Battery backup is now a requirement for all newly installed garage door openers in California. As of July 2019, all residents who replace their garage door/opener must have it or face a penalty of up to $1,000 per violation (per SB 969). Battery backup systems for garage doors operate during power outages and allow residents to safely evacuate during an emergency, such as a fire, earthquake, severe storm, or any other urgent situation.
Without battery backup during a power outage, your only option is to open the garage door manually. This is not only difficult, but also dangerous if you’re not familiar with the process or there’s little time to escape. If using battery backup, you have two installation options:
Battery Backup Accessories
A backup battery that can be installed separately, after the garage door opener has been installed. Many models can run up to 50 cycles in one day after an outage and fully charge within 48 hours. One model offered by Genie can be added to certain models, but not all garage door openers can be retrofit. Also, battery longevity depends on several factors including environmental temperature and frequency of use.
Built-In Battery Backup
A range of leading-brand garage door openers include built-in batteries. Genie, LiftMaster, Chamberlian, Mastercraft, and other brands include a 12-volt battery as an option when purchasing an opener. LiftMaster introduced the option in 2003. These backup options provide enough standby power to operate a door for 20 open/close cycles in 24 hours.
Some garage door backup batteries are installed as an additional component outside the main opener, while others are built into the motor housing. Built-in batteries are smaller than ones installed over the motor. Each battery is unique to its respective garage door opener, so is not interchangeable with other products.
How to Know a Battery Backup Is Working
Knowing how to use your battery backup is important for safety reasons. It will only power your garage door if it is functioning. You can test the unit by listening for a warning tone that indicates a low battery life. The battery life indicator on the wall panel can provide insights into system status as well. Also, you can test the garage door opener by unplugging it and operating the door manually. If the door does not work, you can suspect a problem with the battery backup system.
Other Things to Know
For LiftMaster and Chamberlain garage door openers, the battery backup system provides indicators on how it is functioning. Solid green means the battery is fully charged while flashing green means it is charging. If the opener has lost power, the light will be solid orange. Flashing orange means power is low and solid red means the battery should be replaced.
It’s important to stay on top of your garage door opener backup battery’s status. Battery backups tend to last two to three years and may not last as long as designed. Like a garage door and opener, the backup must also be maintained. Battery backup is an additional consideration required of all garage door owners, but it is run on openers with a DC motor. You can therefore expect quieter and smoother operation.