easy to install and setup thanks to the over the top instructions included on the app and on their website. I would imagine anyone can really install one of these without having to hire it out. Even with trying to film some of the install, I was under and hour before we were up and running.
This one control unit will also control up to 3 garage door openers. We only have it setup with 1 because our other garage door in our 3 car garage rarely opens. If we used that opener, we would just have to run an additional sensor and wire to the same control unit.
Real World Use and Benefit
Especially with a son at home, it is nice to be able to remotely control the garage door opener in those rare cases he needs to get into the house without us. It also allows us to grant access to friends and family to let out the dogs or do anything else in the house when we are not at home without needing a keypad outside of the house. One other fringe benefit is that I can take the garage door opener out of my truck. While this seems like a silly benefit, my truck does not fit in the garage with our other cars. It is always parked outside. Now…no one can break my window and have access to a garage door opener. It made our house safer from intruders at the same time.
The app also sends alerts to your phone and Apple watch telling you when your garage door opens and closes…and by who. My wife and I both get alerts to our phones and that is an added security benefit as we have Ring cameras on the garage as well.
The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a way to be able to close your garage door from the comfort of your own bed, have it automatically open for you when you drive up or have a way to grant access to friends/family from anywhere with an internet connection…there is no easier way for under $100 dollars that is this secure. It was easy to setup, setup on multiple phones and with multiple cars. This has been one of those smart home functions I really wish I had integrated earlier…especially given the price.