With unpredictable weather changes, and the surrounding chaos these days, having a generator on hand can really be useful.
If there is a chance of a strong freeze, strong winds, excessive rain, or storms, there is always a chance that your power may go out, and having a generator on hand will prevent you from spending your evening sitting in the dark with nothing to do but count your fingers.
For some people having a generator is essential, if you have children, or work from home, you need a generator to be on standby for when standard power lets you down. The biggest issue with generators though, is that they have quite a high noise production.
They can be so excessively loud that while they power up your home they can be disruptive or even give you a bit of a headache.
So, in those times when you have decided to go camping and take your generator with you, you do not want it to be so loud that it swallows up all the other sound around it.
Hence, why today, we are going to talk you through how you can make your generator quieter for camping, or for those moments at home where your generator is being so loud that it is driving you up the wall.
There are plenty of ways to quieten down your generator, so you are not disturbing everyone around you. There are also plenty of different types of generators too, so we want to remind you that there are different ways that you can make a traditional generator and an inverter generator quiet down.
You may not use a generator for camping, some people don’t, there is something quite magical about camping ‘au naturel’, however, you may still have a generator for backup power, and when it gets noisy you start wondering how much you really need the power.
That being said, if your generator is really loud, your neighbors may not be your biggest fans either. You may live in a neighborhood where power outages are expected in which case many of you may have generators which will make you feel less guilty about the racket it is creating.
But you can still quieten it down. Now, let’s have a look at how you can do this, what are the techniques you can use to make that generator hush?.
Making your generator quiet
Before we get into things we want to discuss with you exactly why it is that so many of these appliances are so loud.
You see, generators have small engines, air compressors are also equipped with a small engine. This is a factor that makes them a lot louder, often so, even more so than bigger motored appliances such as automobiles and the like.
An automotive engine is composed out of a thick and heavy material that has a pressurized high volume oil system. They are also liquid cooled which prevents the engine from overheating.
In comparison, the smaller engines such as the ones belonging to generators, are made from lightweight thinner materials that are splash oiled and air cooled. Small engine companies could build much quieter engines really, however in order to do so they would have to be much thicker and heavier.
Not many people would want to be pushing around a lawnmower that weighed upward of 800 lbs. And a generator of 800 lbs would make the portability and ease of use of it a lot more of a hassle than it needs to be.
So, if generators are always going to be loud and a bit annoying, what can we do to dampen that noise that they produce and make life around generators a little less of a headache.
Building a quiet enclosure
One way that you can keep your generator extra quiet is to build a generator quiet box. One upside to doing this is that you can also use it to help quiet down an air compressor as well, as these machines can be excessively loud as well.
This is why when you build yourself your quiet enclosure you should ensure that it is large enough to accommodate any other loud appliances that you may have.
Building your own generator quiet box can be very simple, but we want you to build the best you can to help you get the most out of it.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you build your own
- First, you need to make some appropriate measurements. You do not want any gaps that will let noise escape the enclosure. If you leave even just a tiny hole then it will defeat the whole purpose of the quiet closure. Make sure you leave enough space for sound insulation to install inside all four walls and the ceiling of the enclosure as this will help. You should also leave space enough for the ventilation equipment. Obviously, if you are building one of these that can also assist another piece of equipment as well as your generator then you need to make sure that it will fit either appliance.
- Now you need to cut out the Medium Density Fiberboard (MDX) as per the dimensions you have selected for your quiet enclosure, you can use a circular or table saw to do this. It can be useful to label the side and ceiling pieces with a pencil so that you do not get confused about which piece is which later on. You should make sure that you buy enough MDX, or soundboard, whichever you are using, before you start doing this. You do not want to be making another trip to the store or online seller after having realized you do not have enough materials.
- Now you should attach the first layer of soundproofing using a green-glue noise-proofing product. The first layer should be Mass Loaded Vinyl, and there will also be a second layer of soundproofing material that you can attach inside the enclosure. Then attach all the parts with nails or screws. Do not forget to install ventilation as well.
Portable soundproof enclosures
There is a soundproof enclosure that is portable and waterproof that you can buy. Saving yourself from having to build one. There is an option called ‘ZombieBox’. A ZombieBox will make your generator much quieter when you are using it while on a camping trip.
It is also nice because it is collapsible for easy storage, so you do not have to worry about lugging around awkward items. It will reduce the noise from your generator by up to 5 times, or as ZombieBox claims 99%, can you imagine the peace and quiet you would get from that?
You can check out online reviews and videos about ZombieBox and see for yourself how much it can do for you.
Rumors about car mufflers
There seem to be so many soundproofing websites and tips, and so many of them make the same claim that an automobile muffler can act almost magically as a silencer for your generator. So, we are asking the question, ‘does this actually work’, is it possible that it is just a myth or old wives’ tale?
Well, we are sorry to break the news to you, but they do not always do the trick, and people that claim that it does work often have not tried it themselves and often just copy the answer that it does from one another. At first, you can see there may be some validity to the claim that it would work.
Many people suggest that attaching a car muffler to a generator could make it quiet. We can see how this idea would come about and why people would believe that it can work.
One of the best ways to understand why this does not work is to talk to someone who has mechanical and engineering knowledge. You see generally, most of the noise that you will hear coming from a generator is from the motor and its various rotating parts inside.
A good way to see if this whole idea would even work is to simply throw on a thick leather glove as to avoid burning yourself, grab an old rag or towel and hold it over the muffler outlet on the generator. Wait some time and see if there is any difference.
There is very little chance there will be any significant change and so you just saved yourself a trip to the scrapyard. It is simply more advisable to build or buy an enclosure for a generator, all you need to be aware of here is that the generator does not overheat.
But a muffler simply just doesn’t do as much as an enclosure does, so it is not worth the hassle. However, if you do fancy giving this a chance anyway, if you did the test and found that there was some difference in the noise output when you held the rag over the muffler then go ahead and get a car muffler and give it a go.
The biggest problem you will face is that it does not actually make anything quieter. If you are going to try this then you need to make sure to measure the mufflers exhaust tip so that the vehicle muffler fits without leaving any gaps. If there are gaps where the noise can leak out then the whole idea will be moot and the muffler useless.
You can attach a bigger muffler which will not be that difficult, all you need is a few tools, clamps and some exhaust flex tubing.
Of course welding the correct piping that initially came with the muffler would be the best option, but there should be no issues if you can make the connection between the car muffler and the generator muffler tight enough to avoid gaps.
Simply, if you are trying this, avoid any and all gaps for a semi-decent result.
Using plywood boards
Perhaps you want to dull the noise of your generator, but you just don’t want to deal with all the hassle that comes with so many of the other techniques.
If this is the case then you could just use one of the fastest and cheapest ways which would be by shielding the noise using sheets of plywood. If you set up some sheets of plywood around the generator, you can reduce the noise output level by at least 10 decibels.
This alone will make the generator more bearable in a neighborhood. In order to do this, you will simply need a few sheets of plywood, even just plywood scraps that are large enough to extend past the generator would work to your advantage.
You should lay these against the generator in the shape of an enclosure box. Forming an A-shape frame with your makeshift plywood enclosure will deflect the generator’s noise toward the ground which will provide the noise to be held and absorbed into the ground rather than into your surroundings.
Watch where you face the exhaust pipe
It may sound like stating the obvious here, but sometimes the best solution can be the easiest. It can be a bit too challenging to move the generator away from your home (or tent) and even though this can be the case, there are still plenty of ways you can keep the noise levels down.
One of the easiest things you can do to lower the noise levels is simply to move the exhaust pipe, it can oftentimes be the primary cause of noise and so all you need to do on occasion is just face it away from your house.
Imagine the generator, picture it in your mind. Sound waves can be created from the noise, coming from the generator exhaust and travelling in the direction that it is facing.
So, if you point the generator exhaust in the other direction, then it should make a fairly noticeable difference than if it is pointed at your home.
Keep some distance
It is rather logical, however, the further away you are from the source of the noise, the less noise there will be. So, in this instance, you should use this same common sense here.
Distancing yourself and your generator will make your life easier, and quieter, especially if you live in a rural area. In fact, doing this in a rural area will be more useful anyway, as homes are not as close to one another as they are in any urban setting.
A standard generator will produce somewhere between 70 and 80 decibels at 20 feet away. 80 decibels is very loud, and you will generally hear this noise quite well. 70 to 80 decibels is on par with being inside a car at 60 mph or being in a noisy restaurant.
If you use a long extension cord, you would be able to move the generator further away from your house, and what is even better is if you have a detached garage or a storage shed, you could always move the generator behind these buildings, which would give you an extra blockage between you and the noise of the generator.
Of course, it is not advisable to put a generator inside a building unless it has a very powerful amount of ventilation. If your extension cord is long enough to do this then you will surely love the results that you get.
Now, we have advised against storing a generator inside a building, however, you can do this. Yet, if you do decide to store your generator inside a building then you also need to be mindful of a few things.
You could store your generator inside a storage shed if it is far enough away from your home, and you have the extension cord length. But, be sure to consider a few things before you do so, as improper considerations can be dangerous. Let’s see what these are…
- Consider the echo. If you place a generator inside a relatively empty shed space then there is going to be a significant echo caused by the sound waves bouncing around on the empty walls of the shed. You can avoid this by placing some acoustic panels on the walls and ceiling of the shed and this way the noise will not echo. It is an inexpensive way to make use of what is essentially an oversized sound box.
- Consider heat. This is one of the safety concerns. While many people never really concern themselves with an overheating generator, it is very possible that it could happen. Even in the coldest corners of the world. If you are concerned about the possibility of overheating then you should place a fan inside the shed in order to keep the generator cool. You could always find battery powered fans online as well if you do not want to splurge.
- Consider the fumes. Generators like many other appliances let off fumes. If you have a small storage shed then there will often be small vents there. All you really need is two small round vents that are approximately 6” in diameter. If you do not have any ventilation, however, then you need to sort that out, obviously, you could install ventilation in the storage space, or you could attach a muffler. This option means that you could attach a muffle type hose to the end of your existing muffler and have it coming out of your barn/ shed via a small opening of the door or even a hole in the wall specifically for this pipe. You can always seal the wall with a thick piece of rubber and then remove this when you need to run the generator.
Not all the loud noise that you hear coming from the generator comes from the motor and the moving parts, some will also be noise generated by the vibration of the generator.
You can resolve this by placing the generator on top of a thick sound absorbing mat. This will absorb the vibrations and this can bring down the noise level a bit.
Of course, it will not drastically change things, but it can certainly have an impact and make the noise levels a little less than before.
A sound absorbing mat is what you can use for many other things too, such as pool pumps and so on. These are well recommended for any appliance that can be a bit too noisy sometimes.
Replace faulty mufflers
While we have spoken a lot about how to quieten down a generator that is making some noise, there can be reasons for a generator being excessively noisy.
A good example of this is that if you have an old generator it may sound a bit louder than it used to, and if this is the case then you may have a faulty muffler.
You should take your generator to a small engine mechanic to see if you should change the muffler. There may also be something wrong with the engine itself if this is the case, as it may make the generator louder than it should be when it is working.
If you have a cheap generator then it may not be worth the cost though, as this is often better suited to the higher end generators that cost upward of $1,000 as having a few parts replaced can be more financially viable than just buying a new generator.
There are a few different types of silencers, and many may work as described. But what we want to know which silencer works best specifically for portable generators. There are a few that you can find on Amazon, or through private stores. But there are many silencers that may actually mediate the noise.
There are one or two that are highly recommended, such as the ‘GenSilencer’, made by a company that specializes in this exact thing.
They have a wide of silencers for a wide range of generator sizes and brands. You can find them on Amazon.com or just go to their website to see their full variety of options. You will surely end up finding the perfect silencer for your generator. These are all really easy to install and have a matte black finish.
You get a good warranty which is what you want when you are testing out something like this as if you do not find much of a difference after you have made the installation you can just send it back and get your money back. We certainly recommend this as one of the most advisable options for generator noise reduction.
Overviewing quieting generators
Overall the best piece of advice we can give you is simply just to buy the quietest generator you can find in the first place, especially if noise level is a primary concern for you.
If you can avoid the issue first-hand by simply buying a quieter generator, you could avoid the whole search for a solution to a noisy generator.
However, do keep in mind that the quietest generators around are the newest types of inverter generators, these typically end up being the most costly options in comparison to standard portable generators.
Some inverter generators do not have the best wattage output either, for example, The Honda 662220 EU2200i is a fantastically quiet inverter generator, however, it only has an output wattage of 2200W.
This is not suitable for everyone, and it can be challenging to find a generator with a high wattage output that is also quiet. Keep looking, and we know you will eventually find the generator for you. If you cannot though, simply get the one that supports your power needs and use one of our handy tips to make your generator noise a little more bearable.