SOMMER 1042V002

1042V002 with Smartphone Controller

Originating in Germany, Sommer (German for “summer”) is probably best known for its direct-drive garage door opener design. They’ve been one of the big names in the industry on U.S. soil for quite some time now and have established the brand pretty well.

I’ve read about some of their other models before and have been impressed, but this is the first one I’ve seen from this company with smartphone connectivity. We’ve seen plenty from Chamberlain (aka LiftMaster) though – every opener from mid-range on up comes with their MyQ web features. Can Sommer make a compelling argument to skip MyQ in favor of this?

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Wanna Buy a Monorail?

The direct-drive system always reminds me of a monorail or, technically, an upside-down tram. A stationary chain acts as the rail and a carriage containing the entire electrical motor then pulls the door along with a j-arm.

They claim that direct-drive openers are some of the quietest and most durable designs; most of the time user reviews seem to bear this out. But belt-drive openers have gotten very good indeed, so it may be hard to justify going north of $300 just for a novel drive type.

These Sommer openers do look as if they have a lower profile than traditional designs, though. Since the motor isn’t in the main unit, the whole thing can be a bit sleeker. I don’t think the design is anything to write home about, but it is neat and minimal – both positives in my book.

An Uplifting Experience

This is a 3/4 HP motor, which I consider to be the sweet spot. With that amount of power you should be good for a door of up to 550 pounds. If you have a lighter door, however, don’t be dissuaded. It’s better to put less load on the machine than it was designed for, instead of running it near its limits.

Since this is a direct-drive system you actually have less loss of power, since the motor is always at the door, a fixed distance from it. Direct-drive systems are reportedly almost as quiet as the manufacturer claims. Other Sommer products using the exact same design have ranked highly in that regard.

Parts Manifest

The bundle Sommer is offering here is pretty basic, especially at the price. You get the main unit, a basic wall control button, two 2-button remotes, and the safety IR beam units. Of course you also get the smartphone connection kit, which I’ll discuss separately.

As you can see from that accessory list, the 1042V002 offers the standard safety features that have been a legal requirements since the mid-90s – a safety beam as well as pressure sensor to reverse the whole thing should Fido be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The lack of a keyless entry pad is conspicuous, but I’ll address that further on.

Was That Smart?

Now we get to this opener’s party trick. First of all, as far as I can tell, Sommer has simply included its smartphone connection kit in the box. So if you have a Sommer opener made after 1993 then you can add this functionality yourself. However, I’m judging this is a single product for someone buying a new opener. So let’s have a look at what the smartphone kit can do.

I have to say, there’s a lot to like about the way Sommer has approached this. Unlike the majority of MyQ devices, the “Gogogate” system included with this opener doesn’t need another special internet device like the CIGBU gateway from Chamberlain.

For almost all it’s functions there’s no monthly or annual fee. Even the apps are free. You can get email alerts or push notifications whenever your door is opened, closed or left open by accident. Using the app, you can get info on the local temperature and whether the backup battery is charged.

For me the best part is the access management aspect of it all. You can give people who are visiting you temporary access via their phones. This is actually genuinely useful, since usually I’d have to play musical chairs with the remotes. Of which, as you may remember, there are only two. I mean, everyone has a phone these days. This also makes the need for a visible, permanent and external keyless entry pad completely redundant.

OK, so “What if the internet is out?” you may ask. This is another thing I like. The actual unit on the door has its own WiFi hotspot. So an authorized phone within WiFi range can still open the door.

The only snag is that if you want to manage access for more than ten people you’ll have to fork out $50 a year. I think for most people 10 access passes should be enough, though. If you have an IP camera, you can also hook it up through the opener and have surveillance in the garage as well.

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

In terms of features and sheer ingenuity this product is right up there with my other top pick, the Chamberlain WD1000WF. That opener is also smart-enabled, but it’s a bit cheaper in general and much more powerful, thanks to its 1.25 HP motor. Both are quiet as well – the direct-drive is likely to win out a bit in that area, although you’d need to put ears on both products in order to make a true judgment.

It’s a difficult choice. I really think Sommer’s smartphone functionality trumps the MyQ system, just based on the access control that’s available. I think Chamberlain missed a trick here. As an all-round ultimate opener I still have to give it to the WD1000WF, but I can’t deny that in the brains department the Sommer is the smarter one.

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