How to Make a Portable Generator Actually Quiet

How to make a portable generator actually quiet? If you own a portable generator, one of the downsides is how loud it is when it’s in use. I have found the most effective ways to help reduce how loud a portable generator is.

Portable generators are used in many different situations.  Some people may use one as a backup if something goes out in their house, and others may use a generator when camping at an off-grid location. 

Regardless of the situation, I have found a few things in common with loud generators.  The main issue is that people do not take enough time to review different generators.

People will usually look for the cheapest generator with a few good reviews and call it a day. 

Did you know that there are actually generators on the market that are quieter than others?  Spending a little extra money can actually net you a quieter generator.

I was actually someone that purchased a more inexpensive generator without researching how loud it would actually be. 

After hours of research, I found a few solutions on how to make a portable generator quiet.

Why Is My Portable Generator so Loud?

Before we get into making your generator quieter let’s take a look at why it’s as loud as it is in the first place. 

There are two main components that contribute to making your generator loud.  The first trait of your generator that dictates how loud it will be is the muffler. 

Have you ever heard of a car with modified exhaust or no mufflers at all?  They are extremely loud and obnoxious.

Well, most generators don’t come with a quiet exhaust system because most companies don’t keep that in mind.  Especially cheaper companies.

Adding a nice quiet exhaust system will add to the production costs of their generators, and if low price is their target, you better believe they will be leaving it without mufflers.

The second trait that influences how loud your generator will be is the engine rpm when the generator is running.  Most generators will always be operating at max rpm. 

This is like putting your car in neutral and revving the engine at a constant 4,000 or 5,000 rpm.  This is what these generators are doing. 

However, there are other generators on the market that will actually fluctuate the rpm depending on how much load is on the generator. 

I’ll get more into that a little bit later.  Next, we will take a look at things we can do to quiet your existing generator.

Pick the Proper Flooring for Your Generator

The floor you place your generator on while it is running plays a big role in how loud it will be.  Avoid hard surfaces like wooden floors, concrete, or tiles. 

A generator vibrates while it is functioning, and placing it on a hard surface will make it louder by increasing its echo and reverberations. 

Try to choose a soft floor like dirt or grass for your generator.  A softer surface for your generator to function on will help absorb the sound instead of shooting it off in other directions.

If you have no choice but to use your generator on hard flooring, then it would be best to try to soften it up yourself. 

If your generator is being used in a garage with hard floors, then it would be a smart idea to place thick industrial blankets underneath it to help absorb and dampen the sound. 

You will be surprised at how effective it is to place a thick blanket underneath your generator.

This approach is similar to the popular method of quieting a blender

Users found that if they placed a towel that was folded a few times underneath their blender before blending it dramatically reduced the noise.

Use a Muffler or Silencer on Your Generator

Some brands for generators actually have products you can buy to quiet their generators.  A silencer like this one from amazon would fit into the exhaust port of a certain generator. 
A silencer or muffler simply forces sound to go through a filter that is similar to a sound maze. 
It makes it harder for the sound to pass through, which results in a quieter sound coming out the other end.

There is one major downside to using a muffler or silencer.  Not all brands support these types of modifications. 

The only way to put a muffler or silencer on a generator that doesn’t have an aftermarket option is to do it yourself. 

You will most likely have to fabricate a way to install a silencer or muffler on your generator; If you are not the handy type of person, then this will certainly be out of the question.

Create a Soundproof Enclosure for Your Generator

quiet generator box

The next method you can do to quiet your generator is to build a sound box or “dog house” for it. 

This is basically a solid enclosure that you will be placing your generator inside of.  This enclosure will help contain and emit the sounds of your generator away from you.

The diagram above shows a good representation of this box should look like.  There are a few precautions to take while building this soundproof box. 

Never install or run the generator in an enclosed building that will allow the exhaust fumes to build up where there are people or animals. 

This can result in death from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Also never install the generator near highly flammable materials to prevent the risk of a fire starting.

A cheap way to build this enclosure is with cinder blocks.  Build the enclosure at least 100 feet or so away from your house or location to help reduce the noise level even further. 

It’s also a good idea to add a fan to the non-exhaust size of the generator to help with cooling and blowing the exhaust gases out.

The best option overall is to purchase a generator that is already designed to be quiet. 

This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the most flexible option as you can take your generator anywhere and have it be quiet.

Use a Portable Generator Specifically Made to Be Quiet

generator loudness chart

Purchasing a new generator that is already quiet is the most expensive option, but it’s an option just in case you want to save for a new generator.

Honda has a superior lineup of portable generators called the EU series.

These generators come in 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, and 6,500 watt versions depending on how many watts you need. 

This is usually based on what you will be doing.  The EU1000i and EU2200i from amazon are two of the best quiet portable generators that you can purchase. 

They are both rated at 53 to 59 dB(A).

The dB(A) stands for the relative loudness of sounds in the air as perceived by the human ear. 

It is just a measurement of sound.  I have provided a chart to show what these ranges sound like to the human ear.  The lower the rating the quieter it will be.

What Makes Honda’s Portable Generators Quiet?

There are two main factors that contribute to making Honda’s generators quiet.  The first trait is their Eco-Throttle feature for their generators. 

This is an internal system that will automatically adjust the engines speed to match the load that it is on.

This means your generator will only be as loud as it needs to be based on how much power it is actually using.  If you only have light loads plugged in, like lights or a radio, then the engine will run slower and quieter. 

If you plug in something big like an RV then the engine will be running at a much faster speed causing the sound to increase with it.

The other feature that these generators have to make them more quiet is a two-tiered noise dampening system.  The engines use rubber mounts which limit vibration noise.

 Then the engine is inside a shroud that encases the whole generator.

Tips for Choosing the Best Quiet Generator for Your Needs

Choosing the most expensive generator is usually not the smartest idea.  Let’s take a look at the Honda EU generator series. 

The number at the end of the model dictates how many watts the generator outputs. The EU1000i will produce 1,000 watts.  So how do you determine how many watts you will need?

This is simply based on what activities you will be using your generator for.  There are many different uses that people have for generators. 

Some people may use a generator as a backup to keep certain things in their house powered during a power outage.  Other people may use a generator when they are out doing something like camping.

portable generator

Let’s use camping as an example.  You will most likely use the generator to mostly charge batteries in your devices, turn on lights, or even use cooking ware. 

The EU1000i or EU2200i will suffice in these types of situations.

However, if you plan on powering something a lot bigger, like a camper or RV, then you will need to use a generator with a higher wattage capability. 

An example of somebody that would need a bigger generator is someone that is living off-grid.  Living off-grid usually means that you live in a cabin or RV somewhere that is not near a city. 

This is when you will want to go with a generator like the EU3000i or EU6500i.  Basically, the more power you need to use, the bigger the generator you will need to purchase.

Check Your Devices or Appliances Requirements

Every device will need a minimum number of watts to properly run.  Some microwaves for example need at least 700 watts in order to perform correctly. 

If you have a 1,000 watt generator then you will need to be careful and make sure nothing else is draining power while your 700 watt microwave is in use.

If your generator cannot provide the correct wattage to the device it is powering; then there is a possibility that the item may become inoperable due to insufficient wattage. 

When I say inoperable I mean that it can literally render your device useless and you will need to replace it. 

Now, this would be highly unlikely to happen to a cell phone or other small electronic device, but it can definitely happen to higher-wattage machines.

Tips for Quieting a Loud Generator

Here are a list of tips to having a quiet generator:

  • Make sure to install your generator away from your home or location.  Try to give at least 100 feet of room between you and the generator.  The farther the generator is from living quarters, the quieter it will be even if you have a very noisy generator.  This is by far the cheapest method you can implement to get a quieter generator.
  • Construct some type of sound box or sound deflector for your generator.  This option is not the most mobile option available, but if you use your generator at home, this would be a good option.
  • Position the generator so that the exhaust side is pointed away from you or your living quarters.  This will help redirect the sound away from where you don’t want it.
  • Avoid installing your generator on wood flooring.  Installing a generator on wood flooring is a very bad idea because the wood actually amplifies the vibrations and sounds of the generator.  Dirt or grass would probably be the best surface to install your generator on because they will absorb lots of the vibrations and sounds of your generator.

Why Do I Need a Quiet Generator?

The truth is that you don’t really need a quiet generator.  However, a quiet generator is nice to have. 

It’s especially nice to have if you plan on using your generator regularly.  Having a quiet generator at the house means you won’t be bothered by the loud noises if you are trying to sleep or watch television.

Having a loud generator in the background of a camping site can make or break your trip all together.  A loud generator while camping may just generally get annoying. 

If you need to use your generator at night, then it may also cause issues with others while they are trying to sleep.

If you think that having a loud generator will impact your activities, it will be used for in more negative ways than positive; then it might be a good idea to stick with one that’s quieter.

Final Thoughts

There are many techniques and tricks you can use to try and quiet a noisy generator. 

I have come to the conclusion that nothing beats a well-made generator that is designed with both noise and performance in mind.

Purchasing a portable generator that is quiet is the best option you can do for yourself in terms of quieting a generator. 

I personally went ahead and purchased the EU1000i by Honda from amazon and have had nothing but positive experiences with it thus far.

It’s the perfect generator to take camping as well as use around the house.  It makes a tolerable amount of noise compared to my old generator. 

After witnessing the difference this generator made in terms of noise and performance, I will never look back at purchasing a cheap portable generator ever again.