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Quiet Generators Review

What are Quiet Generators?

Generators are machines that have been engineered to generate electrical energy from mechanic energy. This requires the use of combustible (fuel), engines, motors, etc. and these components of a generator tend to liberate decibels hence creating noise. Most generators liberate decibels ranging between 45 and 80 (dB). One of the key challenges generator manufacturers have is to innovate competitive generators that emit less noise.

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Which is Quieter, Standard or Inverter Portable Generators?

It is an overstatement to consider a generator as silent. Unless one resorts to solar powered generators, there are no silent generators. Generators run on engines that produce noise at varying dB levels. Generally, inverter generators are amongst the most quiet generators one can find on the market. Nonetheless the noise produced during the operation of a generator is usually determined by the demanded power output. The more power is drawn or demanded from the generator the more noise is released.

Standard generators usually have a standard dB reading due to the fact that they run at a constant rpm while inverter generators run at various rpms depending on wattage output. For example as demonstrated below when comparing a standard and an inverter generator of same wattage output capacity one realizes that apart from cost, inverter generators are quieter than standard generators.

Type of generator Standard generator Inverter generator
Mark / model All Power APG 3014 Yamaha ef 2000 is
Cost Approx. $ 700 Approx.. $ 1000
Running watts 1600 watts 1600 watts
Starting watts 2000 watts 2000 watts
Decibel reading 65 dB 52 – 60 dB
Speed Constant rpm Variable rpm

Understanding Decibel Readings

Decibel is the logarithmic measurement of the intensity of sound with dBas its SI unit. Logarithmic basically implies that  for every increase in 10 dB reading there is an increment in noise by a factor of 10. Hence dB are not linear in nature i.e. 50 dB does not indicate that the sound is twice as loud as that of 25 dB.

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Increment range (dB) Difference Result
1 -10 10 10 times > 1 dB
1 – 20 20 100 times > 1 dB
1 – 30 30 1000 times > 1 dB

Examples of Sound Sources and their Respective Sound Intensity and Noise Levels

The threshold of hearing (0 dB) represents the lowest level of sound detectable by the human ear and not the absolute absence of sound. The threshold of pain is simply the level where one feels pain as a result of the noise emitted. The table below illustrates source of sound and their respective approximate dB readings.

Sources / thresholds ≈ dB reading Sources / thresholds ≈ dB reading
Threshold of hearing 0 dB Street traffic    70 dB
Rustling of leaves          10 dB Vacuum cleaner  80 dB
Whisper          20 dB Lawn mower 90 dB
Quiet conversation 30 dB Chain saw 100 dB
Library / home PC    40 dB Live rock concert 110 dB
Normal office noise 50 dB Thunder 120 dB
Normal conversation  60 dB Threshold of pain  130 dB

As from 140 dB (from jets and other aircrafts), the sound liberated becomes deafening. At sound levels of ≥ 160 dB the sensitivity of the human ear has been stretched to its elastic limit and results in the perforation or damage of the eardrum.

Types of Generator and Their Noise Levels

Types of generator Sound / Noise levels
Solar Generators ≤ 30 dB
Inverter Generators 52 – 59 dB
Standby Generators 62 – 69 dB
Portable Generators 65 – 85 dB

Some Quiet Portable Generators and their Respective Max Decibel Levels

The generators that are usually used as house generators and are the best home generators usually have a running watt of ≤ 3500 watts. Hence below is a review of 16 generators types from different generator manufacturers.

Brand / model Type of generator Running watts Start watts ≈ Max Decibel reading
Goal Zero Yeti Solar Gen Solar power 400 400 < 30
Generac 5793 iX2000 Inverter 2000 2200 52
Yamaha EU 2000is Inverter 1600 2000 52
Champion 73536i Inverter 1700 2000 53
Honda EU 2000i Inverter 1600 2000 53
Yamaha EF 1000iS inverter 900 1000 55
Earthquake IG 800W Inverter 700 800 56
Briggs & Stratton P3000 Inverter 2600 3000 58
Champion 75531i Inverter 2800 3100 58
ETQ IN 2500I Inverter 2200 2500 60
Hyundai HY 2000si Inverter 2000 2200 65
WEN 56352 Standard 3000 3500 67
Champion 46539 Standard 3500 4000 68
Sportsman GEN 4000LP Standard 3250 4000 68
DuroStar DS4000S Standard 3500 4000 69
DuroMax XP 4400E Standard 3500 4400 69
NB: These decibel readings are estimates and are largely determined by the distance from the generator (usually 7 m) during the reading of the sound levels

Whole house generators or standby generators have a noise level (originating from the engine and exhaust) between 62-68 dBs depending on the generator.

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Importance of having a quiet generator

  • Depending on the regulation in force in the area where the generator is being used, owning a quiet generator that adheres to the former is a plus;
  • Prolonged exposure to significant noise levels could become irritating, annoying and exasperating to those around;
  • Environmentally friendly;
  • During recreational or outdoor activities such as RV or tent camping, offers discretion and peace desired during such ventures;
  • Prevents overshadow of some devices such as the TV or radio.

Best Advice for Obtaining a Quiet Generator

Noisy generators can still be muffled so as to reduce the decibel levels it dissipates. One can achieve this by placing or installing generators a considerable distance from home. That notwithstanding one could build or construct a well ventilated sound reduction cabin or shack (built preferably with sound absorbing material) to harbour the generator. In order to avoid this constraints and inconveniences the best option is to purchase a quiet generator for homes.  

Tags: quiet generators, quiet generator review, best generator review, best home generators, best house generators, silent generators, home generator reviews, portable generators

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