What You Should Know About California's Ban on Sales of Gas-Powered Outdoor Tools

The law would limit the sale of gas chainsaws, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and more as early as 2024

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gasoline can on pavement with lawn mower in background Photo: iStock

California residents may not be able to buy new gasoline-powered outdoor power equipment after January 2024.

A recently signed state law will effectively ban the sale of new gasoline-powered tools within the next few years in an effort to curb air pollution. The law applies primarily to landscaping equipment, including chainsaws, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and string trimmers.

The law was proposed by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. California is the first state to legislate such a wide-reaching measure. On a local level, many municipalities in other states have banned certain gas tools, both because of emissions and noise. The California law would also apply to professional landscapers and gardeners, and the state has allocated $30 million to help these businesses make the transition.

More on Electric Outdoor Power Equipment

The law would also require gas-powered home generators to be emissions-free by 2028. And the timeline for all of the above is subject to review by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which will determine final dates for implementing the new regulations.

Gas-powered outdoor tools can pollute heavily, particularly models with two-stroke engines, which burn a mixture of gasoline and oil. Electric tools, on the other hand, produce no emissions at the point of use. And their performance has improved exponentially over the past decade: “In most of the outdoor power equipment categories we test, we’ve seen that the performance of battery-powered units is on-par with gas—even outperforming them at times,” says Misha Kollontai, CR’s test engineer who oversees outdoor power equipment testing. “Battery charge times are also steadily dropping to very reasonable levels, while run times in many categories more than cover what you need to finish a day’s work.” 

While CR’s testing confirms that in most cases, electric tools present an excellent alternative to traditional gas tools, there are exceptions. As a group, electric pressure washers and snow blowers are not as powerful as gas options. As for generators, portable power stations can provide an emissions-free way to charge a phone or laptop but aren’t a viable alternative to traditional gasoline generators if you need to power essentials like appliances during a power outage. 

Keep in mind that electric lawn tools can be more expensive, but in addition to saving on gas and maintenance in the long run, you can also lower the initial investment by buying tools from a single brand that share a common battery. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best electric lawn tools from CR’s tests.

Best Electric Chainsaws

In our latest tests, electric chainsaws held their own against gas models, with the best actually outperforming larger gas saws.

Best Electric Lawn Mowers

The best battery mowers cut every bit as well as their gas counterparts, and start with ease. We’ve also seen a proliferation of electric riding mowers, including zero-turn-radius mowers.

Best Electric Leaf Blowers

Our tests find that corded electric options are good for small yards, provided no part of the yard is more than 100 feet from an outlet, since that’s the longest outdoor extension cord you’ll find readily. Battery-powered handheld blowers are good for slightly larger yards, while the biggest properties are well-served by battery backpack blowers.

Best Electric Pressure Washers

Corded electric pressure washers can hold their own when it comes to lighter cleaning tasks. Our ratings also include a single, 240-volt electric model, which offers the performance of a gas tool, though it’s expensive.

Best Electric String Trimmers

Corded electric trimmers are again good for small yards, and you can trade up to a battery-powered trimmer if you’ve got a larger property.

Paul Hope

As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.