Reviewed by CNET
Tailwind iQ3 Smart Automatic Garage Controller review: Garage door automation made easy
THE BOTTOM LINE
Tailwind can automate up to three garage doors with one controller.
Installation and setup
Setting up the Tailwind iQ3 isn't difficult, but you will need a half hour or so and a few tools. Door switch and magnet brackets clamp onto your garage door frame. Once the brackets are aligned, the controller will be able to tell if the door is open or shut.
The Tailwind iQ3 is a wired system, and while stringing wires along your garage ceiling isn't pretty, I've found it to be the most reliable method for smart garage door controllers. Wires run from the door switch up to the Tailwind iQ3 controller mounted on your garage door opener via adhesive strips. Tailwind makes the wiring process simple with helpful adhesive hooks to harness any extra slack in the wire.
The Tailwind iQ3 ships with one garage door wiring kit, but you can purchase additional kits for $35 and automate up to three garage doors with the same controller. Once you've connected all the wires, the Tailwind app for iOS or Android will walk you through connecting the iQ3 to your home's wireless network. Tailwind also learns the exact GPS coordinates of your garage during setup, in which you'll walk up to and around the garage to pinpoint the exact location.
The version of the Tailwind iQ3 I tested used a Wi-Fi access point to connect to your home's 2.4GHz network, but the team at Tailwind say a new firmware version is coming soon that simplifies this step by using Bluetooth to find the controller faster. If that works as well as the Wi-Fi access point method did in my testing, you'll be up and running in just a few minutes.
One of the more luxurious features of smart garage door controllers is the option to enable automatic opening and closing. This type of proximity sensing is commonly accomplished with geofencing, using your phone's GPS location and boundaries set during installation to decide when to open or close the door. Tailwind takes a difference approach and for good reason.
Let's say someone steals your mobile phone. Technically, that person could approach your garage and it would automatically open if you've enabled the auto open feature. The Tailwind iQ3 requires more than just your phone to open your garage door.
The iQ3 needs to sense a Bluetooth connection in order to open the door. That prevents someone from opening your garage with just your phone. However, it also means you might need to purchase Tailwind's Vehicle Sensor, a Bluetooth fob that creates that connection. That depends on your mobile phone and your vehicle.
If you have an Android phone and can connect it to your car's Bluetooth, you won't need the vehicle sensor. Tailwind senses the Bluetooth connection between your Android phone and your vehicle. However, since Apple doesn't allow app developers to detect a vehicle Bluetooth connection, you will need the vehicle sensor if you're an iPhone user. You'll also need a sensor if your car isn't equipped with Bluetooth.
The sensor adds just $10 to the kit and it does provide added security by requiring the presence of both an authorized user's phone and the sensor. Still, it's an extra thing to think about. If you purchase vehicle sensors separate from Tailwind's $110 kit, they'll cost $20 each. The compelling thing about the sensor is that you can attach it to a scooter, motorcycle or even bicycle to automate your garage door no matter what mode of transportation you're using.
Does it work?
In short, yes. I tested out both the phone to car connection and the Tailwind Vehicle Sensor individually. Once I set up the boundaries and added my car or sensor in the Tailwind app, I was notified every time the garage door closed behind me when I left. I was also able to drive up to it and watch the door automatically open.
Distance preferences in the app range from 150 feet to 750 feet. This is the distance you are from the door when the Tailwind iQ3 begins opening or closing it. For me 200 feet worked best. It does take a few tries to get a feel for your driving speed and what timing works for you, but overall I found Tailwind's auto open and close feature to be quite reliable.
Voice assistant integration
The Tailwind iQ3 works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands of your garage door. There isn't a HomeKit integration option(Now HomeKit integration is available). Tailwind has two Amazon skills, one for checking the status of your door and closing it, and another for opening. The opening skill does require a PIN, and you'll set that up in the Tailwind app before linking your account Alex and Tailwind accounts. Google Assistant setup is similar. Connect your Tailwind account through the Google Home's list of linkable brands.
Currently, you can't open the garage door with Google Assistant voice commands. The iQ3 does work with IFTTT, so you could create a custom applet with Google Assistant and Tailwind services to open the door. However, that setup wouldn't include a PIN, and I recently took a look at the dangers of PIN-less unlocking (hint: Don't do it).
How does that stack up? Other garage controllers offer varying levels of integration. Chamberlain's MyQ system works with IFTTT but charges a fee for Google Assistant and requires a bridge for HomeKit. Others like the GogoGate2 and the Alcidae Garager don't have native voice assistant options at all. The Tailwind iQ3's closest competitor is the Nexx Garage, a wired system I liked a lot. It integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant without needing IFTTT, but leaves your door vulnerable to phone thieves and doesn't require a voice PIN to unlock.
The Tailwind iQ3 offers a handful of other features like Night Mode. Set a window of time to be considered "night" and if the garage is left open for 5 minutes, the door will automatically close. The system permits an unlimited number of users and the app has an activity log so you can see when the garage doors were last opened and by whom.
Should I buy it?
If you're looking for a secure and smart garage controller and don't need HomeKit compatibility (Now HomeKit integration is available), the Tailwind iQ3 is a solid choice. Setup is more involved than with some controllers, and using Google Assistant to open the door isn't an option right now. However, both of those possible hindrances are due to a focus on security above convenience, and I think that's something more smart home manufacturers should consider.