California Adds New Law, Requires Backup Batteries In All Garages

Posted: Oct 8 2019, 2:20pm CDT | by , in Technology News


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California Adds New Law, Requires Backup Batteries in All Garages
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These batteries are meant to save lives during wildfire season, which is only getting worse.

Trying to get out of your garage during a power outage is a pain in the rear.

You have to disconnect the door from the motor, lift it manually, move your car out, then go back inside to close and secure the door again so you don't have unwelcome visitors while you're away from home. When you return, if the power is still out, you get to do the whole process in reverse to get your daily driver back into the garage again.

But a new law in California does away with that entire process.

Saving Lives During Wildfire Season

California recently experienced one of its worst fire seasons in recent memory. Stretches of land in both the northern and southern regions of the state dealt with wildfires that destroyed homes and took the lives of 45 civilians and two firefighters.

While it isn't the deadliest fire season — that distinction belongs to the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, California, and took 86 lives in 2019 — it has one of the scariest statistics. When the fire cut off power to their homes, people were unable to open their heavy garage doors, resulting in five deaths. The numbers could have even been higher if it weren't for other evacuees pausing in their flight to help others escape from their homes.

Even California Senator Bill Dodd was unable to open his garage door during the 2017 wildfire season, which is what sparked him to introduce Senate Bill 969. The bill requires all garage doors in the state to be equipped with a backup battery that will make it easier to open the door and escape in the event of a power outage.

Useful for More Than Wildfire Safety

Backup batteries in garages are useful for more than just wildfire safety. Routine power outages occur more frequently than most people think. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average home experiences at least one power outage during the year and may go without power for up to four hours. That number doesn't include outages caused by natural disasters like hurricanes or wildfires.

During a routine outage, a garage door is a nuisance. During a disaster, having that backup battery could mean the difference between life and death.

Homeowner Requirements

If you had a garage door opener installed after July 1, 2019, in the state of California, you already have a backup battery in place. The law went into effect on July 1, and anything installed after that date is required to come with a backup. It's also now illegal for any business to sell garage door openers that don't come with a battery backup.

As a homeowner, you don't have to replace your current garage door opener in response to the law. If you're upgrading your equipment or replacing the door, you'll get a new system with a backup. But other than that, there are no other responsibilities that you need to worry about as a homeowner.

Moving Forward

At first, this might seem like an unnecessary expense that will make it more difficult for homeowners to afford to upgrade their garage door openers. But in the wake of the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons, this new law will almost certainly save lives.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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