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Tailwind Garage Door Opener Review & Unboxing

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I have a very robust home automation set up. One of the coolest things about home automation is taking any old garage door and bringing it into the 21st century with some automation and remote controlling options. There are a few options but this Tailwind Garage Door Review has a happy ending with the seal of approval so read on.

Update: July 2019

This has now been installed and working for almost 6 months. In the first month, the unit dropped off the network 2 times and I just reset it – but ever since then this garage door opener has been SOLID. Zero issues – works every time. The only time the auto-open feature doesn’t work for my wife is when she has her phone hidden in her bag at the bottom of the car so the GPS isn’t registering. This also affects our Abode home alarm though so it’s her phone and no fault of Tailwind or Abode.

Still can’t recommend this enough. The newer IR laser, reflective surface and distance garage door units like the Garadget are IMO not even in the same league as this. It’s made to work, stay working and can’t get thrown off (not to mention the ability to manage multiple doors).

Cheaper units like the MyQ from Chamberlain (MYQ-G0301) require a subscription, are not currently compatible with Alexa (only Prime Key from Amazon currently) or Smartthings. Their Google Assistant integration is ‘Free for a limited time’. You lost me there. I already pay for my Ring doorbell and that’s enough.

Tailwind remains free after purchase, with updates, and works with Google Assistant and Alexa no problem (side note – google integration is better because Amazon Alexa Skills are just annoying and Amazon need to sort that out).

Sounding like a fan boy? Yeah, but that’s because when you install smart tech at home it needs to work. Especially so your partner doesn’t shut down all the smart home dreams because things never work when they should. So, ~6 months in with tailwind iQ3 – still very happy.

Considerations for a wireless automated Garage Door opener

For the last 2 years, I have had the Aeotec Garage Door opener. This is a z-wave unit that connects into my abode home alarm system. I really liked this unit but it was not always 100% reliable and eventually, the tilt sensor on the garage door died. Sad. There were many learnings from that which I will share here:

Aeotec Garage Door Opener – Farewell old friend.
  • Things with batteries eventually go flat. Bugger. This might not be a problem for a lot of smaller things like smoke detectors etc but for a garage door opener, it seems to be a particular PITA for some reason.
  • Tilt sensors on wireless garage door openers have a reputation for dying after about 18 months. True in my case.
  • Depending on the distance to your hub etc, Z-Wave might not reach very well.

So with these things adding some knowledge to the purchase decision here were a couple more considerations before my next purchase:

My Considerations

  • Must be firmware upgradable OTA (over-the-air). I want updates to happen over time as the product is improved
  • More wired but operating as a completely wireless garage door opener 🤔. I didn’t want a tilt-sensor that would die on me in a year or two.
  • Rock solid performance. I didn’t want wireless signal issues from z-wave, wireless hubs, zigbee, microwaves, spaceships or anything else getting in the way of my wanting my door to open or close remotely.
  • Alexa integration, so I can tell Alexa to close my door so my lazy butt doesn’t need to walk down the hallway. Google Home integration and Homekit integration a bonus.
  • IFTTT options – always nice even if I don’t always have an obvious use.
  • Easy to use so other people in the house don’t complain that it’s a pain-in-the-arse to use, or even worse, it’s hit and miss if it opens or not. 😱

What does tailwind offer in its product? What’s attractive about it?

Here is why I chose Tailwind specifically:

  • The developer really thought it through. From wired sensors to the iPhone Bluetooth puck for added accuracy. More on that further down the page.
  • Alexa/Google integration and a clear plan to get HomeKit in.
  • Good price. To get up to 3 doors in one unit (additional sensors extra) is brilliant.
  • WiFi powered. My google mesh WiFi router source is in the garage so less chance of it wimping out.
  • IFTTT integration. This way I can have my garage door open/close when I drive in/out.
  • Integration with my abode home alarm – I can have it closed when Abode arms or open with it disarms. This is done via IFTTT.
  • Night mode is cool. More below.
  • Works with almost any garage door unit… (or as many as physically possible). My current unit is 20 years old and it works fine, but when I move next (whenever that is) I’d like to take it with me so good to know it’s compatible across all Garage Door Openers.
  • International use. The smart thing here is it uses a standard USB plug. So while I bought a ‘Made for the USA/Canada’ unit it’s easy for me to swap out the power adaptor and it’s good for use in any country I could possibly live in – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK etc. This opens up global sales which also means more features added over time as they have more potential revenue flowing in.
  • Location accuracy – based on Navigation accuracy rather than Geofencing.

Night Mode

You can set times in the Tailwind App when you know/want the Garage Door to be closed, so if it’s left open by accident, or opened during that time frame e.g. 10pm6am, then Tailwind will close the door automatically. e.g if it turns 10pm and the door is open it will automatically close it (in case you forgot to), and if it’s opened after 10pm and before 6am and not closed again, Tailwind will close it 5 minutes later (maybe you get home after few and forget to close it).

A nice safety feature for people who have garage doors that are more detached from their living space so they might forget they left it open at night. This feature is optional to turn on and off and you can set the time you want it to operate. I can do this through my Abode security system but I’d probably still let Tailwind control it out of convenience.

But if it uses my phone to locate me, how does it know I am in my car, to then control the garage door and that I’m not just walking my dog down the road with my phone in my pocket?

Good question. This is where Tailwind stands out in my opinion – especially compared to other geolocation apps I’ve used.
You will see you can get a Bluetooth puck as an extra unit (battery lasts about 1.5 years reportedly). If you have an iPhone you must have this to have the auto open/close work. I’ll explain.

I ordered the extra Bluetooth car puck for iPhone users which you can see in the photos and video below. This overcomes some of the failings of how iPhone apps can locate your position. If you have an android phone, you don’t need the puck if you have Bluetooth in your car. If you have an iPhone and Bluetooth in your car, you need the puck. Confused – here it is in bullet points:

  • If you have an iPhone – you need the puck. (even if you Bluetooth in your car)
  • If you have an Android phone and your car doesn’t have Bluetooth – you need the puck
  • If you have Android and your car has Bluetooth connectivity – you don’t need the Puck

This means when your phone connects to your car Bluetooth (Android) or the phone connects to the extra bluetooth Puck option, it knows you’re in your car.

Once it knows you are in your car, and not playing hockey on the lawn, it knows to control the garage doors based on your location.

To quote Scott:

Tailwind relies on a wireless connection between either the bluetooth in your car or a Tailwind vehicle sensor that can just be tossed into the center console or you can peel & stick it to things like ATVs, motorcycles, … etc. Anyways, if that connection with the vehicle bluetooth or the vehicle sensor is NOT present, the app does not track location.

Scott-Riesebosch (via Reddit)

Smart right!?

Instead of using normal geofencing, which can give incorrect location information, the Tailwind uses the same location mapping as the navigation maps in your phone. These are much more accurate. Scott (on reddit) says this is part of the systems secret sauce and which makes it much smarter than geofenced solutions like most systems use.

What about security? If someone has my phone can they open my garage door because they approach my house?

If you ONLY use IFTTT – Yes. But read on.

There are 2 key benefits to using the bluetooth puck or car bluetooth connection with the Tailwind App.

1: Security. If you are using only IFTTT to open and close the door automatically (not manually) when you leave or approach your home (e.g. If I arrive home then open garage door) someone could technically steal your phone and go to your house and the garage door will open. It is therefore better to use the tailwind app, set up with the puck/bluetooth connection, then the garage door will only open if your phone enters your home area and it is connected to the bluetooth puck or car bluetooth (android). Apple doesn’t let apps know if it’s connected to bluetooth cars, hence why you need the puck.

2: Accuracy. If you’ve used IFTTT the geolocation information can be quite off, or very slow in updating exact location. This means you arrive home and might be waiting for a while for IFTTT to realise where you are. By using the bluetooth puck/car bluetooth connection you get navigation accuracy from your location. That is like Google Maps/Apple Maps on your phone – it knows exactly where you are.

Point 1 about regarding security is a good enough reason to not use ONLY IFTTT to manage your location auto open/close, but the 2 points combined make it worth it to use the Tailwind App + Bluetooth Puck/Car connection.

IFTTT options

Even if you use the Tailwind app for auto open/close events it still means there is a lot IFTTT offers. If you have abode security system or any other home automation set up you can do endless automations around your house but as TailWind isn’t in natively integrated you might need to look at Stringify (update – stringify has closed down), it might work. I’m not sure about Home Assistant. Unfortunately IFTTT is still limited to THIS and THAT and not IF. So in the future when they release that options, this is infinitely flexible.

Some examples you could do with IFTTT:

  • IF garage door opens THEN turn on hallway light/hallway light
  • IF garage door closes THEN turn off all lights
  • IF garage door closes THEN lock garage side door too

I’m totally speculating but I think with Stringify you might be able to do more things like:

  • IF garage door opens THEN turn on hallway light ONLY if it’s dark
  • IF garage door closes THEN lock front door ONLY if it’s unlocked
  • IF garage door closes THEN turn the lights off ONLY if the alarm is on

Can I still open my door with the existing remote and wall switch?

Yes. Probably worth noting that you can manually open and close your garage door 4 ways. The Tailwind doesn’t change anything about your existing door functionality – it is a feature rich hardware add-on that gives your garage door superpowers powers, but doesn’t mess with the existing functions and features.

4 ‘Manual’ Ways to Open your Garage Door

  1. Existing Remote control unit/keyfob (like the usual one most people have in their cars from the door manufacturer.)
  2. Via the Tailwind App manually (as below photos show in the app – just click the door icon to open or close)
  3. Via the existing Garage Wall switch, you already have in your garage.
  4. Via Alexa or Google Home with voice commands.

The Tailwind does not change anything about your existing door functionality.

In case you were wondering…

Tailwind Garage Door Opener – Unboxing Photos

The unit arrived directly from China – close to me as the Crow flies (bloody fit Crow). Why ship to the US and then reship? Makes so much sense – so direct shipping it was. The outer packaging was a reused Samsung box which I really appreciate. There is no need to send me a pretty ‘virgin’ box – save the planet for the love of Turtles. Anyway, I digress. The rest is clear from the photos below.

Tailwind Garage Door Opener – Unboxing Video

Tailwind Garage Door Opener Unboxing Video

Installation

Installation wasn’t complicated, but as my garage door unit is 20 years old I had to make some small modifications. The videos I’ll post pieces together with my experience which looks quite tricky but was really one of the easiest installs I have done that involves wires. My Aeotec opener took me longer to install and mess with and that was wireless!

Installation Video

Tailwind Garage Door Installation Video – some tweaks but no problem!

App & Operation

The App installation required quite a bit of information but it worked and wasn’t complicated. There was information required including sign up, a confirmation code to be emailed and you have to walk out onto your driveway and get a GPS lock as part of the location information. This is all done from the one screen on the App so it’s well thought out. You can scan the QR code on the manual which is native to most iPhones and Android phones now so that was a piece of cake.

In terms of registering an account and getting it set up, I’d give it a solid 8+ out of 10.

The app design hasn’t been done by a premium agency but it’s functional and works.

Review Summary

What Scott R. has built with Tailwind is counter-intuitive for me. It’s a wired unit when everything in my house is wireless. But it just works. Remember, I had the Aeotec Garage Door opening unit for 2-3 years and it died and wasn’t as reliable as I would like when connecting into my Abode Home Security system. Would I prefer a ZWave unit that works? Maybe, but with this unit I have better longevity guaranteed. And if you’re going to put wires anywhere, your Garage is a pretty OK place to do it – not too many aesthetics to ruin even though our carpeted Garage doubles as a playroom or bedroom for visitors. The design elements are a little dated but with some cash flow I can imagine this is a device that will be made very atrractive in coming releases.

With the IFTTT integration PLUS Alexa, Google Home & Homekit (coming) and an accurate and well thought out GPS location management system build it I think it’s a clear winner in this space. I’m excited to see what Tailwind do with some more money for Version 2 of this. For the price, I’d be happy to buy another one when it comes out…although I won’t need to as this seems built to last.

All I need now is more than one garage door so I can have a garage door named in the app just for me. 😊

The Tailwind Garage Door Opener is available from Amazon here

For more reviews and pricing visit here.

Any questions I can answer, please ask in the comments below.

Tailwind Garage Door Opener

9.3

Features

9.0/10

Value for Money

9.5/10

Build Quality

9.5/10

What we like (Pros)

  • Creative addition of bluetooth puck for use in car
  • Built to last
  • Creative option for more than one garage door
  • App is easy to use
  • Echo and Google Home integration

What we like less (Cons)

  • Design needs an update - but that's entirely subjective opinion.

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