California Law Update: Battery Backups Required

The California legislature passed SB 969 with overwhelming support from both sides. Starting July 1, 2019, all garage door openers sold and installed in the state of California must have a battery backup. This law was signed into effect on September 21, 2018.

Why Battery Backups?

This law is a response to several deaths during the major wildfire season of 2017. At least 5 people died because they could not get there garage doors open during the power outage. This led to their cars being stuck in the garage with no other way to evacuate. These people, mostly older, were either unable to open their door manually or did not know how to disconnect the opener.

Putting This Law Into Practice

The scope of this law is very defined. Every garage door opener sold after July 1, 2019, must include a battery backup. Every door replaced after that date must be hooked up to a battery backup capable opener or left without a garage door opener. The law is very clear, and has penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.

Several problems come up when implementing this law. The current solutions for battery backups tend to need replaced at least every 2-3 years, sometimes even earlier. Every reputable garage door company will face challenging situations when telling a customer that their functioning opener must be replaced when replacing the garage door. Consumers will still need to be knowledgeable about their garage door system, as the battery backups can still fail if not maintained. As a plus to the bill, the newer garage door openers installed will overall be a lot quieter. Battery backup openers must have a DC motor, which generally operate smoother and quieter.

Our Recommendation

We recommend installing a battery backup capable opener now on new door installations. This could save buying a new opener down the road if the garage door needs replaced for any reason. Current openers we sell that are battery backup capable include the Liftmaster WLED, Liftmaster 8550W, Liftmaster 8160WB, and the Liftmaster 8500W. We don't recommend a new garage door opener just for the sake of a battery backup unless you are unable to lift your door in a power outage. Often, a good service will make the garage door much easier to lift.

More Information

For more information, please see the excellent article linked here: https://www.dasma.com/articles/feature/californiamandatesbbu_fall2018.pdf

SECTION 1.  Section 19891 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:19891.

 (a) In addition to any other remedies permitted by law, any violations of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) of Section 19890 or Section 19892 shall be subject to a civil penalty of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per opener installed, manufactured, sold, or offered for sale which is not in compliance with Section 19890 or 19892.

(b) In addition to any other remedies permitted by law, any violations of subdivision (d) or (h) of Section 19890 shall be subject to a civil penalty of five hundred dollars ($500) per opener installed and operational, that is not in compliance with Section 19890.

(c) In addition to any other remedies permitted by law, a seller who violates the notice requirements of Section 1102.6 of the Civil Code, relating to automatic garage door openers, shall be subject to a civil penalty of five hundred dollars ($500).

(d) Court proceedings may be initiated by the building department of the local agency with jurisdiction over enforcement of building standards, by affected consumers, or by the district attorney. Civil penalties assessed shall be payable to the local agency initiating the proceedings to enforce this chapter to offset the costs to the agency related to court proceedings. If an affected consumer initiates the proceeding, the civil penalties shall be payable to the consumer.

SEC. 2.  Section 19892 is added to the Health and Safety Code, to read:19892.  

(a) On or after July 1, 2019, no person, corporation, or entity shall manufacture for sale in this state, sell, offer for sale at retail or wholesale, or install in this state a residential automatic garage door opener that does not have a battery backup function that is designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage. The battery backup function shall operate in a manner so that the automatic garage door opener is operational without interruption during an electrical outage.

(b) This section applies to all automatic garage door openers manufactured and sold for use in any residence and other residential applications of automatic garage door openers manufactured for commercial purposes.

(c) On or after July 1, 2019, no replacement residential garage door shall be installed in a manner that connects the replacement door to an existing residential automatic garage door opener that does not meet the requirements set forth in subdivision (a), regardless of the date of manufacture of the residential automatic garage door opener.

The full text of the law copied from CA Legislative website.