A generator is a very practical piece of equipment that provides a secondary source of electricity to the world for over one hundred years. We use power generators for numerous reasons including providing backup power during outages and powering a small refrigerator or low wattage lights while we are camping in the woods. A portable generator can also help us when disaster strikes or when there are other emergencies. With a quiet generator handy, anyone can have electricity anytime, anywhere.
When it comes to choosing the best portable generators, the amount of noise a generator makes while running is one of the important factors to consider. A noisy portable generator is a primary annoyance to your fellow campers or neighbors. You wouldn’t want to ruin your relaxing time while camping or an outdoor family gathering with a loud generator. Additional, studies have shown that constant noises increase your risk of heart attack, destroy concentration, make quality sleep impossible. So no matter if you are going to use your portable generator for camping or domestic, you obviously want to invest your money in the quiet generator available.
However, choosing a quiet generator is not as easy as it might sound. Most quiet generators have noise level ranging from 47 to 76 decibels. Now, those numbers do not mean that the 76-decibel generators always sound louder than the 47-decibel generators because they often do not. The amount of noise produced by a generator largely depends on its mechanism and the conditions that it is used in. In this article, we will show you some of the best quiet portable generators on the market, but before we do, we will explain everything you need to know before choosing your best quiet generator.
Quick Answer: Top 5 Best Quiet Generators
- Champion Power Equipment 75537i | Quiet Generator For Rv, Camper
- Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator | Honda Quiet Generator
- WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator | Cheap Quiet Generator
- Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator | Quiet propane generator
- Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Portable Generator with Inverter | Quiet gas generator
One decibel is one-tenth (deci-) of one bel, named in honor of Alexander Graham Bell. However, bel is rarely used, instead, we measure sound using the decibel. A decibel reading of zero does not mean the absence of sound. It is the threshold of hearing – the lowest sound that the human ear is capable of hearing. If we were exposed to 160 dBA it would destroy our eardrums. The difference between 0 and 160 is obviously 160, but since decibel scales are logarithmic, it is around a billion times louder.
The loudness of a generator is expressed in A-weighted decibels (dBAs). The louder a generator is, the higher the dBA for it. Generators vary considerably when it comes to the amount of noise they produce.
So How Many Decibels Is a Quiet Generator?
The quiet generators operate at 50-65dBA or less which is often quieter than the noise generated by a running refrigerator or air conditioning system.
A great way to get a feel for how loud a generator is going to be is by understanding what different dBA levels sound like. Here are some examples of common source sound compare to each other with respect to dBA levels. Keep in mind that the distance away from the sound source directly affects how loud it sounds.
|Sound level (dBA)||Common Source|
|0||Threshold of Hearing|
|30||Inside bedroom at night|
|50||Office background noise|
|70||Car interior while moving|
|90||Semi truck at 30 ft|
|100||Loud car horn at 9 ft|
|120||Jet take-off at 300 ft|
|130||Threshold of pain|
Most popular 1000-2000 watt inverter generators are considered to be about as loud as normal conversational speech ( 50-60 dBA noise level at full rated load). For those manufacturers that provide noise level data, it is usually given as dB (decibel), such as 53 dB, or sometimes given as a range like 47 – 59 dB. When a range of number is given, it means the noise level at full rated load and the noise level at 1/4 rated load. Beware that some published specs about sound levels using only the 1/4 rated load number. Be sure to evaluate it at full rated load – that’s when it is loudest.
Portable Generators: Inverter Generators vs. Conventional
Whether you are looking to buy a portable generator to provide backup power during outages, or for tailgating or camping, you’ll come across two different kinds of generators: conventional generator that created alternating current (AC) power, and inverter generators, which produce direct current (DC) power and converts it to AC power.
So what kind is right for you?
It really depends on a number of factors, including your budget and what applications you’re going to use your portable generator for. Let’s take a look at some considerations before deciding.
Noise is one that truly separates the two categories of portable generators. Inverter generators are designed to be quiet. They have noise reduction features such as quieter engines, special mufflers and sound-dampening technology that helps to reduce noise to amazingly low levels. Conventional generators run at a constant speed (typically 3600 rpm) to produce a stable flow of electricity. Inverter generators, on the other hand, has the ability to adjust its operational characteristic depending on the needed output. This ability to run according to the required load helps substantially reduce noise. To give you an idea, inverter generators running low could be the equivalent of people conversing. Instead, many conventional generators operate around the 70-100dBA noise level range that can have the same noise range (decibels) as a chainsaw.
- Inverter generators are often small and lightweight. They are easy to transport, fitting easily in your RV or boat.
- Conventional generators are heavy, bulky, often requiring a metal frame and wheels. Technically, they are portable, in that they can be moved, but they lack the convenience factor that can be found in inverters.
Fuel Efficiency / Run time
Since conventional generators run at a constant (fast) speed, they are good for greater output and extended run time, but it also means more fuel and noise.
Inverter generators, on the other hand, produce electricity on demand. By using special microprocessors and advanced electronics to adjust the power or wattage, they only produce the electricity that demanded based on what you plug into the inverter generator. With lower power requirements, inverter generators can run at slower engine speeds, as much as 25% slower, which not only makes them more fuel efficient but less noisy too.
Quality of Power produced
A conventional is an engine which is connected to an alternator and run at a constant speed that produces AC electricity, regardless of the load on it (the engine throttles up as the load increases to keep the engine speed the same). The alternator’s output is connected directly to the load, without any processing.
With an inverter generator, the engine is connected to an efficient alternator, which produces the AC frequency, just like a conventional generator. Then a rectifier is used to convert the AC power to DC and capacitors are used to smooth it out to a certain degree. The DC power is then inverted back into the desired AC frequency and voltage. The system produces reliable and consistent power independent of the engine speed. The result is much cleaner and safer power than is possible with conventional generators.
Why is this important? Well, many products today (such as phones, computer, TVs, players, kitchen appliances, power tools) use some form of microprocessors which are very sensitive to the quality of the electricity they use. Using the power that isn’t clean can make these gadgets malfunction, even damage them. That said, any application that uses sensitive electronics will benefit from the cleaner power provided by an inverter generator.
Max Power Output
Conventional generators come in just about any size you want, from 500 watts up to 50,000 watts and higher.
Inverters focus on quiet operation, portability, convenience, but this means that their max power output possibilities are more limited – they are mainly available in 1000 – 4000watt models.
- 1000 watt generators – They are ideal for powering TV’s, electric razors, gaming consoles, and small lights and fans. They are capable of running certain electronics, but you’ll have to add the wattages up as you’re running lots of things at once.
- 2000 watt generators – For appliances that require more power to run such as microwave ovens, heaters, coffee pots, electric grills.
- 3000+ watt generators – These generators can pretty much power anything you bring camping and usually several devices simultaneously. They’re even capable of handling RV A/C units up to 13500 BTUs.
With all that said, it seems that we only choose a conventional generator when we need a very high power output. However, another main reason why conventional generators were chosen is the price. While inverters have a number of significant benefits (like quieter operation, fuel-efficiency, convenience, cleaner and safer power), conventional generators’ simple functional design make them not only cheaper than inverters but less costly to repair.
Choosing a generator size
To determine the best size (Power rating) generator, the easiest way is to add up the wattage of everything you want to power in your home. Or use each device one-at-a-time with a smaller generator. Keep in mind that some appliances with a motor, such as refrigerators, air conditioners, require more wattage when they are cycling on.
To figure out what generator size you need, here is a list of common electronic devices with typical power requirements that matches the size you need. Also, be sure to check the actual power needed for your device as it will be slightly different than the examples below.
Small portable: 2,000 to 4,000 watts (Try to use inverter generators)
What it can power: The basics, including a:
- Refrigerator (600 -1400 watts)
- Microwave (1,500 watts)
- Coffee Maker (600 watts)
- Several lights (400 watts)
- Blender (300 watts)
- Flat-screen TV (120 watts)
- Fan (portable) (120 watts)
- Smartphone (4 watts)
Midsized portable and small stationary: 5,000 to 8,500 watts
What it can power: Same as small portables, plus a:
- Portable heater (1,300 watts)
- Heating system (500 watts)
- Second pump (600 watts)
- Water heat (500 watts)
- Computer (250 watts)
- More lights (400 watts)
Large portable: 10,000 watts
What it can power: All of the above, plus a:
- Small water heater (3,000 watts)
- Electric range (5,000 watts)
- Central air conditioner (5,000 watts)
Large stationary: 10,000 to 15,000 watts
What it can power: Same as large portable models, plus a:
- Clothes washer (1,200 watts)
- Electric dryer (5,000 watts)
NOTE: You can use Honda’s wattage calculator to help you determine the right size generator.
It’s worth to mention that a generator’s loudness largely depends on the engine’s size. More power will always equal more decibels, so a generator that runs off a 4000-watt engine, for instance, will be much louder than one that runs off the 3000-watt engine. You may also want to select a model with a slightly higher rated wattage to accommodate your existing needs but also handle anything additional you might add later. Moreover, a large capacity generator running at low load could be much less annoying than a smaller model running at maximum load.
What Makes The Noise?
Are you aware that the noises from your generator do come from two places which are vibrations in the engine housing and the exhaust system that burns the fuel? You can change the exhaust to make it more efficient by installing a bigger muffler to your generator. You can also create an enclosure around the generator that will allow it to breathe for air cooling purposes while restricting noise.
Want to know some ways to reduce the noise? Read on.
How To Reduce The Noise of the Portable Generator?
Replace the muffler
Some generators are noisy because they don’t have very good mufflers or they have small mufflers. If you truly don’t like noise, it may be worth it to upgrade to a new muffler. You can replace it with a huge muffler. Some people enjoy great results by replacing it with their car muffler.
Add Anti-vibration to the engine housing
Generators produce a lot of vibrations which can easily increase noise levels. A sound and vibration dampening material on the engine block reducing noise levels significantly. The stock screws have a rubber gasket already attached for noise reduction, but you can double that by adding another rubber washer. Rubber mounts, spring mounts, and dampers can be also installed for the same purpose.
Make sure that you move your exhaust pipe vertically
You can also reduce generator noise significantly by changing the direction of the exhaust pipe vertically. By doing this, the waves will be channeled up rather than out which makes the generator generate a quieter sound. It will be a major improvement to your generator since engines are usually loudest at the exhaust section.
Move your generator further away from you
You can make a generator quieter by simply moving it away from you. By investing in extra-long extension cords, it’s possible to position your generator far from home. This simple tip can be very effective if you have enough space. You can get off 10 or more dBAs by moving your unit. If you follow this way, try to keep your loud thing away from your neighbors’ house as well.
Build an Enclosure
Even if the engine is enclosed, the generator may be noisy. Building an enclosure is one of the great ways to make a generator quieter. However, avoid wooden flooring since wood tends to amplify vibrations. You can build an enclosure by using materials that are known to absorb sound such as plywood, this can help in absorbing the noise that is produced.
But it’s important to note that completely enclosing the generator is not an option. Ensure that the room is properly ventilated and spacious for the generator since the exhaust needs to be vented and the air is needed to prevent the generator from overheating. So adding an electric fan which helps with providing air flow across the gen-set can be a good idea.
Overloading can increase noise levels of a generator. So using your generator as recommended is a simple remedy for reducing the noise. If you require more power for your new appliances, you should buy a more powerful generator. Again, remember that a large capacity generator running at low load could be much less annoying than a smaller model running at maximum load.
Buy a quiet generator
You can reduce the generator noise levels by considering all the above tips. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of time and work. You will also be required to spend some money. In the worst case, you may still end up with a noise generator after trying all remedies. For these reasons, it’s always recommendable to invest in a quieter generator, this will not only save your effort but also help to avoid the wrath of the neighbors who may be irritated by the noisy generators.
So if you’re reading this article, we can assume that you’ve chosen the last remedy – buying a quiet generator. However, if you’re not sure about what the quietest generators are, you will by the time you’re finished reading this article (We hope so).
Reviews | Best Quiet Generator
Champion Power Equipment 75537i | Quiet Generator For Rv, Camper
The Champion Power Equipment 75537i is a great choice for RVs, tailgating, your next project or backup power for your home. It is making its case to be the “go-to” inverter generator in the “must have” home appliance category.
- Solid quality
- Quiet operation
- Compact size
- Great customer support
- A bit expensive
Looking for huge power inverter generator for your RV needs?
The Champion Power Equipment 75537i deserves a hard look. It delivers 3100 watts of starting power and 2800 watts of running wattage. With this kind of power, it will surely provide enough power supply for your RV needs.
The Champion 75537i generator is designed to be used on RVs and mobile home – streamlined for optimum efficiency (with up to 8 hours run time at a 25% load), economical to run, packed with enough ports to handle all types of electrical equipment. Although this inverter generator produces a whopping power output of over 3000 watts, this inverter operates at 58 dBA from 23 feet– about the same noise level as normal conversation.
So what can I power with kind of power?
At 3100 starting watts and 2800 running watts, you will be able to power most important appliances and devices during a power outage. This includes lights, refrigerator, sump pump, wi-fi/modem/router, furnace blower, computer, smartphone/tablet charger, fan, HDTV and many more. Basically, some appliances need a bit of extra power when they start, that is why most of the portable generators provide extra “surge” watts over their running watts.
With 3100 watts, this portable generator is perfect for starting up any 13,500BTU RV rooftop AC. Commonly you will only find rooftop AC’s with a BTU rating of anywhere between 13000-14000 on the typical 20-25 foot long mobile home/RV.
As you probably know by now, the engine control unit in an inverter generator monitor the amount of load on the output of the generator and tries to match the engine rpm with the load percentage, so that no fuel is wasted. So one of the great advantages of the Champion Power Equipment 75537i Inverter Generator is having excellent fuel efficiency.
Overall, if you want a quiet operation, better efficiency, and an extra 1 year on the warranty, we highly recommend this unit as one of the best quiet inverter generators.
Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator | Honda Quiet Generator
The Honda 7000W generator is the one to consider when you want to prepare your home with a heavy-duty, quiet, fuel-efficient inverter generator you can count on to work when you need it most.
- Super quiet
- Strong power output
- Power steadily
- Fuel efficient
- Quite heavy
One of the most attractive features of the Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator is its low noise level. It is ranked among the quiet inverter generators on the market with a noise level of 52 decibels at 1/4 load and 60 decibels at rated load. It’s as quiet as a normal conservation so you can freely have a normal conservation near the generator without raising your voices.
Not only is the Honda EU7000IS quiet, but it also has plenty of power for practically any RV or home. With a power output of 5500 watts, it is one of the stronger portable models out there. More than likely, it is strong enough to get the job done if your needs are based on residential or recreation use. If you’re in the construction industry, this 7000W generator can run almost any of the commonly used power tools except high powered electric pressure washers or lawn mowers.
The Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator can operate for 18 hours per tankful of gas at 1/4 load and six hours at 1/4 load. This lets the unit to realize a 25% increase in runtime and a 20% increase in fuel economy over the U6500is model.
The main reason why many customers do not choose this unit is its weight. With a dry weight of 262 pounds, this unit is much heavier than the Honda EU2000I inverter portable generator. However, with two wheels lend to its portability, you can move it around easier.
WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator | Cheap Quiet Generator
The WEN 56200I is quiet, compact, powerful, clean burning and very affordable. If you need a quiet and affordable portable generator for camping, RV Generator, tailgating, worksite, boating, power outages, then this unit will be able to meet your needs.
- Extremely quiet engine
- Convenient and portable design
- Fuel efficient
- Safe operation
- Its Eco-mode which allows the generator to adjust fuel consumption automatically
- Great price
- Comes with a 2-year warranty
- Not going to be a good fit for heavy duty use
- A slightly shorter runtime
One of the main advantages of the WEN 56200i generator is its low noise level. It is an inverter generator with variable engine speed that adjusts to the amount of load to keep the noise level at a minimum. With a noise level of just 51 decibels at 25% load, it’s quieter than an average conversation as well as a typical window air unit.
Even though it is a whisper quiet generator, it doesn’t lack power. It comes with a 79.7cc 4-stroke OHV (overhead valve) engine capable of delivering an impressive output of 2000 starting watts and 1600 running watts. This is sufficient for your power needs in power outages, tailgates, campgrounds and even construction sites.
The WEN 56200i also stands out for offering clean energy. With its pure sine wave output, the WEN 56200i limits a total harmonic distortion ranging between 0.3% and 1.2%. This makes it safe to run and power sensitive electronics without damaging them.
In terms of weight and size, the unit weighs 48 pounds which is light enough to be carried by one person. And with some useful features such as a carrying handle and pull cord, you can carry it around like a little briefcase. This generator has a small compact design measuring 22.5 inches long, 12 inches wide, and a height of 19.25 inches.
The WEN 56200i comes with a 2-year warranty. So buying the WEN 56200i is risk-free for two years, which makes it a great choice for the money.
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator | Quiet propane generator
The Champion 3400W inverter generator is a quiet propane generator. This inverter generator can run multiple small appliances such as small TV, small air conditioner while supplying your lights and recharging your phone. However, this is not a great choice for campers.
- Quieter than the average generator
- Excellent power quality
- Parallel capability
- Comes with a three-year limited warranty
- Does not come with a key fob to start it remotely
- Relatively high price
- Not for heavy-duty use
The 100263 is another quiet Champion inverter generator. At 23 feet, it produces 59 decibels of sound. If you are sitting right next to it, it puts out 75 decibels. This is quieter than a dishwasher but it is still louder than the Champion Power Equipment 75537i. The increase in noise, however, is expected because it corresponds with the increase in power.
The generator has a starting wattage of 3400 watts and a running wattage of 3100 watts. So your energy budget needs to be for around 3000 watts of power usage, not 3400. If you have greater power needs, you can attach a second Champion inverter to this generator to increase your power output, but that is separate, out of pocket expense.
RV dwellers who live off propane will appreciate the alternatives this inverter generator provides. This dual fuel inverter generator runs on both propane and gas. You will notice that the power output of this Champion generator is much higher than the previous Champion that we reviewed. This output, however, is achieved when you use Gasoline. If you switch to Propane the starting wattage is 3060 watts and the running wattage is 2790 watts. The difference between both fuel sources is definitely large!
This unit comes with several RV ready outlets. It has a single 120V 30A plug and two 120V 20A plugs suitable for small appliances. The generator also produces clean power that makes it safe for recharging a cell phone or laptop, officially, the total harmonic distortion or THD is less than 3%.
With a net weight of 193 kg, the Champion Inverter Generator 100263 is quite heavy and is not easily transported from one location to another. To help solve the portability issue a bit, Champion Power Equipment has provided built-in carrying handles and an integrated mobility kit.
The battery on this Champion typically causes it to start quickly. The battery must be mostly charged to run it on gasoline, this means you need to start the unit and run it perhaps once a week to keep the battery charged so it will quickly start when you want to power it with gas.
The run time of this Champion depends largely on the type of fuel you use. If you use Propane, you will have a runtime of 14.5 hours at 25 percent load. Gasoline, on the other hand, gives a shorter run time of 7.5 hours on 25 percent load. This means that choosing between Gasoline and Propane will depend on what you need more: A large power output or a longer run time!
Honda EU2000I 2000 Watt Portable Generator with Inverter | Quiet gas generator
The Honda EU2000I inverter portable generator is not only super-quiet and lightweight but user-friendly too. This generator is perfect for your RV, camping, light construction projects, street vendors and domestic power back-up. So if you need something small, and want the absolute best quality and quietness, this is maybe the right one for you.
- Super quiet
- Extremely sizable and portable
- Fuel efficient
- Parallel capability
- 3-year residential/commercial warranty
- It is not that affordable
Honda machines are legendarily durable, reliable, efficient and the Honda EU2000I inverter portable generator is no exception. This machine is lighter, quieter and easier to carry around with you.
The EU2000i is one of the quietest gas generators in the market today. It produces just 59 decibels from a distance of 20 feet. The sound it produces during operation can only be compared to a normal conversation, just like The Champion 75537i generator. Considering the generator can produce even quieter at lower load, this unit clearly deserves a spot on this list. In fact, if you’re only running at 25 percent load, it will produce just 53 decibels. That’s why the EU2000i is a perfect choice for campers. It will not be an annoyance to your fellow campers or neighbors.
Noise aside, The Honda EU2000i is perfect for applications that involve carrying the unit around. This generator is just 20 inches long and weighing in at just about 46 pounds, which makes it easy to move the EU2000i anywhere by hand. For fitting a portable generator in a tightly packed camper or carrying a portable generator to a campsite by hand, there’s really nothing better.
It’s packing 1600 running watts and the higher running watts is 1600 for kick-starting larger appliances like an A/C system. It can operate a variety of appliances, but if you have greater power needs or 2000 watts is not enough power to crank your Air condition in the travel trailer, you can get more power by connecting the Honda EU2000I to another identical generator using an optional cable.
Another thing you may want to consider is the warranty of the EU2000i. Many customers love the fact that the EU2000i is covered by a 3-year residential/commercial warranty.
The Honda EU2000i generator may not be the cheapest inverter generator out there. However, the price is well worth it because of durability and reliability. This generator is our top choice in the 2000 – 2500W range of inverter generators, thanks to its incredibly compact design, reliable performance, extended warranty and efficient low-noise operation.