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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.

WE HAD ENOUGH - Here's What We Really Think Of California's Generator Ban

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.

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

What You Need to Know About the California Generator Ban

Many individuals far outside of California’s capital of 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 Generators?

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 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-camp-life improvements are just a few of the benefits you’ll get from an investment like this.

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 affect, 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!)

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!

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

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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