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Feds crack down on portable generators

(February 26, 2022) — An agency of the federal government is cracking down on portable generators, which according to ProPublica can emit as much carbon monoxide as 450 cars and which kill an average of 80 people in the U.S. each year, sometimes RVers. A relatively small number of reported incidents involved a generator being used properly outdoors.

This is breaking news. We’ll follow up next week.

The action comes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) two months after an investigation by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. RVtravel.com reported on this issue, how it applied to RVers, in December.

“Almost all generator engines emit very high rates of carbon monoxide (CO), and when consumers use portable generators in or near enclosed areas, the immediate and surrounding environment can quickly become fatal for occupants,” noted the CPSC. Most of the generators involved in fatal CO poisonings in CPSC’s databases were gasoline-fueled.

Portable generators that are permanently installed in recreational vehicles, typically motorhomes, or boats are outside of CPSC’s jurisdiction, even though the models may be the same as those falling within the scope of this project. Stationary generators have use patterns that differ from portable generators and are covered by a different voluntary standard.

GENERATOR MANUFACTURERS, ProPublica notes, say that their products are not dangerous when users follow the safety guidelines in instruction manuals, which include keeping the machines outside, away from doors and windows. But safety advocates say those instructions aren’t always easy to follow, because the machines can’t be operated in rain or snow.



The CPSC report concluded that voluntary changes implemented by some manufacturers have reduced the risk to consumers, but not to the degree that industry officials had promised.

Deaths of RVers from misuse of generators often occurs when the RVs are camped in close quarters (like NASCAR events, where they are squeezed together in infields) and the exhaust sends carbon monoxide into a neighbor’s living quarters. Three people died from carbon monoxide poisoning last July at a Michigan country music festival. A generator parked too close to their trailer was ruled the cause.

If you would like to learn more, read the CPSC’s 104-page report here.

RELATED: California generator ban: What does it mean for RVers.

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New
5 months ago

Maybe the government can save us like they did with the gas can design changes of the past.

Mr. Scott
6 months ago

In cramped quarters, how about:

1. A line power feed, so we don’t have to listen to generators, if there’s that many campers

2. A fan blowing up to help disperse the exhaust? Or some better idea.

Some kind of chimney or stovepipe should help, but would be big and bulky so line power would be better.

Tommy2sweet
6 months ago

Absolutely!

Jeremy
6 months ago

This is one of the most poorly written articles I have ever read. People who read this article know less than when they started.

For example you write:

“An agency of the federal government is cracking down on portable generators”

Cracking down how? What specific action is being taken?

And again here:

“The action comes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) two months after an investigation”

What action? You don’t mention any specific action anywhere in this article.

I like how you link to the article about the generator ban in California even though that’s not related. That is not a federal action and the headline here says “Feds crack down”.

You’ve provided zero useful information in this article and in fact all you’ve done is created confusion.

Mr. Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy

I would like to see better information too!

Eric
6 months ago

Once again, govt is geting involved where it doesn’t need to be, and it will end up costings comsumers and taxpayers more, and will end up destroying jobs and lives. Govt will eventually destroy the RV industry and outdoor activities and millions of jobs with them.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago

Just took a sledgehammer to my generator. Boy i feel so much better now.

Bob p
6 months ago

I have a 4500W generator and the owners manual cautions about operating in the rain, I think it’s because the electronic controls open to the weather. I have it mounted on a cargo carrier behind the bumper and built a weather shield to protect it from rain and have had no problems so far, the only part exposed is the exhaust for the cooling fan and engine exhaust, it takes cooling air in from the bottom.

Midas
6 months ago

Solar is answer to this. With several game changing battery technologies coming online a viable solar powered generator that can compete with gas..almost. I’ve designed three different generator’s using off the shelf item’s. With solar there are no emissions, no moving parts, no noise, no fuel We stand on the brink of some incredible breakthroughs .

TerryH
6 months ago
Reply to  Midas

Except Lithium battery STILL has FIRE/EXPLOSION problems, which why transport still so strongly regulated? Just YESTERDAY, watched EU security video of 5-electric rental scooters sitting parked, and one bursts into flames, catching two others on fire in a very dealt fire had anyone been riding it? It is governments that are HIDING most of this from public? Recall all the scooter & hoverboard fire videos a few years back?

Mr. Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  TerryH

Gasoline has fire / explosion issues too.

Some of the regulations are about air travel; don’t want to be stuck in an aluminum tube at 20,000 feet when a battery sets the luggage on fire.

LiPo batteries are safer. Can drive in nails, they won’t catch fire.

One big reason for LIon battery fires is “jumpstarts”: when a 3V cell gets discharged to 1.4V or less, the copper electrode starts going into solution. When the cell is recharged, the copper plates out as nucleation points, and lithium whiskers start to grow. Enough charge / discharge cycles and they eventually puncture the cell membrane and short out the cell, making a hot spot.

When someone clever but uninformed “saves money” or ‘gets past the ripoff’ by bypassing the permanent shutdown safety circuits, they have arranged a future battery fire.

Mr. Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  Midas

Solar is great, provided there’s enough use that the system puts out more energy than it took to make it. Unfortunately solar energy isn’t always available (night, weather) so you need energy storage to go with it.

Rik
6 months ago

Reading through the comments, it’s obvious that some didn’t even read this poorly written article. They saw a a deceptive headline and a picture that’s completely false, and reacted.
FWIW, for the most part, this even isn’t an RVing issue. This is not to minimize the deaths/illnesses of RVers that were affected. The problem is that when faced with a power outage at home, people are putting their generators in places such as garages, basements, crawl spaces, or outside windows. Why would they do something so stupid? Ignorance, fear of having their generator stolen, extension cords that are too short, are among the top reasons.
Nothing has been done yet, so there is no crackdown as stated. From what I’ve read, the adoption of standard UL2201 might happen in 2023. To be UL2201 certified would require that generators shut down when CO levels are too high, and that the engines be modified to output less CO.
I truly hope Part 2 of this article is more complete and much more responsible.

Marco
6 months ago
Reply to  Rik

Darwin

Michael
7 months ago

I’m going to turn my gas guzzler Tahoe into a generator and put those small ones out of business while saving the planet. Govt dems are idiots…

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Or, you could just plug into your Tesla! By the way, where did that electric come from?

Mr. Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  Michael

It will have an emissions control system, which is a plus.

Tahoes have big engines. Takes gas to spin them, and generators usually want around 3,600 RPM. This setup won’t idle for free. What’s the efficiency for your planned load?

Hmmm. Crowded campground, drunks, unattended vehicle running with the keys in. What could go wrong?

Lee
7 months ago

Most RV’ers camp in what I call a sardine can grass parking lot. Lots of people, lots of smells, lots of drunks, and lots of LOUDNESS. It’s a disgusting fiasco full of deplorables. Yuck! I’ll camp in a pup-tent in the wilderness. Drinking mountain water, hiking, and listening to the birds Is serenity.

Ernienotthemuppet
6 months ago
Reply to  Lee

So those were you’re plastic water bottles and McDonalds garbage left in your smoldering makeshift fireplace filled with cigarette buts and beer cans next to the creek I saw this morning.

Justin Ozosky
7 months ago

I can’t believe this is real 80 people a year. What about 150 plus people a day dying from overdoses why don’t they crack down on the war on drugs before they focus on a generator.. Now I get emissions well make them have emissions on a gen like a car would problem solved or common sense if you use one or camping know your surrounding and know what’s around you or {bleeped} have a co2 detector in the mobile home or where ever one is close areas have one close to monitor. Just wow how stupid has our society become.
There is technology to tackle pretty much any issue about this.
Solar maybe. Lol

Midas
6 months ago
Reply to  Justin Ozosky

Here here about time someone said it!

Louie Taylor
7 months ago

This is so psycho. There no proof of green house glasses. The heating of our atmosphere is natural. I believe it is part of a cycle that takes place and will repeat periodically. We go into an ice age, then come out of one, over and over again as the earth move to and from a certain distance from the sun. Blaming emissions of fossil fuel s is a chicken little syndrome to scare people into emission free living. It needs to stop. If you believe I’m wrong, then why don’t the powers that be alow the gas generator s to faze out, instead of acting like a Communist, a say you can’t have a generator any more. They are they are trying to scare everyone into changing, looking like hypocrite s by letting oil refineries stay on line. Even the Hollywood elites are hypocrite s. They scream global warming, but get into there fossil fueled aparatices, and polute the ozone while going to a geo summit. That teen from across the pond went back home from her wind powered trip to the USA, on an airline

kevin
6 months ago
Reply to  Louie Taylor

yes, remember our ice ages?! our planet heated up from that, right?!

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  kevin

It was the cavemen burning renewables that contributed.

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  Louie Taylor

I don’t know how old y’all are, I’m a couple of months away from 79. I can remember back in the mid 1970’s there was the scare tactic of a coming ice age due to cold winters and cooler summers. An old climatologist well respected in his field stated the earth goes through natural heating and cooling cycles that last about 100 years, 50 cooling, 50 heating. Mid 70’s to now figures to be about 50 years. We are in the natural heating cycle. How many degrees has the earth heated up above normal? I don’t know myself but I think I heard the “experts” say something like 1.3 degrees, yes ice does melt above 32 degrees F, but a large chunk of ice like the Arctic and Antarctica will surely not melt to fast before winter comes back. I am at 86’ above sea level and the “experts” say I’ll be dead before the ocean reaches our home, I may have ocean front property before I die. Lol

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Update: we are now entering a cooling cycle. No sunspots. Direct correlation. I slept at a Holiday Inn express last night!

Mr. Scott
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

There’s ‘scare tactic’ and then there’s improved scientific understanding.

Scientists make educated guesses, look for mistakes (vs. doubling down) make mistakes then discover them, learn, and do better. New evidence comes in and has to be accounted for. Better sensors and models are developed. More capable computers support better models.

*Which* “well respected” old climatologist? Respected by who, the majority of professional, expert climatologists, or by politicians and big oil execs who like his political views?

Jay bradley
7 months ago

Just convert them all to propane

Gordon Waite
7 months ago

100,000 plus Americans died from opioids last year, most of which were illegal/non-prescribed, yet the feds allow the drugs to fly across the southern border. But by all means let’s crack down on the killer generators.

Dave Shankel
7 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Waite

Amen

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Waite

We’re a pleasant law abiding bunch, so, its easier to kick us around, than say the cartel, or big Pharma.

Admin
Chuck Woodbury(@chuck)
6 months ago
Reply to  Gordon Waite

Gordon, there is more than one problem in our country that our various governments must deal with. Yes, the opioid crisis is terrible and must be addressed and the people/companies must be held responsible. But, come on, there are thousands of other problems, including the fact generators cause so much pollution and even deaths. You think that just because opioids are such a huge problem that we should ignore others? Is that what you are saying in your post?

ErnienottheMuppet
6 months ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

I dont believe 80 died from CO2 last year, nor do I believe 100,000 died from opiods last year. You have to believe in science, they all died fron Covid-19. Ask Fauci.

Jaymz
7 months ago

What no mention of the millions of truck drivers that are crammed into truck stops with those little generators or APUs on the side of their trucks just cranking out the carbon monoxide and how many truck drivers die per year from them. Those exhaust should be required by law to be pointed up like the old trucks are not pointed down to the ground like a lot of the new trucks are.

Bob p
6 months ago
Reply to  Jaymz

Those run on diesel and most are piped into the regular exhaust stacks to get the exhaust into the air.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Stop with the facts, your making too much sense.

Blue loops
7 months ago

The government needs to secure the border and attack crime and leave individual rights alone . If I want a generator it’s no business of the govt

Gopher
7 months ago

We’re worried about generators and drugs are killing 2 a week in my area. And, I don’t live in a heavy population center. Easy to go after a legitimate businesses and leave the drug dealers and thugs alone.

Robert
7 months ago

Generators probably don’t have exhaust systems like a car. Cars have catalytic converters. So they might not be able to scrub co2 as well as a car. But I really don’t know just an idea.

Lance
6 months ago
Reply to  Robert

We, as a society, have invested a lot of money (through higher car prices) to reduce the emissions of our transportation industry. It worked; cars are amazing examples of reduced emissions. You can stick your face right in the exhaust stream and breathe. So small engines now emit a larger %age of CO (CO² is not pollution). That’s not really news. But of course, the sky is still falling. The perpetual emergency tax collection scam has been churning out impending disasters much longer than I can remember.
Here’s what they’re saying has nothing to do with climate change. The sun. Our sun. They say the poles are in the mood to swap ends. And we can now find the magnetic North Pole meandering around the Bearing Sea. You would sure think that relocating the nodes that our magnetosphere is hooked to, would effect the coverage that that solar shield would have to deflect solar radiation. Imo, that could possibly explain a lot of hot days.
And didn’t Tesla just lose 20/24 satellites from solar radiation? Those are outside of any effect of atmospheric greenhouse gasses.

I think all of our climate change worries will be abated now that we’ve banned plastic straws

Bob Muschett
7 months ago

Home lawn mowers should be held to the same standards. They have no pollution controls on them and there are far more of those than generators.

BILLY Bob Thronton
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob Muschett

And the grass will love you for it.

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