After a hurricane knocked out our power for a week, we learned the hard way that we needed a quality generator that was quiet and wouldn’t bother the neighbors. But most of the local stores were closed, and the few stores willing to operate without power sold out of generators fast. So when one finally became available, we snatched it up. But we soon realized there were much better – and quieter – generators on the market.
The best generators are quiet enough to be rated less than 60dB, provide over 1000 watts of running power, and cost less than $500. Champion, Jenkins, and Powermate all provide generators that meet these criteria. However, there are other best and quietest generators that are worth examining.
In this article, we’ll talk about how much noise generators make. Then, we’ll give you a list of some of the best and quietest portable generators and talk about how you can make your generator even quieter. But first, we’ll look at what you need to know to choose a generator for your family’s needs.
How to Choose a Generator
Choosing a generator can be a daunting task, but there are a few things to keep in mind when you do. Once you know what you need to look for in a generator, choosing one that fits your family’s needs will be much easier.
- Frequency of Use
How often do you experience power outages? Are they frequent where you live? Or just occasional? Will you be using your generator for off-grid purposes, camping (so that it needs to be very portable), or as a whole-house backup? If you use it often, you may need a very quiet generator, so you don’t bother your neighbors.
- How Long You Will Need to Use It
When your power goes out, is it only for a few hours? Or do you sometimes lose power for days at a time?
- Family’s Power Needs
One of the most important aspects of choosing a generator is knowing your family’s power needs. For example, what kinds of appliances will you be running with your generator? Will you be charging up phones and laptops, running the fridge and a few lamps, or powering everything in your home?
To know how big of a generator you need, first, make a list of all of the items that you will want to run in the event of a power outage. Next, you will need to determine how many starting watts and running watts you’ll need your generator to supply to run those items. Add up the starting watts and then add up the running watts so you’ll know how just how many watts you’ll need. Then you can choose the smallest generator that will do what you need it to do.
- Generator Type
There are different types of generators – a conventional generator, which uses an alternator to create AC power, and an inverter generator, which creates DC power that is inverted back to AC power. Inverter generators are quieter but are also more expensive and tend to produce less power. Inverter generators are very popular due to their lower volume and readily available.
- Noise Level
If your neighbors are close or if you will be running your generator through the night, you’ll want to consider the noise level of the generator you choose. In addition, your local Homeowner’s Association or township may have noise ordinances in place that will restrict your use of a generator. For this reason, you’ll want to look for one that is quieter than others and make an effort to dampen extra noise.
How Much Noise Do Generators Make
Generators can be pretty noisy, especially in the middle of the night. Most generators will make about 60 to 90 dB of noise when heard from 20 feet away. Some generators are even louder, coming in at over 100 dB over 20 feet away.
This noise level can be very disruptive, so it’s always good to look for a quiet generator when you are searching for one. Generally speaking, less expensive generators are louder than pricier models, but this isn’t always the case. When possible, choose a generator that makes less than 60 dB of noise to keep your neighbors happy, especially if you’ll be using it at night.
What Makes a Generator the Best and Quietest?
Take a look at the following chart for a list of the best and quietest generators and their features. We looked at noise level, measured in dB or decibels, so that you can choose a quieter model. We also considered the type of generator, running watts and starting watts, weight for portability, and any special features the generator may have.
This chart will help you choose the best generator for your family’s needs.
Best and Quietest Generators
|Model||Type||Running Watts||Noise Level||Weight||Price||Features|
|Honda 663520 EU2200i Portable Inverter Generator||Inverter||2200||48-57 dB||47 pounds||$1,999||Bluetooth App,Carbon minoxide monitor|
|Champion Power Equipment 100692 Portable Generator||Inverter||2000 starting1700 running watts||58 dB||39.5 pounds||$469.00||Lightweight, budget-friendly|
|Yamaha EF2400iSHC||Conventional||2400 starting 2000 running||53 dB||75 Pounds||Low Oil Warning System|
|Genkins 2300 Watt Portable Inverter Generator Ultra Quiet Gas Powered RV Ready CARB||Inverter||2300 Starting1900 Running||53-56 dB||48 pounds||$398||Low Oil Auto-Shut-Off|
|DuroMax XP13000EH Dual Fuel Portable Generator||Propane||13000 Starting 10,500 Running||74||234 pounds||$1199||Duel-fuel can run on gas or propane|
|Powermate PM1200i 50ST P0080400||Inverter||1200 Starting1000 Running||Unrated||33 pounds||$429||Fully enclosed case|
|Pulsar G12KBN-SG Heavy Duty Portable Dual Fuel Generator||Duel Fuel||12000 Starting 9500 Running||Unrated||$999.99||8-gallon gas tank, never-flat wheels|
|WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator||Inverter||2000 starting 1700 running||51 dB||39 pounds||$410.99||Auto-fuel shut-off|
|Craftsman C0010030 3000i 50 St/CSA Inverter Generators||Inverter||3000 starting 2300 running||Unrated, ultraquiet||59.5 pounds||$849.00||Easy start, 50% more starting capacity|
This Portable Inverter Generator by Honda is both quiet and lightweight. Although this generator is in the higher price range at around $2000, it comes with a number of features, including a connected blue tooth app to manage your generator and a built-in carbon monoxide monitor. This generator may not fit every budget, but if you are looking for a quiet and portable generator, this one is a good investment. Honda is known for its quiet generators, making them a solid choice for more populated areas.
A more budget-friendly option, the champion portable generator costs under $500. This lightweight generator boasts a whopping 2000 running watts and is still very quiet. This inverter generator is suitable for home and campsite use. At 1700 running watts, it won’t cover all of your appliances, but it should keep your refrigerator running and the lights on.
This generator is not as portable as the others but is a good option if you prefer a conventional rather than an inverter generator. It’ll give you plenty of watts for just 53 dB of noise, although it is pretty heavy and less portable than other types.
This generator has it all! Plenty of watts to run your household or RV appliances, lightweight, quiet, and all at a very reasonable price point. At under $400, these generators sell out fast. It includes a fuel gauge and automatic low-oil shut-off.
While not the cheapest generator out there, this one gives you an impressive number of watts for your home electricity needs. It isn’t the quietest on the list; however, the volume of the generator compared to the number of watts it can provide is well worth the cost and the noise. This dual fuel generator costs around $1200, an excellent buy for those running a lot of appliances.
This inverter generator provides a pretty standard 1200 watt startup and 1000 running watts. Although the sound level has not been rated, this generator stands out because it is fully enclosed in a sound-dampening case to make the noise level much more manageable. This generator brand is an excellent option if you live in a close neighborhood but don’t need a lot of power. At $429, this generator is a great deal and very portable.
This large generator will run most of your household appliances, so you are well covered in an emergency. And with an 8-gallon gas tank, it can run for hours at half power, which is particularly helpful if you need to keep your refrigerator running through the night. Although this is a large machine, the never-flat wheels help make it a little more portable. The Pulsar Heavy Duty Portable Dual Fuel Generator is a great choice if you have the room to store a larger machine and need a lot of power when the electricity is off. At around $1000, you get a lot of watts for your investment.
This super-quiet generator lives up to its name, coming in at a rating of only 51 dB. In addition, it boasts a 2000 starting watt/ 1700 watt power for a mere $410.99. Thus, the Wen Generator is an excellent choice if your neighbors are especially close and you need a budget-friendly generator.
Although this design does not have a dB rating, it is marketed as “ultraquiet” for camping and tailgating. Although it is heavy for the number of running watts it can produce, it has an extra power boost for the startup of your appliances. It won’t run all your appliances at once, but it does have a great startup to running watts ratio and a quiet design.
While there is no ‘perfect generator,’ you should be able to find a reasonably quiet generator that will keep your family safe and comfortable when the power is out. If you need your generator to be even quieter, you can use some of these tips to dampen the sound even more.
5 Tips to Make Your Generator Quieter
- Purchase the smallest generator that fits your needs. The fewer watts a generator produces, the quieter it will be. If noise is your main concern, purchase the smallest generator you can, that will still cover all your electricity needs. These are generally less expensive, as well.
- Face the generator’s exhaust away from your home or campsite. Your generator will have an exhaust system like the one on your car. Face the exhaust away from people to reduce the noise.
- Place the generator on grass or dirt rather than a metal or hard surface. Hard surfaces will cause the generator’s noise to bounce around. Set it on a softer, fire-safe surface such as dirt to dampen and absorb some of that sound.
- Move the generator further away. If possible, move the generator away from where people are. And always use it outside, never in a building where carbon monoxide can build up.
- Use sound deflectors or a soundbox. Sound deflectors or a ventilated soundbox can help contain some of the noise of a generator. You can purchase one or even build your own.
Why are Honda generators so quiet?
Honda makes a line of inverter generators. Inverter generators use a throttle mechanism that helps reduce noise. Additionally, the generator does not run at full speed all of the time, which also makes it quieter.
Can I use a power station instead of a generator since they don’t make any noise?
A power station is a battery backup. These are great for small applications, such as charging cell phones or tablets. However, they must be charged with an electrical outlet or solar panel, and they are unlikely to produce enough power for your essential household appliances. Some power stations also include built-in radios and flashlights, making them handy for emergencies.