10 Best Quiet Generators Reviewed in Detail (Fall 2022)

How quiet a generator can actually be?

Unfortunately, no generator is truly silent. While generator technology has been improving, bringing the price and noise output of quiet generators steadily downward, you’re still likely to hear your generator when it’s operating.

Right now, the quietest generators on the market are typically putting out around 50 dB of noise. This is about the same amount of noise produced by an inside conversation – in other words, extremely quiet for a machine running on a gasoline-powered engine. At 50 dB, you certainly won’t be bothering anyone and you’ll be able to easily hold a conversation near your generator.

However, at 60 dB, the noise level is twice that at 50 dB. Many quiet generators reach this volume when they are loaded, and it is also the base volume for many generators larger than 3,000 watts, such as the Champion Power Equipment 100302. More powerful generators that can power a food truck or a large RV usually operate at around 70 dB and more, depending on the brand and power output, so for example NorthStar models are usually noisier, but on the other hand much more powerful.

At 60 dB, the noise is more similar to a large air conditioning unit or the background noise in a restaurant. This still isn’t too loud, but you may need to yell to be heard over the generator if you are standing close by.

The more powerful, the louder: How much power do you need?

As a general rule of thumb, generators get louder the larger the engines are and the more power they are capable of producing. That means that in order to get the quietest possible engine for your needs, you want to also get the smallest possible generator that can fulfill your power needs. For example, if you can get by with a 2,000-watt generator, that will be better for reducing noise than sizing up to a 4,000-watt generator like the Champion 100302.

However, keep in mind that noise also depends on how heavily your generator is loaded relative to its rated power output. For generators within the same class, a difference of a few hundred watts in rated power and a few dB of base noise output can end up making a big difference in how much noise the generator produces when it is actually in use.

To keep noise as low as possible, you’ll need to draw as little power from your generator as you can.

Are inverter generators quieter than commercial ones?

Inverter generators are significantly quieter than most conventional generators. There are several reasons for this.

The first and most important reason that inverter generators are so quiet is that they use a series of computer chips to regulate the engine in response to the load being drawn. That means that the engine is not run at full-throttle the entire time, which is quite loud, but rather adjusts its output and noise according to the power you are using.

The second reason inverter generators are relatively quiet is that they are typically encased in an insulating frame that is designed to protect the sensitive electronics. This frame is often designed to be extra thick to keep the engine noise down, as well as to reduce vibrations that can produce even more noise.

Finally, inverter generators are often outfitted with oversized mufflers, such as the kind found on cars, to keep the engine noise down as much as possible. While conventional generators can be outfitted with these mufflers as well, there is typically less emphasis by manufacturers on this component.

How long you need to run your generator?

Best Quiet Generator

Another important consideration when choosing a generator is how long you will need to run it for without adding new fuel. It is unsafe to add fuel to the generator while it is still running or even while it is hot, so refueling can be a time consuming process as you wait for the generator to cool down.

The main factors that affect generator runtime are fuel efficiency and fuel tank capacity. In general, four-stroke engines like those found on the Pulsar, Renogy Phoenix 337Wh Solar Generator, Champion, and Westinghouse generators, among others we reviewed, are more fuel efficient. Inverter generators also tend to be more fuel efficient than conventional generators, which helps increase runtime.

Fuel tank capacity is also important, though, and tank capacities can range widely. For example, the Honda generator has a fuel tank less than one gallon in volume, which limits its runtime to just eight hours at 25% load. In contrast, most of the other generators we reviewed have 1.2-gallon or larger fuel tanks, which offer runtimes more in the range of 10 or more hours at 25% load.

Safety features

It’s also important to consider safety features when choosing a generator. All of the generators we reviewed have a built-in low-oil shutoff, as well as a light or other indicator to let you know when the engine oil is running low. All models also have built-in overload protection, which trips a circuit breaker in the even that you try to draw too much power from the generator. Both of these safety features protect not only you and your appliances from a surge, but also protect the generator’s engine from expensive damages.

Another thing to look for on generators is a reset button for individual outlets’ circuit breakers. Generators like those from Honda, Westinghouse, and others have these circuit resets. While they are not strictly necessary, they allow you to reset an outlet after the breaker trips without fully turning off the generator’s engine.

Tips and tricks

10 Best Quiet Generators That Won't Disturb Anyone Around (Fall 2022)

Maintaining your generator is extremely important to ensuring that it will last for years to come. The most important piece of maintenance for every generator is to keep it well oiled, since having low oil will not only prevent you from using the generator when you need it but also can severely damage the engine. Plan to replace the oil after the first 25 hours of use of your new generator, and every 50 hours after that.

Another important tip is to watch your gas levels. In particular, running the generator until it fully runs out of fuel can damage the engine. This is because sludgy residue builds up at the bottom of the fuel tank and is sucked into the engine when the fuel runs extremely low.

In addition, it is important not to leave old gasoline in the tank. Gasoline goes stale after a few months of exposure to air and can damage the engine as well.

When refilling your generator’s fuel tank, be sure to allow the generator to fully cool down before refilling the gas tank. Pouring gas into a hot generator is a serious fire hazard that can damage the generator or cause injury to yourself.

Another important tip for operation, especially for a quiet generator, is to run the generator on a flat, level surface. This will reduce the amount of vibration that the generator experiences when it is running, which will help reduce wear and tear on the engine as well as make the generator run more quietly.

Quiet generator prices

Quiet generators can range widely in prices and a lot depends on who the manufacturer is. For example, the Honda generator we reviewed comes at a significant price premium – $1,400 – because it contains a Honda engine and Honda is known by consumers as a highly reliable engine maker, also considered to be one of the best generators for tailgating. The Powermate PM3000i P0080601 Gas Inverter Generator similarly comes at a price premium because of Powermate reputation. In general, most other quiet inverter generators in the 2,000-watt size class retail for around $400–$500, although budget models like those from Renogy Phoenix 337Wh Solar Generator and Pulsar can sell for less than $400.

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