I am paranoid about closing my garage door. Or leaving it open. Whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything stolen out of my garage, or any nefarious person (or varmint) enter my house through my open garage door, but I am paranoid about it nonetheless. Have you ever left for work in the morning, walked out to your car to see your garage door wide open? Or have you ever come home from work to see you garage door open because you forgot to close it on your way out of the driveway in the morning? Me too. So I take matters into my own hands now. It would be impossible for me to leave my garage door open with me at home or away. Can’t happen. Would you like to know how I do it?
First, the required equipment and software:
I have an Elk M1G Security system
I use PowerHome for home automation
Optional, for the really paranoid, I have a Panasonic network camera which can watch the door
and I needed one addition magnetic zone sensor
My house did have a burglar alarm installed when I bought it, with sensors on all of the first floor doors and windows *except* the overhead garage door. I believe this is common practice for new homes, but I may be wrong. My house also came with a very inexpensive, builder’s grade burglar alarm. I immediately replaced it with the Elk M1G because it offers so much in the way of home automation. More about the M1G in later posts here for sure. I then installed a magnetic sensor on the garage door so the M1G would know when the door was open and closed. I have a home theater personal computer (HTPC) which also does my home automation. It is on 24/7 and I don’t know how I would live without it. It is the same closet where my burglar alarm is installed. I have PowerHome installed on that computer, which is capable of communicating with the Elk over IP. Finally, I ran a pair of wires in parallel across the “doorbell” switch in the garage back to a relay output on the Elk. The Elk has inputs and outputs, just like any computer. Zone sensors are inputs, but in this case I hooked up this wire pair to an output. The Elk can control the output (that is, electrically close or open the output) as required. It’s nothing more than a relay. The idea here is I want the Elk to be able to close the garage door, so I gave the Elk its own set of wires which bypass the doorbell switch in the garage. With that, I have everything that I need to complete this project.
The Elk keypads have four programmable buttons which can also be illuminated based on rules. I wrote a rule and function to illuminate a button whenever the garage door was open. I wrote a function to close the output that I connected the doorbell wires to above for one second when I press that button. So I press the button on the Keypad, the Elk interprets that and says “oh, he pushed the button, so I need to close this relay for one second”. Closing the relay for one second is the same thing as pressing the doorbell switch in my garage for one second because I have wired that relay as a bypass in parallel across the doorbell switch. I also added some logic so I can’t accidentally open the garage door from the keypad. The logic checks to see if the door is already closed, and if it is, it doesn’t do anything else. Therefore it won’t accidentally open the door. Great, so I can so look at any keypad in my house and see if the door is open or closed. And if it is open, I can close it. But that’s not good enough.
The Elk M1G is also capable of voice enunciations. I have my Elk connected to a couple of in-wall speakers throughout my house. Now, whenever my garage door is opened, the Elk starts counting down from 60, decrementing by one each minute. When it hits zero it announces throughout my house “Garage door is open” and then resets the counter. So I get hourly reminders that my garage door is open.
I also have PowerHome check to see if the garage door is closed seven minutes after the security system is armed. If the door is not closed, then PowerHome sends me, and my wife text messages on our cell phone, and our work email address a notification that the burglar alarm is armed, but the garage door is open. PowerHome has a built in web server and I have written a front end that can also display the status of the garage door, and of course, it also has a button that I can click and close the garage door. All this is accessible with our cell phones or any web browser.
And yes, I am really, really paranoid, so I also have a Panasonic IP camera in the garage so I can pull up a web page that stores the most recent images from the camera and verify visually whether on not the door is closed. More on the Panasonic cameras in a later post.
As you can see, I am really paranoid about my garage door. But I can tell you I have not left it open overnight in years. Nor have I come home from work to see it wide open either. This functionality gives me a lot of peace of mind and I am really glad that I have automated every aspect of my garage door.