Jan 10 AT 5:08 PM Brooks Barnard 0 Comments

Wink home automation via your Android device: GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller

Wink GoControl Garage-5

Some time ago, we caught word via a neighborhood watch group that some crooks in our area were getting clever and stealing things like garage door openers and car registrations. So I did the obvious thing and started carrying my garage door opener with me, but it wasn’t as convenient as it initially sounded. When I got home, I always had to fish around for it in my bag. Or on the weekends when I wasn’t carrying my work bag around with me, I had to remember to get it from my bag and bring it with me. It wasn’t a huge issue, but it wasn’t ideal either. What if I could just open and close my garage with my phone? My phone is always with me and requires a security code to unlock. Controlling my garage with my phone sounds secure and convenient.

Well, you can control your garage door with your phone and there are several different ways to do it. About one year ago I tried to do it with a Bluetooth headset, but I could never get that to work. Now Wink was gracious enough to provide me with the GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller, and I have loved it. It requires the Wink Hub and App, which I recently reviewed.

GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller

The GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller is a connected device that allows you to make your current dumb garage door opener smart. You can use your current garage door from where ever you have a data connection. It communicates via Z-Wave to your Wink Hub at ranges from 30 to 50 feet. The device will also act as a Z-Wave repeater in your mesh network. Something to note is that the GoControl Garage Door Controller I reviewed has a Linear logo on it. In 2014, Nortek re-branded its Linear security group as the Nortek Security & Control Group, which includes the GoControl product line. So my review unit is a GoControl unit with different branding than what’s on Wink.com.

Setup was a bit more difficult than I expected because I thought that the hardware would replace the physical garage door button in the garage, but it doesn’t. As you can see in the photos, the GoControl Contoller is actually made to be placed near the garage door opener. Installation requires some preparation and a ladder. It does come with all the instructions needed, but I want you to know what you’re getting into, because the Wink website isn’t that descriptive.

First, I used a piece of cardboard to trace where I needed to drill holes on my garage ceiling. I drilled the ceiling and installed the included drywall screws. Then I installed the GoControl Controller in the ceiling and installed the wires in the garage door opener.

The GoControl Controller has some tricks up its sleeve. It comes with a tilt sensor that needs to be physically installed on the door. It’s a battery-powered unit that tells the GoControl Controller whether your garage door is open or closed. So when you use your Wink App, you can see if your door is currently open or closed and when the last use happened.

Like all the Wink connected products, the Wink App walks you through the process of connecting the GoControl controller to the Wink Hub. You are supposed to have the controller and tilt sensor installed prior to connection to the Wink Hub. When prompted by the Wink App, all you need to do is press the pairing button on the side of the GoControl Controller to pair. The GoControl unit LED will then flash three times and beep three times. After that, you’re ready to control your garage door from your phone.

From the Wink App menu, you will have a category listed as “Garage Doors”. When you select it, you will see your connected garage doors. Here you can see if your garage door is open or closed and how long ago it was last used thanks to the fancy tilt sensor. To open your garage door, you swipe up on the door in the app, and you swipe down to close it. This is my only complaint with the Wink GoControl Garage Controller experience. Sometimes after the garage door is open or closed, the image of the garage door in the Wink app is still updating and doesn’t allow action for some time. I wish it was quicker to update to make it more usable. However, I rarely access my garage door within the Wink App anyway. Instead, I created shortcuts within the Wink App to open and close the garage so I can use this function via my Android device home screen.

When you open or close the garage door using the GoControl controller, the controller flashes and beeps for several seconds to notify people around that the garage door will be moving. So, it does take a few seconds longer to open the door compared to the standard buttons. Also, there’s a 30-second waiting period between uses. So if you didn’t mean to open or close your garage door, you have to wait a bit to reverse what you’ve done. It’s a slight inconvenience, but it’s never really been an issue for me.

How I use the connected GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller

Unfortunately, because the garage may offer easy access to your home and cause a security risk, there are some home automation tasks in which you cannot include the GoControl Garage Door Controller. For example, you cannot add a shortcut to IFTTT that includes opening or closing the garage door.

However, there are a couple of great ways the connected garage door can be used:

  • I have an “Away Mode” shortcut on my home screen that I can select when I leave my house. It closes my garage door, turns on security notifications, turns off all of the lights, and puts my thermostat in away mode.
  • Thanks to the tilt sensor, Wink knows when your garage door is opened or closed and can pay attention to how long it has been open. So, within the settings for the garage door within the Wink App, you can specify if you’d like the Wink App to notify you if it’s been open for longer than a given amount of time. I love this feature. You’ll never forget that you left your garage door open again. Maybe you’ve never done that, but I have.
  • Last — and this is both a blessing and a curse — you can access your garage from anywhere you have an internet connection. So, one day my wife walked my son to school and left the keys home. She closed the garage door with her phone. Everything was dandy. Then her phone died before she got home, and so she was locked out. No biggie. She went to a neighbor’s home and called me, and I opened the garage door from work and everything was dandy. A lesson about the downfalls of a connected home, but the upsides are also evident.

The GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller is easily one of my favorite connected devices in my home. I love that I carry my garage door opener with me in my pocket. I love the security that this brings and that it notifies me when it’s been open for too long. It’s worked great for more than a month, and I have only one minor complaint about how long it takes the garage door status to update inside the app.

The GoControl Smart Garage Door Controller can be picked up on Wink.com alone for $100 or in a “Comfort and Convenience” bundle that comes with the Wink Hub, a connected thermostat, and a connected light bulb, all for $277. Home Depot offers the controller for $94.54, and Amazon has it for $90.12 at the time of this writing.

How do you feel about automating your home? And what do you think of the GoControl  Smart Garage Door Controller? Can you see this adding some convenience to your life? Do you already have a connected garage door opener? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

Brooks is an engineer living in the Bay Area recently dislocated from the Great Northwest. He's an Android enthusiast who decided to start doing something (productive?) with his countless hours Android modding and theming. He has a hot wife, is a father of three, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 6 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms and may or may not be rooted. You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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