If you’re out socializing, and someone starts raving about how cool their garage door opener is, your first instinct is probably to edge away a bit, make an excuse – “Damn, I forgot to change my smoke detector batteries!” and make a speedy exit. Garage door openers aren’t very glamorous, and with the exception of chain drives being replaced by belts, innovations are sparse. Until recently, that is, when the major players came out with openers that could be integrated into a home’s wireless network, and controlled remotely with a smartphone. The new Ultra-Quiet Ryobi Garage Door Opener (Model GD200) starts there – and then piles on more extras than a Hollywood zombie flick. Ryobi sent us an opener and several of the “extra” modules to evaluate – make sure your garage door is secure, and take a look.
Better known for their extensive lineup of power tools and outdoor equipment, the product designers at Ryobi apparently decided to make it easier to access your garage to get at ‘em. Once they got the opener done, they must have had a contest to see who could come up with the most useful accessories for a garage door opening system. So far, the module lineup includes a Bluetooth speaker, a fan, a laser remote parking assist system, and a drop-down power cord reel. A carbon monoxide detector is due out in summer of 2016. Here’s a quick overview video from Ryobi:
The heart of the system, not surprisingly, is the Ryobi garage door opener itself. Ryobi went beefy here; the majority of garage door openers are ½ – ¾ hp. The motor powering the Ryobi garage door opener has a full 2 HP. More power translates into smoother – and quieter – operation, and enough oomph to open pretty much ANY garage door. An integrated, motion-activated LED light will illuminate that gorgeous garage interior, and a multi-function indoor keypad gives you push-button control over the opener – and all the extra goodies. Here are the rest of the specs from Ryobi:
• 2HP – most powerful motor for faster, smoother openings
• Steel reinforced belt drive for longer life
• Ultra-quiet drive system – 20% quieter than the leading garage door openers
• Includes two remotes, wireless keypad, and multifunctional wall control
• Lithium-Ion battery backup ready, with over 100 openings using a Ryobi One+ P108 4AH battery (sold separately)
• Easy to assemble 3-piece rail – less parts, less hassle
• Intelliport technology charges your Ryobi ONE+ batteries, protects the cells, maintains battery life and conserves energy
• Control your door remotely with the Ryobi garage door opener app; download for free in the iOS app store and Google play
• Lifetime LED light, with adjustable duration, to illuminate the darkest garages
• Wi-Fi and HomeLink compatible
• Ryobi lifetime warranty on the motor and belt
Out With The Old Garage Door Opener
The testing ground for the new Ryobi garage door opener was my daughter’s one-car garage. The existing opener was a functional but tired (and noisy) chain-drive Craftsman ½ HP unit.
My daughter and son-in-law were intrigued by the new quiet opener, and by all the extras, although my son-in-law was disappointed there was no Disco Ball module. We took a commemorative farewell video of the final opening and closing of the old unit, and got ready to yank that sucker out. (A video of the new opener is at the end of the post).
In With The New Ryobi Garage Door Opener
The instruction manual for the new opener has a pretty comprehensive list of the tools needed to install the unit. We gathered them up, and started by removing the old opener, which only took a few minutes. The manual doesn’t give any information on how to do it, but it’s pretty simple, and Ryobi’s comprehensive installation video shows you what to do. Their web site has several other helpful overview and how-to videos available.
We unpacked the opener, and laid out the numerous parts. It seems a little intimidating, but the steps go pretty quickly, and before you know it, most of those parts are up there dangling from the ceiling. If you’re replacing an existing garage door opener, which is likely the case for most buyers, the Ryobi garage door opener kit contains everything you need to complete the installation. Note: If this is a new installation, you’ll need to purchase inexpensive mounting straps, nuts and bolts, so you can hang the opener from the ceiling.
The instructions were pretty good, although the instruction manual is fairly small. Probably not a huge deal for most people, but a larger format, like 8 x 11”, would be easier for us old farts to read. Luckily, my keen-eyed daughter was my assistant, and using a combination of the manual and the instruction video, we had the new Ryobi garage door opener installed in roughly four hours. The folks at Ryobi (or more likely, their attorneys) are super-serious about safety – the instructions included 61 WARNINGS, 8 NOTICES and 2 DANGERS!
The components of the Ryobi garage door opener are very robust, including the opener unit itself, which is enclosed in a sturdy steel housing. For the most part, the installation went smoothly. Once the unit was installed, we paired it with her home’s wireless router (Note: You will need to enter your WiFi password during this process).
Even though the router was at the far side of their house, the opener detected it and paired with no problems. Here are some random notes from the installation process that may make things go more smoothly for you:
The wall where the indoor keypad was to be located is a finished wall. The existing keypad had the wiring running inside the wall, and entering through the center of the rear mounting plate. The indoor Ryobi garage door opener is pre-wired, with the wiring exiting through the top of the unit; not ideal for a concealed installation. After removing the rear mounting plate on the new keypad, the wires can be easily accessed and removed, as they are attached to two screw terminals.
Unfortunately, the rear plate had no hole or knockout to route the wiring through, so we drilled a hole through the center, then mounted the mounting bracket to the wall. This allowed us to use the existing wiring and keep the wires hidden. No big deal, but a knockout would simplify the process for anyone mounting to a finished surface.
When you reach the point of mounting the outdoor control pad, Ryobi recommends programming the remote BEFORE installing it. I heartily concur, after ignoring this advice – save yourself some aggravation and unnecessary use of those special DIY adjectives by programming the outside control BEFORE mounting it outside. Note to the manual writers: It might be helpful to move the “Mounting” step back and include it as one of the “Programming” steps.
If your existing opener has safety sensors, as most do, you can easily re-use the existing wiring. Remove the old sensors, mount the new sensors, and run the attached wiring a few feet up the wall, to a convenient spot. Cut the existing wiring and the new wiring, being sure to leave enough slack to make a splice. Attach the new wiring to the old, being sure to attach the wires to their correct counterparts – grey striped to grey striped, white to white. Tape the splices, and use the included wire staples to secure that area to the wall. All the wiring attaches easily to the Ryobi garage door opener unit via labeled push-in connections.
Phone It In – The Ryobi Garage Door Opener App
Once your opener is installed and functional, the cool part starts. The Ryobi opener has WiFi built into the unit. If your home has a wireless router, you and your smartphone can rule over your Ryobi garage door opener and its modular minions from anywhere on the planet! Well, anywhere with cell service, anyway… To do so, you first need to download the Ryobi GDO app.
The app is available for both Apple (iOS) and Android platforms. Go to either the App Store or GooglePlay and search for “Ryobi GDO System.” The app downloaded and installed quickly on my iPhone, and the setup process was pretty fast and painless. Note: Be sure your Ryobi garage door opener is installed and working before you begin the pairing process with your phone. Once the app is installed, you’ll be able to verify that you closed the door when you stumbled off to work at 5 a.m. And if it turns out you didn’t (again!), push a button and all is secure.
But Wait – There’s More!
Giving your door a lift is only the beginning. The Ryobi garage door opener is the base station of a modular system capable of supporting a BUNCH of add-ons. The module attachment points are covered with black plates, which pop right off to expose them. The modules take just a few seconds to snap in, and once they’re in, they’re very securely attached. This is a good thing, because having random pieces falling off your garage ceiling onto your Ferrari, or your head, probably won’t put you in your happy place…
The modules can be controlled either from the indoor keypad or your smart phone. There are seven buttons on the keypad, corresponding to the seven numbered ports on the Ryobi garage door opener. They even provide little picture decals to put on the buttons to keep you from turning off the Bluetooth when you were trying to turn on the fan.
The quality of all the modules seems very good. Each module requires one port, with the exception of the cord reel, which takes two. The modules can be installed in any open port, and can be shifted around if you decide on a mini garage do-over. As I mentioned, a carbon monoxide detector module should be available shortly. Meanwhile, here’s a quick look at the four that are currently available.
Beam Me In, Scotty
Is someone in the family parking-challenged? Plugging in the Park Assist module can help reduce your drywall and fender repair budget. My daughter’s garage is the only place they have to store trash cans, the lawn mower and other yard tools, a gigundo stroller, a car-top carrier, and what appear to be portions of the space shuttle.
Oh, yeah – they have a car to go in there, too. Since the walls are lined with shelving, a tool box, and all the aforementioned stuff, the car has to be in just the right spot to be able to get all the car doors open, and to have enough room to get their two-year-old son into and out of his car seat. The Park Assist module only took a couple of minutes to install and set up. Now she can just pull in and position the car so the red dot hits the hood’s sweet spot, and – assuming no one has rearranged the garage in her absence – getting out of the car will be easy peasy.
Rockin’ The Garage
My daughter and her husband are like me, in that they constantly have music playing. They have a Bluetooth-enabled iPod, and they both have smart phones with Bluetooth capability. They occasionally do projects in the garage, and they have gardens along the side of the garage and in front of the house. They were very excited to try out the Bluetooth speaker.
Like the other modules, the Bluetooth speaker came with its own set of instructions. Within a couple of minutes, we had the Bluetooth speaker installed. Using my iPhone (so I could assume control of the musical selections!), I was able to pair it with the speaker quickly and easily.
I was skeptical as to how good the little speaker would sound. It certainly doesn’t have what you’d consider booming bass, but while music snobs may scoff, it actually sounds very good, for a speaker of its size. I was able to crank it up so it was easily audible from outside the garage. There was no discernable distortion, and the speaker was very responsive to commands from the phone.
Feeling The Breeze
On the weekend we installed the Ryobi garage door opener, the temps were in the upper 80’s. After spending a bit of time in the non-air-conditioned garage, we were VERY interested in getting the fan module hooked up.
Talk about easy – hang the module in a mounting spot, press the corresponding button, and enjoy the breeze! When turned on, the fan starts out on high; press it again for medium, a third time for low, and once more to turn the fan off. The fan can be rotated to various positions, is very quiet, and moves a good bit of air.
Bring The Power
If you’re a typical Home Fixated reader, your garage is the site of frequent DIY escapades. Many of these projects require power tools, which, as the name implies, require POWER. If your extension cords are stored like my son-in-law’s, you will spend approximately 20 minutes untangling each one before being able to use it. To be fair, he may have learned his cord-storage technique from me…
Ryobi has a solution for this tangled web we’ve woven, with its Retractable Cord Reel module. The unit features a beefy 16-guage cord, with three outlets at its end. A little light lets you know the power is on, and the cord extends up to 30 feet, so you can use it in the driveway, and which should reach pretty much anywhere in most garages, unless you’re Jay Leno…
And while we’re on the subject of power, another unique feature of the Ryobi garage door opener is that it can be opened during a power outage by any One+ Ryobi battery. Just install it in the covered port on the opener, and the unit will keep the battery charged. If the power goes out, Ryobi says its P108 4AH battery will provide up to 100 closings. (Presumably it will open it as well…). It also means you’ve always got a freshly-juiced Ryobi battery on hand for those garage DIY projects.
Coming Soon – The “Peace Of Mind” Module
Even if you install all four currently available modules, you’ll still have a couple of available slots. Save one for the upcoming Carbon Monoxide module. After installing it, you’ll be able to monitor carbon monoxide, temperature and humidity all from your phone (Phone not required for carbon monoxide detection). The detector has a loud 85 dB alarm, to let you know it’s time to turn on the fan and blow out the bad air.
The module comes with two AA Lithium batteries for backup power, and you can test and silence the unit from your phone or the module itself.
Wait For The Beep
There are just a couple of minor quibbles to mention. In the features list, Ryobi mentions that the powerful motor provides faster operation, but both closing and opening times were pretty much identical to those of the old opener. It’s definitely smoother and quieter, though – with the exception of the beeping the unit makes when it closes. While some people find this annoying, it seems like a prudent safety feature for a door that can be remotely closed at any time.
The beeping isn’t really all that loud, and according to Ryobi, it’s actually a legal requirement. Hearing the beeping and seeing the LED lights flash give the kiddies – or the local punks going through your Ryobi tools – notice that the door is coming down, ready or not. If the setup could be modified to beep only when the unit is controlled from the phone app, that would probably make a LOT of people much happier…
The only operational issue we had was that the exterior pad quit working after two days. I contacted Ryobi customer support, and after pressing 1 to speak to a human, the soothing music came on, and I settled in for the wait. I didn’t get to enjoy the tranquility for long – after 90 seconds, Theresa came on. She was friendly, knowledgeable, and a native English speaker – kudos to Ryobi for that! After explaining the problem and steps I had taken to try and resolve it, she arranged to have a new keypad shipped. It showed up about ten days later, and seems to be working fine.
Other than that, I was very impressed with the Ryobi garage door opener. The quality is good, and it’s a pretty simple intermediate-level DIY project. The GDO app works well, and the optional modules are inexpensive and decent quality. My daughter and her husband are very happy with it, aside from the beeping. They’ve gotten a lot of use out of the modules, especially the speaker and power cord. I think the ability to control and monitor the door from hither and yon is pretty sweet, too. Now if they’d just get working on that Disco Ball module…
And here’s a short video of the new Ryobi Garage Door Opener doing its thing:
The Ryobi garage door opener is available exclusively at Home Depot at just under $250