If you’ve ever had a power outage, you’ll know they can be an extremely stressful occurrence. The confusion about what has happened, the uncertainty about how long it will take for the power to come back, and the impact a lack of power can have on your daily life make these events really awful experiences.
There’s no escaping the fact that we rely on power for almost everything in our daily lives. Heating, cooking, showering, and food storage are all heavily reliant on a steady and immediate supply of power.
Not being able to do any of these essential and basic things can be extremely awkward and costly. The thought of hundreds of dollars of food going to waste in an unpowered freezer alone is enough to make a blackout a real nightmare scenario.
Whether it’s a temporary supply issue that lasts a few hours or a serious emergency that leaves you powerless for days or even weeks, owning a generator can really reduce the disruption a power outage can cause.
Being able to keep your food safe from going bad, and having access to heat and water is really something that cannot be overvalued or overlooked, especially as the strain on our power grids grows and as the weather becomes ever more extreme and unpredictable.
There are a lot of generators out there, and there are many different styles that can make finding the right generator for your needs a really difficult task. A wide range of brands, power outputs, and technologies can make trying to research generators overwhelming, the sheer amount of information you need to sift through to make sure you’re making a good investment is honestly quite daunting.
For example, one of the most important characteristics of any generator is how quiet it is, especially if you’re planning to use it at home. Generators can be very loud, particularly older or larger versions, and this can disrupt both your own sleep and your neighbors, which is a hassle that no one ever wants to have to deal with. It can also give away the fact that you still have power which can make you a target for jealous neighbors in particularly desperate scenarios.
This is where small, quiet, portable generators can really solve a lot of problems all at once. These state-of-the-art machines are an amazing way to keep your essential appliances running, without creating a lot of noise pollution and letting everyone in the neighborhood that you still have power. They are also very efficient and easy to maintain, making them an amazing asset that anyone can use.
A portable generator also has the added benefit of being usable away from the home, allowing you to power your devices while on a camping trip, and they are often quiet enough that they won’t disturb other campers thanks to their specially designed motor, circuitry, and finishing.
The versatility, performance, and peace of mind portable generators provide make them a great addition to any home, whether you’re planning for a vacation or the next round of blackouts.
In this article, we’re going to list the 9 quietest portable generators available today, to help you find a source of power you can rely on in almost any situation.
OUR TOP PICK
Honda has been in the engine business for a very long time, and as one of the most well-known brands in the world, it stands to reason that they know a thing or two about making a great product.
Their portable generators have been so popular over the years that they have become a sort of industry-standard, with every other brand and manufacturer competing desperately to make their generators quieter, more powerful, and more efficient than Honda’s offerings.
Despite this competition though, Honda’s portable generators remain some of the best performers on the market, and this can be seen in the list of features that they come with.
The Honda EU1000i comes in at a weight of 29lbs making it very lightweight and manageable, a massive bonus for tight spaces and storage. The version we’re looking at here is a relatively small generator with only a 1000W output, however. This makes it ideal for low-load devices such as TVs and small electronics, which makes this generator ideal for campers and travelers who need a little extra juice on the road.
1000W is considered a relatively low amount of power and wouldn’t be adequate for running large appliances such as refrigerators, however, there are higher-power versions of the Honda available if you need more power.
Alternatively, it is possible to link this generator with a second identical one using an optional cable that will allow you up to 2000watts of power. This is enough for most home appliances, and running two separate generators gives a little more flexibility and redundancy than one larger generator.
The Honda also comes with an included carbon monoxide detector known as the CO-MINDER, which continuously monitors the CO levels near the generator. If the levels of CO get too high, the CO-MINDER will automatically shut down the generator, which gives great peace of mind and will keep users safe.
Last but most definitely not least, the Honda has a decibel rating of around 42 to 50 dB, which is one of the lowest and is actually less noisy than a normal conversation. This makes the Honda perfect for discreet use at campgrounds or to boost the power of your RV without causing a lot of noise pollution.
- Light and portable
- Easily stored
- Very quiet
- Included Carbon Monoxide detector
- Optional linkage to provide more power
- Low power output - On its own, this generator can only power small electronics and isn’t suitable for more demanding use.
Westinghouse is one of the oldest and most well-established names in American electronics and still makes some of the best generators available today.
Founded in 1886 by George Westinghouse, this brand has been in the electronics field for a very, very long time so you know that their products are backed by vast experience and research.
The iGen2200 portable generator is able to provide 2200 watts of power which are ample for most essential home appliances, giving great peace of mind if you lose power for an extended period of time. The 1.2-gallon gas tank provides a 12 hour run time and also has an economy mode to help make your fuel last as long as possible.
The iGen is also able to parallel with other Westinghouse generators such as the WH2200iXLT, iGen1200, iGen2200, and iGen2500 by using the optional Westinghouse parallel cord. This will enable you to provide even more power when you need to and gives you a lot of versatility in how you handle your power, depending on the demand.
The iGen provides very clean 3% THD electricity to your devices via two 120V 20 Amp outlets and two USB outlets which is great for hooking up quickly and easily. The quality of the power this generator produces also protects your electronics from damage when plugged directly into this generator.
With a decibel rating as low as 52dBA, the Westinghouse is very quiet despite the fact that it is a little more powerful than the Honda, and is quiet enough that it won’t disturb you or the neighbors even with prolonged usage.
The control panel is well laid out with warning lights for low oil and clear labels for every switch.
It’s also a very manageable size, and the included carry handle will let you easily transport the 46lbs this generator weighs, making it ideal for usage in the garden or other outdoor areas, as well as for camping.
Overall this is a superb generator with great power output, low weight, and a lot of enviable features.
- Great Power Output
- Good Fuel Efficiency
- Relatively Quiet
- Fairly Lightweight and Portable
- Parallel compatible with several Westinghouse Generators
- A little on the heavier side
PowerSmart is a bit of a newer player in the generator market but the 2200W unit is a capable gas-powered inverter that provides a decent amount of power and has a few nice features that make it ideal for tailgating, camping, and home usage.
The first thing to note is that this generator produces a starting surge output of 2000 watts and then switches to providing 1800 watts of safe, clean, power for low load, high-quality electronics such as phones, televisions, laptop computers, and other sensitive electronics.
At 25% load, this inverter is capable of providing 10 hours of power on a single 1-gallon tank of fuel, which means you can get a long run time and still draw a usable amount of power that will sustain an array of electronic devices.
The control panel is again clear and well laid out with a low oil light, an overload alert light, and several outlets including 2 AC outlets at 120V, 2 USB-A ports at 5V and 1 DC 12V carport giving you plenty of options for connecting however you need to.
The powerful 80cc four-stroke engine provides ample power but despite this, it only had a decibel rating of 52dBA, which is very respectable and around the same sound level as a normal conversation which will help prevent you from disturbing yourself or your neighbors.
Weighing just 42.5lbs it is relatively lightweight and has a compact body for easy storage, as well as a carry handle for easy portability which is very manageable thanks to its exceptionally light weight.
This generator is also parallel compatible with other PowerSmart generators up to a maximum wattage of 3500W, meaning you can combine generators to increase your power yield in a pinch making these generators very versatile.
Decent run time
Good power output
Good number of outlets
- No parallel functionality making it a little less flexible than some other generators
This inverter by Champion is a little different from some of the others we’ve looked at so far, packing a lot more of a punch and with an open frame design.
Thanks to an ample 4000-watt starting output and 3500-watt running output, this generator will have absolutely no problem powering your essential appliances and most other things that require power in your home, making it an excellent choice for a backup generator to keep things running if your power drops out at home.
The other thing that makes this an excellent home backup is the whopping 17-hour runtime achieved thanks to the generator’s economy mode which saves fuel and extends the engine’s lifespan.
The result is that this generator provides a serious amount of power for a serious amount of time, and this gives you a comprehensive sense of reassurance.
The Champion is parallel-ready and can connect to other generators using the optional parallel kit which will offer you, even more, power and flexibility if and when you need more juice.
Despite its size, this generator is still portable enough thanks to its open cage design, which makes it 20% lighter than a traditional Champion 3500W generator. This makes it a capable camping generator that can run your RV with ease, thanks to a 120V 30 Amp outlet, a 120V 20 Amp outlet, and a 12 V DC outlet with dual USB adapters.
This gives you ample connectivity and lets you tap into the clean, safe (sub 3% THD) electricity that the Champion provides, making it safe to use with electronics and other low-load devices.
While this inverter is lighter and quieter than its traditional counterpart with a decibel rating of 64dBA and a weight of 81.6lbs it is still one of the biggest, loudest, and heaviest portable generators on this list, which is a natural tradeoff for the increased power and longevity of this quality generator.
- Massive power output
- Very long run time
- Plenty of outlets
- Parallel ready
- Included oil funnel, battery charging cables, and USB adapter
- A little heavier and noisier than some other portable generators
The WEN 56203i is a 2000 watt portable inverter generator that fits into a nice middle ground between the larger generators and highly portable designs.
With a starting surge power output of 2000 Watts and a running output of 1700, this generator has ample power for most household appliances which will mean you don’t need to panic in the event of a power cut, and will also have ample power if you decide to bring this generator on your next RV excursion or camping trip.
While offering a very respectable amount of power, the WEN really shines in its portability and ease of storage. Weighing just 39 lbs, this is a very convenient generator that can be easily carried using the included carry handle, making it ideal for outdoor use to help power your tools and garden equipment as well as for heading further afield.
There are ample outlets, including 2 three-prong receptacles, a 12V DC receptacle, and two 5V USB ports which will make it easy to power multiple devices and appliances at the same time. The quality of the power it outputs is also high which makes the WEN suitable for use with more sensitive electronics such as phones or televisions.
The 1-gallon fuel tank allows for a 10.8 hour run time at 25% load, and also has an eco mode as well as an auto-shutoff feature to maximize the generator’s life span, using leftover fuel in the carburetor before powering down entirely.
Complete with a 51dBA sound rating at a quarter load, this generator is barely louder than an average conversation, making it ideal for discreet home use or for use on a campsite.
The control panel is well labeled and well designed, and there are several other WEN generators available that can be used in parallel mode with the 56203i using an optional parallel cable. This allows added flexibility for users who find that their existing power output needs some extra support.
- Very light
- Fairly quiet
- Auto-shutoff feature
- Parallel compatible
- Not as quiet or as powerful as some other generators available
The Pulsar 2300W portable generator is another mid-range inverter that focuses on providing a good blend of power, portability, and efficiency while allowing you space to expand your output. It also provides all the features you need to use your power safely and with as little disturbance as possible.
The 2300 starting wattage and 1800 running wattage are ample for most home appliances and devices.
Capable of 4.8 hours of operation at half power and using a 1.18-gallon fuel tank, the Pulsar is able to provide significant power over a solid amount of time. The sine wave technology included in this inverter makes sure that the power provided is quality power and safe for usage with mobile devices such as laptops as well as other larger appliances such as refrigerators.
The ergonomic carry handle makes carrying its 47lb weight very simple and easy, and the base pads help prevent vibration and noise on most surfaces.
In terms of its sound, the Pulsar is relatively quiet with a decibel rating of 59dBA which is fairly quiet and almost inaudible from a short distance.
The control panel is simple and well designed and includes an oil warning display, an economy mode switch, an overload indicator as well as several outlets, and a parallel connector.
As is common on portable generators, the parallel connector is an optional extra that allows you to hook your generator up alongside another to provide superior combined power when required.
- Good power output
- Parallel compatible
- Fairly light
- Sine wave technology
- Isn’t as quiet or light as some others available
The Generac iQ3500 is one of the more powerful inverters available and has a host of excellent features that set it apart from other portable generators.
The first thing we noticed is the battery start (with batteries included) that makes starting up your generator very easy and doesn’t require the arduous manual starting of some other generators. This provides amazing convenience, particularly for colder climates.
The durable steel enclosure helps to keep everything protected and organized while also dampening the sound of the motor to a decent degree.
Generac also claims that this generator is 40% quieter than the equivalent Honda design, however despite searching an official decibel rating for this generator wasn’t listed on the specs on the website or technical sheet so your mileage may vary.
The control panel is sleek and actually has a digital smart display which is a nice touch that many generators don’t have, helping you to monitor your power and other metrics very easily. There are ample outlets including USB ports, allowing you to take advantage of the clean and safe power that this generator delivers.
The Generac has an ample run time of 14.1 hours at 25% load in eco mode and a large fuel tank that gives amazing peace of mind in the event of a power cut as well as ample power for campers wanting to power their RV.
The drawback of the Generac is that it's a little heavier than some other portable generators and also a little louder than smaller, less powerful options, the natural result of a much more powerful motor.
This doesn’t diminish the fact that this inverter is a high-quality generator with excellent features and a sleek finish, providing a long-lasting and powerful tool for homeowners and campers.
Just be aware that it isn’t as well suited to camping as some lighter generators, especially due to the awkwardly located handle.
- Power Start (battery included
- Parallel ready
- Large fuel tank
- Great power output
- Awkwardly positioned carry handle
Briggs and Stratton are one of the world’s largest manufacturers of small engines so it’s no wonder that their generators are revered as some of the best available.
The use of an inverter is an obvious choice that immediately makes this generator more efficient and quieter despite its absolutely massive power capacity of 6500 watts.
The 306cc integrated engine/alternator is extremely powerful and provides up to 14 hours of runtime which is fantastic for home users who want to be absolutely sure they have the power they need to keep their essential appliances running, and still have enough power left over for less important amenities.
The four 120V 20 Amp outlets and 2 USB outlets allow you to take full advantage of this inverter’s generous capacity.
The noise-reducing shell helps to keep the sound level reasonable, however, this generator is naturally a little louder due to the sheer size of its engine and the extra power it provides.
This makes it focused on home use, and this can also be seen in the included CO Guard carbon monoxide shutdown technology that shuts down the generator whenever a dangerous level of gas is detected nearby. This ensures that even with prolonged usage, you will be able to be safe and take full advantage of the long run time this generator provides.
Despite its strong home performance, Briggs & Stratton have not neglected the portable importance of a generator and there are several thoughtful features that assist in moving this larger generator.
First, there are the immediately noticeable wheels that allow you to easily move the generator over flat areas without having to raise it off the floor. This makes transporting it a very safe and convenient task, even easier than moving some smaller generators.
The telescopic carry handle allows you to take full advantage of the wheels, rolling the generator around as easily as a caddy, ensuring that this generator can work well as a portable generator and not only as a backup home generator.
- Massive power output
- Excellent portability despite the size
- Ample outlets
- Great run time
- A little heavier and louder than other generators
This is another midrange portable generator with a generous 2000W power output and a running output of 1800W after startup.
As mentioned above this amount of power output is ideal for both home use and camping or tailgating, and has parallel compatibility which allows you to easily add additional power to your setup should your load requirements change.
The kit required for the conversion is sold separately, however it’s very useful to be able to combine with another BILT HARD generator but be sure to read the instructions on setting up carefully.
When used at home this generator will be able to keep your household essentials running during a power outage, protecting your frozen food from spoiling, allowing you to cook and shower as well as use other appliances such as your television or laptop.
At a load of 50%, this generator can run for 6 hours which is ample time indeed. This could be extended if the power draw was to be lower than 50% which means the longevity of this generator is very good, giving maximum peace of mind whether at home or at the campsite.
The electricity produced by this generator is clean and stable meaning it can be used directly with sensitive electronics such as laptops or phones without interfering with their performance.
All of this is available in a well-insulated package that has a decibel rating of 65dBA at 7 meters, which is around the same level as a normal conversation and is a very competitive sound output at this power level.
This will help prevent your generator from disturbing neighbors either at home or anywhere else you decide you want to use it.
Thanks to its ergonomic carry handle and very low weight of 40lbs, the BILT HARD is an excellent all-around generator that can be easily used for traveling and conveniently stored at home.
The control panel and interface are simple, clear and easy to use, with low oil and overload warning lights to help prevent any damage occurring under these sorts of stresses.
The starter is recoil powered which isn’t as convenient as an electrical ignition, and there is no digital display which makes it a little difficult to use in low light conditions and to keep track of important information such as fuel levels and load levels.
Overall the BILT HARD is simple, rugged and quiet, and does everything a portable generator needs to do well. The excellent enclosed inverter design making it quiet and powerful, while still providing ample and clean electricity which is perfect for use at home, in an RV, or while tailgating.
- Decent power output
- Good runtime
- Ergonomic grip
- Fairly lightweight
- Parallel ready
- Fairly quiet
- Control panel is quite simple
Quietest Portable Generators That Won't Disturb the Neighbors Buying Guide
While generators are fairly simple in their purpose, there are a surprising number of different types of generators as well as a host of different features and characteristics that can make finding the right one a totally overwhelming process.
There’s nothing worse than investing in a generator only to find that it doesn’t provide enough power, or doesn’t have enough outlets, or is way too noisy to be used very much. This often leaves you having to figure out how to return the generator or simply leaves you stuck with a product you aren’t going to be able to get good use out of.
This is why it’s so important to make sure you’re buying a generator that is suitable for your specific needs.
In this guide, we’re going to highlight some of the key features to look out for when purchasing a generator, to help you make an informed decision the first time.
If you have other questions don’t hesitate to check out the FAQ below for more information regarding the most common questions people have about generators and their use.
The wattage of your generator is a great way to determine how powerful it is, and what sort of use you’ll be able to get out of it.
It also often gives away how portable your generator is going to be, as the more wattage there is, the larger the engine is likely to be and the heavier the overall unit will be.
Generally, 1000W or lower is considered to be on the lower end when it comes to portable generators, however, this is still a fairly functional rating that will be able to power some essentials and electronics depending on the amount of power they draw.
These lightweight and very quiet generators are perfect for outdoor use, particularly when traveling, camping or tailgating as they are incredibly light and efficient.
Mid-range generators tend to be around the 2500W mark and start getting a little heavier and louder, however, they are a great compromise and work well as home use or portable generators that give you great flexibility for both.
The larger size generators tend to start at around 3500W and can go anywhere up to and above 6500W which means there’s a lot of variables but they tend to get heavier and louder with the wattage, making them a little less practical for camping and very good for home use. They’re still portable enough to travel with however if your power demands are on the luxury side of things.
Most portable generators are inverter generators. Inverters are essentially a better type of generator that is more efficient, lighter, and quieter than traditional generators.
The main difference between them is that inverters regulate their power output while traditional generators don’t.
This makes inverters the natural choice for portability as well as reliability, due to their superior fuel usage and size.
The three main fuel types are propane, gasoline, and diesel.
Propane generators burn very fast and are not super economical or efficient which makes them need regular refueling. They are best for occasional light usage.
Gas motors are cheaper to fuel and don’t produce as much pollution as diesel. They are also easy to maintain and a little quieter. However, they aren’t as fuel-efficient as diesel motors.
Diesel engines tend to be quite fuel-efficient and have good power capabilities, however, they can be a little more expensive to run, and can be a bit louder.
Taking all of this into account will allow you to choose a fuel type that will work well for your needs.
Generally, the lower power generators will be far quieter and will become louder as the wattage increases. As mentioned above, diesel generators tend to be a bit louder than other fuel types also.
Most generators that are well made and well-insulated won’t be much louder than a normal conversation, and many of the best generators are even quieter than this. Anything around 50dBA is going to be one of the quietest you can get and will ensure you don’t disturb the neighbors at the campground or at home.
Again, the smaller the wattage the lighter and smaller the generator will be. However, even large generators tend to be well fitted with handles and wheels to enable easy movement despite their considerable bulk.
Always look out for telescopic handles and other features like wheels to make moving your generator as painless as possible.
A lot of generators are manual starters but some do have battery-powered electrical startups that can be very convenient for some users, however, this does tend to come with a little bit of an expense.
Quietest Portable Generators That Won't Disturb the Neighbors - FAQ's
How can I make my generator even quieter?
If you want to make your generator even quieter there are a few things you can try to do, some of them being easier than others.
One simple solution is to add a muffler to your generator, which will help reduce the sound fairly dramatically and isn’t very difficult. You can also consider adding extra padding to the underside, providing it isn’t at risk of getting hot and igniting.
Making sure that nothing is vibrating and that your generator is placed on a soft surface such as grass or a padded surface can also reduce the vibration but again be safe and make sure nothing is at risk of getting hot and causing a fire hazard.
Are portable generators safe??
Yes, portable generators are safe providing you use them correctly. The largest risk is a fire hazard and the exhaust fumes, which are usually Carbon Monoxide.
To avoid fire hazards keep flammable objects away from your generator and also make sure to never refuel while the generator is running or even if it’s still hot. This can cause the fuel you’re pouring to ignite and can be incredibly dangerous, so make sure to make absolutely sure your generator is cool before refueling.
In general, it’s not considered safe to use a generator indoors where the lethal fumes can quickly build up and overpower people.
Carbon monoxide has no smell so you won’t be aware you’re being poisoned until it’s too late to do anything about it. Some generators do come with CO monitors and detectors, however even if they do you should never be complacent when using a generator.
It’s best to use them in a well-ventilated area, such as a garage where the fumes will be able to escape out of a large opening such as a garage door.
Outdoor usage massively negates the risk of CO poisoning thanks to the ready supply of fresh air.
Can a portable generator power a house?
It depends on the wattage your generator is capable of providing and the amount of power you draw in your home.
Generally, portable generators are able to provide some power, usually for essential appliances such as your refrigerator or freezer, however, some larger generators can provide more power and thus run even more than just your essentials.
The amount of time a generator can keep this up depends on its fuel type, efficiency, tank, and how much power is being drawn so keep this in mind before you buy.