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California’s Generator Ban: What You Need to Know

Whether you’re camping in a remote location or a storm knocks out power, there are many reasons to crank up a generator. Having a generator can be tremendously helpful during an emergency or when you want to go off-grid. However, the California generator ban will limit the sale of gas-powered generators in the future.

Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about California’s generator ban and how it will affect campers in the Golden State.

What Is the California Generator Ban?

The California generator ban (AB-1346) is legislation the California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed in October 2021. The purpose of AB-1346 is to end the sale of “small off-road engines,” including generators, in California.

Instead of making an immediate ban, the plan uses a series of graduated steps to phase out portable gas-powered engines. However, those who already own a gas-powered generator or off-road engine are grandfathered in for future use.

GAS GENERATORS AND MORE BANNED IN CALIFORNIA

Pro Tip: Many RVers rely on gas generators for off-grid power. Check out The Complete Guide to RV Generators to learn why.

What You Need to Know About the California Generator Ban

Many individuals far outside of California’s capital, Sacramento, will feel the impacts of AB-1346. Whether you’re planning to visit or you live in California, there are some things you need to know about this generator ban. Let’s take a look!

Why Is California Banning Small Engines?

California has a reputation for being one of the most progressive states in the United States regarding environmental legislation. In the past, legislation for small off-road engines has been sparse. However, research indicates that small gas-powered engines aren’t beneficial for the environment.

The legislation claims that using some small engines for an hour can create similar nitrogen levels and reactive organic gasses as a passenger vehicle driving 1,100 miles. Government officials felt with so many of these small engines in the state it was time to create legislation.

person selling gas-powered lawn equipment and generators
The generator ban prohibits the sale of equipment with small gas-powered engines, such as lawn equipment and generators.

When Is the Ban in Effect?

Despite AB-1346 passing in October 2021, it doesn’t go into effect until 2024 for leaf blowers and lawnmowers and 2028 for generators. This means homeowners and business owners have several years to make the necessary adjustments to their equipment.

Richard Ogawa, owner and CEO of Gardenland Power Equipment, has already taken steps toward replacing gas-powered tools with batteries for his business. However, he’s worried for the other companies that haven’t. He says, “If I wasn’t invested in the battery like we are today, I would be really worried.”

What Small Engines Is California Banning?

The primary target of the California generator ban is lawn equipment. This includes lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and weed eaters. However, AB-1346 also has legislation around the sale of portable generators

California air polution caused by generators and gas-powered engines
Gas-powered engines contribute to air pollution in California.

Marc Berman, California State Assemblymember, states, “Leaf blowers, lawnmowers, and other equipment with small gas-powered engines emit staggering levels of air pollution. These noisy machines are terribly disruptive to communities across California, and the workers who breathe in exhaust from this equipment day in and day out face disproportionate health risks, including asthma, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.”

How Will the California Ban Affect RVers?

The California generator ban goes fully into effect in 2028 and will directly impact many RVers, especially those who utilize gas-powered portable generators. However, the ban only limits the sale of these small engines and not their use.

If you already own a gasoline-powered generator or acquired one from another state, you can use it while RVing in California. Once the ban goes into effect, manufacturers will be unable to sell gasoline generators in RVs in California. Manufacturers may have to swap these units for diesel or propane generators because these units are exempt from the legislation.

Pro Tip: Never heard of a propane generator? Here’s everything you need to know: How to Use Propane Generators for RV: The Basics

diesel generator for Class A motorhome
Diesel, as well as propane units, are exempt from the generator ban

What Generators Are Allowed in California?

The California generator ban limits the sale of gasoline-powered generators starting in 2028. However, it doesn’t limit their use. Purchasing gasoline-powered generators will require a trip to a neighboring state with more relaxed generator laws.

It’s crucial to know that not all portable generators will be under the ban. Diesel and propane generators are exempt from the legislation. These generators are an excellent option for those dependent on generators as a power source. 

Alternative Power Solutions

Homeowners have harnessed power from the sun to offset energy costs for decades. In recent years, many RVers have turned toward solar technologies to power their rigs also.

What Goes Into an Off-Grid Power System? Overland RV Solar Power System With 12V Air Conditioning

Solar power is an efficient way to keep batteries charged, and running high-powered appliances like air conditioners is becoming more cost-effective and efficient using these alternative means.

Getting the same results from solar as a $500 portable generator could cost $3,000+ once you factor in all the components and lithium batteries. However, the longevity, low maintenance, and quality of your camping experience are just a few of the benefits you’ll get from an investment like this.

Pro Tip: Solar generators are an environmentally-friendly RV power option, but Can a Solar Generator for RV Replace Your Gas Generator? Find out!

Will the Ban Change Your Travel Plans?

While the California generator ban will cause manufacturers of small engines to change their technologies, it shouldn’t force you to change your travel plans. You can continue to use a generator you already own. However, if you’re a Californian planning to get into off-grid camping after the ban goes into effect, you’ll need to find another source of off-grid power. (Don’t worry, we’re sure by 2028, solar and lithium off-grid power will be even easier and cheaper!)

Tom and Cait in California
Don’t let the generator ban stop you from enjoying California’s beauty.

California offers some of the most incredible national parks and endless opportunities for adventures. There’s so much to see, do, and experience in the Golden State. So don’t let the California generator ban change your travel plans!

Are you trying to decide between an onboard or portable RV generator? Read our full analysis here: Onboard RV Generator vs. Portable: Which Is Better?

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Dan Guyor

Tuesday 8th of August 2023

Finally, someone who has read the document banning gas generators in Cali. I've seen commentors on other RV lifestyle You-Tube influencers and RV lifestyle bloggers who loudly declair that they will never camp again in California because of the ban. That's ridiculous. Thank you for pointing out that the ban is only on the sale of generators and other Small Off-Road Engines (SORE). Use of SORE has not been addressed, only to say more pollutants come from these engines than small passenger cars. It would be cost prohibitive to put catalytic convertors on the small engines so banning the sale makes more sense. It will be interesting to see which way the RV market goes in 2028 when Fleetwood and Thor can't sell motorhomes in Cali with gas generators.

Steve Felt

Monday 7th of August 2023

California regulators are wackadoodles. I used to own a lawnservice and I can’t imagine how they plan to provide enough power to commercial mowers let alone within the time frame they alotted. I’m sure it will be a futile attempt and a learning experience for them but I sure am happy I am not a resident of that state. No way will a $3000 solar system run your RV air conditioning either, so in essence they’re eliminating boondocking in CA for everyone who buys a new RV after 2028 in CA. Or you going to add $20,000 in panels and batteries? Good news for campground owners.

John

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

I forgot to mention that the power company is installing free meter mounted transfer switches with a 25’ cord and is subsidizing the purchase of a gasoline generator in California. Interesting since a ban is coming. They must know the grid will need help.

John

Monday 26th of December 2022

Diesel generators will only be useful in rigs that have the fuel required. Solar will never take the place of the generator. Who wants to park in the sun all the time? That just means more A/C is needed. Since it is always a problem dealing with solar panel efficiency angle one cannot get a lot of solar power. I have built off grid flat roof systems up to 4800 watts rated fir 22 years.

Keith Silva

Tuesday 11th of October 2022

What everyone needs to remember is that Solar panels require unobstructed Bright light, ie.. Non-Overcast conditions, Not shaded etc... Otherwise they'll lose about 40 to 80% of there usable capacity which is in most cases 80% of their name plate value. Also, they don't provide charging at night and charging takes time. As an Electrician and Generation Tech I can tell you in short that unless drastic technology break-thrus occur, solar only charging for your power system is NOT possible...