Chamberlain Garage Power Station Review – Light and Power From Above

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chamberlain garage power station

So your kid’s bicycle tire is flat, your wife’s car is making that disturbing noise under the hood again, and you still haven’t untangled the extension cord from the last time you vacuumed out your truck? Welcome to my world. You know there’s a tire pump and a trouble light (probably with a burned-out bulb) SOMEWHERE, and as soon as someone moves those twenty bags of play sand off the extension cord, you’ll get it untangled – no, really! I think WE are who the inventors had in mind when they came up with the Chamberlain Garage Power Station. 

The folks at Chamberlain recently provided us with a Chamberlain Garage Power Station to evaluate. The power station combines an extension cord, trouble light and air compressor into an overhead unit. They share a retractable hose/cable, and the unit clings unobtrusively to your ceiling, patiently waiting to be summoned into action. I lugged the box into my garage, chose a likely spot on the ceiling, and got ready to power up. Here’s a quick promo video from Chamberlain:

http://youtu.be/qEy3vveB6MI

Installing The Chamberlain Garage Power Station

The Chamberlain Garage Power Station was pretty simple to install; anyone with basic DIY skills and tools can easily handle it. I installed it by myself with no problem, but I’m incredibly strong for an old guy; it is somewhat heavy (Chamberlain lists the weight at 32 pounds), so you may want to recruit someone to help you hold it in place if you haven’t been eating your Wheaties.

chamberlain garage power station
Very few parts are needed to install the unit

You’ll need a drill with a 3/16” bit, a tape measure, a pencil, a Phillips head screwdriver, and a socket wrench with a 7/16” socket and a 6” extension. The instructions say the extension is optional, but you’ll save yourself a bit of time and aggravation if you have one, according to reviewers who tried to do it without one. One last thing – unless you’re really tall, or have a low ceiling, grab a stepladder.

chamberlain garage poweer station
Pick a mounting location near power and away from the door’s path

The first thing you’ll want to do is find a good location. If you have a workbench in your garage, somewhere above it would likely be ideal. Any place else you’d like a little extra overhead lighting would also be a good candidate, as the unit can also accommodate two 50W halogen bulbs for task lighting. In any event, try to find a location close to an electrical outlet; it’s best to avoid using an extension cord to power the unit. If you have to use one, be sure it’s at least 16 AWG. The air hose/utility cord is 25’ long, so unless you have a really big garage, you can mount it pretty much wherever you want and still be able to stretch it to where you need it. Just make sure it won’t interfere with the operation of your garage door.

The mounting holes on the Chamberlain Garage Power Station are 16” apart, which coincide nicely with standard 16”-on-center joist spacing. If your framing is 24” on center, you can mount the unit on a single joist. If your ceiling is finished, use a stud finder to locate your joists. In any case, once you’ve chosen your location, mark two spots 16” apart, predrill with your 3/16” bit, and you’re ready to put that bad boy up.

chamberlain garage power station
Mark your mounting location…
chamberlain garage power station
And pre-drill for your lag screws

To access the mounting holes in the power station, unscrew and remove the task light covers. And now, a super-secret HomeFixated insider tip: the instructions have you wait until the unit is up to connect the ground wire to the task light covers and install the bulbs. It’s much easier to do it BEFORE you put the unit up; attach the bulbs and ground wires to the task light covers, and just let the light units dangle. Later, after the unit is in place, you’ll just have to twist the bulbs into the sockets and re-install the task light covers onto the unit. Next, put a washer and small rubber isolator on the lag screws, push them through the holes, and then slide the large rubber washers onto the screws. The washers fit snugly, and hold the screws in place as you turn the unit upside-down and lift it into position.

chamberlain garage power station
Attach the ground wires and bulbs before mounting the unit
chamberlain garage power station
The rubber washers hold the lag screws in place

Get your socket on one of the lag screws (this is where you need the 6” extension), and start it into its hole. After it’s in a few turns, start the other screw in, then alternate tightening them until they’re good and snug, but don’t over-tighten them; the rubber spacer should be compressed but not flattened. I used my sporty impact driver, which saves some time. You could also use a cordless drill with a socket attachment, but a ratchet works fine, as the lag screws are only 2-1/2” long. Now you just have to plug in the light bulbs, re-install the task light covers, and plug it in. You’re ready to work!

chamberlain garage power station
Snug up the lag screws, but don’t over-tighten
chamberlain garage power station
Almost ready to feel the power!
chamberlain garage power station
Twist the bulbs in and screw on the covers

The Power Station In Action

To activate the Chamberlain Garage Power Station, you simply pull the cable down from the unit. Note: when you do so, the task lights come on, and the compressor kicks on briefly, which can startle the crap out of you if you’re standing on a ladder right next to it. Or so I’ve been told. At any rate, just pull the cable over to where you need air or light or power, release it, and it will lock in place until you’re task is finished. Then simply tug on it and feed it back into the unit. Don’t just let it go; it rewinds quickly, and would probably trash the light. It doesn’t have a fancy 2nd retraction speed like the RoboReel we reviewed a while back. When the Power Station is fully retracted, the task lights shut off, power is cut to the compressor and extension cord, and peace descends upon the planet. It feels like they used good-quality components in the reel; the hose unwinds and retracts with a good, solid, smooth feel.

chamberlain garage power station
Tugging the hose down powers everything up
chamberlain garage power station
The 25′ cord provides plenty of reach

Got a high ceiling, or a short reach? You can easily control how far the power unit hangs down from the ceiling. There is a docking ball around the cable that stops the unit from retracting; when it comes in contact with the base, this is what shuts off the power. To adjust the work light assembly to hang at a different height, just loosen the screws on the ball, slide it to where you want it, and tighten ‘em back up.

chamberlain garage power station

Can’t quite reach it? Adjustment is simple.

I used the LED trouble light to poke around under the hood of my truck. There’s a rubber-coated switch on the handle to turn it off and on, and it takes a firm poke to use, but it worked fine. It was pretty dark in there, and the LEDs lit it up nicely.

chamberlain garage power station
The dark, scary engine compartment, nicely illuminated

Chamberlain doesn’t provide specs on watts or lumens for the trouble light, but I’d say it was roughly equivalent to a 75-100 watt bulb. Chamberlain claims the LEDs will provide 100,000 hours of working life, which is way the hell better than the two or three uses my incandescent bulbs provide before I drop the light and blow them up. Hopefully the LEDs are a bit more rugged. One weird thing: even though the LEDs are arranged in a rectangular grid, the light pattern comes out circular.

chamberlain garage power station
Chamberlain says the LEDs are good for 100,000 work hours; wish I was.
chamberlain garage power station
Round light from a rectangular array?? Magic!

To try out the air hose, I dragged one of my daughter’s bikes out of the barn. The tires were pretty well flat, so I depressed the lever, clamped the air hose on the valve, and it started filling immediately. The nozzle fit snugly onto the valve, and the tire filled quickly; it took about 30 seconds to get the pressure gauge showing just over 50 lbs. To release the hose, you just depress the clamp and pull the nozzle off, and the air shuts off. There’s also an inflator tethered to the air hose with a needle valve for filling basketballs and the like.

chamberlain garage power station
Push the inflator onto the valve stem to inflate
chamberlain garage power station
The gauge provides a very rough estimate of actual pressure

I plugged in my old Craftsman ½” drill to test out the extension cord function, and drilled a few 7/8” holes through some old 2X4’s. It worked like, well, an extension cord; the drill worked fine. One thing to be aware of while using the extension cord feature: The outlet is rated for 10 amps max. If you’re planning to use the extension cord for something that draws a lot of juice, check your amperage to avoid damaging the item or overloading the cord. My circular saw, for example, draws 15 amps; guess I’ll still have to untangle my heavy-duty extension cord for that. Using a shop vac, a ½” drill, a grinder, or most similar power tools shouldn’t be an issue, though.

Does The Power Station Deserve A Spot On Your Ceiling?

It states in the manual that the Chamberlain Garage Power Station is intended for light-duty use only. Just the size of it should make that obvious; this thing is intended to earn its keep inflating bicycle and car tires and basketballs, and giving you a convenient trouble light and extension cord, not running air tools or inflating tractor-trailer tires. If your expectations are reasonable, you’ll probably be pretty happy with this product. It’s compact, out of the way until you need it, and provides decent utility.

chamberlain garage power station
The Chamberlain Garage Power Station, awaiting your command

Suggestions for improvements? The most useful one would be a better pressure gauge. It wasn’t very accurate; mine showed a bit over 50 lbs. of pressure when there was actually only about 40 lbs. in my bicycle tire. And why does the pressure gauge go to 180 lbs. when the max PSI rating is 100 lbs.? A gauge that goes to 110 lbs., with increments of less than 5 lbs., would make it easier to dial in the pressure you’re after (assuming a more accurate gauge). It might also be easier to control if the air flow was controlled by a lever, instead of trying to unclamp it and pull it off when inflation is finished, but that’s just personal preference. Meanwhile, keep a good handheld gauge around to double-check your pressures.

The one thing most reviewers downgraded this product for was the lack of included bulbs. The unit requires two halogen bulbs (MR16 GU10), which are not provided, and which most people don’t have lying around. There is no mention of the lack of bulbs on the box, not that I could find, anyway. If you don’t know this ahead of time, you’ll be making another trip to the store, probably uttering some impolite phrases as you do so. I’m guessing Chamberlain could significantly improve customer satisfaction by including the bulbs, even if they had to raise the price a few bucks. Another alternative might be to simply install LED lights right in the unit, or even skip the lights altogether; most garages already have some type of overhead light, and unless this will be used over a workbench, it might not be all that useful.

chamberlain garage power station
Funky bulbs sold separately…

That said, the Chamberlain Garage Power Station is a well-made, fairly well designed product, which should be very useful for the average homeowner. The time and aggravation savings alone will make it a favorite for me; no more wondering where I left the trouble light (and then finding a new bulb for it), dragging out an extension cord for two minutes of work, or firing up my compressor to inflate a volleyball. And the best part is, when the chore is finished, just tug on the cord, and it’s put away – and it’ll be there for you the next time! I wish all my cleanup was that easy.

The unit comes with a two year limited warranty on the compressor motor, and one year on the rest of the product. More info on Chamberlain’s home products, along with tips and giveaways, is available on their Facebook page. The Chamberlain Garage Power Station is available from Home Depot for $129. The MR16 50W bulbs are available at Home Depot, or if you plan ahead, you can get them for $2.45 each with free shipping from Amazon.

chamberlain garage power station

Photo of author

About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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13 thoughts on “Chamberlain Garage Power Station Review – Light and Power From Above”

  1. I really enjoyed having this product. Own one and used it a lot for auto repairs and bike and car tires. I recommend it to anyone who likes it when they saw it in my garage. I only had mine for 6 months and the compressor motor caught on fire and I had to quickly remove it before anything else happened. I do not know who to contact about a replacement or to prevent further issues with others.

    Reply
    • Wow – pretty scary! Glad you caught it in time. The unit has a two-year warranty on the compressor, and in any case I imagine the folks at Chamberlain would definitely want to hear about your problem. Their customer service number is 800-528-9131, or you can email them from here: http://chamberlain.custhelp.com/app/ask Let us know what happens, and good luck!

      Reply
  2. Had mine for 6 months now and the pressure gauge did not work from the start, the pressure out of the unit is not very powerful. It take a while to add air to car tires, you have to leave and come back quite often.

    I also don’t understand why they did not put a quick disconnect on the hose so you could add other attachments like a blower head which would be nice in the garage. I went to the hardware store and picked up, I think 7 parts, taped them, assembled a unit that would attache to the unit hose end and a quick disconnect. I inserted a air blower and it could not blow a straw. Be nice if the unit could blow air so I could do like they do when they detail a car, they blow all the smaller areas.

    Going to cut the actual unit hose next and see if I can get something to connect to it but they cheapened out there too and put a very small hose.

    Disappointing.

    Reply
    • You’re right, Dave, this is not the beefiest compressor out there. In my experience, it does a good job with bike tires and volleyballs. It can inflate my truck tires, but like you said, it takes a while. This unit is intended for light duty; the size of the compressor pretty well limits its power. That’s probably why Chamberlain didn’t add a quick-connect feature; the unit isn’t really powerful enough to run air tools, or even a blower. Even my pancake compressor cycles on a lot when using the blower; it uses a lot of air. For recreational use, this isn’t a bad unit; for anything more demanding, you pretty much have to step up to a dedicated compressor.

      Reply
  3. The guide roller on my power station jammed up and frayed the airline/ cord cover. I emailed chamberlain and they said parts are not available and since my unit was out of warranty that I could by a new one for $99. They should send me the roller whichh is probably a 2cent part. What

    Reply
  4. Hi, Stewart-
    The instructions say “The Garage Power Station MUST be RIGIDLY mounted to structural support on ceiling.” You may be able to mount it on the wall, but you might want to check with Chamberlain first to find out if there’s some reason not to. You can contact their support through this link:
    http://chamberlain.custhelp.com/app/ask/session/L2F2LzEvdGltZS8xMzg5ODg5ODM0L3NpZC9yd3hiYXhLbA%3D%3D

    One other thing I meant to mention in the article: it’s a good idea to plug the unit into a GFCI-protected outlet. That’s good practice for ANY power use in a garage or other potentially wet area, and it’s code in most places, but it’s not always the reality. In your case, especially, where you want to be able to use it out in the driveway, it’s a good precaution.

    Good luck with your installation; let us know what you hear back from Chamberlain.

    Reply
  5. I have seen this advertised and was curious. The bulb choice leaves a lot to be desired however. I have had light fixtures with these bulbs and they can be very aggravating to remove since many fixtures don’t allow much space in which to press and turn. Thanks for the review.

    Reply
    • Hi, Liz-
      Accessing the bulbs is actually fairly easy on this unit. Just undo one screw, and the little cover with the light bulb drops down, so changing one out shouldn’t be that hard. The real issue is this: If you’re going to require an unusual bulb, either provide it, or clearly state the type and quantity needed on the outside of the box. THAT’S how you prevent unhappy consumers. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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