Portable generators are a great piece of equipment to for emergencies and during family outings. Of course, the ideal portable generator is one that doesn’t shriek the sounds of its people long into the night. In this guide, we’ll tell you all about how to find the quietest portable generators for RV and home use. If you live in a part of the globe where blackouts aren’t uncommon—e.g. anywhere on the planet—you might want to pay close attention.
Buying Guide: Finding the Best Portable Generator
If you’re unsure which quiet portable generator to get, here’s a quick rundown of various features and specs that you need to consider.
You may have come across the inverter technology in your search for the quietest portable generator. In a nutshell, generators with inverter technology produce cleaner AC voltage which can be used to charge or power delicate electronics (smartphones, laptops, drones). Without sudden spikes and drops in power output, plugging your devices directly into the inverter generator won’t damage their electronic components in any way. Inverter generators are also considerably less noisy compared to traditional generators, so if you need a reliable source of power for outdoor trips in the middle of the woods, this is your best option.
Many generators will come with the “silent” or “quiet” label, but this doesn’t actually mean much since noisiness is relatively. Take a close look at the generator’s max decibel rating and from what distance to get a better picture of how loud or quiet the tool is. However, there are several factors that can affect the generator’s noise output, so in truth, the decibel rating is only a rough estimate at best.
Many modern inverter generators come with a system known as automatic throttling. When the generator’s AUTO mode is activated, it will automatically adjust the engine speed based on how much power it needs to produce instead of constantly running at full speed. This not only saves power but also reduces noise levels significantly when only a limited number of devices are plugged in.
A generator’s engine isn’t the only thing that produces loud noises. Assuming the ground on which you place the generator is absolutely flat, if the generator is a-rockin’, then there’s going to be a ton of tinging and dinging sounds. There are soundproof housings and muffles you can purchase to keep noise levels down, but you should also check out the unit’s stands or legs. If they’re encased in rubber, their vibrations shouldn’t produce annoyingly loud vibration sounds from a distance.
Another method of gauging how loud a generator can be is by knowing the physical size of the machine. Larger generators generally have greater load capacities and therefore generate louder noises. Conversely, smaller generators are quieter but can supply enough electricity to power only a limited number of appliances simultaneously.
1. How size portable generator do I need?
The size of a generator is determined by its peak wattage ratings. The higher the surge and running wattages, the more appliances you can plug into the machine. You can estimate what size generator you need simply by adding up all of the surge wattage ratings of your most crucial appliances or those you plan on taking with you. It’s always a good idea to add 10 to 20% on top of that number for safety purposes—it’s better to go bigger than just barely enough.
2. How far should I place my generator?
First and foremost, you should NEVER, for ANY REASON, install a generator indoors or in an enclosed space. The toxic fumes from its combustion engine can lead to serious health issues without proper ventilation. That said, your generator should be placed in an open-space area at least 20 feet away from your home or RV. An extension cord of the right gauge will deliver power more efficiently from greater distance.
3. How do you build a soundproof housing for a portable generator?
Unfortunately, we cannot tell you how to build your own enclosure since we don’t want a lawsuit on our hands. The most important thing is to provide enough ventilation slits for exhaust fumes to escape through. A quick online search will yield a ton of different professionally made enclosures at affordable prices.
Usually, the words quiet and generator don’t go hand in hand, but with advances in inverter generator technology, it’s not as challenging to find a quieter machine. By following our guide, you should be able to find the most suitable almost-but-not-really whisper-quiet generator for RV or home use.