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Understanding California’s SB969: Mandatory Battery Backups for Garage Door Openers


As of 2019, it is state law that any new installations of garage doors must include an automatic opener with a battery backup. As well, any garage door opener replaced must be one with a battery backup. In many places, battery-backup garage door openers are mostly about convenience; a simple solution to the occasional power outage. Nothing to drive legislation like this. But here in CA, it’s different; SB969 is a reaction to repeated tragedy brought by wildfires, and an attempt to save future lives as these fires continue to become more frequent and more severe.

What Prompted the Introduction of SB969 into California’s State Congress?

Senator Bill Dodd introduced the bill in 2018 after the state saw its worst wildfire season yet in 2017. This bout of wildfires killed 44 people and injured another 192. According to PG&E, just within early October 2017, 350,000 people lost power as a result of wildfire encroachment, and 5 people died specifically from not being able to get their garage door open.

Stories from evacuees of those October wildfires spread like… well, wildfire. One woman and her son nearly died because she had a specialized van for his wheelchair that she couldn’t get out of the garage because she didn’t have the strength to open it manually when the power was out. People tell stories of friends and neighbors running from house to house helping each other lift their heavy garage doors manually. 

Senator Dodd was in exactly this situation while evacuating a wildfire that season. He admits that, had a neighbor not come to help him lift his garage door, he may not have been able to get out of his garage, either. This experience prompted him to introduce SB969, which quickly had overwhelming bipartisan support.

What Compulsory Garage Door Openers with Battery Backups Means for Californians

SB969 was signed into law on 21 September 2018 by Gov. Brown, having passed the Senate 39-0 and the Assembly 64-7. It went into effect on 1 July 2019. The law’s mandates are threefold:

  1. Automatic garage door openers without a battery backup are no longer for sale in the state.
  2. Any new installation/replacement of a garage door opener must be with one that has a battery backup.
  3. Any new installation/replacement of a garage door must include a garage door opener with a battery backup.

The penalty for “offending garage door opener(s)” is $1000. However, SB969 doesn’t apply retroactively, meaning that existing garage door openers that are not compliant are grandfathered in. You are also allowed to have these grandfathered openers repaired. But when they need replaced, you’ve got to get one with a battery backup. Legally. 

So, it’s going to take a little while before every garage door opener without a battery backup is finally gone from California households. But this is a great step forward towards helping people safely evacuate during wildfires, and something every homeowner without one should put near the top of their home improvements to-do list. 

What is a Garage Door Opener with a Battery Backup Unit?

Battery backups for garage door openers are little units with a 12V battery that are meant to provide 24 hours of use after a power outage. These are allowed to be inside the garage door opener’s motor unit or on the outside near the top of the opener. LED lights indicate whether it’s charged, so that’s another quick task to add to your seasonal inspection of your garage door parts and systems.If you’re still working with a garage door opener that relies solely on electricity, it might be time to think about replacing it with a new one. Wildfires are a reality, and so is the fact that they will continue to become more devastating and more frequent. When it comes to extreme acts of nature, it’s better safe than sorry. And besides, getting a new garage door opener installed is affordable and easy!

Where Can I Find Help to Fix My Garage Door?

When facing garage door issues, homeowners need reliable solutions. Expert technicians specialize in diagnosing and repairing a wide range of garage door problems. Everything from broken springs and malfunctioning openers to damaged panels and off-track doors. With prompt and professional service, your local repair team strives to address your garage door concerns efficiently. Whether it’s a minor adjustment or a major repair, specialists are equipped with the expertise and tools needed to fix your garage door quickly. Don’t let a malfunctioning garage door disrupt your daily routine. Trust experienced technicians to provide the quality repairs you need to restore peace of mind and convenience to your home. Check your local Yelp and Google maps reviews to find the right team for you. Don’t be afraid to get multiple quotes if you’re worried about price.