Carb Compliant

With all of the recent disasters and power outages, it’s more important than ever to have a generator on hand in case of an emergency. But buying a generator can be confusing. There are so many different types and sizes, and now you have to worry about whether or not it is CARB-compliant.

Not all generators are created equal. Some generators meet CARB compliance standards, while others meet EPA compliance standards. And with recent changes in emissions laws, it’s important to make sure your generator is compliant with them.

CARB-compliant generators are designed to meet the strict emissions standards set by the California Air Resources Board. If you live in California or another state with similar emissions regulations, then a CARB-compliant generator is your best bet. However, an EPA-certified generator may be better if you live in a state without these regulations.

What does CARB compliant mean on a generator? We answer all of these questions and more.

What is CARB?

California Air Resources Board, better known as “CARB,” is a state agency created in 1967 and tasked with the goal of maintaining clean air in the state of California. By the early 1960s, California was witnessing excessive amounts of pollution due to its geography, weather, and growing population. The main culprit was identified as the emissions from the internal combustion engines of the state’s growing number of motor vehicles.

The primary responsibilities and functions of CARB are to oversee the air pollution control efforts by gathering statewide air-quality data and maintaining healthy air quality through the reduction of toxins and contaminants in the air.

CARB introduced stringent emissions regulations based on scientific foundations and adopted innovative solutions to achieve this. Developing programs to counter climate change and enforce limitations on greenhouse gas emissions is also included in its responsibilities.

One of the easiest ways to maintain healthy air quality indexes is to regulate all types of internal combustion engines in the state that uses diesel, gasoline, propane, or natural gas. The concerned engine may be used in cars, trucks, buses, tractors, heavy machinery, and generators.

CARB continues to update its regulations every year and even funds research projects to improve further. Encouraged by their effectiveness, 14 other states decided to adopt CARB regulations.

What does CARB compliant mean on a generator?

The term CARB compliance for any equipment signifies its adherence to the latest emission standards set by CARB. These standards are directed toward ensuring fewer harmful emissions, toxins, and particulates with the aim of obtaining better, cleaner, and safer air quality.

CARB regulations try to reduce emissions of gases like nitric oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter.

Like any other internal combustion engine on a vehicle or truck, a generator generates these harmful gases on burning fuel. These exhaust gases enter the atmosphere and cause a big impact on the air quality.

To deal with the issue, CARB came up with specific regulations and criteria governing the use of internal combustion engines. These stricter standards required the engines to be energy efficient and produce lower levels of pollutants. The manufacturers of these engines are responsible for getting their products certified by CARB.

Does my generator need to be CARB compliant?

Ever-increasing power outages rule out the complete elimination of standby generators. Hence, the only option is to minimize air pollution and its environmental impact. While CARB regulations allow the usage of backup generators during grid failures, they ensure that the generators are built to control pollution from

  • Exhaust emissions: To ensure the complete burning of fuel by improvement in carburetors, fuel injection systems, crankcase vent lines, and other electronic controls.
  • Evaporative emissions occur due to the evaporation of the gas stored in a fuel tank or available in the gas line. These emissions include hydrocarbons and reactive gases. Improvements in materials and pressure relief wall systems can reduce these emissions.
  • Spillage: Leakage from the lines, storage tanks, or spillage during the refills to be reduced through improved designs of fuel caps, gas cans, fuel tanks, and storage tanks. For example, compliant generators use either reinforced construction or some specially treated evaporation-inhibiting materials.

It is not permitted to manufacture, sell or use non-compliant generators in California or any one of the many other states that have chosen to adopt CARB standards. The relaxation may be allowed only under certain specified emergencies and only if you follow specified regulations for these.

However, it is always better to consider carb-compliant generators if you are planning to buy one as

  • They are usually the best equipment on the market that will save you money in the long run.
  • They are better for your and your family’s health and safety.
  • They provide a clean environment for everyone.
  • These regulations may be introduced in other states in the future.
  • You might decide to relocate to one of the states requiring compliance.

How do I know if my generator is CARB compliant?

If your state mandates carb compliance, you must ensure that the generator is carb certified before buying. You can confirm whether any equipment meets the carb requirements or not by:

  1. Checking the emissions label. The carb-compliant generator will carry a label that reads, “this engine meets U.S. EPA EXH/EVP and California SORE EXH/EVP regs for [year].” Here EXH and EVP stand for exhaust and evaporative emissions. The label also carries the values for levels of air index and emissions durability for the generator.
  2. Checking the manufacturer’s website. If the generator meets the regulation, the manufacturer will indicate carb compliance among the various features of the equipment.
  3. Checking the retailer listings. The generator retailers under consideration will list the carb compounds among the product features.

What is the difference between a CARB and an EPA Compliant generator?

EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency. It is a federal agency that oversees all pollution-related issues in the United States. EPA was created in 1970 as a watchdog for the federal government. To regulate harmful emissions from combustion engines, EPA first came up with the Federal Clean Air Act.

Now, EPA has its own set of guidelines for manufacturing, selling, and importing any internal combustion engine in the country.

Since Environmental Protection Agency is a federal body, its regulations are mandatory for all the states. If you do not live in any state that stipulates CARB compliance as compulsory, meeting EPA standards is enough.

Air pollution rules by EPA may or may not overlap with CARB. While both the bodies work to regulate the emission standards and their effect on the environment, CARB is usually considered stricter and follows many innovative approaches.

EPA is empowered to impose fines and sanctions or take any other measures necessary to enforce compliance with the EPA standards.

How to get the generator CARB or EPA approved?

Clean energy, energy efficiency, reliability, and durability are the major parameters on which California Air Resources Board evaluates any small off-road engines, known as SORE. Our home generators fall in this classification whereby their manufacturers have been made responsible get their products certified by CARB or EPA. The procedure involves the following steps:

  1. The manufacturer has to carry out registration with CARB or EPA.
  2. Group their products either into the exhaust family or the evaporative family based on the components.
  3. Test each engine, record the results against the regulation specifications, and submit them to EPA or CARB.
  4. If the test results are satisfactory, necessary certifications are awarded.
  5. The manufacturers must label each engine with the correct emissions label required by the regulation.

What states are the CARB States?

Besides California, many other states have voluntarily adopted California standards. These states include New Mexico, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania.

Requirements For portable Backup engines in California

The state of California is divided into 35 local air pollution control districts with a mandate to plan, monitor, and ensure carb compliance within their jurisdiction.

The use of portable backup engines is subject to compliance with air district requirements. These requirements can vary between two air districts. In addition, this may include permits, emission limits, and operational restrictions. Owners and operators of such generators are advised by the board to contact their respective air districts to ensure that they are carb compliant.

It is possible to register portable equipment statewide under CARB’s Portable Equipment Registration Program, known as PERP. However, PERP becomes invalid if the engine is used to provide primary or supplementary power or the engine is made a part of any stationary source.


If you are in any of the Carb states, you need to buy a CARB-compliant generator. If you have any questions about whether your generator is CARB compliant, look for the “CARB” label. If still in doubt, please feel free to reach out to us, and we would be happy to help. We hope this article helped explain what CARB is and how it affects generators sold in the United States.

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