Requisite Battery Backups for Garage Door Openers
Written By: Hafsa Ammar
In 2019, the Californian Senate and Assembly passed (Senate Bill) SB 969 to make battery-operated backup units mandatory for every newly installed Garage Door Opener.
Reasons behind the introduction of SB 969
Usually, machinery is upgraded for convenience and ease, while battery backups are installed in cases of emergencies and power outages. However, rarely, if ever, do we see a state taking legislative action for such a cause. The reason behind this bill is the tragedy that swept through California in 2017 – the Wildfires.
Californian Wildfires 2017
Over the years, they have become more aggressive, and the mortality rate keeps rising. In 2017 these fires took the lives of 44 individuals while injuring another 192. Power and Gas lines took quite a lot of damage, leaving thousands of people isolated, and without any electricity. It is reported that 5 unfortunate individuals lost their lives when they could not open their garage doors manually. They were trapped inside their homes, facing the fear of smoke inhalation and uncertain death, and could not get their cars out of the garage to escape the blistering heat of the fire. Most victims claimed by natural disasters such as wildfires are the elderly, the differently-abled, and the kids.
A story that made its rounds on media pages was of a mother who was unable to get her disabled son into the car; as his customized wheelchair was in their van – trapped inside the garage doors she was unable to open. She is one of many who suffered.
Usually, garage doors have an automatic release mechanism for opening manually in case of power shortage, but they are too heavy to be manhandled by the aged.
Bill Dodd, the senator who introduced the bill in 2018, was another unwilling victim of this issue. While presenting his proposal on SB 969, he stated that he could manually open his garage doors because he had help from a friend; the case would be quite different and definitely more tragic if he had to deal with the situation by himself. Once Senator Dodd brought up the matter to the Senate, he received overwhelming support for his cause.
Senate Bill 969
Approved by Governor Jerry Brown on 21st September 2018, the Bill is titled “Automatic Garage Door Openers: Backup Batteries”. Passed by both the Californian Senate (37-0) and Assembly (64-7), the bill has the following features.
Features of SB 969
Going into effect on July 1st, 2019, the Law requires
- All new garage door openers – sold or installed – need to be equipped with backup battery openers.
- Already existing or in-use garage door openers do not need to be replaced with battery backup units till the time they are being fully replaced at which point a BBU becomes a legal requirement.
- From and after July 1st, 2019, no manufacturer, corporation, entity, or salesman is allowed to manufacture, sell, or install a garage door opener without a battery backup.
- Failure to comply with SB 969 will lead to paying out a penalty.
Penalty for Violating SB 969
The penalty for going against the bill’s provisions will be $1000.
What are Garage Door Battery Backup Units?
A battery backup unit is a small 12-volt battery installed in Garage Door Openers’ motors. They are usually equipped to work for 24 uninterrupted hours in a power outage.
Features of a Battery Backup Unit (BBU)
These features are open to change depending on the type of battery and manufacturer but displayed below are the most fairly common characteristics.
- Cost – $300
- Lifespan of one to two years
- 12-volt capacity Display of 3 LED Lights to demonstrate charging status
- Green (Fully Charged)
- Yellow (Charging)
- Red (Low on Battery; Critical Issue)