RV Owners: Are You Ready for California’s Portable Generator Ban?

If you’re an RV owner in California (or have plans to purchase one), recent state legislation banning the sale of portable generators should have you rethinking how you equip (and use) your recreational vehicle.

Gasoline-powered generators make RV life much more convenient for many campers. They can provide power to all 120-volt appliances in the RV and also charge RV battery banks. Generators can free you from shore power connections, let you go further off-grid, and operate energy-hungry appliances like microwaves and air conditioners.

However, things are about to change for many California RV owners. A recent bill passed by the state legislature will effectively ban the sale of most small off-road engines like those found in leaf blowers and lawnmowers. The ban includes standalone generators and, eventually, the sale of RVs with built-in generators.

While the new legislation may create heartburn for new and existing RV owners, it’s an opportunity to reassess your power needs and investigate solar technology as an environmentally friendly and cost-effective replacement for generator power.

Understanding the Generator Ban

According to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), “portable generators, including those in recreational vehicles, would be required to meet more stringent standards in 2024 and meet zero-emission standards starting in 2028.” To meet the 2024 standards, portable generators will need to increase efficiency by an estimated 40-90%, a target that generator manufacturers are unlikely to meet. The CARB legislation will also require all RV manufacturers to phase out RV models sold in California with built-in generators by 2028.

The new CARB legislation will certainly deliver environmental benefits in the state. According to CARB, using a gas-powered leaf blower for an hour can generate as much pollution as driving a Toyota Camry for 1,100 miles. But how will the ban impact RV operators?

It’s Not All Bad News For RV Owners

The ban may have a minimal impact on many California RV owners, at least in the short term. Initially, the ban only affects the sale of new generators and RVs with built-in units — so, for now, you’ll still be able to use your existing generators.

The longer-term implications are more problematic. If you’re a California resident, you won’t be able to replace a failing RV generator or upgrade to a more powerful unit. Parts may become more difficult (and expensive) to obtain, as will service and repairs. And even before the 2024 regulations come into effect, California RV owners should think twice before investing in generator technology, knowing that its long-term prospects are bleak.

The ban may also impact how you use your RV. The decrease in generator use promises to create a scramble for shore power-equipped campsites already scarce in many regions.

Making the Transition to Solar

With RV generator ownership and use becoming more challenging, many California RV owners will turn to solar power as a sustainable replacement solution. The good news is that your solar options for RVs and campers have never been more reliable, efficient, and available. Here are three potential scenarios to consider:

  • New RVs with integrated solar systems.

    If you’re purchasing a new RV, you’ll likely opt for an integrated solar system to replace lost generator functionality. Many new campers offer advanced solutions like lithium battery packs, Bluetooth control, and ‘Smart Solar’ integration with other RV systems. These features will help you optimize your solar system and simplify operation.
  • Add-on and standalone solar solutions.

    Existing RV owners who relied on generator power may look to retrofit their campers with solar systems. Depending on your RV size and how you use it, solar options could range from portable solutions (like Go Power!’s DuraLite 100-Watt Solar Kit) to full-size rooftop mounted systems (like the Bluetooth-enabled Rigid Eclipse 190-watt MPPT Controller Solar Kit).

Go Power! Is Here To Help

Whether you’re adding solar capabilities to your existing RV or considering a new camper, Go Power! and our certified dealer partners can help you navigate the generator ban and customize your RV solar system. From portable solutions and high-performance rooftop kits to ‘Smart RV’ system components and lithium power options, Go Power! and our partners offer everything you need to design, install, and service your perfect solar solution. And, with 25 years of solar industry innovation and over 1,000,000 panels shipped, you know we’re here to stay.

Contact us to learn more about Go Power!’s industry-leading RV solar solutions and service or to find a Go Power! Partner in your area.