Are Generators Still Legal in California?

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An RV generator before the California generator ban

If you’re boondocking, it’s best to know the local laws. You don’t want to be caught by authorities and find trouble you didn’t see coming.

Abiding by all laws while on outdoor explorations keeps you, your family, and your campsite safer. To understand and follow the recent California generator ban, you may need to do a little research.

Camping in California means having to be more careful of the surrounding environment. The state is increasingly environmentally conscious, and there are several new laws to prove the efforts are moving forward. 

If you’ve heard about generator laws in California, you may only know what you’ve heard in conversation. Instead of trusting rumors, jump into a little light research on the subject. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Generator?

You may already know what people mean when they mention a generator, but let’s clarify. A generator is a device that converts mechanical energy into electric energy.

You can plug things into a charged generator and live comfortably wherever you travel. They’re handy contraptions. You can buy gas-powered generators, diesel-powered generators, and even solar generators.

Pro Tip: If you’re in the market for a new generator, here are The Best Lightweight and Small Generators for Camping.

A generator by an RV before the California generator ban

Will Generators Be Banned in California? 

The short answer to the question is yes, but there’s more you should know. California is not banning all generators.

In December of 2021, California passed a new law prohibiting the sale of gas-powered generators in the future. 

The law doesn’t ban people currently using gas-powered generators. It also doesn’t ban people from purchasing gas-powered generators in another state and bringing them into California.

Additionally, the law also doesn’t go into effect for several years. The sale of certain generators will be banned beginning in 2028.

Are Diesel Generators Allowed in California?

The new law bans the sale of gas-powered generators. The sale of diesel and propane-powered generators is still perfectly legal.

Diesel fuel burns cleaner than regular gasoline. It produces 40 percent less CO2 into the atmosphere, so it doesn’t have such a harsh impact on the environment. 

Keep Learning: Are RVs Bad for the Environment? Click the link to find out the answer and more.

When Will the California Generator Ban Take Place? 

For California campers who don’t already own a gas-powered generator and want one, you have time before they’re not available anymore.

The ban on the sale of gas-powered generators won’t be in full swing until New Year’s Day in 2028. 

Some campers may have heard that the law goes into effect in 2024, but that deadline applies to a similar law regarding gas-powered lawn equipment.

New laws restricting gas-powered lawn equipment are another positive move to make the state a little “greener.”

What Makes a Generator California Compliant? 

The California Air Resources Board (or CARB) sets the standards for what makes a generator compliant in California. A CARB-compliant generator releases fewer harmful byproducts into the atmosphere. 

In California, you cannot sell a generator without proving that it is compliant with the standards set by the California Air Resources Board.

The only time you can use a noncompliant generator is if there is a natural disaster or some other life-threatening emergency. The California generator ban will expand on these efforts. 

Keep in Mind: Are Yamaha Generators Good for Camping? Let’s find out!

What Is an Alternative to a Generator?

You don’t have to have a generator to boondock in comfort. You could install a solar-powered setup instead.

Solar panels collect energy and store it in your battery bank, so you always have the electricity you need to run your appliances. 

You could also seek out another kind of generator. There are diesel, solar, and propane-powered generators, and they are just as reliable as a traditional gas-powered generators.

The shift may seem a little uncomfortable at first, but there are many workable alternatives. 

Man starting up his generator before the California ban

Is Solar Better Than Other Generators? 

Solar power is easier on the environment than almost any generator out there. Once you have a capable setup running, the expense to maintain the system is also pretty manageable.

A considerable battery bank can save enough power to grant you a steady energy supply for appliances like your fridge and air conditioning system. 

However, the ultimate decision on whether solar is better than a generator is up to the individual. Solar power may not fit you.

Either way, there are “cleaner” ways to turn on the lights these days, and campers should be interested in leaving their environment just as good or better than when they found it. 

Keep in Mind: Is solar power the right option for you? Learn everything you need to know about solar power for RVs.

Solar power panels are a potential option during the California generator ban

Will a California Generator Ban Help the Environment?

Banning gas-powered generators and other restrictions on combustion engines in California will positively impact the surrounding environment.

There will be less harmful emissions in the air. It will be a gradual impact, but an impact nonetheless. 

The smog these small engines produce is much greater than you might think. California regulators estimate that the new ban on gas-powered generators and lawn equipment will reduce daily smog-forming emissions by 72 tons. 

CARB states that one commercial leaf blower running for one hour produces as many harmful emissions as a standard car driving 1,000 miles. Those are the facts! Now you decide. 

Which alternative to gas-powered generators would you prefer?

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