Updated: February 17, 2021

11 Quietest Generator Options for Home & RV – [Decibel Ratings Included]

by Charles Jasper

Having a generator that makes a ton of noise is no fun. Thankfully, manufacturers have heard you. If you're looking at small quiet generators and don't know what to choose, our guide has got you covered.

Quiet Generator Reviews

Navigating your way through all of these types of generator can be a little difficult. What size, what power rating, and what if you already have a generator and you just want some advice on how to quiet it down a little? We’ve got you covered. First we’ve got a list of quiet generator reviews for you to read, then we’ve provided an in-depth guide on how to pick the best quiet generator, with some additional info on features. With our help, you’ll probably be wondering if you remembered to turn on your generator in the first place!

1. The Winner

Jackery Portable Power Explorer 1000

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 1000
  • 1,000-watts
  • Quiet - 42 db 1/4 load
  • Fast solar recharging
  • Charges in 7 hours

This portable power station from Jackery is perfect for RV trips, camping, and as a home backup generator. It has 1,000-watts of power which provides a safe, clean stream of power for sensitive devices like phones and laptops. You can connect your devices directly to the generator using the two USB-C ports or the quick charge port. The quick charge port can get your phone powered up fast in case of an emergency.

It has super quiet operation, under 50 DB, which makes it an ideal choice for vacations and outdoor excursions where you do not want any noise interruptions. Jackery is one of the best companies for generators which are made to be as eco-friendly as possible. All of their portable generators are designed to quickly charge with solar power, but the solar panels are optional. Using a regular household AC outlet you can charge the generator in as little as 7 hours. It takes about 14 hours to charge the generator using a car charger (cable included).

Getting this generator started is incredibly easy. It uses no fuel so it is better for the environment. All you have to do is keep the generator charged and it will be ready to go in case of emergencies. It is a good choice for outdoor parties because it has quiet operation and enough power to turn on mini-fridges, fans, and TVs for a barbeque or tailgate party.

Feature Set:

  • Pure sine wave AC outlets
  • Two USB-C outlets
  • Quick charge port
  • Solar power, AC outlet, or car charger
  • Charging cables included
  • Can be paralleled with another generator
  • RV-ready
  • Easy set up
  • Safe power levels
  • No fuel necessary
  • Powerful performance

2. Runner Up

Yamaha EF2000iSv2

Yamaha EF2000iSv2
  • 2,000-watts
  • 120-volts
  • 51.5 dBA
  • Three-year warranty
  • 44.1 lbs

This Yamaha portable generator has a high-quality sound muffler that reduces the sound output to only 51.5 dBA which is quieter than most other 2,000-watt generators. It has a smartt throttle engine which can run up to 10.5 hours at a time with a full tank. It is a small and compact size with an easy-carry handle. Compared to previous versions of Yamaha 2,000 watt generators, this one has more uses and better features.

It has pure sine wave electricity that is moderated to a smooth and stable current to protect your devices and appliances. It uses a technology called pulse width modulation to measure the frequencies for stability. The engine is made to maximize fuel efficiency for longer run time with less gasoline. The engine speed automatically adjusts to minimize noise and engine speed.

To keep the system safe and undamaged there is an automatic engine cutoff when the oil gets too low. When the system gets overloaded the electric breaker is triggered to prevent generator damage. These safety precautions can save money in repairs. You can always see how much fuel is left in the engine. There are two 120V AC regular outlets and a DC 12V outlet with charging cables.

The fuel tank holds about 1.1 gallons of gasoline at a time and gets a lot of run time out of each full tank. The automatic adjustment of the engine speed makes the engine run more efficiently to burn less gas than other generators. It can easily handle powering any appliances or electronics with up to 2,000-watts pure sine wave energy.

Feature Set:

  • Clean pure sine wave energy
  • 51.5 dBA
  • Overload prevention
  • Oil cutoff
  • Easy to start
  • Runs for up to 10.5 hours per full tank
  • Spark arrestor and muffler

3. Quiet for Camping

Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Honda EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator
  • 40 lbs
  • 120-volts
  • 2200-watt
  • 48-57 dBA
  • 9.6 hour run time

This generator by Honda is a popular model because of how quiet, lightweight, and powerful it is. The engine is very reliable and runs on gasoline. With one full tank of gasoline the engine can run for almost ten hours. It can be used for charging sensitive electronics like laptops, phones, and tablets because the flow of electricity it outputs is very stable. It will not damage your electronics or appliances. The lightweight and compact body of the generator are easy to store away in the car and carry to the campsite.

To double the power up to 4,400-volts, parallel the generator with another of the same model using a parallel connection kit. Honda makes innovative products which maximize fuel efficiency. It is a bright red color and has an easy-carry handle. Honda developed this line of super quiet generators so that the sound of the generator does not intrude on the camping experience. It has two regular AC outlets and a DC outlet.

In case of a blackout this generator can be used as a backup generator for the home to keep electronics charged in case of an emergency. Compared to the previous model this generator produces 200 watts more power. To prevent damage to the system, the engine automatically will cut off when the fuel gets too low. This keeps maintenance and repairs low. There are three LCD indicator lights which show if the oil is low or if the system is overloaded.

Feature Set:

  • Low dBA
  • 2200-watts
  • Parallel capable
  • Steady flow of electricity
  • Low fuel cutoff
  • Color-coded controls
  • Easy to start
  • More ventilated for less overheating
  • Two 120V AC outlets
  • One DC 12V outlet
  • Eco-fuel setting
  • LCD indicators

4. Value for Money

WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
  • 2,000-watts
  • 39 lbs
  • 4-stroke engine
  • 1 gallon gasoline tank
  • Ultra-quiet performance

This is a very lightweight portable inverter generator that can reach up to 2,000-volts. It is a very quiet generator compared to similar 2,000-volt generators. It has been assessed by the US Department of Health and Human Services and they certified that it is quieter than comparable generators. It is easy to take this generator on outdoor adventures like camping and RV trips because of its compact size and lightweight.

The stream of electricity emitted from the generator is clean and stable for safely charging sensitive electronics like iphones, laptops, and tablets. It has two 120V outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and two USB ports. Included with the purchase is a two-year warranty. WEN is a top-rated company which has been making power generators since 1951. It can run for up to 10.8 hours on a full tank of gas. The powerful 4-stroke 79cc engine provides steady power.

It automatically cuts off when the oil gets too low which helps to prevent any damage to the system. One of the features that makes this converter more eco-friendly than others is the economy mode which minimizes fuel consumption. The generator will adjust the motor automatically to only use just as much fuel as needed for its current load which keeps the noise low and the fuel consumption low too. It has three LCD indicator lights which tell you if there is a problem with the generator like overloading or low fuel.

Feature Set:

  • Compact size
  • Lightweight at only 39 lbs
  • Powerful engine with eco-mode for self adjusting speed
  • Low fuel consumption
  • One gallon gasoline tank
  • 10.8 hours run time
  • LCD indicator lights
  • Low fuel shutoff
  • Multiple USB and AC ports
  • 51 dBA
  • Economy switch
  • Parallel capable
  • Two-year warranty

5. Best Low dBA for RV or Food truck

Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series Open Frame Inverter

Champion 4000-Watt RV Ready DH Series with Quiet Technology Review
  • 4,000-watts
  • 17-hour run time
  • Gasoline engine
  • 81.6 lbs
  • 64 dBA

For a generator that produces up to 4,000 watts of electricity, only 64 dBA is a very low noise output. This is a very quiet generator that is perfect for use with an RV or food truck because it will not have an overpowering noise. It is fully upgraded from the last model of 4,000-watt generator to be more quiet, more compact, and more powerful than before. It is very fuel efficient and even has an eco-mode which increases fuel savings. It has a maximum run time of about 17 hours at a time with a full tank of gasoline.

It provides a stable flow of electricity which is safe for charging sensitive devices like laptops and cellphones. You can parallel this inverter generator with another of the same model to double the power capability using a parallel kit. Included with the purchase is an oil funnel, battery charger, and a USB adapter. It has multiple outputs including two 120V outlets for charging household appliances and a 12V DC outlet. It comes with a USB adapter for charging electronics.

Champion is a reputable company with a great customer support service. The generator is covered by a three-year warranty and you get a lifetime of support from their team if you ever need it. For moving the generator, which is 81.6 lbs, there is a wheel and handle kit. The wheels are heavy-duty for carrying over rough terrains. You do have to install the wheels and handle yourself, but it is easy to do so by following the user manual which is included in the box.

Feature Set:

  • 64 dBA
  • Two 120V AC outlets
  • One 12V DC outlet
  • USB adapter
  • 4,000-watts
  • 17 hours of runtime
  • Gasoline engine
  • Fuel efficient eco-setting
  • 81.6 lbs
  • RV ready
  • Three-year warranty

6. Best Generator Under 60 Decibels (but over 50) 

Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter

Westinghouse iGen4500 Portable Inverter Generator
  • Running wattage: 3700W
  • 4500 Peak Watts
  • 3. 4 Gallon Gas Tank
  • Noise level as low as 53 dBA
  • Up To 18 Hour Run Time

This remarkable generator has a relatively large output with 3700 running watts and 4500 peak starting watts. But despite that immense power output, it still only has a noise level that is comparable to your refrigerator. 52 dBA is not a lot of noise from a generator with this much power, which makes this an ideal portable generator for home use.

When it comes to run time, this generator doesn't disappoint. It has a 3.4 gallon tank that gives you up to 18 hours of run time on a single tank of gas.

For plugs, this generator is RV ready with a TT-30R 120 volt @ 30 amp outlet so you can plug your RV in and power everything seamlessly. There are also two household outlets and two USB ports for charging your electronics. And because this is an inverter generator, the AC power is provided with less than three percent total harmonic distortion.

This Westinghouse super quiet portable generator weighs just 48 pounds, but still has a pair of solid wheels and a telescoping handle that lets you pull or push the generator wherever you want it to go. And if you don’t want to use the wheels, there are a pair of handles set into the top so you can carry it as well.

One additional nice feature is that this generator has a remote starter from a key fob that lets you get things going without leaving your tent or your home. It also has the traditional electric start and a backup pull cord as well.

Read Full Review: Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Features:

  • Noise level 52 decibels @ 21 feet
  • 3700 Running Watts with 4500 Peak Starting Watts
  • Gasoline powered with 3.4 gallon tank capacity
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlets @ 120V/20A
    • (1) TT-30R 120V/30A
    • (1) DC 12V Battery Charging Parallel Outlets
    • (2) USB Outlets @ 5V/2.1A
  • 18 x 10 x 15.5 inches @ 48 pounds
  • 3 Year Warranty

7. Runner Up Under 60 db

Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter

Westinghouse iGen2200 Portable Inverter
  • Noise level 52 dBA
  • Running wattage: 1800W
  • 2200 Peak Watts
  • Voltage – 120V
  • Weighs Only 46 Lbs.

This Westinghouse super quiet model produces 1800 running watts with 2200 peak watts for higher loads. While pushing out this much power, it still only generates the same noise level as your refrigerator while it’s running. The wattage this generator produces is safe for sensitive electronics because it's an inverter generator.

Run time for this Westinghouse generator gets as long as 12 hours with a 1.2 gallon tank capacity.

The plug set on this generator has enough outlets to get power to what you need. There are a pair of standard household outlets and a pair of USB ports as well. If you need to charge a battery, there is a set of 12V DC parallel outlets as well. If you need more power, then these generators are able to be set up in parallel so you get nearly twice the power output.

A weight of just 47 pounds makes the Westinghouse iGen2200 a great portable generator. The integrated handle on the top gives you an easy way to take your generator wherever you are going.

This generator is enclosed in an acoustic muffling case which makes this 79cc engine so quiet you’ll wonder if it’s really on. This, combined with the fact that this is a power generator, earns it a spot in our top generator reviews.

Read Full Review: Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Features:

  • Noise level 52 decibels @ 21 feet
  • 1800 Running Watts with 2200 Peak Starting Watts
  • Gasoline powered with 1.2 gallon fuel tank capacity
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlets @ 120V/20A
    • (1) DC 12V Battery Charging Parallel Outlets
    • (2) USB Outlets @ 5V/2.1A
  • 19.69 x 11.22 x 17.91 inches @ 47 pounds
  • 3 Year Warranty

8. Portable Quiet Generator for Workplace

Honda EU3000iS Portable Inverter

Honda EU3000iS Portable Inverter
  • Noise level 49 to 58 dB (A)
  • Runs up to 20 hours on 3.4 Gal. of fuel
  • Advanced inverter technology
  • 13,500 BTU RV AC units 
  • Offset handles for easier lifting

This quiet inverter generator is actually super quiet, with 49 decibels while at quarter load capacity. Even if you push it to full load, it still only peaks out at 57 dBA. That’s about the level of office conversation at its loudest, and no louder than your refrigerator at its lowest. Considering you’re getting 2800 running watts and 3000 peak watts, that’s a feat of acoustic engineering.

When it comes to run time, this Honda gas generator has a 3.4 gallon fuel tank capacity and lasts anywhere from 7 hours at full load up to 20 hours at 1/4 load. It also has the plugs you need to make sure everything is getting the power it needs. You have 2 standard outlets and an RV locking plug.

If you need to recharge your sensitive electronics, don’t worry. This is an inverter generator, so power will be super smooth.

This isn't a lightweight portable generator, as it weighs in at 131 pounds. But thankfully, it has a pair of solid wheels and an extendable handle so you’ll be able to get it where you want it quite easily, even while camping.

Read Full Review: Honda EU3000iS Gas Powered Portable Inverter

Features:

  • Noise level 49 to 57 decibels @ 21 feet
  • 2800 Running Watts with 3000 Peak Starting Watts
  • Gasoline powered with 3.4 gallon tank capacity
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlets @ 120V/20A
    • (1) L5-30R 120V/30A
    • (1) DC 12V Battery Charging Parallel Outlets
  • 25.9 x 17.6 x 22.0 inches @ 131 pounds
  • 3 Year Warranty

9. Lightweight Portable and Quiet

WEN 56203i Super Quiet Portable Inverter

WEN 56203i Portable Inverter
  • 2000 surge watts
  • Running wattage: 1700W
  • Fuel Shutoff Feature
  • Fuel Tank: 1 Gallon
  • Runtime: 10.8 Hours Quarter-Load

This WEN super quiet generator produces 1700 running watts with 2000 peak starting watts while only producing 51 decibels of noise. That 51 dBA is about as loud as your normal refrigerator sounds when the compressor is running: a pretty amazing sound level, which makes it the quietest generator on our list.

Because this is an inverter generator, it gives smooth electricity with less than 1.2 percent total harmonic distortion.

This generator has a one gallon tank, which gives you a 7 hour run time at 50 percent load capacity. Of course, as you increase the load, the run time will decrease, and as you decrease the load, you can run your generator for longer.

For plugging in your devices and your appliances, there are two standard household outlets and 2 USB ports. There is also a 12 volt car adaptor and a pair of DC parallel outlets.

The 79.7cc engine is housed in a generator that only weighs about 40 pounds. A convenient handle on top makes this a very portable generator which is easy to take to wherever you need extra power.

Read Full Review: WEN 56203i Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

Features:

  • Noise level 51 decibels @ 21 feet
  • 1700 Running Watts with 2000 Peak Starting Watts
  • Gasoline powered with 1 gallon fuel tank capacity
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlets @ 120V/20A
    • (1) DC 12V car adaptor
    • (1) DC 12V Battery Charging Parallel Outlets
    • (2) USB Outlets @ 5V/2.1A
  • 17.3 x 11.5 x 17.7 inches @ 38.6 pounds
  • 3 Year Warranty

10. Quiet Generator for Travel Trailer

WEN 56380i Super Quiet Portable Inverter

WEN 56380i Portable Inverter
  • 3800 surge watts
  • Running wattage: 3400W
  • 2.2-gallon tank
  • Low fuel automatic shutdown
  • 110.8 pounds weight

This WEN model excels at power output while maintaining a moderately quiet noise level. This gasoline powered engine gives you 3400 running watts with 3800 peak starting watts. The noise generated peaks out at 57 dBA, which is about as loud as an air conditioner. Despite the name it's not super quiet, and this is definitely not the quietest generator on our list, but it is still quiet enough to hold a conversation as long as you’re not right next to it.

The runtime on this 212cc engine lasts to about 8.5 hours at 50 percent load on a full 2.2 gallon tank of gas.

When it comes to the plug set, you get a huge number of options. Of course you get a pair of standard household outlets at 120 volts with 20 amps. Added on to that, you have a pair of DC 12 volt options, 2 USB ports, and an RV plug. With as much power as this generator produces, you’ll have no trouble powering your entire RV.

All of those features and power do come at a price, and that means this isn't exactly a super portable generator, weighing in at 111 pounds. However, it has built in wheels and a folding handle, so you won’t have any trouble maneuvering it where you want it. 

As with all inverter generators, the electricity this generator produces has a total harmonic distortion of less than 1.2 percent from a true sine wave, so all of your sensitive and delicate electronics are safe.

An onboard digital meter allows you to track multiple stats, from voltage, runtime, frequency, and fuel efficiency. There’s also an eco-mode switch which activates auto-throttling, allowing your generator to slow down and be more fuel efficient when there’s not as much demand. It has an electric start as well with one button starting, so you get power when you want it.

Read Full Review: WEN 56380i Super Quiet 3800-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Features:

  • Noise level 57 decibels @ 23 feet
  • 3400 Running Watts with 3800 Peak Starting Watts
  • Gasoline powered with 2.2 gallon tank capacity
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlets @ 120V/20A
    • (1) TT-30R 120V/30A
    • (1) DC 12V Battery Charging Parallel Outlets
    • (1) DC 12V Car Adaptor Outlet
    • (2) USB Outlets @ 5V/2.1A
  • 23.2 x 18 x 20.1 inches @ 111 pounds
  • Two-year Warranty

11. Super Quiet Small Generator for Home

Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter

Generac 7127 iQ3500 Portable Inverter
  • Durable steel casing
  • Rated AC Frequency: 60 Hz
  • Digital smart lcd
  • 109.1 pounds weight

This generator is fairly quiet at 55 dBA, making about as much noise as your air conditioner while under load. While this isn't the quietest generator we've seen, that's still pretty good considering that you’re getting 3 kilowatts of running power with a 3.5 kilowatt peak starting power overage.

This generator has a run time of about 9 hours on the 2.6 gallon tank, so you know that you’ve got a full day of fun when you start it up.

It also has a full set of plugs from 2 standard outlets to a locking 120 volt/30 amp plug for your RV. It even has 2 USB ports for charging your electronics. And because this is an inverter generator, you know that the power output will have minimal harmonic distortion.

About the only drawback to this generator is its size and weight combined with no wheels or handle for moving it around. You can get a mobility kit that puts those on, but otherwise make sure you have one or two friends to help you move it into position.

This generator has a simple dial control that gives you three options: Run, Start, and Stop. To start the generator, put the dial on start, push the electric starter, then move the dial to run. Now you’re ready to get the party started.

Read Full Review: Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter

Features:

  • Noise level 55 decibels @ 21 feet
  • 3000 Running Watts with 3500 Peak Starting Watts
  • Gasoline powered with 2.6 gallon tank capacity
  • Plug Set:
    • (2) Standard Household Outlets @ 120V/20A
    • (1) L5-30R 120V/30A
    • (1) DC 12V Battery Charging Parallel Outlets
    • (2) USB Ports @ 5V/2.1A
  • 23.7 x 18 x 21.7 inches @ 120 pounds
  • Three-year Warranty

Quiet Generator Buying Guide

Quiet Generator

The Basics of Generators and Noise

Everything makes noise, from someone clapping their hands to an airplane roaring by overhead. Sound is caused by energy waves that travel through the air, causing micro-fluctuations in air pressure. When those changes hit our ear drums, they cause vibrations that our brains interpret as sound.

When measuring sound, there are two measurements: frequency and amplitude. Frequency has to do with the pitch of the sound, from deep throbbing bass to an opera singer hitting that high C note. Frequency is measured in Hertz; the lower the Hertz, the lower the frequency.

The other measurement, amplitude, is a measure of the force of the sound wave, or in layman’s terms, how loud it is. That is measured in decibels, shortened to dB or dBA, depending on how it is being measured. dB is the pure measure of the loudness of a sound. dBA is that same measure but adjusted for human hearing.

When you're looking at quiet generators, which operate at lower frequencies, you want to know the dBA, or how loud it’s going to actually sound to you.

How Loud Is Too Loud?

Power Pack

It’s all well and good to say that something has a sound level of 54 dBA, but what does that really mean? How loud is that really? How loud is a 50 decibel sound compared to a 20 decibel sound? A lot louder, it turns out.

Decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale. What this means is that when you increase the number of decibels by 10, it becomes 10 times as powerful. So a 10 decibel sound is 10 times as loud as a one decibel sound, and that makes sense. But a 20 decibel sound is ten times the power of a ten decibel sound: basically 100 times as strong as a 1 decibel sound.

In terms of generator noise level, look at it this way. A 54 decibel generator is actually ten times as loud as a 44 decibel generator. So if you look at the decibel ratings of different generators and think that the difference between a 44 dB and a 50 dB isn't so much, that’s not really true. It’s actually about 4 times as loud. So if you’re looking for a low noise generator, pay attention to even seemingly small number changes.

Here’s a chart to give you an idea of how loud sounds are up to 65 decibels in real world examples:

dBA level
Example
Normal Appliance Levels
0
The lowest sound that is audible
 
10
A clock or wristwatch ticking
 
20
Blowing Leaves
 
30
Whispers
 
40
Light Rain
Laptop or Desktop
50
Office conversation
Refrigerator running
60
Normal conversation
Air conditioner running


Decibel Ratings

Garden Power Station

Most generators are going to have decibel ratings that run from 45 to 60, at least in the best quiet range. But just remember that each 10 decibel increase is a multiple of ten in the loudness. So a 60 decibel generator is nearly 40 times as loud as a 45 decibel generator.

Theoretically, if you were to completely conceal the generator and put enough sound insulation in, you could get your generator to become an ultra quiet generator and not sound any louder than blowing leaves or a barely audible whisper. But that would take a lot of work.

In reality, as you increase the power output and the size of the motor, you’re going to increase the loudness of the generator. For a typical 3 kilowatt generator, getting to a generator noise level of 54-58 decibels while under load is an achievement in sound design.

Are Inverter Generators Quieter?

A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter

Inverter generators do tend to be quieter than an equivalently powerful conventional generator, but that’s because inverter generators are so much more fuel efficient. And because they are more fuel efficient, they can use a smaller engine to deliver the same amount of AC wattage.

Some inverter generators are designed to be quieter still, with sound dampening materials incorporated into the frame. Some even have specially designed housing that further dampens the noise level of a generator motor. Most quiet generators are inverter generators.

Additionally, an inverter generator’s ability to flex with the load requirement helps to make them low decibel generators. That means that they aren’t running at full speed all the time; if you only are asking them for a quarter load, smart throttle control will hold them to that lower speed. And that lower speed means a lot less generator noise, making for some of the best quiet generators on the market.

What Makes Generators Loud?

Camping Power Pack

So when it comes to generators, you might wonder what makes one generator noisier than another and how you get a super quiet generator. 

It really comes down to six areas of design. Let’s walk through each of them so you can keep them in mind when you go shopping for your own quiet portable generator for your next backyard barbecue.


1. Engine size

Face it, a larger engine means more noise. That’s due to several factors, one of which is a larger piston means more fuel is used during each cycle, which means a larger explosion, which equals more noise. 

Then you have to consider that a larger engine also means more parts, which equals more vibration, which leads to a higher noise level.

2. Lack of Throttle Control

Generator In Vehicle

Many generators are fitted with smart throttle control, which means a generator doesn’t have to be running at 100 percent load all of the time. A smart throttle lets them reduce their speed and output to meet demand. So, it’s not because they are necessarily quieter when running at full speed, but because with a throttle control, they don’t have to run at full speed all the time. And when they don’t run at full speed, the noise level decreases dramatically.

3. More Power Means More Noise

When you get a generator that’s capable of putting out 14 kilowatts compared to one that can only muster 3 kilowatts, what’s the first thing you notice about the two? You’ll notice that the lower powered generator is a lot smaller than the beefy one. Remember what we said about engine size versus noise level? In general, the more power a generator produces, the larger the engine size, and the noisier it will be.

This is also the main reason why quiet generators are nearly all inverter generators, as inverter generators are less powerful.

4. Fuel Type

Fuel types contribute to the noise level in different ways. That’s because of the differing levels of combustion efficiency.

Diesel combustion is extremely noisy because of blow down event when the exhaust valve opens during the combustion cycle.

That’s because diesel requires an extremely high compression compared to a standard gasoline engine. And because propane generates less pressure during the exhaust cycle (as does natural gas), they are also much quieter, even more quiet than gasoline engines. But you do trade off power; propane generates roughly 10% fewer watts than gasoline does in an equivalent engine.

5. Type

You'll notice that if you get an inverter generator, it will be a lot quieter than a normal generator. That’s because the efficiency of a portable inverter generator is going to allow it to be much smaller while producing the same levels of AC wattage. That’s mainly due to the efficiency of the capacitors and design to reduce harmonic distortion in the inverter generator.

Again, with more fuel efficient design comes a smaller engine, which leads to a quieter generator.

6. Soundproof Design

The best quiet generators are designed from the ground up to be less noisy. Whether it’s by incorporating vibration dampening materials in the frame, adding a smart throttle to make them more fuel efficient, redesigning the exhaust, or enclosing everything inside a sound dampening case, a well-designed generator will be much quieter. With the right design elements, you can increase your engine size and still maintain the same dBA output as a less well designed smaller generator.

How to Choose a Super Quiet Generator

Portable Power Pack

If you want to get down to basics and just look for a quiet generator without having to do much thought, there are four basic things you should look for. In order, they are the following:

• Conventional vs Inverter Generators

Get an inverter generator. It’s going to be a little more expensive, but it’s going to be more fuel efficient and much quieter than a standard generator will be. Part of this is due to the engine being smaller, and part of it has to do with design. Unsurprisingly, pretty much all quiet portable generators are inverters.

• Fuel Type

The fuel that your generator burns is going to have a profound effect on how noisy it is.

Always remember that in order of noisiest to quietest, it is diesel, then gasoline, then propane and natural gas. So if you want the quietest portable generator out there, you should choose a propane burning model. Now keep in mind that propane is about 10% less powerful than an equivalently sized gasoline generator. So you have to decide if the trade-off of noise vs. power is worth it.

• Wattage

If you’re going to use your generator for your average tailgate party or on a camping trip, stick to a model that generates about 3 kilowatts. That’s because the less powerful the generator, the quieter it will be. So figure out what you plan on powering up with your generator, total up the wattage requirements, and look for a generator in that range.

• Automatic Throttling

If noise level is a concern, automatic throttling is a must.

Essentially, this lets the generator’s engine run at lower speeds when the demand is lower. So if you only have a string of lights and your ice-maker plugged in, your generator will be running low and slow. As you increase the load, your generator will step up the power and it will get a little noisier.

Automatic throttling also makes your generator more fuel efficient, which is good news for your pocket.

How to Make a Generator Quieter

So what if you already have a generator? How can you go about making that thunderous beast run more quietly? Here are nine ways you can make that rumbling generator calm down and stop shattering windows and eardrums every time you turn it on.

• Build an Enclosure

Sound is carried by air, and is mostly line of sight and directional. Portable generators generally have exhaust pipes that point horizontally, which means the sound points out at that level.

Whatever your generator's running wattage, if you build a solid fence around your generator and direct the sound upward, your ears will start to thank you. You will get some sound coming out, but with a good solid barrier between you and the generator, you’ll reduce the noise level dramatically.

Keep in mind that the enclosure doesn’t have to go all the way around the generator either. A two or three sided enclosure with the open side faced away from you will make the generator seem much quieter as well.

It’s all about redirecting those sound waves where they won’t hit you. If you don’t surround it, you won’t get an ultra quiet generator, but it will be quieter.

Make sure if you do build an enclosure that you have a place for the generator to vent. Otherwise, it will overheat and that will create an entirely different set of problems.

• Insulate the Enclosure

How to quiet a generator further? If you really want to up your game, then once you build the enclosure, add in some sound insulation.

This can be as simple as taking a bunch of egg cartons (the dimply side) and stapling them to the wooden plywood barrier you have. The shape of the egg holes muffles incoming sound waves by scattering the sound waves, breaking them up and reducing echoing.

Other insulation materials are EVA foam like those used on foam floor mats, felt, or even bubble wrap. These can all prove to be good sound insulators, allowing you to hear yourself think as the generator hums away more quietly out of sight.

• Exhaust Pipe Positioning

The noisiest part of a generator isn’t the engine per se. It’s actually the exhaust as the high pressure of the cylinder is released into the comparably low pressure surroundings. That’s why generators sometimes have that rhythmic chuffing sound. That’s the sound of the cylinder firing.

So if the exhaust is the number one problem, then look at where your exhaust is pointed. If it’s horizontal and pointed toward you (as is the case with most portable generators), then you’re getting all the noise of the exhaust right in your space. Take the exhaust pipe and point it upwards or turn the generator so the exhaust is away from you. You’ll notice the difference right away.

• Move It Further Away

Light Power Station

The noisiness of a generator is tested at 7 yards, or 21 feet. If you get closer than that to the generator, then you’re going to notice it gets louder. But on the other hand, if you move it farther away, then you’re going to notice it gets quieter. This gives you an option if you have a portable generator.

Rather than putting the generator right next to the main conversation area at your next gathering, tuck it in the corner of your yard. And don’t forget the insulated sound barrier or enclosure as well.

• Upgrade to an Excellent Exhaust

If you don’t like how your current exhaust system on your generator is working, upgrade it. The exhaust system consists of a long pipe to help scatter some of the sound and a muffler component. Upgrading your exhaust will significantly reduce your generator's noise level. You can even use an entire motorcycle exhaust system if you like.

• Mufflers

Most quiet generators come with mufflers installed. However, sometimes those mufflers aren’t quite up to snuff and you can do better.

You can get aftermarket mufflers for your generator that are easy to use and will further reduce the exhaust noise. If you can’t find one and you’re willing to pay a little extra, consider getting a motorcycle muffler. It won’t look that different, and it will quiet your generator down a lot.

• Use a Water Bucket

Because a lot of the noise from an engine comes from the exhaust, you can use a bucket of water to act as an impromptu muffler. Take a rubber hose and attach it to your generator’s exhaust pipe. Place the other end into a bucket of water. That’s it. The water will absorb a lot of sound waves coming from the exhaust.

There is one other thing you should do to prevent drawback from pulling water into the engine through the exhaust. You have to equalize the pressure in the exhaust hose you installed. Cut a small hole about the size of a straw’s diameter right by where you attach it to your exhaust pipe. That will prevent any water from being sucked back into the engine.

• Sound Deflectors

You can get specially designed acoustic baffles that are meant to point noise to a certain spot. Usually these are used in home theatres to create a sweet spot for surround sound. However, if you can use them to point sound to a specific location, you can then use them to point sound away from a location.

It’s not the most effective way to soundproof your generator, but it will make it seem quieter as long as you’re not in the area the deflectors are pointing to.

• Anti-Vibration Mat

Aside from the exhaust, the other source of noise from your generator is going to come from vibrations. A vibration-reducing mat or even one that absorbs vibrations is another easy to use accessory that will reduce the noise level significantly. You can find large rubber mats that are specially designed for this in most hardware stores.

Alternatively, if you have a lightweight portable generator then you can try making your own pads by following ideas on the net.

If you’re looking to reduce the noise level of your existing generator, don’t just use one or two of these methods. Use as many as you can. Combine a rubber mat with an insulated enclosure and the water bucket trick.

Remember that if you lower the decibel output of your generator by 10, it’s actually making one-tenth of the noise it was before. It might not be the quiet generator you dreamed of, but it’ll be a lot quieter than it was.

Quiet Generator Comparison Chart

Conclusion

As the demand for quiet generators rises, you’re going to find manufacturers investing money into researching how to fulfill that demand.

Until the day comes when they finally perfect at 10 decibel 12 kilowatt generator, we’re here to help you find the quiet run portable generators out there. Hopefully, with our list of the best quiet portable generators, you’ve found something that suits you.

If not, or if you’d like to read some absolutely zero decibel solar powered generator reviews, we have you covered.

With our help, we’ll make sure you have all the tools to find a quiet generator that will work for your next party or get together, whether it's a portable generator, camping generator, portable inverter generator, duel fuel generator or a solar.

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About the author

Charles Jasper is the owner and main author of Generator Guider. He has a degree Engineering and 20 years experience on using generators on various projects, around the house, and while traveling and camping. He has a passion for everything related to home improvemen and loves to travel on his RV. When he is not working, you might find Jasper working on projects around the house or organizing a camping trip.