Tuesday, November 28, 2023


California generator ban ignites comments from our readers

A few weeks ago RVtravel.com reported on the upcoming ban on the sale of most RV generators in California. Simply put, in 2024, portable generators (including those installed in motorhomes) must produce significantly fewer emissions. By 2028, generators may not produce ANY emissions. The 2024 ruling may be moot. Cummins, the principal motorhome generator manufacturer, says it can’t meet those requirements and will stop producing gasoline- and propane-fired generators for California sale. We asked for reader comments about the situation. Were the comments shocking? Judge for yourself.

Some had questions

Andrew M. wrote, “I currently have a 2019 Class C with a frame-mounted generator. I have at least two more years before the effective date. What happens when that date comes for RVs that we’re purchased with generators? Will they be grandfathered in or will we be forced to not use them?”

A good question, and happily the answer should be reassuring. The ruling will make the sale of such generators illegal, not the use of existing equipment. So those of us with existing generators should be good to go. Provided, of course, we can afford the gas to run them!

But there still could be problems for existing owners

In our reader comments we found some pointing out a potential problem for those who already own generators. Dominik M. put it this way: “As the RV owner they’re just making it harder. We’re going to have to travel out of state in order to get our gas generators worked on. My generator is framed and wired directly to the RV, so I’m going to have to travel out of state in order to do it.”

Dominik may have a good point. Folks in California with gas-fueled lawn equipment are finding it harder to get their equipment serviced. Why is that? As that state’s mandate for selling only “Zero Emissions Equipment” goes into play, equipment retailers are stocking up the back room with batteries. Fewer and fewer gas equipment parts are being stocked, and in many cases, service departments are being shut down. The same may be foreseen for generator service facilities.

Mixed reactions to the ruling

The new generator ruling has lead to plenty of upset reader comments. Chris B. contributed two pennies in his thoughts. “I think CARB doesn’t want to hear it. But I would argue that generators in RVs should be exempt until such time that battery technology has the capacity to replace generators. The amount of time RV generators are used in the life of an RV seems to be of little impact to the environment in the long run. I had 100 hours on my generator on a 3-year-old RV. How bad did that hurt the environment? CARB should recommend an incentive for manufacturing solar generators instead of gas. That would move the right direction without totally upsetting the industry. My 2 cents….”

With what may be an effective ban on generator sales in California, sooner than later, we asked about RV purchases. Some California RV dealers swear that with the generator ban, many folks simply won’t buy a motorhome in the state, and will go elsewhere to purchase. We asked for reader comments on that. Typical of many, here’s Kyle S.’ thought: “A generator is necessary for my off-the-grid exploring of desert and mountains. I currently have an onboard generator in my trailer. I would definitely drive out of California to buy an RV with an onboard generator for my next purchase if they are unavailable here.”

Not everyone hates the law

The ban doesn’t appear to be distressing to all, at least from some readers’ comments. Michael M. says, “I hate generators. I’m happy to see this rule go into effect. Hopefully it will push the industry to create a zero emission generator. In the past they had no incentive. I live in California and would not drive elsewhere to purchase an RV with a generator. I have a class B. In six years I have used the generator once.”

Stephen H. chimed in a similar tune. “I have a small motorhome with an Onan 4000. Would LOVE to be able to operate 100% without it. I only use it for the microwave, and, very rarely, for the AC or for an emergency battery charge. I fully support California’s laws and hope they’re adopted nationwide. People should stop whining about it and get resourceful with practical non-generator alternatives. Then, soon we would have all the power we need, but WITHOUT the noise, smell and vibration the gennys bring.”

“Practical alternatives”?

But there’s the rub: Just what is a “practical non-generator alternative”? Some had suggestions. Gordon F. wrote of his experiences: “Just tried out our lithium/solar upgrade. I have 400 watts of solar and 200 Ah of lithium battery capacity. I spent five consecutive days dry camping. If I had twice the battery capacity I would have not have had to use my generator at all. As it was, we only ran the generator for less than an hour a day. I think with advancement in battery technology, RVing will be able to get by without generators. There are already Class B motorhomes without generators. The Winnebago Bolt is an example. The RV industry will adapt.”

Mike S. put it simply: “Get to work on your hydrogen generators!”

It’s a long way from gas and LP generators to hydrogen, at least from what we can see. Edward G. makes a suggestion that might “tide the industry and RVers over” until truly workable alternatives are developed. “Although it would take some effort to redesign into a new RV, a generator driven by the motorhome’s engine, with all the proper pollution controls in place it would not be in violation of the new law. For travel trailers, using a tow vehicle equipped with a generator driven by the engine could do the same. Ford’s F-150 Hybrid with 7.2kW generator is the best example of what is available today. Not perfect, but a start.”

A start. Ready or not, California’s new rulings are going to have an effect on industry and users. And as the saying goes, “Where California goes, other states follow.” It would seem the RV industry, if it wants to stay in business, will need to put more emphasis into helping develop solutions.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Paul Breitag (@guest_181058)
1 year ago

I doubt very much if you’ll be able to register a RV with a generator sold in another state in California.

Solar Steve (@guest_180906)
1 year ago

We have had a 28 foot class C for 10 years, which I set up with 600 watts solar and 4 extra batteries added where the generator would have been, plus a 2000 watt inverter. Just went 4 nights in very rainy weather using the propane furnace with electric fan, and the microwave as needed, lights etc. I would not want a generator anymore.

Joe Hernandez (@guest_180754)
1 year ago

The next thing they’ll do is raise the electrical rates first thing Outlaw generators raise the price of solar panels text you every which way you can think people are just leaving California the only thing people that’ll be left are the ones on welfare

Joe Hernandez (@guest_180757)
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Hernandez

Tax you every which way you can think

Chuck (@guest_180629)
1 year ago

Across the spectrum of energy generation & storage, the current technology model transfers toxic lithium & other metallic waste created by California’s rushed virtue signaling to the 3rd world. Internal combustion generators fueled by LNG (propane) is a much cleaner, more efficient & available solution. LNG engines produce primarily water vapor. They are quieter than liquid fueled engines and the technology is easily available for conversions of existing equipment…Plus engine life is extended by many thousands of hours. Win/win for everyone.

Don Sayer (@guest_180592)
1 year ago

How many times have you been in a Forest service campground where generators are allowed 9-9 ? Solar allows me to never need to use my generator again. Just as we saw during Covid-19 mask mandates, enforcement of the ban will not work. My pet peeves,
Nonstop barking when owners leave dogs while going to town for supplies.
Generator noise so they can watch videos.

chris (@guest_180593)
1 year ago
Reply to  Don Sayer

Running a generator to watch TV is like swatting flies with a bazooka. And I’ve seen this a lot. Drives me nuts.

Gary (@guest_180671)
1 year ago
Reply to  chris

Just ignore it. It’s a free country.

Sherrie Sonora (@guest_180512)
1 year ago

Of all the things Cali could be concerned about….
RV generators ?
Is that ur solution to get the eyesore RV’s off the curbs..
I Do Not see this as an environmental.concern…
It smells like somethin else the state has drummed up..
A little rv smoke n mirrors

Lesley Syle (@guest_180354)
1 year ago

Buy your generators in Arizona. And, your lawn 2 and 4 cycle machines.

Brandon (@guest_180351)
1 year ago

Lol, this recent storm highlighted the need for gas generators. A mobile home park as well as regular residents and nursing home were out of power for two weeks in Pollock pines California area. Good times. There is no battery that will last that long or power 45 mobile homes. Not to mention the limitations on voltage of those mobile homes.
These California legislators aren’t living in rural or country. They make city laws for country living folks. Doesn’t work like that. Never will. Not to mention the costs of such systems. Prohibitive to say the least. You would need a semi trailer electric battery truck to run a small mobile home park for two weeks. Anyone got that kinda money?

Paul Breitag (@guest_181057)
1 year ago
Reply to  Brandon

An exception is if it is permanently mounted, on the ground, it is to be allowed.

JAMES (@guest_180348)
1 year ago

To bad California didn’t sink into the ocean like the prediction in the 1970’s

Gilbert (@guest_180297)
1 year ago

Folks like every thing we do someone wants to put there two cents. Because someone has to collect from their new innovation,and we have to pay. Think we’re getting thrown solar power in our face we’re not ready. I don’t have 40 grand. It took us a little over 200 years to ruin this beautiful world. Now you want to renew it. Guess what it’s going to take a little bit. You have to the rest of the world. Because California in not paying for the clean up.

CWM (@guest_180296)
1 year ago

It would be impossible to run an air conditioner without a generator. This could easily be a dangerous situation for some people. If all campgrounds were required to supply electric hookups that would reduce the need for using a generator. Like that’s going to happen.
Why not ban refrigerator trucks that run motors for cooling.
Generators to provide backup power in an emergency should be banned. Like that makes any sense.
At what point has legislated bans become more a political issue than a real solution?
Going after low use RV genny’s doesn’t strike me as a hot priority, except for political capital.

Wood (@guest_180222)
1 year ago

So, because I live in an area that experiences 5 to 10 days a year with no power because of public safety power outages…
I need a generator to keep my freezers frozen….
No wonder the people are moving out of this state…

Tony (@guest_180217)
1 year ago

California wants to go to all electric and that may look good on paper but what about rolling blackouts if your cars not charged you don’t go to work? And how do we dispose of all the lithium batteries?

Glenn Oliveira (@guest_180210)
1 year ago

One guy wrote that he had 100 hours on a 3 year old rv generator and claimed that wasn’t much? I would say that is way above average. Most “glampers” myself sometimes included, are at sites that have electrical plug in. It’s all just BS! As soon as the politicians and Hollywood elites stop flying their jets all over the world and China does something about their pollution problem, my generator isn’t going to kill the planet!

James H. (@guest_180211)
1 year ago
Reply to  Glenn Oliveira

I stand with your comments 100%.

Merlin (@guest_180182)
1 year ago

Can’t wait till they come out with a hydrogen fuel cell generator. Won’t miss the stinky poisonous gasses and noise of gas generators.

chris (@guest_180183)
1 year ago
Reply to  Merlin

I don’t miss them right now with solar.

KennyT (@guest_180110)
1 year ago

As more regulations on vehicles of all kinds come into effect, the people of CA will find we don’t have either enough power plants or a grid capable of delivering the power if we did produce it. Simply put, the wires that deliver the power wont be large enough to handle the additional demand….. period

Don cox (@guest_180208)
1 year ago
Reply to  KennyT

In the early days of the Horseless Carriage the same kind of arguments were used against it. It was hard to find gas to even buy, they were noisy, dirty, scared the horses. And so many people said why would I want one of those things, I got a perfectly good horse

chris (@guest_180209)
1 year ago
Reply to  Don cox

I remember all the complaining about seat belts. Smoking in public places. Greenpeace. The list is long. People hate change, even if it’s good for them.

Captain Quirk (@guest_180717)
1 year ago
Reply to  chris

Not all change is good.

J J (@guest_180095)
1 year ago

Sounds good to me, can’t stand the sound of a generator clanging away while I am trying to enjoy nature while camping. I can go indefinitely on solar. You just learn to use a little less to make it work. Which is really remembering to turn lights off, a little less lighting at night, cook without a microwave, and of course more propane used to run the fridge. It’s not hard people. I also camp near the beach in warmer months if not hooked up, staying inside and running an AC all day defeats the purpose.

Carson (@guest_180072)
1 year ago

California’s antipollution laws are utterly topsy-turvy. They should be encouraging the reduction of carbon emissions by promoting mass transit to reduce the number of commuter vehicles on the highways. Instead, they choose to force the comparatively insignificant number of RV owners to stop using 200cc generators and recharge their battery banks by firing up their 3,500-6,000cc vehicle engines and using the alternators. Virtue signalling for political posturing has turned the state into an Alice in Wonderland nuthouse.

Captain Quirk (@guest_180721)
1 year ago
Reply to  Carson

Totally agree. This is political theater, not actual environmental improvement.

Mike (@guest_180057)
1 year ago

The truth is, I spent $6,000 trying to go solar on my RV, with 7000 watt inverter, 400Ah of lithium and 800 watts of panels, and it still will not run my Air Conditioner any longer than 2 hours without needing a complete recharge, which by that time of day, is too late. I know our environment is about to collapse, but shouldn’t we turn off all the cars on the freeway first? This is not a practical solution to emissions, it is political. Don’t want to give up that gasoline tax! It practically runs the State of California! Aha! Motive!

Gary (@guest_180833)
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike

Maybe turn off the a/c. Might not believe this but many people went camping before a/c was common.

Bob F (@guest_180033)
1 year ago

When the world turned, all the nuts rolled to California…

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.