Best CARB Compliant Generators

One of the increasingly serious environmental issues that plagues the world today is the declining quality of the air we breathe, which is worsening due to the level of air pollution we produce.

The world is beginning to wake up to the effects of global warming, and as a result, more and more people are attempting to limit their contribution to the problem. 

Wondering how you can make a difference? Well, one way you can play your part is by choosing a generator that is CARB compliant, as this is the cleanest source of energy you can get from a generator.

Being CARB compliant isn’t the only feature that makes a good generator, however, and there are plenty of things that you should consider. 

Not sure where to start looking? We’ve researched and reviewed 5 of the best generators that are in line with CARB standards guidelines, so you can compare them.

Our buyer’s guide will highlight some of the key features you should look out for when purchasing a new generator, besides whether or not they’re CARB compliant. 

Orange Carb Compliant Generator

And if you still have a few queries? We’ve got that covered too!

We’ve answered some of the questions that are most commonly asked by the public so you’ll really know all you need to know before clicking add to cart and pressing “pay now”. 

If you’re in a hurry so you can get back to saving the world, one small step towards sustainability at a time, check out our top pick.

We love it because of its useful features and powerful wattage output. 

OUR TOP PICK

The higher price point might be enough to put some people off, but if it’s within your budget you should definitely consider purchasing the WestingHouse WGen7500 portable generator, which can handle powering multiple appliances at once. 

It’s both EPA and CARB compliant, so you can’t go wrong if you care about the environment, and with plenty of other features that make this a great go-to backup generator, we just had to choose it as our top pick!

Plus, unlike some high-wattage generators, you get great value for your money. 

Keyfob control allows you to use the electric and recoil start from a certain distance, and useful features like the automatic low-oil detection and shut off function help to extend the lifespan of your generator by keeping it in good working condition. 

A cast-iron sleeve helps to protect the 420cc Westinghouse 4-stroke OHV engine which also improves the durability of this generator for longer-lasting use.

Rubber covers provide further safety and protection for all outlets, as well. 

It’s slightly louder than other options when it’s running, but the 72 dB it produces during operation is still quiet enough to ignore once you get used to it and doesn’t overshadow all the amazing benefits and features of this generator. 

Pros

  • EPA and CARB compliant 
  • High power wattage to run multiple appliances
  • Highly portable choice thanks to wheels and handles to hold on to 
  • 3-year limited warranty 
  • Automatic low-oil switch off

Cons

  • Slightly louder operation at 72 dB 

EDITORS CHOICE

Next up we looked at the Wen 56200i portable generator which produces clean and quiet energy.

It’s both EPA and CARB compliant, making it a great option for the environmentally conscious.

Easily stored and easily transported, this compact generator offers quiet operation at a minimal 51 dB when it’s running at a quarter load.

Even on a busy campsite, you won’t have to worry about annoying your fellow campers for the sake of your appliances. 

Capable of generating 2,000 peak watts and 1,600 rated watts of power, the clean energy this generator produces is great for someone who needs to use it for their laptops, tablets, mobile phones, and other smaller electronic appliances. 

There’s no need to worry about damaging your more vulnerable devices either, as the generator is built to mimic a pure sine wave so the total harmonic distortion is never above 0.3% with no load, and less than 1.2% when it’s at full capacity.

You can further conserve energy and reduce fuel usage by utilizing the Eco-Mode throttle, which is a useful feature that adjusts itself depending on the number of appliances you’re currently running, automatically sensing when you unplug or plug in a device. 

Pros

  • EPA III and CARB compliant 
  • Highly portable due to it’s small, compact size
  • 2-year warranty 
  • Quiet 53dB operation and 51 at a quarter load

Cons

  • Can only handle smaller appliances 

BEST VALUE

The next generator on our list of reviews is the DuroStar DS4000S, which is a portable generator that’s capable of producing plenty of power without contributing as much to air pollution levels.

Like every generator from this brand, it’s both EPA and CARB compliant.

The recoil start can reach up to 3,300 watts of constant running power and 4,000 watts of peak power, so it’s suitable for a range of applications.

You can utilize the selection of outlets and the built-in voltmeter that allows you to accurately measure the voltage output whilst in use. 

Whether you need to run multiple high-voltage appliances at once or power industrial style power tools on site, this DuroStar generator can handle a variety of jobs thanks to its 7 horsepower 208cc OHV engine. 

To protect your generator from damage when you forget to refill the 3.96-gallon fuel tank (we’re all guilty of it), it can detect when it’s running low on oil and will automatically switch itself off to help keep it in good working condition for longer. 

The construction features a durable, heavy-duty frame that was manufactured with steel for longer-lasting use.

It also has four-point completely isolated motor mounts to ensure that the generator runs quietly when it’s in operation, reaching 69 dB at its loudest.

There’s also a wheel kit available for easy transport, but this must be purchased separately. 

Pros

  • Durable steel frame for longer-lasting use 
  • Can run multiple appliances at once 
  • EPA and CARB compliant 
  • Low-oil switch off feature 
  • Quiet performance
  • Great value for money  

Cons

  • Wheel kit not included 

RUNNER UP

One of the things we love about this Champion Power generator is that it runs on dual fuel, which means you can use either gasoline or propane so the operating costs are cheaper for you.

It’s also more effective as they provide more power for longer. 

With a fuel tank capacity of 3.4 gallons, you can run this generator for up to 9 hours on a full tank of gas or 10.5 hours on a 20 lbs propane tank at a half load.

You won’t have to worry about excessive noise, either, as it operates at a reasonable 68 dBA from 23 ft. 

This is the perfect generator to travel with thanks to its folding handle and the never-flat tires which allow you to easily transport the unit from home to work, or you can take it with you on your next weekend away in your RV.

With 4750 or 4275 starting watts and 3800 or 3420 running watts for gasoline and propane respectively, you can run a number of applications. 

It was built to last with a durable steel frame and there are plenty of functions that make this a convenient generator.

For example, you can monitor the voltage hertz and run-time hours with ease so you can determine the power output at any time. 

The 224cc Champion engine is quick to get going thanks to an electric touch start and a useful toggle switch, plus intelligent features such as volt guard and cold start technology, so your generator starts up fast even in the winter months. 

Pros

  • Dual fuel generator 
  • Quiet operation 
  • Electric touch start and cold start technology 
  • You can keep track of voltage hertz
  • 3-year limited warranty

Cons

  • More expensive option

RUNNER UP

To round off our list of the best CARB-compliant generators, we’ve reviewed the Pulsar G12KBN generator.

If you’re looking for a generator that’s going to provide impressive amounts of power, then this is a great choice to consider. 

Run a number of large appliances or industrial power tools with the whopping 12,000 peak watts and 9,500 rated watts (on a tank of gasoline), and 10,800 peak watts and 8,550 rated watts (on a tank of LPG) thanks to its dual-fuel capability.

It features a 457xx single cylinder OHV 4-stroke engine which is air-cooled, and you can utilize the electric start button for faster start-up.

The engine is protected by a powdered steel frame for added durability. 

The 8-gallon fuel tank capacity can supply you with energy for up to 12 hours when operating at a 50% load using gasoline to provide reliable, efficient power.

Although it’s a larger unit due to its higher wattage ability, the foldable handles and 10-inch never-flat wheels make this generator easy to transport.

Other convenient features include the low-oil switch off function, automatic voltage regulation, and a 3-in-1 digital meter. 

Pros

  • Large 8-gallon fuel tank 
  • Multiple plug sockets 
  • Higher wattage for even more power 
  • Convenient handles for transportation 
  • Low-oil shut off function 
  • Propane hose included

Cons

  • It’s louder than other units due to its high power output

Buyer’s Guide

Even though each of these generators is impressive in their own right, there’s a lot that goes into finding the right generator for you.

Considering that they’re not exactly a cheap purchase to begin with, there’s even more reason to review all your options before deciding what best suits your needs. 

Before we get into the main things you should look out for when buying a new CARB compliant generator, we thought we’d take this opportunity to explain exactly what this acronym actually stands for.

What Does CARB Compliant Mean?

Originally set up in 1967, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is a governing body that regulates US emissions and air pollution levels, bringing laws into place that help to improve the quality of the air that’s entering our lungs. 

If a generator is CARB compliant, it means it meets all the requirements and safety standards put in place by CARB. This makes them the most environmentally friendly options that are currently available, so it’s no wonder more people are switching to this type of generator. 

Inverter Vs. Conventional Generators

As with most things in life, there are pros and cons to both sides of this argument, and both generators offer their own advantages and disadvantages.

To make the best decision for you, first, work out what your intended use for your generator is, and keep this in mind throughout the buying process as it will influence which factors are most important to you. 

A cleaner choice would be to purchase an inverter generator, but these often produce less power output which means they’re unsuitable for some purposes.

Conventional generators tend to be more affordable, but they’re bulkier and have more weight to them than an inverter, which is more expensive yet lightweight. 

The choice between the two is dependent on your personal preference. As much as we’d love to help, this is one decision we can’t make for you.

Power Wattage

We hate to say it, but this is another one that largely comes down to your individual needs.

The generator’s power wattage determines the number of appliances you can have running at a time, so you’ll need to consider what you’ll be using it for to know if it's a suitable choice. 

There are units with huge power outputs that are capable of keeping your whole house running in the case of a blackout, or you can use them to run high-power tools which is perfect for anyone working on site.

On the other hand, some only power your basic essentials, which can be handy for RV campers who want to keep a few of their favorite comforts in their home away from home. 

Don’t forget to look out for both the peak and rated power levels or confuse the two.

Peak watts refer to the initial wattage power your appliances need to start up quickly and effectively, whereas rated or running watts are what your generator is capable of handling on a continuous level.

Size and Portability

Another thing you’ll want to consider is the size of your generator, and whether you’ll need to be transporting it from place to place.

Larger generators are usually more expensive, and they can be heavier to move around which is less than ideal for someone on the go. 

Some larger portable generators do have additional features such as wheels or handles to make it easier to transport them, which is especially useful if you’re going to be using your generator for site work and anticipate having to change locations. 

Also think of the size of the fuel tank if you want a good indication of how often you’ll need to refill your generator, as you don’t want to run the risk of running out of fuel when you need it most. Some generators will offer automatic sensors that alert you when you need to refill. 

Noise Level 

In addition to air pollution, noise pollution is another thing that most people want to limit, especially if you’re on a campsite with neighbors or if you use your generator for home uses at night when you’re trying to sleep. 

Anything above 65 dB is going to produce a certain amount of noise, although how much this will irritate you depends on your tolerance and how easily you can let things fade into the background.

Light sleepers, for example, would need a generator quieter than this, or else they may find themselves being disturbed in the night. 

Inverter generators typically tend to have a quieter volume while they’re running, whereas conventional generators can make a bit more noise.

Similarly, higher wattage generators often produce more noise than less powerful generators due to their size.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I use a non-CARB compliant generator in California?

No, you cannot use a non-CARB compliant generator in California, and doing so means you run the risk of incurring a hefty fine.

Even if you’re outside of California and you’re not legally obligated to, you should still consider using a CARB compliant generator. 

What does EPA approved mean? 

EPA stands for the Environmental Protection Agency which is a governing body that helps to protect the health of humanity.

If a generator is EPA approved, it means it has passed its environmental safety standards which is a requirement in some states. 

It’s not as strict as CARB compliance standards, but it’s another thing to look out for if you’re trying to find a generator that won’t harm the environment. 

Which state has the strictest emission laws?

California is the strictest state in the country when it comes to emission laws, hence why CARB compliant generators have higher standards than units that are just EPA approved. 

What other states are CARB compliant?

California is the sole state where CARB compliance is legally enforced, but others also adhere to these standards.

These include New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. 

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    I'm an environment and energy blogger who teaches outdoor and energy enthusiasts how to be better informed when it comes to purchasing or maintaining a generator, solar panel system, or anything else related to your energy needs.