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 portable generator handy, anyone can have electricity anytime, anywhere.
One of the biggest complaints people have with their generator is how loud they are, which is understandable since the noise can drive you a little crazy. 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, and then we will explain everything you need to know before choosing your best quiet generator.
Quiet Generator Comparison Table
|Products (Click on the name for more information)
|Noise Level (dBA)
|Engine Displacement (cc)
|Running Watts/ Surge Watts
|WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
|18 x 11 x 18
|Champion Power Equipment 75537i
|20.1 x 20.5 x 28.1
|36 x 24 x 24
|19.3 x 11 x 17.9
|Honda EU2200I 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
|20 x 11.4 x 16.7
|Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator
|47.2 x 27.6 x 28.4
|Champion Portable Inverter Generator
|25.1 x 17.3 x 18.3
Reviews of the Best Quiet Generators | Silent Generator for Home Use
1. WEN 56200i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator – Great quiet generators for camping
The WEN 56200i is quiet, compact, powerful, clean burning and very affordable. It’s designed for various activities such as basic away and outdoor trips. If you’re looking for a great value for your cash, then this is the one you need.
- 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. This inverter generator comes 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 and 55 decibels at 75% load capacity, it’s quieter than an average conversation and the average window air condition system.
Noise levels will vary depending on load. When you engage in eco mode at 1/3 load, you’re going to have a fairly quiet experience from the WEN 56200i generator. And when operating at full load, you should expect the unit to be at its loudest.
This portable generator is also intended to save your fuel. It has an economy mode which allows the generator’s engine to adjust its running speed to match the load. This reduces your fuel consumption and lowers the noise levels. However, the eco-mode works only if the load is below 1000 watts.
In case you are utilizing just 500 Watts, the generator will not run at full capacity. Its Electronic Speed Control throttle feature boosts your fuel and extends the runtime in the process. A single full tank of 1 gallon will last you up to 4 hours while running at full load and up to 6 hours at 50% load.
The WEN 56200i generator is equipped with a 79.7cc 4-stroke OHV (overhead valve) engine that has a forced cooling system. It can provide you with uninterrupted power from a full tank for around half a day depending on the amount of load. It can keep your lights and some small appliances running for half the night after a power outage.
Like other 2000 – watt models, this unit is not the best one for providing your home’s power. This is also not ideal for construction job sites where surge wattage needed to start a typical job site power tool ranges from 1800 to 2500-watts. With a power output of 1600 watts, it’s sufficient for most of your power needs while camping or even in your home for small appliances.
Before choosing this model, determine how much total wattage you’ll need and plan accordingly. Here are some examples of the tools and appliances that this WEN model can power with ease.
- 30 incandescent light bulbs (60-watts each)
- 130 CFL light bulbs (15 watts each)
- Microwave oven
- Electric kettle
- LED/LCD TV display
- Laptop/notebook computer
- Desktop computer
- Cellphone charger
Again, like some of lower wattage models, The WEN 56200i generator has parallel connectivity in case you need a higher quantity of power out of your unit. By using the Parallel Connection Kit, you can hook up another WEN 56200i generator to get the additional power you need. This feature can be very helpful when you want to take advantage of the compact and lightweight design of using this WEN model on its own, yet still able to increase your power output when needed.
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 case you’re going to outdoors for a vacation. Then you would like to carry a generator that feels like small baggage. The WEN 56200i generator is designed with the goal that you can take it anyplace where power is necessary. The generator weighs 48 pounds which is light enough to be carried by a single person. And with some useful features such as a carrying handle and pull cord, you can carry it around like a little briefcase.
Overall, this WEN unit is comparable to many of its high-end competitors, particularly when it comes to its noise levels, compact design, price, and fuel efficiency. It is a great inverter generator that meets all the basics so long as your power needs are not over the top. Also, with a 2-year warranty, this is a great choice for the money.
2. Yamaha EF2000iSv2
[CLICK ON IMAGE FOR PRICE]
The EF2000iSv2 has been upgraded to provide you with a quiet, power-packed and lightweight portable inverter generator. Its optimal design is capable of powering a few of your critical appliances in a power outage, but it’s ideal for leisure applications such as camping, hunting, fishing, tailgating, and outdoor play.
- Quiet operation
- Fuel efficient with economy mode switch
- Clean, safe, and reliable power for highly sensitive electronics
- Lightweight – Easy for carrying and storing
- Expandable connectivity for hooking to another – TwinTech™ capability
- It doesn’t provide enough electricity to power heavy-duty appliances
- Oil not included
- A bit expensive
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 is designed to be very quiet due to its sound-blocking design which includes a molded casing with noise-absorbing glass wool. This helps dampen noise even during heavy operation. It also has noise reduction of rubber feet to encourage smoother yet quieter motor operation.
At 1/4 load, you can actually stand next to this Yamaha and still have a normal conversation, and may not realize it is running. The decibel rating comes in at a very quiet 51.5 dBA at 1/4 load, tested at 7 meters. The range is 61 dBA when running at a full load.
Granted that’s only producing 400 watts at 1/4 load, but consider a standard portable generator with 2000-watt peak power. At this load, its decibels would be in the high 60’s because they do not power down. The engine revs at its minimum even with a low load. As I already mentioned, the Decibel scale is exponential which means an increase in 10 decibels from 50 to 60 means that it is twice as loud.
The Yamaha EF2000iSv2 produces 1600 watts of running power and 2000 starting watts. That said, this is not the one for running multiple devices at the same time. However, this unit has TwinTech™ capability that can be used in parallel with the same model for 3000 watts, and 25 amps of running power and 3600 watts and 30 amps at maximum power (requires an available special cable).
Another important factor to consider when buying a portable generator is how long it will run on a full tank of fuel. This Yamaha model is able to run for up to 10.5 hours at 1 25 percent load from a full tank (1.1 gallons) of unleaded gas. This is possible thanks to the smart throttle load feature that automatically varies the engine speed to coincide with the electrical demands so that it runs efficiently and preserves fuel enabling it to run longer before you need to refuel it.
The generator features an exclusive dual coil alternator stator, which lowers engine speed as well as reduces total fuel consumption.
Another smart feature is that the Yamaha EF2000iS has electrical overload protection to protect the internal circuits in case of a power overload. And, if that wasn’t enough, it has an oil warning system that shuts off the machine if the oil is low and it won’t let you turn it back on until you add oil to it.
Not only is the Yamaha EF2000iSv2 quiet, but it is also very compact and lightweight – only weighs 44 pounds. It’s ultra portable with its suitcase-style extra-large handles make it easy to transport and can be conveniently placed in the trunk of your car or the back of your SUV if you like to go camping.
This handy, portable power source is commonly used for recreation use such as camping or tailgating or to power the creature comforts outside of RV needs. It doesn’t provide enough power to provide heavy-duty appliances, it won’t start up a 13000BTU air condition that you may have in your RV, nor will it power your heavy-duty electric saw in the construction site. If you want to hook up to your home’s power, you’ll want to look for another one with at least 5000 or more watts such as the Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator.
Overall, this Yamaha model is engineered and designed for mid to small needs. It’s very easy to carry around and transport. It can be upgraded by hooking up another EF2000iS unit with the connection cord.
3. DuroMax XP4400E
Duramax XP4400E is one of the top portable generators that serves well its purposes. While not the best, it comes with a lot of features we look for in a high-quality generator. We also like how quiet it is comparing to some of its counterparts.
- Easy to maintain
- Electric key start included
- The load not quite meeting up to advertised specs. While it advertises 3500 watts continuous, I find it starts to struggle as it approaches the 3000 Watt mark.
The noise level of the XP4400E model will vary depending on load, but it should stay under 69 dB. A rating of 69 is fairly standard for a 7.0 horsepower 4-stroke OHV engine, enclosed only by its heavy-duty steel frame roll cage.
The Duramax XP4400E has a 7 HP 4-stroke OHV engine which provides plenty of power. It also comes with a forced air cooling system which prevents the engine from heating up excessively.
This Duramax generator provides 3500 watts of continuous power and 4400 watts of starting power … enough to power your fridge, lights, and sump pump in a blackout. It can effectively power up heavy-duty appliances in your home or recreational purposes such as the 13500 BTU AC. You can also use the generator at a job site to run power tools such as saws and drills.
The gas tank holds under 4 gallons of fuel, enough to keep the generator running up to 8 hours (at 50 percent load). Interestingly, at a 50% load (about 1800W), the generator will last about 14 hours for recoil starting but 12 hours for electric starting. Why? That’s what happens when you gather information from many sources. Reported figures should always be confirmed.
The fuel filter cup also comes in handy to trap water and dirt that may be in your fuel tank before it can enter the engine. This can be a quick way to drain the fuel tank for storage.
The fuel-efficient engine is EPA compliant which means that you are allowed to use it in California and within U.S. National Parks.
A feature that really makes this unit stand out is the electric key start. Just turn the key and it will run, much like turning the key in your car’s ignition. Another convenient feature of the Duramax XP4400E is the wheels and a flip-up, stow-away handle. Since this machine is quite heavy, it can be a chore to move it around. The easily assembled wheel kit makes transport easy.
Overall, if you are looking for a generator for a worksite or if you are looking for one to power the essentials in your home during power outages, this model is a great choice. However, if you are looking for a generator for camping or tailgating, you might prefer a generator that is a bit easier to transport and that doesn’t have quite as much power.
4. Honda EU7000IS Inverter 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 normal conservation so you can freely have normal conservation near the generator without raising your voices.
One of the most important things to look for in the right generator is the number of watts it can produce on a continuous basis. This is considered its rated wattage or running. You will also want to look at how much power the generator can produce for s short period of time to start larger appliances like air conditioners. This is considered its surge wattage or maximum.
With a power output of 5500 watts, the Honda EU7000IS Inverter Generator is one of the strong 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 hooked up your refrigerator to it, you can use it for other things at the same time. So, this may be a great option if you want to hook up to your home’s power. 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.
The Honda EU2200i generator is our top choice in the 2000 – 2500W range of inverter generators. It may not be the cheapest inverter generator out there. However, it is well worth paying that additional bit extra for incredibly compact design, reliable performance, extended warranty and efficient low-noise operation.
- Very light
- Much quieter than most gas-powered generators
- Easy to operate
- Extremely sizable and portable
- Safely power your most sensitive electronics
- Fuel efficient
- Parallel capability
- 3-year residential/commercial warranty
- A bit expensive
- 2200W might not be enough for some
Honda machines are legendarily durable, reliable, efficient and the Honda EU2200I inverter portable generator is no exception.
The EU2200i is one of the quietest gas generators in the market today. The sound it produces (48 to 57 dBA) 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 51 decibels. And almost 49 dBA when it stops working so hard as there is less power draw. That’s why the EU2000i is a perfect choice for campers. It will not be an annoyance to your fellow campers or neighbors.
When it comes to a quiet generator, you should always check the decibel level of the unit. As you probably know, noise levels are measured in decibels or dBA of sound pressure on a logarithmic scale where every increase of 10 decibels causes the noise level to increase tenfold. So there is a big difference between a 60-decibel generator and one that is rated at 50 decibels. Some generator manufacturers don’t make it easy to find out how loud their generators are. Honda company are very transparent when it comes to the decibel ratings of their generators.
The GX120 engine comes in at 121cc, making it one of the largest in power generator of this class. So you can expect the Honda to handle larger loads (say over 1500W) with little trouble. A large engine can also handle peak loads (startup/inductive loads) more efficiently without causing tripping of appliance protective circuits, such as the refrigerator guard.
The Honda EU2200I inverter generator has a rating of 2200 Watts peak power with 1800 Watts output. Basically, this translates into an available 1800W with the capability to handle spikes up to 2200W. A spike normally occurs when you start an electronic device that needs more starting power such as a refrigerator.
Another great feature of Honda EU2200i that will ensure the superior experience is its parallel connection. This can double the power output to 4400 watts. The advantage of this feature is that you can easily upgrade to more power without getting rid of your existing generator for a bigger one. This also means you can take one of the generators on a trip which would be much easier than having to instead buy a bigger and more powerful generator.
Also, keep in mind that you can only run two identical generators in parallel. This means that if you bought a second more powerful generator you won’t be able to run it in parallel with this one.
With that being said, this is not the most powerful model in the portable generator market, but it will certainly give you enough power for your most essential appliances.
Power outages come unexpectedly and it is necessary to have a backup source at all times. This Honda EU2200I can deliver reliable power to keep the lights on and keep other domestic appliances running for hours during emergencies.
Like most of the portable generators, the main limitation of this unit is how long they will keep running on a tank of fuel. When running on a full load (1800W) it will keep going for about 3.4 hours or so. When operating at 25 % power it will keep going for about 8.1 hours. Although the running time is limited by its fuel tank capacity, this limit can be overcome by attaching an external fuel tank.
The external fuel tank is known as extended run generator systems. The one I recommend would be the BERG system from IPI industries. This one can extend the running time of this Honda model by up to 72 hours. They even make a dual feed version that will supply two generators running in parallel.
This Honda model is perfect for applications that involve carrying the unit around. This generator is just 20 inches long and weighing in at just about 47 pounds, it is about as heavy as one person can comfortably carry, and it comes with a carry handle. 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.
Another thing you may want to consider is the warranty of the EU2200i. Many customers love the fact that Honda offers a 3-year warranty for residential/commercial use for generator purchased in the US from 2010 onward, as long as it is purchased from a Honda America Authorized dealer (Like the one recommended by us).
The Honda EU2200I 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. If you’re looking for a portable generator that gives you a smooth flow of power to maintain the efficient running of our appliances, then this is maybe the right one for you.
6. Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter 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
- Quite heavy
- Does not come with a key fob to start it remotely
- Relatively high price
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 runtime 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 contrary, 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!
7. Champion Power Equipment 75537i
If you are searching for a low decibel inverter generator and even you have reasonable power needs, then this The Champion Power Equipment 75537i will perform pretty well to meet your needs. It is one of the most popular inverter generators since it costs much less than the popular Honda and Yamaha inverter generators of the same power output.
- Reliable engine
- Fuel efficient
- Quiet operation
- Flip-up handle for transport on luggage style wheel
- Two years limited warranty
- No dual connectivity
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.
However, when compared to the 73536i model with the 1700 running watts, this model lacks the ability of being run in parallel with another unit. The parallel attachment allows you to stack the units and also give you an extra outlet (5L-30R) that the larger 75537i does not have.
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.
This inverter operates at 58 dBA (typical discussion noise) from 23 feet. At this noise level, it is a bit louder than some of the lower wattage inverters like the Yamaha EF2000iSv2. This is due to its 171 cc engine, nearly twice the size of the 1000 and 2000 watt inverter engines. However, it is still quieter than standard generators with the same power output.
The Champion Power Equipment 75537i is powered by a 4 stroke engine with a 171cc displacement in its overhead valve design. Its overhead valve engine runs reliably and dissipates heat efficiently, allowing for both a long life and optimal fuel consumption.
With a single full tank, you can expect this unit to last up to 8.5 hours of run time provided with 25 percent load. It’s nice to know when you need to run overnight with just the necessities plugged in during a power outage.
Though, the runtime will vary depending on the load. As a rule of thumb, the heavier load will shorten its runtime while lighter load extends it. This makes it possible thanks to an economy switch which allows the engine to slow down when the load is not required. In most of the standard generators, the engine runs at the same speed continually, using the same amount of fuel at all time. So this feature can be considered an energy conserving device.
In terms of portability, although the unit has strong and convenient carrying handles at both ends, at 95 pounds it is at the upper end of what most would be able to move without wheels. The mobility kit is built in (nice). The integrated carrying handles make moving this unit around convenient.
Conclusion, this Champion model is designed to be used on RVs and mobile home – streamlined for optimum efficiency, economical to run, packed with enough ports to handle all types of electrical equipment.
So Which one is the best option for you?
Generally, you can’t go wrong with these listed units since they are some of the popular models that you can find on the market. However, your final selection should actually depend on your needs. The budget might play a role but not as important than your needs because you want to buy a product that you can actually use, maybe save you money in the long run, not a product that you don’t really need just because it saves you money. That said, go for what makes you happy!
Well, If you still don’t know which one suits your needs the most, then you might want to know some more information before deciding. Keep reading on!
Buying Guide | What to Consider Before Buying?
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)
|Threshold of Hearing
|Inside bedroom at night
|Office background noise
|Car interior while moving
|Semi truck at 30 ft
|Loud car horn at 9 ft
|Jet take-off at 300 ft
|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
Basically, there are two types of portable generator available on the market; first is an inverter generator, and the second is a conventional or non-inverter generator.
I bet you have heard about the inverter generators. But some of you may not know what they do and why you should use them.
Let’s understand their differences. The inverter generator produces electricity in three stages; first, it produces AC power then converts it to DC power and then again converts it back to AC power, and this process has a lot of advantages.
On the other hand, the non-inverter generator produces direct AC power. The conventional generators consume more fuel then the inverter generator and also they are louder.
In a nutshell, when compared to a standard generator, the inverter generator is quieter, more fuel-efficient, and is able to power sensitive electronic equipment because of it’s low Total Harmonic Distortion. Inverter generators are able to power down to idle speed when a load is not being required of it, thus saving on fuel and lowering decibel levels. Inverter generators are relatively smaller and lightweight than similar wattage standard generators.
So what kind is right for you?
Of course, when you’re looking at inverter generators, you will get the benefits that make them so popular.
However, it really depends on some other factors, including your budget and what applications you’re going to use your portable generator for.
So, let’s take a closer look at a comparison between them 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 have the ability to adjust their 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 / Runtime
Since conventional generators run at a constant (fast) speed, they are good for greater output and extended runtime, but it also means more fuel and noise.
On the contrary, Inverter generators 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)
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 recommended 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.