Upgrading to a smarter, quieter garage door opener

The garage opener in our 14-year-old house was functioning pretty well, but no amount of lube seemed to quiet down it’s noisy chains and motor. As my preteen son just moved in the room over the garage, the rumbling of the garage door opening and closing at night and early morning was proving to be a very rude awakening my sleeping son, day and night.20180225_193614597_iOS

The Atoms Belt Garage Door Opener (AT-1612B) with a keypad, remote control and Skylink Hub ($199), seemed to be a great solution, with its promise of quiet and smooth operation. It also features integration with Alexa for voice commands and a SkylinkNet hub that can control other devices, from security cameras to lights.

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A handy friend and I took out the apparatus from the box and assembled the long gliding sectional rail drive.  The former Chainmaster unit had been one long piece, which seemed good for stability, but it definitely made it a little harder to manage as far as disassembly.

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It took about three hours total to get everything installed.  We had some trouble stretching the belt over the tensioner pulley and sprocket, so we had to off-label and find a way to accomplish this. We ended up disassembling the belt traveler joint and then threading the belt between the pulley and sprocket and then re-assembling the belt, which took a lot of two-person tugging to stretch it and put it back together. It was a frustrating fix but worked with a bit of elbow grease.

Finally, when everything was mounted, we programmed the opener and car link system in two of our family vehicles, we tried out the new garage door opener. It was definitely a lot quieter than the 1/3 Chainmaster HPf opener I had before, even though this one was stronger at ½ HPf.

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The rails were not quite smooth, so the door hung up with a loud cluck each time the trolley slide over the edge of the warped rail.  We again did some clever adjusting, by slightly bending the rail with heavy duty pliers, and this helped about 90 percent.

As an avid Alexa user, I was very eager to program the opener to work with my Echo and other devices in my home, but that has proved troublesome.  I get 75 percent through the registration process and I get error messages on the app.  I emailed service and got no answer after waiting for more than three weeks.  I tried calling but the customer support was only open weekdays from 9 am until 5 pm, and as a working person, I have found it hard to coordinate a time to call.  I tried the online live chat a few times too, but again, operators were not available when I was free to call. I hope to get this resolved, as soon as I have a day off and can call during their hours.

I did at least get the unit working with my app so I could open and close it remotely, and I get a notification on my phone each time the door is opened or close.  This is handy while I am at work, as I know when other family members have arrived home. I also really like the keypad that my family can use to open and close the door without having to carry around a remote control.  This comes in handy when we go biking riding or for a walk around the neighborhood or otherwise leave the house through the garage and want to travel light.

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I also have peace of mind because I can check from wherever I am to make sure I didn’t leave the door open. If I do close the door remotely, it sounds a loud alarm to let anyone near the door know to get away before it closes.

Overall, I am pleased with the garage opener, though the installation hit some hitches.  Also, I am still frustrated that the customer service hours are not convenient for me, and I think as a company catering to do-it-yourselfers who often work around the home on weekends, they should have at least some limited weekend hours. I hope to get Alexa working with the opener soon, even though I will probably not use voice commands very often to control the door, but I would like to know I can if I ever want to.

 

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About K. Pearson Brown

Writer, blogger, PR pro, traveler, tech geek, health and wellness believer, parent. Wrote my first book at age 5, still living my dramatic autobiography.

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