California SB 969

California has recently had its most destructive fire season with widespread power outages that made it difficult and or impossible for some to escape. With the loss of electricity, garage door openers were impacted and deaths were attributed to homeowners becoming trapped and who perished because they could not open their garage doors manually.

Reports from the 2017 Northern California fires recounted stories of neighbors stopping to help raise garage doors for elderly people who didn’t have the strength to manually open their garage door, and a mother who struggled to get her disabled son into a car because their custom van was in the garage they couldn’t open.

On September 1, 2018 Governor Brown signed SB 969 into law. This legislation requires newly sold or installed garage door openers in residential applications to have battery backup up in the state of California.

California SB 969 Facts!

• The law goes into effect July 1, 2019.

• The law applies to all new garage doors and garage door opener installations.

• Homeowners must install a battery backup opener when a new door is installed or when they replace their existing opener.

• Existing openers in use will not have to be replaced with battery backup openers unless the door is being replaced.

• 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 the state of California a residential automatic garage door opener that does not a have battery backup function that is designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage.

• Failure to follow this will result in a civil penalty of $1000 per opener installed and operational.

Here is what was signed into law:

This bill, beginning July 1, 2019, requires an automatic garage door opener that is manufactured for sale, sold, offered for sale, or installed in a residence to have a battery backup function that is designed to operate when activated because of an electrical outage. This bill would make a violation of those provisions subject to a civil penalty of $1,000. This bill will, on and after July 1, 2019, prohibit a replacement residential garage door from being installed in a manner that connects the door to an existing garage door opener that does not meet the requirements of these provisions.

Future Impact:

Homeowners will have to test the functionality of the garage door opener batteries – Homeowners will have to remove and replace garage door opener batteries (including proper disposal) – Listing and Selling Real Estate agents will have additional request for repair items – Other issues yet to be determined

With the help of increasing tax credits, higher energy prices, and falling costs for solar panels, solar energy is getting exciting. Below is a checklist that you can use to see if solar energy is right for your home. And if not, this article discusses other options for going solar.

Under the right conditions, putting solar collectors on your roof can be an attractive investment which can save you on the cost of supplying electricity or hot water to your home. But the catch is “under the right conditions.” So what are these “right conditions”? Well, the more questions below that you can answer “yes” to, the better the fit you are for adding solar panels to your home:

LOCATION: Do you live in a location that gets a lot of sunshine? The more sunlight per day you get, the better for the economics of installing a system. So southern states in areas that are not prone to being cloudy are the best.

ROOF ORIENTATION: Does your roof face south? Southern facing roofs are the best, as they get sunlight all day long as the sun travels across the sky.

ROOF SIZE: Do you have a roof that is not only large, but is free of obstructions such as vent pipes?

ROOF SHADING: Is your home away from trees that could cast shadows on all or part of your roof during large parts of the day?

ROOF AGE: Is your roof fairly new? You don’t want to put solar panels (which typically come with a 25-year warranty) over a roof that is going to need to be replaced anytime soon. Or else you may need to replace your roof as part of your solar project.

STATE TAX CREDITS & INCENTIVES: Federal tax credits apply to all states, but state tax credits and incentives can also be significant, and they vary from state to state. Do you live in a state with large credits and incentives? Here is a useful link where you can find the incentives that are offered for your particular state: state incentives

UTILITY POWER COSTS: Is your home connected to a utility with high electricity costs? The higher the cost, the more attractive it is to generate your own electricity (or hot water).  Helpful accessories: solar-powered home appliances.

PERSONAL TAX ELIGIBILITY: Are you in a personal tax situation such that you can take full advantage of the available federal tax credits and incentives? You may need to check with a tax accountant to be sure.  This is because of accounting rules such as solar tax credits not being allowed to be used to reduce your tax liability below your Alternative Minimum Tax.

INSURANCE COVERAGE: Does your homeowner insurance cover solar collectors?


If you want to look closer at whether putting solar panels on your home makes sense for your particular situation, then here is a link to an online calculator that you can use: Solar Estimate. With this, you enter your actual zip code, local utility, average electric bill, etc. and it calculates the expected solar radiation, tax credits, and expected economics for your specific home.


If you like the idea of solar energy, but for one reason or another you want an alternative to actually putting solar collectors on your roof, here are a few other options that you can consider that will still allow you to participate in solar energy:

1) Buying “Green” Power: Some utilities give you the choice to buy green power by adding an additional charge to your monthly bill.

2) Community Solar Projects: if you don’t have space to put up solar panels, or if you live in an apartment or a townhouse, you can subscribe to a community solar garden.

3) Investing in a Solar Company: another way to be involved in solar is by being an investor in a company that is in the solar energy business.


We hope this article has helped you to understand whether adding solar energy is right for your home, and what are the other ways that you can participate in the growing trend towards solar energy.