California bans gas-powered lawn equipment and other “small off-road engines”

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TruckElectric

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California will ban “small off-road engines” (SORE) primarily used in gas-powered lawn equipment like leaf blowers and lawnmowers, in a law signed by Governor Gavin Newsom this weekend.

The bill, AB 1346, directs California’s Air Resources Board to draw up regulations which will go into place by 2024. It bans the sale of new SOREs, but does not seem to ban their operation.

The law will apply not only to gas-powered lawn equipment, but also to generators and emergency response equipment. The bill does give regulators some leeway with the regulations based on what is found to be “technologically feasible,” so some portions of the regulation may be pushed back beyond 2024.

California’s reasoning for the ban is because gas-powered lawn equipment produces surprisingly high levels of pollution, but these devices have not been subject to nearly as much regulation as vehicle engines allowing them to pollute with impunity. The small engines in this equipment don’t fully combust the gasoline used to run them, which means they emit high levels of particulate exhaust. This exhaust forms smog, which contributes to poor air quality and harms health.

In fact, they’re so dirty that according to California regulators, SOREs in California contribute more total Nitrous Oxide (NOx) and Reactive Organic Gases (ROG) pollution than passenger cars do statewide. Operating a gas leaf blower for one hour can produce as many NOx+ROG emissions as driving 1,100 miles in a new passenger car.

Passenger cars still produce more global warming emissions than SOREs do, but the health effects of these small engines are much heavier than you’d think. And they’re annoyingly noisy, too (and noise pollution also kills).

The bill underlines that there are perfectly good zero-emission replacements for these engines, and these are available at low cost. Some regulators already have rebate programs to reduce the cost of shifting to electric lawn mowers, for both residential and commercial users. These programs have been in place for a long time because lawn equipment is comparatively cheap and very polluting, so regulators can get a lot of bang for their buck by incentivizing retirement of SOREs. AB 1346 directs state agencies to increase funding to these programs to support the transition to zero-emission equipment.

If you’re in California (or anywhere else that has air…) check out Electrek’s “Green Deals” section where we periodically post green tech deals. You’ll find deals on electric lawn equipment quite often, so save yourself a few bucks while helping to save the lungs and ears of your neighborhood too. And check with your state clean air regulator to see if any rebates are available – here’s California’s page, with links to regional incentives for various parts of California.

People who’ve made the switch to electric lawn equipment also seem to love them. I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from owners. In particular, our publisher, Seth Weintraub, loves his (and he won’t stop talking about it in our slack channel, either):


https://electrek.co/2021/10/11/cali...n-equipment-and-other-small-off-road-engines/
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Ogre

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Electric mower, edger, weed whacked, hedger and chainsaw have been in use for years and allowed me to reduce my maintenance hassle with them.
I do have a gas chainsaw, I tried quite hard to replace it with electric, but when you are cutting through 36” logs across the trail it just takes too long and too many batteries.

Still use the electric quite a bit because it’s much lighter, but we have too much big stuff to deal with on trail work days.
 

John K

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Mine was wired and my use was intermit. The chainsaw was my fathers, he gave to me and still has a place of honor in the garage, though no need to use. It did make short work of two problem trees I inherited with the house purchase. Cutting a 25 foot cypress tree within a foot of my foundation and house inspired a short pause to make sure I felled the tree in the direction desired. Neibors we’re out with video cameras as AFV was popular at the time.

They wished for me to mess up, grrrr…. Did my wife help with cleanup? Nope
 

Bitmaster

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There have been decent electric equivalents for this stuff for years.

Hopefully Oregon follows suit. That stuff is annoying.
I agree. I have been using Ego brand tools for years now and love them. Clean and quiet.
 

Crissa

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I do have a gas chainsaw, I tried quite hard to replace it with electric, but when you are cutting through 36” logs across the trail it just takes too long and too many batteries.

Still use the electric quite a bit because it’s much lighter, but we have too much big stuff to deal with on trail work days.
Yeah, my electric saw is only 18". It doesn't vibrate and cuts smoothly through like a hot knife through butter. It's lighter, quieter (but not quiet by any stretch of the imagination!)

I want a bigger one, 'cause if an electric motor can drive my motorcycle at 90mph, well...

And trail use, well, I think the cleanliness of batteries more than makes up for the weight.

-Crissa
 

Ogre

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Yeah, my electric saw is only 18". It doesn't vibrate and cuts smoothly through like a hot knife through butter. It's lighter, quieter (but not quiet by any stretch of the imagination!)

I want a bigger one, 'cause if an electric motor can drive my motorcycle at 90mph, well...

And trail use, well, I think the cleanliness of batteries more than makes up for the weight.

-Crissa
Totally agree. The power/ weight ratio is off the hook with electric.

The problem is my 60v Dewalt saw goes through about a quarter of a battery getting through one big log.

1634068015409.jpeg


On my first day out doing trail work I made about 15 cuts, went through 3 60v batteries, and wasn’t even half done and still needed to borrow my buddies gas axe to finish up. This is about 1/3 of the day. At about $150+/ battery I just can’t make it work. Also, the electric has thinner blades which cut fast, but go dull quicker So more sharpening in the woods which is a PITA.

1634068107048.jpeg
 

Crissa

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Huh, you have the smaller one. The bigger one is a normal sized blade and I usually use half the battery. It also uses a bigger 60v battery than the demo saw... So I swap with my demo saw.

It's all about inches of cut, and if you have to go around you're using much more time to get those inches!

If you're going to work on a big fall like that, I'd consider taking a bike or cart and a solar set. I'm currently in the market for an inverter that works off 96v so I can run things off the motorcycle.

-Crissa
 
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TruckElectric

TruckElectric

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Totally agree. The power/ weight ratio is off the hook with electric.

The problem is my 60v Dewalt saw goes through about a quarter of a battery getting through one big log.

1634068015409.jpeg


On my first day out doing trail work I made about 15 cuts, went through 3 60v batteries, and wasn’t even half done and still needed to borrow my buddies gas axe to finish up. This is about 1/3 of the day. At about $150+/ battery I just can’t make it work. Also, the electric has thinner blades which cut fast, but go dull quicker So more sharpening in the woods which is a PITA.

1634068107048.jpeg
Have you tried a battery-powered Stihl or Husqvarna?
 

DFW

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I stopped using gas lawn tools more than a decade ago.
Why? How?
40v Ryobi mowers (3)
40v Ryobi string trimmers (5)
40v Ryobi leaf blowers (2)
40v Ryobi chain saw (1)
and unrelated but
18v Ryobi hand tools (12+)
 
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