Proposed California Legislation Could Ban RV Generators
New Law Prohibits Sale of ‘Small Off-Road Engines.’
In September, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill No. 1346, sending it on to Governor Gavin Newsom, who signed it into law a few weeks later. The bill prohibits the sale of “small off-road engines” (SORE) in an effort to protect the health of the public from harmful CO2 emissions. The law prohibits the sale of new gas-powered lawnmowers, leaf blowers, and other lawn care equipment starting in 2024. It will also make it illegal to sell electric generators commonly used by RVers while camping.
AB-1346 was introduced to the legislature in an effort to phase out lawn care equipment powered by small internal combustion engines. Those motors produce high emission levels of air pollutants, like oxides of nitrogen (NOx), reactive organic gases (ROG), and particulate matter (PM).
With battery-operated, zero-emissions lawnmowers, grass trimmers, and chainsaws available as alternatives, California legislators made the decision to act readily and transition to environmentally friendly options with the intent to protect public health. The bill includes $30 million to assist professional landscapers and gardeners with that replacing their current equipment.
The law broadly defines a SORE as any motor with a spark-ignition engine with 25 horsepower or less. Based on those specifications, most electric generators are subject to the impending sales ban. Recreational vehicles with a built-in generator may not be safe either, as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed an amendment to AB-1346 that would prohibit the sale of those models beginning in 2028.
The new law—and its proposed amendment—have generated opposition from the California Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association and an organization called Stay Powered California. Both seek exemptions for electric generators, not only for RVers but also for Californians who use them during blackouts and natural disasters.
The ban on small off-road engines is part of a much larger effort by the state of California to do away with all gas-powered engines. It comes a little more than a year after the governor issued an executive order to phase out the sale of gasoline-powered passenger vehicles by 2035. Neither the executive order nor AB-1346 prohibit the use of internal combustion engines, just the sale of new vehicles and equipment with gas-powered motors.
Legislators view AB-1346 as a way to encourage the adoption of zero-emission solutions for small off-road engines, including battery-operated lawn care equipment and portable power stations designed to replace generators.
Rather than burning fossil fuels, portable power stations store power in a lithium battery, charged via an AC wall outlet, 12-volt DC port, or a solar panel. Unlike gas-powered generators, these devices are completely silent and don’t produce fumes of any kind. In their current form, they also don’t provide as much power as a traditional generator and are more difficult to keep charged while in the field. New technologies are looking to overcome those challenges, however, but for now, these products come with a few limitations.
CARB is expected to vote on the RV generator amendment to AB-1346 as early as December 9. If lobbyists are unable to alter the law, the ban on the sale of generators—and RVs equipped with generators—will move ahead as planned.