By Casey Liss
Adding WiFi Clients to the Home

Over the last few months, I’ve added a few devices to our home that are network-enabled:

I should note I did not pay for the Lifx bulbs nor the Slingbox.

The Honeywell thermostat is a thermostat that, when paired with an Internet gateway, can be controlled via the Internet. Think of it as an uglier Nest, with less Google.

The WeMo we added to ensure that Erin’s hair curler is off if we leave the house. Though 99.9% of the time she remembers to turn it off, and it’s on a timer, it was worth the peace of mind to put a WeMo between the curler and the outlet.

(Where by “worth the peace of mind” I mean “just the excuse I needed to try a WeMo”.)

The Lifx bulbs live in our bedroom and can illuminate it with seemingly any color in the rainbow. They also go from very dim to very bright, all while not needing near as much power as our normal incandescent bulbs.

The Slingbox I quite like as it allows us to watch our home TV and DVR outside the home. This was super useful during the World Cup, as the ESPN feed was generally considerably more delayed than the few seconds delay coming off the Slingbox. Additionally, when paired with the AV adapter I keep in the go pack, I’ll be able to stream college football games from networks other than ESPN to our tailgates once football starts. (We have a pretty serious tailgate.)

For the last couple years, I’ve really wanted to find a way to know whether or not our garage door is open. For bonus points, I’d love to be able to open or close the garage door remotely. There have been a couple of nights when we’ve accidentally left the door open, because we’ve forgotten about it.

Last weekend, a friend showed me something he just added to his house: the Chamberlain MyQ. It is a combination of two pieces of hardware and an app for your phone, and allows you to raise or lower your door remotely. I ordered one nearly immediately.

The install process was extremely simple. The hardware is two pieces: a piece that attaches to the garage door and a piece that is mounted near the opener. The part that attaches to the door is so the MyQ knows whether the door is open or not. The part that mounts near the opener serves the dual purpose of connecting via WiFi to your home network, as well as masquerading as a standard remote control for the opener.

Once the hardware is in place, you pair your phone with the base station via Bluetooth. Upon being paired, iOS asked me if I wanted to share my home network’s information with the MyQ base station. I didn’t even realize that was possible, but seems so.

Once the base station is connected to the home WiFi network, you start the app and it walks you through the setup process. There were just a few steps:

  1. Press the test button on the on-door box
  2. Specify what kind of garage opener you have
  3. In my case, I had to unscrew the front of the opener and press a button to get the opener to learn a new remote
  4. The app had the base station attempt to learn/pair with the opener

After a minute or two, the garage door opener kicked on and started opening. Setup was complete. Total time? Roughly 5 minutes.

In my quick testing, the app works really well. It allows me to open or close the door, as well as see how long it’s been in its current position. If I wanted to, I could also have it alert me if the door has been open or closed for a certain amount of time, or even immediately upon it opening/closing/both.

While certainly not cheap, I am really glad to be able to have the peace of mind and convenience of being able to be in bed and see that the door is shut, or to be able to open it from afar if I need to let someone in the house.

Just don’t hack me. Please.