In September of this year (2018) California Governor Jerry Brown signed into Senate Bill 969 garage door opener related that will require every new garage door opener that is sold or installed after July 1, 2019 come equipped with a backup battery to allow the garage doors to be opened in the case of a power outage.
The bill was introduced by Senator Bill Dodd, in response to hearing about several deaths during the 2017 California wildfires attributed to people who were unable to get their vehicles out of their garage during after the electricity failed, so had no way to flee. Senator Dodd experienced this problem himself, when he could not open his wooden garage door manually by using the garage door emergency release mechanism and required the assistance of a neighbor to get his vehicle out so he could evacuate the area. A neighbor of his had to drive through his garage door in order to escape the fire.
Not everyone was as lucky as Dodd and his neighbor and several of those 5 deaths occurred among elderly locked inside the garage and lacked the strength to manually open their heavy garage door. Those supporting this bill turned into law believes that having a battery backup for garage door openers could have saved these people’s lives by allowing the elderly and others to automatically open their garage door even if the power fails, and so they supported the bill in an effort to save future lives in the event of another fire or natural disaster.
Once the law takes effect it will include the following rules:
- The bill will forbid any person, garage door repairman or garage door repair company from selling or installing a garage door that does not have a battery backup designed for operation should the power fail.
- That the battery backup should work without any interruption should the power fail
- Should a person or garage door repair company fail to supply a battery backup with the sale or installation of the garage door they face a civil fine of $1000.00
After July 1, 2019 any garage door that is couple to with an existing garage door opener without a battery backup will be prohibited.
Won’t Back Up Batteries Raise the Cost of Garage Doors Openers and Garage Door Opener Installation?
Some people may worry that having backup batteries may raise the cost of buying and having new garage doors openers installed and garage door opener repair. While the new garage doors openers will cost more the cost will be minimal (around $150.00), which is certainly cheap if that $150.00 saves a life. In fact, some garage doors openers already in existence have battery backup, so having back up is not a new idea and a battery back-up certainly sounds like an excellent idea when you consider how heavy a garage door is and how difficult it is to open manually. Most people won’t even notice the difference in the cost of their new garage door opener or its installation, but may be grateful that their opener comes equipped with a battery backup should they find themselves in an emergency situation and need to escape with their car or through their garage when the power is out.
Maintaining Your Garage Door Battery
While it is believed that these back up batteries will save lives in an emergency situation, you need to remember that these batteries will only work if they well maintained. Having your garage door opener battery checked periodically to ensure that it is working properly will continue to help to protect you and your family from harm. If you have a garage door maintenance contract to have a garage door repair technician periodically check out your garage door opener to make sure it is functioning properly then make sure that checking the battery is part of your maintenance contract.
You can always test your garage door opener battery yourself in the following manner:
- Listen for the warning alarm that comes from your garage door opener indicating that your battery is low on juice.
- Monitor the battery backup life pointer on the wall control panel to see how much power your battery still has.
- Test the battery by unplugging the cord to your garage door opener and try and lift the door using the battery backup, should the door not open, then you need to have your battery checked by a professional and if necessarily, have that battery replaced with a new working battery.
What About Existing and Installed Garage Doors That Do Have Battery Back-Ups?
While the new law does not require all reading installed garage doors to have battery back-up you may want to consider getting a new garage door opener with battery backup. While installing a new garage door opener will not be cheaper, there are several reasons why the cost of a new opener may be worth it in the long run. Here are a few of those reasons:
- Power Outages- Should there be a power outage and you have some sort of personal emergency you will want to be able to get your car out of the garage if the need arises.
- Should some natural event or disaster occur and you have to flee your home for your own and your family’s safety and the electricity has failed or is unstable you want to be able to get your car out of the garage fast and safely.
While there is no guarantee that having a battery backup for your automated garage door opener will save lives in situations where people panic, it is clear that providing a secondary system for opening a garage door should the electricity fail has the potential of saving many lives in an emergency situation. For the elderly who simply don’t have the strengthen to manually lift a heavy garage door, having a battery backup could literally mean the difference between life and death. By signing bill 969 into law, Governor Brown just made more homes a little bit safer.