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The world has long since come around to doorbells doing double duty as security cameras. Chamberlain and its myQ brand of smart garage door products brings that concept to your garage door with the myQ Smart Garage Video Keypad.
It’s a fundamentally simple idea, replacing the exterior garage door opener keypad you might already have. The familiar numeric keypad is replicated on this device, along with a motion sensor and a 1080p video camera with a 160-degree viewing angle (measured diagonally).
The unit is compatible with LiftMaster, Chamberlain, Craftsman, Raynor, and AccessMaster garage door openers manufactured after 1993, and it requires no direct wiring to the opener; in fact, there’s no permanent wiring of any kind.
Powered by a beefy lithium-ion battery, which myQ says should last for 1 to 3 months before a recharge is required (depending on frequency of usage). I’d advise planning ahead when undertaking your initial battery charge or recharging, however; when I connected it to a PC via a micro-USB cable, the battery took nearly 10 hours to fully charge.
Installation and setup
Charging time aside, installation is a simple process. If you have an older garage door opener, you simply follow the instructions in the myQ mobile app to pair the keypad with your opener by pressing the learn button on the unit at the appropriate time. New garage door openers that have built-in Wi-Fi can skip this step and pair directly with the keypad.
I tested the keypad with both types of opener—an old Chamberlain and a brand-new myQ-connected Liftmaster—and found the process seamless either way. If you have a myQ opener, the process is even more painless, as you needn’t climb a ladder to hit that “learn” button. Connectivity is via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi only, but I had no issues linking the keypad to my home network.
Once configured and updated with new firmware, the unit mounts to the wall outside your garage with an included, angled bracket and two screws. (The adjustable myQ “swivel mount” that provides an additional 100 degrees of customization, which you can see on the company’s website is a separate $30 purchase.)
The keypad then affixes to the bracket and can be held in place with an additional screw on the bottom of the keypad to prevent hooligans from running off with it.
Operation is quite simple from here: You can open and close the garage door by tapping in the code you set, and additional guest PINs can also be added—including auto-expiring temporary PINs and recurring PINs that allow access only on certain days and at certain times each week. A total of 16 PINs can be created.
A phone button is included that works much like a video doorbell, alerting you on your mobile phone that someone at your garage door, and allowing you to engage a two-way audio feature so you can decide if you want to let the visitor into your garage. Notifications can take a few seconds to reach your phone, but I found them speedy enough for typical use.
The integrated motion sensor is quick to engage and begin capturing any activity around your garage door, and its sensitivity can be adjusted to eliminate false alarms from things like leaves blowing in the wind. You can also set the device to alert only for people detection, though for my home, I like a broader view that will alert me if either a car or an animal arrives in the driveway.
That said, you’ll need to carefully consider placement if you want to get a significant view of your surroundings, as a typical installation will be dominated by the garage door to the tune of about 40 percent of the video image.
Video looks surprisingly good for 1080p resolution. Daytime clips were clear and colorful, and standard infrared night vision illuminates nighttime clips crisply to at least 30 feet. (When it’s dark outside, the keypad also lights up when a button is pressed.)
All video is stored on myQ’s cloud service, and if there’s a catch with the device, this is it. With no local storage option available, a plan is required if you want to do much of anything aside from see a live stream of video, get motion alerts, and use the two-way audio feature.
People detection and video clip storage, playback, and downloading are all locked to a subscription plan. The plan costs $4/month or $40/year for a single device with seven days of history included. Upgrade to $10/month or $100/year to support multiple devices with a 30-day storage plan. For a user who just wants the occasional look at what’s happening at the garage door, those are both pricey options—especially if you’re already paying other security camera and doorbell manufacturers for cloud storage.
Subscription not really optional
If you do have a subscription plan—a 30-day trial is included for free—video recordings are easy to sift through via the History tab in the app, and clips are quick to load. Clips are limited to 50 seconds in length, longer if they are initiated by someone pressing the call button. There’s no official cooldown between clips except for a 3.5-second timeout required for the system to wake itself back up.
All told, I encountered only a few problems in daily use; namely, a few mystery errors occasionally saying “There’s an error with your keypad” with no further guidance. This usually happened while trying to load a live stream. A force-quit and restart of the app usually resolved these issues.
One caveat worth mentioning: it’s important to note that the myQ Video Keypad is an independent device from the myQ Smart Garage Control Hub, which lets you operate a garage door opener using your phone. The two devices do not work together. Specifically, the Video Keypad lets you open and close the door by punching in a PIN code directly on the device while also providing a video feed to your phone. But you cannot use your phone to open the garage door if you only have the Video Keypad.
To do that, you must also have a separate myQ Smart Garage Control hub (or a garage door with myQ built in). It’s a weird omission, as you well might wish to quickly open the door for a visitor in front of the camera, such as a delivery person, instead of giving them a PIN (or you might not have an extra PIN set up). Needing two devices for such a situation borders on obnoxious.
Should you buy the myQ Smart Garage Video Keypad?
Like all myQ products, the Video Keypad integrates with Ring and Vivint smart home environments, as well as Amazon Key and IFTTT. An expensive subscription and one sadly missing feature notwithstanding, the myQ Smart Garage Video Keypad is a good value on its own. If you use either of the noted ecosystems, it’s even more so.