It’s easy to take your garage door opener for granted. Day after day, it opens and closes your door as you enter and exit your home — all without thinking about how it works. Then, one day, the power goes out, and your garage door won’t open.
Garage door openers are powered by your home’s electrical system. When your home loses power, so does your garage door opener. In some cases, you may be able to wait a couple of hours for the power to come back on so you can go about your business. But, that’s not always the case.
During the 2017 wildfires in northern California, fire and rescue workers reported that at least five people died because they lost power and couldn’t open their garage door to drive their car to safety. Yes, their garage doors were equipped with a manual override feature, however, for those who aren’t physically capable of using the manual override feature, such as the elderly and disabled, the manual override feature isn’t an option.
In response to this tragedy, the state of California decided to act to protect its residents from future fires and other disasters. The California Senate introduced California SB-969, which requires a battery backup for garage door openers that will allow the opener to work in the event of a power outage.
The bill passed in the California Assembly 64-7 and in the Senate 39-0 and will go into effect later this year. For California residents, it’s important to know how the bill protects you and what you’ll need to do to make sure your garage door opener complies with the law’s guidelines.
If you’re a homeowner looking to purchase a new garage door in California, continue reading to learn more about whether or not you’ll be required to update your garage door opener under California SB-969.
About the New California Garage Door Opener Law (California SB-969)
California SB-969 mandates that all electronic garage door openers installed after July 1, 2019, contain a battery backup that will continue to provide power to a garage door opener in the event that a home loses power. This provides a viable alternative to the manual override feature for those who cannot open their garage door manually.
A garage door battery backup system is a small battery unit connected to the garage door opener. Most of the time, it sits idle — but if you lose power due to wildfires or severe weather, the battery backup is designed to engage the garage door opener, so you can get your car in and out. The battery’s power may not be the same as your electric opener, however, it’s strong enough to raise and lower your door several times during a 24-hour period. This means that during power outages, it’s possible to open your garage and get out of your house in case of an emergency.
Besides mandating that all garage door openers are installed with a battery backup, the new California garage door requirements also state there will be a $1000 fine for anyone who fails to comply with this law once it takes effect. The best way to make sure your new garage door opener is compliant with the bill’s guidelines is to work with an experienced garage door company to complete the installation.
This bill applies to anyone who is in the market for a new garage door opener now and in the future. So, if you’re in the market for a new garage door opener, even before July 1, we strongly recommend purchasing a unit that complies with SB-969. For anyone who plans to buy one down the road, you’ll want to make sure you purchase a unit with this feature. If your opener is installed after July 1, 2019, and does not contain a battery backup, you will be subject to a fine.
What SB-969 Means for California Residents
The garage door battery backup law means any California residents who buy a garage door opener now or in the future must ensure it’s equipped with a battery backup. This does not mean that people who already have an electric garage door opener need to purchase a new one — although that’s never a bad idea if yours is old or isn’t working properly. If you’re in the market for a new opener, pay close attention to what you’re purchasing.
Once you do purchase a garage door opener with a battery backup, you will need to check the battery on a regular basis to ensure it is still charged and ready to take over if your home loses power.
Garage door opener manufacturers have installed features into the battery backup to quickly alert homeowners to the condition of their battery. For example, LiftMaster battery backups are designed with green, orange and red lights to indicate whether the battery is charged or in need of attention. All a homeowner needs to do is glance at the lights to know if their battery is in good working order.
Although this is another item to add to your list of projects, it’s not a hassle once you install it — all you have to do is periodically glance at the unit to make sure it’s charged and engaged properly. If you notice it’s running low or the battery isn’t holding a charge, you can address the problem and easily purchase a replacement.
Why Do I Need a Battery Backup for My Garage Door Opener?
SB-969 was specifically introduced in response to the tragic deaths of five California residents in a wildfire, but there’s a bigger picture that’s important to consider as you’re reading the new law. Anytime your power goes out for any reason — extreme heat, storms or wildfires — your garage door won’t work. Yes, there’s the manual pull cord that should allow you to simply detach the garage door opener and raise the door yourself, but, for older adults or people with a physical disability, manually lifting a garage door just isn’t possible. Installing a battery backup ensures anyone in your home can raise their garage door when they need to.
If you’re in good shape or younger, you may read this and say “I’m fine. This doesn’t apply to me.” Think of it this way: you wouldn’t wait to buy a smoke detector until you saw flames near your home. You purchase and install a smoke detector so you’ll be prepared if the flames ever come. The same is true of a battery backup. You may not think you need a battery backup on your garage door opener now, but who’s to say that you won’t need it if something happens in a year or two?
SB-969 and the battery backup are intended to make Californians safer and prevent future tragedies like the deaths of those five individuals in 2017. It’s also to protect your loved ones who might otherwise be trapped at home if help isn’t nearby. Yes, it’s hard to think about bad things happening, and no one wants to plan on danger, but protecting your family by installing something so simple is a no-brainer.
Can I Add a Backup Battery to My Current Garage Door Opener?
Yes, you can even add a backup battery to your current garage door opener. While SB-969 addresses garage door openers installed on or after July 1, 2019, the safety issues this bill addresses still apply to owners of older units. Even though existing garage door openers will not be subject to fines, the law was passed because it’s something everyone should have in their home.
Adding a battery backup to your current garage door opener is a great way to protect your family from unexpected power outages and the things that cause them. It’s a relatively simple and inexpensive investment that will protect your family for years to come. If your unit is relatively new, then you can simply have a battery backup attached to your unit. If your garage door opener is older, it will depend on its age and the manufacturer. In some cases, you can still install a battery backup on an older unit, but in others, you may have to purchase a new unit in order to have this feature.
If you aren’t sure of the age of your existing garage door opener or if it will be able to support the addition of a battery backup feature, the professionals at King Door can help you figure out what your options are.
Tips for Maintaining Your Battery Backup
Once you’ve had a battery backup installed for your garage door opener, there’s one more step you’ll want to take, and that is to familiarize yourself with your battery backup features and limitations. While it is relatively simple to understand, here are four tips to keep in mind.
1. Get to Know Your Backup’s Safety Features
A number of battery backup options are on the market today, including several from LiftMaster. Once your backup is installed, take some time to read your owner’s manual. Know how much power your battery has and how many times you’ll be able to open and close your door using it during a power outage. Make sure you know how often you should check the battery to ensure it’s operating properly. If you don’t understand something or have questions that aren’t answered in your owner’s manual, don’t hesitate to ask a qualified garage door specialist for more information.
2. Know How to Tell If the Battery Isn’t Charging
Your battery backup comes equipped with features designed to let you know if it isn’t charging correctly or needs to be replaced. Besides the green, orange and red lights incorporated into the LiftMaster backup systems, their battery backups are also equipped to emit a series of beeps when the battery needs to be recharged or replaced.
Make sure to learn what those beeps mean and then make sure to respond when you hear them. Just like a smoke detector beeps when it needs a new battery, so will your garage door opener battery backup. And just as those beeps are a call to action to maintain your smoke detectors, use them as a call to action to maintain your battery backup, as well.
3. Replace the Battery Regularly
Depending on how often you need to use the battery backup, you’ll replace the battery every one to two years. This is something you can do yourself, so familiarize yourself with the process. If you aren’t sure where to start, ask your installation technician when the battery backup — or unit containing the battery backup — is installed. It’s easy to ignore this chore in favor of doing other things, but it’s not something you should neglect. Making battery backup maintenance a regular part of your home maintenance routine can save the lives of people you love.
4. Learn How to Manually Operate Your Garage Door
SB-969 was specifically written in response to the tragic deaths of individuals who were unable to manually unable to open their garage doors. However, in many cases, homeowners are capable of manually opening their garage doors. If you are physically capable of manually opening your garage door, make sure you are familiar with the manual override features, so you can operate the door in case of emergency. If you or a loved one in your home is not able to use this feature, be sure to check your battery backup system more frequently to ensure it is working correctly.
Contact King Door Company for LiftMaster Battery Backup Openers
By enacting SB-969, the state of California is working to protect its residents, but that protection still requires you to act. If you are in the market for a new garage door opener — or you want to make your existing opener compliant with the new law — King Door’s team of professional installers is ready to help you make the switch. Offering a variety of LiftMaster Battery Backup Openers, King Door is committed to helping you choose the right product at the right price. On July 1, 2019, SB-969 will take effect. Once it takes effect, homeowners who purchase and install a new garage door opener will be held accountable for making sure they have a working battery backup in place.
Primarily serving Kern County, King Door offers a large inventory of garage doors and parts, many of which we keep on our service trucks. This means we’re often able to complete installation and repair services in one trip, saving you time and money. Our technicians are professionals who have been well-trained and bring years of experience and dedication to the job, ensuring your installation will be completed correctly and efficiently.
If you’re considering a battery backup for an existing or new garage door opener, let King Door walk you through the process. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you make sure your garage door opener complies with SB-969. For more information, call us at 661-397-2744 or contact us online today.