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California RV generator rules already having impact

As we reported in December, new generator rules by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) could affect the RV industry. The ruling doesn’t ban the use of portable generators in the Golden State, but it does significantly hamper generator sales come 2024. Date aside, the RV generator industry giant, Cummins, has already frightened RV manufacturers with an announcement on the matter.

No feasible replacements

Generators aren’t the only small engines to get hit by the ruling. By 2024, the sale of gas-fired lawn equipment will be completely banned in California. For the most part, if you want a leaf blower, lawn mower, etc., you’ll have to buy “ZEE”. ZEE stands for Zero Emissions Equipment, and essentially means rechargeable battery equipment. Initially, CARB had intended to throw generators in with all other equipment. Generator manufacturers successfully argued that there is no feasible ZEE replacement for gasoline- or LP-fueled generators. CARB acknowledged publicly that such a ruling will mean hardships for the RV industry, and so allowed for the some slack-cutting.

But the new generator rules only cut so much slack. By 2024, CARB mandates significant reductions in exhaust emissions from portable generators. During the rule-making process, the RV industry implored CARB to give motorhome manufacturers a break. Instead of classifying on-board RV generators as “portable,” and therefore subject to the new rules, they asked these be exempt. When the new rule was approved by CARB, no such exemption was granted. Come 2028, only ZEE generators will be allowed for sale in California. Does your RV generator sit on the ground and connect to your rig with an extension cord? Or is it “frame-mounted” and directly wired to your RV? Either must meet the new requirements to be sold in California.

Cummins is the lynchpin

The principal manufacturer of frame-mounted motorhome generators is Cummins. Even before CARB voted in the final generator rules, the RV industry gave the governing board a warning. Citing CARB’s new generator rules standards, industry officials wrote that while the standard might be “technologically feasible” to reach, “it is unlikely to be complied with by Cummins-Onan, given the cost of developing a compliant engines[sic] cannot be supported by the very small generator business in California.”

The statement “it is unlikely” has now become true. Earlier this month, Cummins wrote to its RV industry customers a to-the-point letter. The gist of the letter is in two sentences: “Cummins understands the requirements and continues to investigate potential options / responses, while continuing to support the needs of our joint end customers. However, given the current regulatory timeline, differing standards between CARB and EPA, and the significant changes to the generator the standards would necessitate, Cummins will not have any gas/LP/EVAP product(s) that meets the new regulations readily available on January 1, 2024.”

Included in the letter was a list of Cummins-Onan generators that are affected by the CARB generator rules. They are 2.6, 2.8, 3.6, 4.0, 5.5, 6.5, and 7.7 kW generators. Under CARB’s rules, NO diesel-fueled generators will be affected.

Fallout for industry—and consumers

What does Cummins’ decision mean for the RV industry? The RV Industry Association says that some 10,000 RVs equipped with generators are sold in California each year. Of those, close to 80% are gasoline- or LP-fueled units. Translated, come 2024, thousands of RVs normally equipped with generators will be without them.

The financial implications to industry are huge. “Absent generators, we anticipate over one billion dollars in lost sales in California for just the 2024 model year,” said RVIA in a letter to CARB. “This loss of product will impact RV manufacturers in the U.S. and will have dire consequences for California-based dealers and their many employees.” RVIA anticipates that without generators to be had, customers will drive out of California and buy generator-equipped rigs in other states. Last week, RVIA requested emergency relief from CARB, once again asking them to exempt in-frame (essentially motorhome) generators from the 2024 deadline.

And what about electric-powered RVs?

Interestingly enough, their request letter indicated just what the RV industry views as the practicality of electric RVs. CARB’s generator rules would require zero-emissions generators come 2028. “We continue to believe that zero emission alternatives to traditional gas-powered RV generators will only make sense if and when the engine used to propel the motorhome down the road is replaced with an electric drivetrain. We do not know when this time will come. It is not mandatory that RVs be electrified for propulsion. We think 2035 is the earliest we will see electric RVs hit the market in any significant way.” (Italics ours)

Whether or not CARB will listen to industry’s request for relief remains to be seen. While RVers will still be able to use generators, if the new generator rules are left in place, in less than two years it may become difficult to buy a motorhome in California.

Your thoughts?

What do you think? How critical is an on-board generator in your RV world? If you’re from California, would you travel out of state to buy a generator-equipped RV? Fill out the form below and note, “California generator” on the subject line.

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California generator ban – What does it mean for RVers?

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Lemonman
1 month ago

terrible situation in California

K. R. V.
2 months ago

Will the last level headed person to leave the ungolden state please put out the candle!

The Spices
2 months ago

What I have to say about this and CA cannot not be placed in print or I will likely be banned. These politicians don’t have a clue. The electrical grid is already overloaded. How will everyone charge all these new electrically driven devices??? Too bad, CA was once a great state and we would like to see some things there BUT – no thanks.

Stacey
2 months ago

If you buy an RV in California you are already paying thousands more than someone buying elsewhere. I paid 29K in Ohio, taxes included, for the same model that would have cost me 37K, taxes NOT included, in California. The plane ticket from LA to was Cincinnati was only a few hundred and i saved 8K. Switching the registration back to California the next year did cost me around $1500 but I still saved 6.5K.

AB Texas
3 months ago

The often heard trope about boomers being entitled was always a little overblown in my opinion, but half the comments here really illustrate the kernel of truth in the stereotype. Amazing to me that grown adults here aren’t embarrassed to be seen stomping their feet and crying because one (1) state in the Union has adjusted their rules making their big toys slightly more inconvenient to use. Can’t say I’d be surprised If I eventually see some pathetic version of the “Come and Take It” flag with the cannon replaced by a generator. I’d say “grow up”, but that advice is probably lost on people who’s biggest dream is to have a vehicle whose sole purpose is to allow them to get as far away from their families and communities as possible.

Nate s
3 months ago
Reply to  AB Texas

The issue with the generator ban is it does not make their RV slightly more inconvenient to use. It makes it impossible to use. Without a generator or a plug water pumps, lights, refrigerators, heaters, ac’s no longer work. A solar system is not big enough on an RV to produce the power required on the sunniest day and batteries cannot store enough power to last more than a day. The RV becomes a very large paperweight.

Carb was extremely shortsighted to pass this legislation without a viable replacement to the gas generator. Especially in a state with constant blackouts due to an aging energy grid and when it’s windy which happens every fall.

Eric
3 months ago
Reply to  Nate s

I am registering just to post a reply to your comment, which based on our personal experience full-timing for 3 years, is incorrect. We have a very modest solar system (1200w, 300ah batteries) relative to our rig size (35ft fifth wheel) and it powers every system we need completely, EXCEPT for air conditioning. So anything short of aircon, we can run (plugs OK, heater OK, residential fridge OK, lights OK, etc.). All of this on a solar system that is not tremendously more expensive than a high end generator. Plus, we don’t have to buy generator fuel!

I think the reaction to this regulation is overblown. With a little ingenuity (which we RVers have plenty of, right?) we can still enjoy our travel without the use of generators! If I were in manufacturers’ shoes, I would invest in reducing air conditioning power demand, such as replacing the terribly wasteful roof-mounted A/C units with a more efficient mini split design. If new RVs come with more efficient A/C (which by the way is no more expensive than the current rooftop units) then powering RV house loads with solar and batteries is certainly feasible, even with today’s technologies.

chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Eric

I consider 1200w of solar more than modest.. kudos. If you’ve been around these comment boards a lot, you’ll see almost every reaction is overblown. Everything from Biden’s fault to leaving CA because it sucks and it shouldn’t be a part of the United States. That, and more ‘common sense’ and pseudo-science you ever thought possible for people to actually believe.

Last edited 3 months ago by chris
Capt. TS
2 months ago
Reply to  Eric

Except two of the most populous states in the country Texas and Florida both require air conditioning most of the year and even north of the Canadian border reaches 100 degrees on certain days in the summer.

Lizzie
2 months ago
Reply to  Capt. TS

Actually, most RVers leave places like Texas, Florida, Nevada and Arizona and head north to cooler climes in summer.

chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Nate s

You need some serious education on solar, batteries, and inverters. I’m thinking you run a generator to watch tv.

Last edited 3 months ago by chris
Lizzie
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate s

We have a 2021 Oliver Elite II travel trailer equipped with a Solar and battery package that enables everything except the air conditioner to work just fine when boondocking. Of course, we do have a portable Honda Generator just in case we don’t get enough sun, but we only used it twice last year. Everything, including the fridge, TV and the convection microwave works just fine on battery/solar power. I believe that the ‘easy’ use of generators has simply become a ‘habit’ of sorts and that in view of the current high gasoline prices and other issues, it’s a habit that RVers should try to break. And another issue is that some people insist on running generators for hours on end and disturbing other campers. We have had the peace and quiet enjoyment of our campsite disturbed by generators more times than we care to count. Perhaps this will make campgrounds and boondocking areas a lot less noisy in the future.

chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Lizzie

Nothing beats camping next to someone with no solar who fires up a contractor generator and leaves for 6 hours.

Bigred
2 months ago
Reply to  AB Texas

The majority of the people who own RV’s use them to enjoy their families and visit other family members. I have a generator and use it while visiting family members in other states so I can stay on their property. In most cases their electrical cannot handle my medical equipment and other electrical needs. It’s unfortunate that trolls who hide their identity come into a civilized conversation a spew their bile.

Lemonman
1 month ago
Reply to  AB Texas

clearly a response from an entitled mindset !

JB Books
3 months ago

I will just buy my generator and lawn equipment in AZ just like i do for defensive needs.

bobby
3 months ago
Reply to  JB Books

amen

Martin
3 months ago

That’s the exact reason why we were end up with such regulations. If companies had cared about emissions early enough to have such products ready, CARB wouldn’t need the rules.

Also sucks that engine market is so uncompetitive that we’re stuck with only one supplier.

On the other hand, does anyone else find the diesel generators much quieter?

Grease
3 months ago

RVs might not be sold in California? That’s the feature, not the bug. They (being the green left) really don’t want you using fossil fuels for nonessential purposes (and they’re not happy about those ones either). They don’t want you driving around a large vehicle to go on vacation.

Ormond Otvos
3 months ago
Reply to  Grease

Sounds like a reasonable request. I’m sure the coal-rollers won’t agree.

Vincee
3 months ago

Screw California and just abandon the RV market there. Let the consumers reach out to their legislators to let them know how nearsighted or just plain blind they are to some industries with their blanket rulemaking.

Besides the RV industry and Cummins stepping up, I bet the construction industry that relies on generators isn’t too pleased with the idiots in Sacramento who come up with these laws.

David McGilvray
3 months ago
Reply to  Vincee

Boycott the whole state! Don’t buy
or camp there. Vote With your feet !!

John R.
3 months ago

Already left back in ’13!

bobby
3 months ago

looking elsewhere after retirement soon

Bud
1 month ago

I agree, get out of here that way we will have more room to camp. Speaking of camping……I have been camping since I was 9 or 10 years old. I’m somewhat older, enough so we now have a 35′ 5th wheel. I have never turned a generator on for camping. Yes, we purchased our trailer with an Onan, but have not used it. 🤷🏼‍♂️

Kilovar
3 months ago

It’s unlikely CARB will leave the out of state purchase loophole open long. You are already required to pay a pseudo sales tax on an out of state purchase with less than 5K miles. California will simply make it impossible to register said out of state purchase. The installation after purchase and registration might work.

McMudd
3 months ago

What about const. Companies that need portable generators frequently. Also CA. Renters who suffer from the frequent rolling blackouts in 115° heat. (Im part of both) Because our Govs after shuttering the dependable Nuke Plants have done nothing to replace the loss of power. Except put up windmills and roughly ;1/3 to 1/2 everywhere you see them are Inoperable. After that stupidity One would think they would have an infrastructure in place before downsizing an important necessity & putting lives in danger. Pretty much as the incompetent Biden admin has done with oil. Must be Democrat thing

Last edited 3 months ago by McMudd
David McGilvray
3 months ago
Reply to  McMudd

Thinking it’s a California thing.
Totally bipartisan.
We will take our RV’s and our
money and go anywhere but
California.

John R.
3 months ago

Everyone leaves and CA can go bankrupt!

Alex Knolls
3 months ago

This is simple to “solve” for the California dealers.
Go ahead and install the generator package, all the wiring and mounting brackets and control panels, but don’t install the generator itself.
Then once they buy it, the new owner can take their first trip to an affiliated RV dealer just over the nearest border and have the generator bolted in in an hour, and carry on.

When ordering, they can specify what model they want just the same as before, they just have to pick it up out of state.

Or if the RV company does the installation at their factory, then the California dealers will just have to stop just before they get to the border and dismount the generator and store it for the customer.

I think this is not a wise law, but with some creativity the practical effects can be mitigated.

McMudd
3 months ago
Reply to  Alex Knolls

Then why not just buy your RV at an out of state dealer & save the hassle

Tedbundy69
3 months ago
Reply to  McMudd

California DMV rule prevent Californians for buying new vehicles out of state. If you buy new out of state, you can not get it registered, out of state vehicles have to have 7500 miles on the odometer to be legal for registration

Lester katz
3 months ago
Reply to  Tedbundy69

Not true. Did exactly that.
Had to pay the sales tax though

Rick H
2 months ago
Reply to  Tedbundy69

What? Of course you can buy out of state. That’s exactly what we did. We just had to pay the CA sales tax upon bringing it back and setting up our CA registration. Easy peezy.

Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Tedbundy69

LLC Montana and S. Dakota ways around that problem. Easier yet, leave Calif. I will not even visit the state and I live 20 miles away.

Jasen
3 months ago

So basically i just go to a state without these laws and purchase what i want and register it in that state and California gets my smog without making sales tax or registration fees… Works for me!!!!

Steve Johnson
3 months ago

Of course this article brings the crazy right wingers and left wingers out of the woodwork. If you think CA has gone down the drain and left or won’t come here good riddance!

Wayne
3 months ago

Does electrical discharge give off ozone?
Ozone traps energy a lot more than co2.
And again what plant can exist without co2.
And isnt co2 heavier than air and stay near the ground?

chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Wayne

Ozone does not trap energy like Co2. Co2 does not fall to the ground. Easy stuff to look up.

John Tam
3 months ago
Reply to  chris

Co2 does fall to the ground.

Beau Vine
3 months ago
Reply to  John Tam

Carbon monoxide has almost exactly the same density as air, so it disperses widely when released. You should be able to know this by the fact that CO has almost the same molecular weight as N2, so it must have almost the same density.

Don’t be fooled, however. Just because a gas is much denser than air doesn’t mean it will stay downward. In time, even the denser gases will become dispersed in air: it’s only when they are all released together in one big cloud that they will sink to the ground; only later to be carried into the general population of the air. If you release a very dense gas quite slowly, it may not sink at all, but be carried up, down, left, right, upwind, and downwind by dilution in the air, and maintained evenly distributed by the kinetic energy of the air molecules.

chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Beau Vine

Not sure why you’re talking about CO.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  John Tam

Isn’t that where the plant are!

JohnnyG
3 months ago

Some company is making a 9kw micro gas turbine generator thats the size of a shoe box. 15cm x 15cm x 50cm. Only $27k! But it runs on diesel I think. The co is called fusion flight.
They also make a “little” drone (about 3′ long) powered by 4 50 hp microturbines with thrust vectoring… Goes up to 33,000 ft top speed of 246 mph. Carries a payload of about 70 lbs. Only $100k!

Last edited 3 months ago by JohnnyG
Jesse Crouse
3 months ago

A properly maintained- serviced every year piece of equipment will reduce more emissions than all of the new rules can. I can’t tell you how hard it is to talk my customers into doing the yearly PM required by the manufacturers to keep the warranty in force. In other words Take care of it and it will take of you.

Don
3 months ago

Lithium might be cheaper but it currently can’t be recycled and have seen a Lithium mine um now that’s a big hole in the ground

Ormond Otvos
3 months ago
Reply to  Don

Li-Ion recycling is a growing business. Try to keep up, instead of just venting your gases.You have something against mines?

mtbmitch
2 months ago
Reply to  Don

Yes and all the equipment that it is used to mine the lithium, cobalt etc uses alot of energy to produce and run. What happens to the solar panels when they fail? Alot of wasted energy in the land fill. Einstein’s theory about can not destroy or create energy, can only be transferred.

Don
3 months ago

I think if California wants pass stupid laws like that then they should be left to deal with there own problems, they voted fir it so you deal with it

Dean Moore
3 months ago
Reply to  Don

I agree. However, California is exporting its vile laws to the rest of thr US. An observation from a lifelong California tax payer.

Dave D
3 months ago

While I’m generally skeptical of the need for a lot of the CARB regulations, the good thing about this is that it should push manufacturers toward including robust solar and lithium systems on new RV’s. This is really overdue. Lithium is so far superior in every way–including initial cost–to AGM batteries that there are fewer and fewer reasons to need a generator.

Gordy B
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave D

It’s been said lithium is in limited supply (if this is true) what happens when it runs out?

Ormond Otvos
3 months ago
Reply to  Gordy B

Lithium is very common on this planet, and the market is now opening up. Also nickel. etc. What isn’t feasible is more fossil fuel CO2.

McMudd
3 months ago
Reply to  Dave D

But that will almost double the cost of the RV & all the added weight might be a problem

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago
Reply to  McMudd

Lithium batteries themselves are a lot lighter than lead-acid batteries. But they also have their own set of problems.

Ormond Otvos
3 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Unspecified problems, of course…

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago
Reply to  Ormond Otvos

The biggest problem is that they can’t be charged in cold temperatures. They can be discharged but not charged. Since I live in a cold winter area this proved troublesome last winter (my first year with them).

Ormond Otvos
3 months ago
Reply to  McMudd

No, it won’t. Even a PowerWall is 15k and dropping.

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