Phil has been working as a technical engineer since his graduation, and has never thought of changing his profession. Also, he’s an avid fisherman and camper, so it’s not only work which makes him deal with generators.
Last updated: February 26, 2021
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Power outages are known for their poor timing, which is why people invest hundreds if not thousands of dollars in generators. For California residents, they not only have to get a good generator, but they should also get a CARB-compliant one. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the state agency in California that is responsible for protecting residents from exposure to toxins. This review will help you to find the best CARB compliant generator.
We tried out 18 products in our quest to help you find the perfect generator. Out of all these products, we mostly loved the Champion Power Equipment 100573. It impressed us with its wireless start, an effective quiet technology, the ability to link two units for extra power, and its readiness to power an RV. You will also find reviews of four other high-end products and their features.
Some of the essential features that we have focused on in our review include the type of generator, power output, fuel capacity, safety, and noise levels among others. These features will help you get a CARB compliant generator that meets your needs and preferences. To ensure you get the most out of this review, we included a table of the top products we reviewed. This is followed by an in-depth review of each of these products with their pros and cons. Lastly, there is a buying guide that explores some key things to consider before buying a CARB compliant generator.
A lot of people recommended that we should try out the Champion Power Equipment 100573. After spending several hours reviewing it, we finally understood why this is a popular choice. A generator that produces up to 4,000 watts is a great choice for RVs. You can easily use this output to power a small air conditioner, TV, lighting and other equipment you may need when on the road. It can also work great as an emergency power supply to your home in case of a power outage.
The Champion Power Equipment 100573 is an affordable CARB compliant generator that does not compromise on performance. It has a number of impressive features including the ability to start the generator using its handy wireless remote control fob. You can start or stop the generator from as far as 80 feet.
This generator is made from a strong metal frame that engulfs the 2.9-gallon gas tank. That said, the Champion Power Equipment 100573 is lighter than it looks measuring about 96.8 pounds. The wheels fitted below the generator and the single fold handle ensures that this CARB approved generator is portable regardless of the terrain.
With this economical generator, you can expect minimal fuel consumption and a runtime of about 17 hours on a 25% load.
What we liked:
Great value for money
It contains a quick touch panel for easier access to various controls
It has an RV-ready lock outlet
What could be better:
It is a bit noisy with noise levels of up to 64 dBA
We had a blast trying out the WEN 56200i, no wonder it had to feature on the top of our list. It impressed us because it not only delivers clean power but it also runs quietly. You might forget the lights are out. But what are some of the key features of the WEN 56200i?
One of the first things that you will notice about the WEN 56200i is how compact and portable this CARB certified generator is. At only 48 pounds, you can easily store and transport this CARB generator. The generator can be placed in the trunk of your car, or you can use its handle to carry it around like a suitcase.
Fuel efficiency in the WEN 56200i is made possible with an eco-mode function. This feature works by moderating the speed of the engine depending on how you plug and unplug devices. At a 50% load, you can get a 6-hour runtime, which is impressive considering it uses a 1-gallon tank.
The WEN 56200i review will not be complete without mentioning how quiet this CARB approved generator is. This machine has a 79cc OHV engine that produces noise levels of about 51 dBA. This is slightly quieter than two people having a normal conversation.
You also have the ability to connect two generators if you need more power using its parallel connection feature.
What we liked:
It is an inverter generator
Very quiet with noise levels of 51 dBA
Features a two-year warranty
Includes a USB charging port
What could be better:
It has a tall design that may need more storage space
Do you want a versatile yet powerful CARB certified generator? The Champion Power Equipment 76533 is all you need to ensure a steady supply of power in your home during outages. It can also come in handy during camping trips or when you are using an RV.
The Champion Power Equipment 76533 uses both gasoline and propane. With gasoline, this Champion generator starts at 4,750 watts and features a running output of 3,800 watts. This translates to a runtime of 9 hours at a 50% load. If it uses propane, it has a peak output of 4,275 watts and a running power of 3,240 watts. At 50% load, a 20-pound propane tank will run for about 10.5 hours. It also comes with many power outlets including one 120V 30A Locking (L5-30R), one 120V 30A (TT-30R) and two 120V 20A Duplex (5-20R) outlets.
This CARB compliant generator sports a lot of unique features. For example, it has a patented fuel selector that allows you to safely switch between gasoline or propane. Intelligauge is another unique feature of the Champion Power Equipment that allows you to monitor the voltage, power output, and even run time.
With noise levels of about 68 dBA, you can expect this CARB approved generator to be as loud as a vacuum cleaner. It also has an in-built Volt Guard that protects your appliances from surges.
What we liked:
It supports two fuel types
An impressive power output
Features an electric start but has a recoil backup
Westinghouse is a renowned brand that has produced efficient and reliable generators for more than a century. The Westinghouse WGen7500 is one of the best CARB compliant portable generators in the Westinghouse line. It delivers an impressive starting power of 9,500 watts and a running output of 7,500 watts.
One thing that makes the Westinghouse WGen7500 stand out is its powerful 420cc OHV engine. This engine is specially designed to consume less fuel than the regular side-valve engine. It features a 6.6-gallon fuel tank that comes with a gauge to let you know when you are low on fuel. To start the generator, you can choose to use the push button on the generator or use the remote fob from a distance.
This CARB approved generator also has an impressive runtime. At 50% load, the Westinghouse WGen7500 can run for 11 hours or 16 hours at 25% load. In a power outage, this supply will be more than enough to cater for cooking, lighting and other appliances. The different outlets make it possible to connect various devices to the generator.
Safety was a great priority when designing and manufacturing this generator. One of its notable safety features is its auto-shutoff technology that turns off the generator when the oil level is low. The machine is covered by cast iron and further reinforced with roll bars to protect it from drops.
What we liked:
A powerful engine with a power output of 9,500/7,500 watts
The Pulsar G2319N does not have the brand recognition that other CARB compliant generators in the review have. That said, this is still one of the best CARB compliant RV inverter generator. This is why it features as our budget pick.
This generator has a starting output of about 2,300 watts and running power of about 1,800 watts. With such power output, you can be sure to power most of your household appliances. It can also support a heavier load unlike other generators with low power output.
The inverter generator has an 80cc OHV engine that delivers some impressive performance. It can run for about 6 hours at half load while delivering clean and stable power that you can even use with sensitive appliances. With four outlets, you can rest assured that all your appliances and devices are compatible with this generator. The outlets include two 120v 15A outlets, a 5v USB port, and a 12v DC outlet.
You should also get this generator if you are looking for a portable power source. It weighs about 47 pounds and measures 19.7 x 11.2 x 17.9 inches, which makes it easy to transport and store.
What we liked:
Contains various outlets
Offers some good run time
What could be better:
It comes with a 1-year warranty
You can find a quieter alternative
Things to Consider
With the many options that you have when looking for a generator, it is only prudent that you consider some key factors. Although we have outlined some of the best CARB-compliant generators on the market, how do you find what works best for you? Here are some things to consider.
What does “CARB compliant” mean?
CARB stands for California Air Resources Board, which is the primary body in the state of California that is responsible for maintaining clean air in the state. The board seeks to protect residents from air pollution and contaminants. This is done by instituting rules and regulations that outline some of the acceptable generators that do not contaminate the air. A CARB-compliant generator is one that has been approved by the CARB.
Features to consider before you buy a generator
Like all products, there are some key features that you need to explore before making that final choice. These are some of the top features that you should keep in mind when looking for the best generators.
Portable generator type: Inverter or conventional
The type of generator that you choose will go a long way to determine the type of experience that you will get. Conventional generators are the classic types that many people used in the past and still use. These generators use mechanical energy in the generator to produce the power they supply. Although most of these generator types are bulky and noisy, they are affordable and versatile. An example is the Westinghouse WGen7500 and the Champion Power Equipment 76533.
An inverter generator, on the other hand, uses an engine to produce AC power that is then converted to DC power using a rectifier. These generators use high tech magnets to produce electricity. They are also fuel-efficient, compact and less noisy as compared to conventional generators. The Champion Power Equipment 100573 is one of the best inverter generators we reviewed.
Your preferred power output is likely to depend on how frequently you get power outages. If you live in an area that is prone to power outages then you ought to get a high output generator such as the Westinghouse WGen7500 that has a starting power of 9,500 watts and running power of 7,500 watts. For those who may not need much output or do not get a lot of power interruptions then the compact Pulsar G2319N can come in handy.
Fuel: gasoline, propane, or both
The type of fuel that you choose will affect performance and overall power output among other factors. Although most generators run on either gasoline or propane, each of these presents some unique challenges. You want a generator that mixes both gasoline and propane to ensure that you always have some backup. The Champion Power Equipment 76533 is an example of a generator that uses both gasoline and propane.
In the event that you choose a gasoline tank only, remember to include a fuel stabilizer.
Fuel tank capacity and runtime
A bigger fuel tank means you can go days or even weeks without refueling. It also means that you get more runtime with your generator. Most fuel tank capacities will get you a run time of about 8 hours with a load of 50%. Given the chance to choose between a small and a large tank, you should go for the larger capacity tank. You will get more runtime during power outages. The Westinghouse WGen7500 has an impressive 6.6-gallon fuel tank.
Safety is paramount when shopping around for a CARB approved generator. Some manufacturers know this and try to incorporate as many safety features as possible. A low-oil shutoff feature, for example, will switch off the machine in case the oil levels drop to an undesired minimum. This reduces damage to the generator’s engine.
Other safety features to look out for include proper insulation around circuits, overload protection, spark arresters, etc.
All generators on our list have some pretty good safety features.
Ease of use
No one has enough time to study an appliance for days on end, which is why it is advisable to get an easy-to-use machine. Some of the features enhance the ease of use of a generator include the starting system, monitoring systems and how to add fuel or oil. You can get a remote-controlled starting system, which makes it easier to power on/off the machine from as far as 80 feet with the Champion Power Equipment 100573. It is also advisable to get a generator that displays the gas/fuel level.
It is a no-brainer that generators, especially conventional ones, are noisy. That said, you need a generator that has low noise levels. The WEN 56200i stood out with noise levels of 51 dBA.
Dimensions and weight
Most generators are pretty heavy, which makes transporting them a bit difficult. To alleviate this problem, manufacturers are including a wheel kit and lift hook bars on generators. While you may go for a lighter generator, a wheel kit also helps make bulkier generators portable.
Both the two sources of fuel are efficient but gas is generally more efficient than liquid propane. This is because it produces more BTUs per liter or gallon of fuel. That said, natural gas is not a clean source of fuel and will release some toxins into the environment. It is also likely to deposit some carbon residue in your generator’s engine. Propane is, however, a cleaner fuel than natural gas and is more friendly to the environment. It is also less likely to harm any parts of your generator.
Do you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters or climate conditions? If so, a portable generator will work just as well when the power is out. Portable generators are as good at home as they are when you are out camping or using it in your RV. Whether you need to power your TV, lighting equipment, home appliances, laptops or even a sump pump, you can always rely on a portable generator. The power output and runtime that you should get will depend on the number of appliances that you want to power. Get a high output generator such as the Westinghouse WGen7500 if you are a heavy power consumer.
The Champion Power Equipment 100573 impressed us most, which is why it is our editor’s choice. Its powerful 4000-watt engine, good runtime, minimal fuel consumption, and safety features are some of the reasons why we loved it.
In second place is the WEN 56200i, a portable inverter generator that does more not compromise on performance. It delivers an impressive power output for its size while having multiple outlets. The WEN 56200i had the lowest noise levels too.
The Pulsar G2319N is our budget pick for those who are looking for one of the best CARB compliant generators without breaking the bank. It is portable, has a high power output and delivers some clean and stable power.