While most garage door brands have “smart” options, we decided to zero in on Chamberlain’s latest offerings, since their new “MyQ Pet Portal” made such a splash at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show). In the tech world, “smart” originally derived from the acronym “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology,” but is casually considered a way to describe inanimate objects whose technology allows them to automate tasks, communicate and assist humans. “Smart connected” devices can be remotely controlled or monitored with your “smart phone.”
The MyQ Pet Portal is smart in several ways. You can control it remotely through the MyQ Pet Portal app, authorizing when your pet can go out, and you can monitor your pet’s activity through live video streaming and two-way audio. If your pet is independent enough to go in and out on its own, you can allow its blue-tooth-enabled collar to operate the door. The “portal” itself blends into the bottom half of a select Kolbe door (you will have to replace an existing door), and uses an elevator-style mechanism to open and close, (looking very futuristic).
Chamberlain’s traditional smart garage door controller, “Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub,” was also a favorite at CES, allowing you to remotely open and close your door remotely through the MyQ app. It’s easy to install, with no extra wires, but it does require bolting a bracket to your ceiling. It’s compatible with Nest, Wink, Xfinity Home and Google Assistant. One of its best features is its affordability, costing only $30. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Pet Portal, as it rings up at $3,000, but let’s look at some reasons pet owners might consider it worth the price.
Giving Pet Owners More Freedom and Flexibility
Many people would love to own a pet, but worry they “won’t be home enough.” We of course don’t recommend using this technology to abandon your pet for days at a time, but it can be great for people with unpredictable work schedules, or long commutes forcing their pet to wait “to go potty” a little too long. There are also those social occasions that turn out to be more fun than you thought, and you don’t want to be pulled away to let their pup out. This is a common barrier to pet ownership, and removing it could lead to more unwanted pets being scooped up and rescued.
Working away from home for long hours and socializing late into the night is less of an issue in 2020 and 2021, due to pandemic restrictions, but MyQ Pet Portal can be just as helpful when working from home. If you’re a pet owner who spends long hours at a desk, you are probably familiar with a few distracting routines. Your cat sitting on your laptop. Your dog jabbing your leg repeatedly with its paws. Letting them out only for them to immediately want back in. While you should take breaks and give them attention, it certainly would be nice if they could let themselves outside while you’re in an important Zoom meeting.
A Safe Door, Separate from Your Garage
You still might not be sold on the $3,000, but that is money you wouldn’t be spending on a dog walker or sitter, and the Pet Portal does offer some safety advantages as well. Many accidents can be avoided by restricting your pets to their own entrance area, and keeping them away from your overhead garage door. Your garage door’s sensor might not always detect a pet entering through the garage, or if a spring breaks and the door slams down, tragedy could ensue. A doggy door installed within your garage door can still be dangerous, as it’s not guaranteed the garage door wouldn’t move as they pass through the door.
It’s also best if your pets don’t claim the garage area as a frequent hangout zone. Cats could perch atop an open garage door and fail to escape safely when the garage door is closed. And of course, keeping them away from cars backing out is easier to do if they aren’t overly comfortable in the garage area. Apparently that risk increases when your car is especially quiet, which was Jamie Lynn Spears’ excuse for backing out and killing more than one of her cats— claiming her overly-quiet Tesla was to blame, since the cats can’t hear it turn on. Perhaps someone should send her a MyQ Pet Portal brochure.