Standards Matter
June 17, 2021

Portable Generator Standards: Helping to Mitigate Carbon Monoxide Emissions

People operating portable generator

Unexpected power outages are common inconveniences for homes and businesses. For many, portable generators provide auxiliary power to keep necessities running during an outage. However, these generators might pose a risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if used incorrectly. Carbon monoxide, also known as the "silent killer," is undetectable by humans because it is colorless, odorless and tasteless. In high enough concentrations, CO can harm or kill a person within minutes.

How do UL standards prevent carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators?

UL 2201, the Standard for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Emission Rate of Portable Generators, requires product testing to help ensure the accuracy of safety features that are included in all types of portable generators. While other SDOs developed consensus safety standards for the United States on portable generators before UL 2201, our Standard was the first to address the mitigation of carbon monoxide emissions.

UL 2201 has requirements that limit the active CO emissions coming from the portable generator. It also has a shutoff requirement for additional protection if the product is sensing a high output of CO. A portable generator certified to UL 2201 can help to provide the confidence that the equipment has met the published CO mitigation safeguards. 

How can I get involved in standards development?

Our standards are developed through a consensus-based process, which integrates scientific and testing expertise with input from our Technical Committee (TC) members and stakeholders. TC members represent a variety of interests, including industry, academia, government, retail and manufacturing. If you are involved in the design, construction, sale or operation of portable generators, and you would like to help improve safety in your industry, please take a moment to learn how you can get involved.