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Emissions Limits Proposed for Portable Generators

Monday, November 21, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

To address its preliminary determination that there may be an unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with portable generators, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is proposing a rule that would limit carbon monoxide emissions from operating portable generators. Specifically, this rule would require that (a) portable generators powered by handheld spark-ignition engines and Class I SI engines not exceed a weighted CO emission rate of 75 grams per hour, (b) generators powered by one-cylinder, Class II SI engines not exceed a weighted CO emission rate of 150 g/h, and (3) generators powered by Class II SI engines with two cylinders not exceed a weighted emission rate of 300 g/h. Comments on this proposed rule are due no later than Feb. 6, 2017.

A portable generator is an engine-driven machine that converts chemical energy from the fuel powering the engine to mechanical energy, which, in turn, is converted to electrical power. The engine can be fueled by gasoline, liquid propane, or diesel fuel. A portable generator has a receptacle panel for connecting appliances or other electrical loads via a cord with a plug connection. Portable generators are designed to be carried, pulled, or pushed by a person.

Portable generators that are the subject of the proposed standard are commonly purchased by household consumers to provide electrical power during emergencies (e.g., power outages caused by storms), during other times when electrical power to the home has been shut off, when power is needed at locations around the home without access to electricity, and for recreational activities (e.g., camping or recreational vehicle trips). Built-in wheels or optional wheel kits are often available for heavier, more powerful units (e.g., units with 3 kW power ratings and more).

Products that would not be covered by the proposed rule include permanently installed stationary generators, 50 hertz generators, marine generators, generators permanently installed in recreational vehicles, generators intended to be pulled by vehicles, generators intended to be mounted in truck beds, and generators that are part of welding machines. Generators powered by compression-ignition engines (engines fueled by diesel) are also excluded.

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