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What’s the Best Quietest Generator? (Reviews & Ultimate Guide 2019)

A portable generator comes in handy in many situations. But if you’re running it frequently, the noise can quickly become annoying. Whether it’s for recreational or business purposes, investing in the quietest generator is a must.

Assessing the quietness of a generator is, however, tricky. The way we perceive noise often changes from individual to individual. In broad lines, a generator producing under 70 decibels (dB) can be considered quiet.

Here's a list of Quietest Generator Reviews in 2018

Anything over this threshold is loud, while constant exposure to noise over 80 dB can cause irreversible hearing damage in the long run.

With this in mind, which is the best quietest generator? The market is full of choices, but do they all live up to the expectations? To help you in your quest, we put together this list. Following rigorous criteria, we selected and rated some of the most popular generators praised for their low level of noise.

Check out our top picks below and read our guide on finding the quietest generator.

Top 6 Quietest Generators in 2018

Starting watts – 2,200 Running watts – 1,700

Starting watts – 2,300 Running watts – 1,800

Starting watts – 2,000 Running watts – 1,600

Starting watts – Running watts -  240Wh

Starting watts – 3,500 Running watts – 3,000

Starting watts – 2,200

Running watts – 1,800

Fuel type - Gasoline

Fuel type - Gasoline

Fuel type - Gasoline

Fuel type - Solar

Fuel type - Gasoline

Fuel type - Gasoline

Run time @ 25% load - 8 hrs.

Run time @ 25% load - 10.3 hrs.

Run time @ 50% load - 6 hrs.

Run time - 3 hrs.

Run time @ 25% load - 11 hrs.

Run time @ 25% load - 13 hrs.

Noise level @ 25% load – 59 dB

Noise level @ 25% load – 57 dB

Noise level @ 25% load – 51 dB

Noise level @ 25% load – noise free

Noise level @ 25% load – 57dB

Noise level @ 25% load – 52dB

Weight – 54 lbs.

Weight – 56 lbs.

Weight – 48 lbs.

Weight – 6.6 lbs.

Weight – 110 lbs.

Weight – 43 lbs.

Warranty – 2-year residential

Warranty – 3-year limited

Warranty – 2-year limited

Warranty – 2-year limited

Warranty – 2-year limited

Warranty – 3-limited

1. Briggs & Stratton P2200


From one of the most renowned manufacturers, a quiet generator designed to power up your leisure or business needs smartly. It produces 1,700 running watts and 2,200 watts of surge power, just what it takes to run a small household or an RV.

Equipped with a 111cc OHV engine, this generator boasts fuel efficiency features and can run interruptedly for up to 8 hours at 25% load. At the same rating, it produces a noise of only 59 decibels, quieter than a normal conversation.

This makes it perfect for a wide range of applications. Your neighbors will probably never hear it, but you can also use the P2200 for camping, outdoor parties, and events.

Briggs & Stratton P2200

A variety of outlets ensure suitability for recreation and DIY projects. Two 120V receptacles allow you to connect a range of appliances and power tools, including an energy efficient fridge. Perfect for the RV, the unit also comes with a 12V DC outlet for batteries and USB ports.

Another great feature is the parallel running capability. If you need to double the power, just connect two identical generators with a cord and run them in parallel to back up your home during an outage or run multiple tools on a job site.

PROS

  • Easy to start recoil system ignites the engine in from the first pull. The unit is easy to start even in colder weather.
  • USB port allows charging electronic devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Low total harmonic distortion makes the generator safe to use with laptops and computers, game consoles, and TVs.
  • Quiet operation. The system produces 59 decibels at 25% load at 32 feet from the control panel.
  • Smart H-handle design allows for easy transport. The unit weighs 54 pounds, and it can be easily carried by two people.

CONS

  • The unit incorporates some plastic components which make it feel cheap.
  • Too weak to run the air conditioner on an RV.

BRIGGS & STRATON P2200 Video Review


2. Ryobi RYI2300BTA

For tailgating, camping, or your job site, the Ryobi RYI2300BTA delivers clean and quiet power. At 56 decibels, this generator is more silent than normal conversation and built to protect your sensitive electronics.

Ideal for small household and recreational needs, the generator outputs up to 1,800 running watts and 2,300 watts of surge power. The inverter technology makes it a safe choice for sensitive devices while the Bluetooth connectivity gives you flexibility in controlling the unit.

This generator connects via a GENControl app to Apple and Android devices, allowing you to monitor the runtime, fuel level, and power consumption.

Ryobi RYI2300BTA

You can even choose to shut off the unit from a distance, for added convenience.

Besides all the above, this generator is also energy efficient. It comes equipped with Idle-Down technology which increases fuel efficiency and consequently extends the runtime.

Furthermore, the unit is easy to transport thanks to the telescopic handle and rear wheels. Just like the Briggs & Stratton above, this generator has the parallel capability and can respond to more massive power demands.

PROS

  • Whisper-quiet operation. The unit’s noise level is rated at 56 decibels, quieter than normal conversation.
  • LCD screen allows monitoring the fuel level and runtime, as well as the load level.
  • Easy to transport thanks to the suitcase-like telescopic handle and dual rear wheels.
  • Perfect for most DIY and recreational applications. It comes with two 120V receptacles and two USB ports.

CONS

  • The unit doesn’t have a 12V DC outlet.

Ryobi RYI2300BTA Video Review


3. WEN 56200i

The WEN 56200i is a compact and lightweight generator ideal to use for a wide range of applications. Easy to carry thanks to the comfortable handle, this generator is perfect for powering up your devices when you’re away or your tools on a job site.

It runs for more than six hours at half load and outputs 1,600 running watts. Multiple receptacles allow you to use the unit at home or on camping. The inverter technology protects your sensitive electronics from current fluctuations, providing a pure sine wave.

Thanks to the technologies involved, the generator limits the harmonic distortion to under 0.3% at no load and 1.2% at full capacity.

When it comes to noise level, this unit is one of the quietest on the market. It outputs as little as 51 decibels at 25% load, quieter than an average conversation or air conditioner — a feature that makes it perfect to use while camping, tailgating, or hunting.

The generator is easy to use. It comes with an intuitive control panel and three 120V outlets. Moreover, the unit also has one 5V USB port and a 12V DC receptacle for batteries.

PROS

  • Powerful 79.7cc OHV engine is one of the quietest on the market. The generator is perfect to use in a residential area with strict rules, for camping, or hunting.
  • Eco-mode throttle optimizes fuel consumption by adjusting it to the number of items plugged in at a given time.
  • The parallel capability allows you to double the power by connecting two identical generators between them.
  • Low-oil and low-fuel shutdown with indication lights safeguard the generator and your devices from damage.
  • EPA III and CARB compliant generator can be sold and used in all 50 states.

CONS

  • The generator has difficulties of running at the rated power.

WEN 56200i Video Review


4. Jackery Explorer 240

If you’re aiming to get the quietest generator on the market, the Explorer 240 by Jackery is no doubt the right unit for you. This generator is not only quiet; it runs virtually noiseless. You can use it for camping, hunting, and other activities, and will be your faithful companion in all your adventures.

Indeed, noiseless operation requires a compromise. For this generator, the compromise is its power. Ideal to recharge electronic devices and even small appliances, the unit is too weak to run more electronics at once.

It outputs 240Wh and comes with a solar lithium-ion battery that boasts sufficient runtime for recharging a drained laptop up to three times.

Designed specifically for the outdoors, this compact unit is lightweight and easy to carry. The battery can be recharged either by the sun, from a carport, or from an AC outlet in less than 10 hours.

Due to the green energy involved, the unit also outputs zero emissions and is safe to use indoors or in a tent. Weighing under seven pounds, compact enough to carry in a backpack, and coming at a more than affordable price, this generator brings no doubt the best value for money.

PROS

  • Ultra-quiet generator is virtually noiseless and produces no vibrations during operation.
  • Comes with a car lighter 12V DC port, a 110V AC receptacle and two USB ports, just what it takes to plug in most of your camping appliances and devices.
  • Environmentally friendly generator outputs zero emissions and recharges via a solar panel or electric outlet.
  • Can be used in all 50 states and comes with lifetime aftersales support.

CONS

  • Low power output limits usage.

Jackery Explorer 240 Video Review


5. Predator 3500

A name that inspires aggressiveness and looks that match the name, the Predator 3500 is one of those generators ready to address all your power needs. It’s perfect to use as a backup system for a small household or business, or as a primary power source for a campsite, workshop, or job site.

The unit is powered by a 212cc air-cooled engine capable of outputting 3,500 surge watts and 3,000 running watts. A large fuel tank provides sufficient gasoline for up to 11 hours of runtime at 25% load.

Its quiet operation makes it ideal to use in a restrictive residential area, but also for tailgating or camping.

Addressing the needs of all modern users, this compact generator comes equipped with an LCD screen with overload, output, and low oil indicator lights. Electronic overload protection and low oil shutoff boost safety and protect the engine and connected devices.

Portability is ensured by the integrated smooth-rolling casters. Ideal for most applications, this unit is also powerful enough to operate your RV’s air conditioner and not only. Compact yet powerful and quiet, this generator is an excellent choice if you need a higher power.

PROS

  • Powerful enough to supply energy to a smaller household, RV, or job site. Also perfect for camping.
  • Easy to start and operate. It comes with electric and recoil starter and easy access to fuel and oil tanks.
  • The parallel capability allows you to double the output.
  • Receptacles include 120V grounded outlets, a 120V twist and lock outlet, and a car lighter 12V DC socket.

CONS

  • Rather heavy compared with most generators in its class. This unit weighs 110 pounds.
  • Quite expensive

Predator 3500 Video Review


6. Westinghouse WH2200iXLT

Another reliable unit perfect for leisure or business needs, the Westinghouse WH2200iXLT is an extremely quiet generator producing as little as 52 decibels. Its low noise and decent run time of over 10 hours make it ideal for most applications.

In terms of power, the generator outputs 1,800 running watts and 2,200 surge watts. This is sufficient for running a few home appliances or power tools at a time. Compact and lightweight, the unit is also ideal for camping.

The parallel capability allows you to double the power if needed. But you don’t have to use an identical generator necessarily. 

Westinghouse WH2200iXLT

In fact, this unit is compatible with the range of iGen generators, giving you plenty of power increment opportunities. 

The plug and play functionality makes the unit simple to operate. Quite limiting, however, is the number of receptacles. Compatible with 120V and 12V DC devices only, the unit comes with two receptacles and a car lighter outlet. Despite this slight drawback, this generator is no doubt a great one to consider if you’re looking for a quiet unit.

PROS

  • Efficient run mode saves on fuel and extends the runtime. This generator boasts up to 13 hours runtime.
  • Great choice as a home backup system. It is strong enough to run all your essentials.
  • EPA and CARB compliant. You can use the system in all 50 states.
  • Automatic oil shutdown and overload switch protect both the engine and the devices from damage.

CONS

  • Users reported some faulty units stopped working without any apparent reason.

Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Video Review


How To Pick The Quietest Generator

Generators come in multiple styles and sizes, but how to define a quiet generator? What to look for? Is there anything else to consider besides the actual noise level?

When living or working in a neighborhood with noise restrictions in place, finding a generator that complies with the local regulations is tricky, a loud generator is also a pain if you need it for leisure purposes.

This guide aims to show you all you need to know before adventuring in your quest of finding the right unit for you.


Understanding Generators

What is the main thing you check in a generator? If you’re like most consumers, that’s perhaps the rated wattage. Or the overall size of the unit. However, when looking for a quiet generator, the main thing to check is the technology that produces energy.

Generators consist of an engine and an alternator; the former delivers power to the latter, which is responsible for creating electricity. And the first component to check in a quiet generator is precisely the alternator.

There are two types of alternators, conventional and inverters.

  • Conventional alternators: Equip the older generators and consist of a rotor surrounded by wire coils, called stators, to produce alternating current. The engine and alternator are two separate components, that’s why the alternator requires the motor to run at full speed regardless of the load applied. Due to this particular, conventional alternators produce a fair amount of noise that often exceeds 70 decibels.
  • Inverter alternators: Combine the engine and the alternator in a single component by adding an additional electronic circuit. By merging the two parts of a conventional generator, manufacturers not only reduce weight but also reduce the noise level. This is possible due to the automate throttle system that regulates the power output based on the actual load. Inverter generators are also capable of providing both alternating and direct current, a great feature if you want to recharge your car batteries. Most inverter generators are quieter than 65 decibels.

Understanding Noise

Once you’ve understood why you need an inverter generator if you aim for quiet operation, it is time to understand noise and its levels.

Noise is measured in decibels (dB) – often referred to as A-weighted decibels (dBA). The international standards define as 0 decibels the lowest sound the human ear can hear. Therefore zero decibels don’t mean the absence of noise, but instead its lowest level.

The upper threshold is 160 decibels, a sound level high enough to destroy your eardrums permanently.

Everything in-between is rated as low, moderate, or loud.

Now, the logic would tell us that a 160 dB sound is 160 times higher than zero. But the noise level is algorithmic, not mathematics. The decibels levels and the perceived volume change don’t go hand in hand. And specialists say that the perceived volume doubles with every three decibels added.

To give you a practical example, a 60 dB appliance will seem twice as loud to your ears than a 50 dB appliance, despite a mere 10 dB difference between them. An 80 dB appliance is perceived four times louder, and so on.


How Does This Affect Generators?

The algorithmic increment of the noise level has a direct impact on the noise level of a generator. Quiet generators are intended as generators producing a rated noise level lower than 65 decibels at full load.

To translate this into real life, a normal conversation is conducted at around 60 decibels.

Most of the quietest generators have noise levels lower than 60 dB, but the perceived volume of a 53 dB generator will be twice as loud as the perceived volume of a 50 dB generator.


How To Assess The Quietness Of A Generator?

With all the above in mind, you should now assess what quiet means to you. What is the acceptable noise level you’re looking for?

Manufacturers often take advantage by the lack of an international standard when describing their machines as quiet. Furthermore, many manufacturers only disclose the rated noise levels when the generator is running at 25% load. But a generator is the loudest when running at full capacity.

Not only you’ll have to find this number to assess the actual noise level of the machine you like, but you’ll also have to look for a unit rated under 65 decibels at full load.

Another thing to keep in mind is that measurements are often conducted at the standard distance of 23 feet. This means the volume perceived if you’re sitting right next to a running unit can be much louder.

In broad terms, the sound level of generators ranges from 50 dB to 110 dB, with the former being considered quiet while the latter may provoke irreversible hearing damage upon exposure.


What Else Matters?

Besides the actual noise level ratings stated by the manufacturer, there are other things to consider. Power is one of them. Then portability and size. Ultimately, you need a generator that serves its purpose.

Power

Portable generators can output from as little as 240 watts to over 15,000 watts. It is easy to understand that the higher the output, the larger the motor and alternator. Thus, the loudest the generator.

If you want to find the best compromise between noise level and power, assess first your real needs.

Quiet generators can often output as much as 3,500 surge watts, with some models being capable of generating even more power. At this rate, the machine can supply energy to a small household in the event of an outage. Smaller generators are more suitable for occasional use.

In general terms, you will need:

  • Up to 500 watts: For powering electronic devices like laptops, smartphones, game consoles, GoPro cameras, small light bulbs, and small camping gear. These units are ideal for camping, hunting, or using inside, and more often than not are powered by solar energy. Moreover, they are virtually noiseless.
  • 1,000 watts: Perfect for light-duty needs, such as powering a TV, small fans, and small appliances, including thermoelectric coolers. You won’t be able to power more devices at once, but they are great for most recreational and DIY purposes.
  • 2,000 watts: Have the muscle to power larger appliances, such as a microwave oven or slow cooker. Coffee pots, electric grills, space heaters, and many other electronics can also run on less than 2,000 watts. You will be able to power more small devices simultaneously, but most units are too weak to handle your RV.
  • 3,000 watts or over: Are often employed as backup system generators and can power pretty much any essential appliance. Smaller units are perfect for camping and rarely exceed 65 decibels in terms of noise. 3,000 watts is usually enough to handle an RV air conditioner up to 13,500 BTU, and you’ll be able to run more devices simultaneously.

Since you’re pretty much considering an inverter generator by now, you’ll be pleased to know that all units come with a nice perk. Parallel capability.

The parallel capability is the generator’s capability of connecting to another identical or compatible generator to form a system that outputs more power. Most units on the market can connect to an identical generator, which means you can double the power (and the noise level) if needed.

Runtime

At first glance, the runtime has nothing to do with the noise level. But since everything is intertwined in life, it does.

A fuel efficient generator – thus an inverter generator – is quieter than a conventional system.

Fuel efficiency comes with many benefits. On the one hand, inverter generators only produce electricity on demand. Complex throttle systems allow the units to cease fuel consumption almost entirely at no load and reassume their function when a load is applied.

Regardless of the actual noise level when the unit is running, the throttle system reduces the noise when the generator runs on a low load and when no load is applied. And this makes the whole experience much more bearable.

Power quality

A feature that really has nothing to do with the noise level of the machine, but that has a direct impact on your appliances.

Conventional generators require the motor to rotate at full speed constantly to produce alternating current. A drop in that speed caused perhaps by the lack of fuel, can cause current fluctuations that can damage the devices connected to the generator.

An inverter generator, on the other hand, doesn’t deliver the alternating current directly to the appliances, but first inverts it.

The process is complicated, but in broad terms, the unit transforms the initial alternating current into direct current to then invert it into alternating current again. This smooth sine wave is then delivered to the devices.

These systems are thus capable of providing a constant flow of energy that is cleaner and safer. You won’t have to worry about current fluctuations and can plug in all your sensitive devices, including the laptop and smartphone.


Top 7 Tips To Make A Quiet Generator Quieter

When the quietest generator isn’t quiet enough, you can use various strategies to reduce the noise level even more. Here are some methods proved to work.

1. Pay attention to the load

We already mentioned that the higher the charge, the louder the generator would run. So, if you want to enjoy a quiet evening in the wilds, you should keep the load as low as possible.

To make sure you’ll not overload your generator, we recommend buying a unit with a capacity higher than what you actually require. For instance, if all the appliances you want to run require 2,000 watts, buy a generator capable of outputting at least 3,000 watts.

Even if a larger generator is louder than a smaller one, a large unit used at half of a quarter of its load is much more bearable in terms of noise than a small generator run at full load.

2. Get good mufflers

Most generators come with noise reduction mufflers, but even if the manufacturer advertises them, it doesn’t mean they are up to any good.

Some mufflers could be too small or just have poor quality. Replacing them with high-quality mufflers will have a positive outcome in your quest of reducing the noise level of your generator. If you’re good at mechanics, it sometimes helps to change the exhaust altogether, replacing it with a car or motorcycle muffler.

3. Insulate the engine

Does this sound weird? Well, it isn’t. Many generators don’t have any kind of sound vibration dampening material placed between the housing the and engine. Vibrations mean louder operation, so you’ll want to reduce them as much as possible.

Luckily, there are sound and vibration dampening materials you can use. For instance, you can install thick rubber gaskets between the screws and the frame to reduce both noise and vibrations.

Furthermore, there are multiple types of spring mounts and rubber mounts or dampeners you can use to insulate your engine and keep vibration and noise at a minimum.

4. Move your muffler vertically

Mufflers are typically installed horizontally. We can see them in a vertical position though on some lawn care machines, such as the tractors. Did you know why they are installed vertically on these loud vehicles?

Yes, you’ve guessed it right. To reduce noise. An exhaust pipe installed vertically channels the waves up, dampening the noise.

This means that if your generator is rated quieter than normal conversation, you can make the unit pretty quiet by simply changing the muffler’s position.

5. Build an enclosure

Regardless of what measures you take, a generator can still be louder than you’d like it. The easiest way to reduce the noise is by placing it in an insulated enclosure. Build the box from materials known to absorb vibrations and sound, such as plywood.

Insulate the enclosure with absorbing foam or rubber waffle pads, then cut some ventilation holes.

Place rubber waffle pads on the bottom of the box, then place your generator inside. Close the box with an insulated lid and see if you achieved the desired effect.

6. Keep your generator at a distance

While this strategy won’t make your generator quieter, it will increase your comfort level. And in the end, that’s the whole purpose, isn’t it?

Since some appliances can have short cords, we recommend investing in long extension cords that allow you to place the generator as far away as you like. Moving the generator further away from you can cut off up to 10 decibels, which is quite a lot.

7. Buy the quietest generator

Want to have a generator that is whisper quiet? Buy the quietest generator in the first place, then use all tips above to make it quieter. Wondering which are the advantages?

To begin with, in instances when it’s impossible to place the generator too far (for example in a campsite), you’ll still be able to enjoy the outdoors and an evening with your friends without being annoyed by a loud machine.

Or perhaps you don’t have the knowledge or skills to apply some of the tips above. By investing in the quietest generator, you’ll be able to simply turn the music up and cover the generator’s noise.


Other Essential Features

Having the quietest generator could be insufficient if the machine you have doesn’t meet its scope. To have the best quietest generator, check the unit you like also comes with these important features.

  • Low oil monitor: If you invested in a generator powered by gasoline, the low oil monitor is a must. You will know just when it’s time to refill the oil tank, while the best models will shut off automatically when the oil level is low, to prevent engine damage.
  • Overload shutoff: Just like the low oil monitor, the overload shutoff turns off the generator if you exceed the rated capacity. If your unit outputs both AC and DC, make sure the overload shutoff works on both circuits.
  • Spark arrestor: An important feature if you want to use the generator for camping. The spark arrestor prevents errant sparks from occurring, and the US Forest Service requires all generators used for camping or hunting to be equipped with this feature.
  • Parallel capability: Allows you to connect two generators to increase the rated power. Some generators may only connect with an identical unit, but if you’re aiming for compatibility, choose a generator compatible with units of various rated powers.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Some of the latest generation generators communicate with you via apps, so you can monitor the load level, as well as the fuel level and runtime. Some even have remote controls that allow you to start or shut off the unit from a distance.
  • Emission compliance: Do you love road trips and want to use your generator in all 50 states or abroad? Make sure it complies with all EPA and CARB regulations. Otherwise, you might have limits.
  • Top tank opening: Don’t underestimate the position of the fuel tank opening. Make sure it’s large and located on top of the unit. Otherwise, refueling could be daunting.
  • Electric start: Don’t assume generators come with an electric start. The sad truth is that most small units come with recoil start only, and you could lose some precious time if you want to run the unit in cold weather.
  • Mobility: Lastly, consider mobility. The best generators are easy to transport. Some of the compacter units come with handles and can be carried by one or two people. Others have wheels and telescopic handles. Check the overall weight before buying, especially if you have to move the unit on your own.

Conclusion

Investing in the quietest generator is no doubt the wisest idea, regardless of the use you’ll make out of your unit. But the quietest generator for a camper might not be the quietest unit for a contractor.

There is a myriad of other things to consider before saying the most silent generator on the market is for you.

As highlighted above, it’s sometimes better to get a bigger generator and load it at 25% capacity than investing in a small unit to use at full load.

Beyond this, you must decide what type of generator you need and what features you’d like it to have.

We told you why an inverter generator is your best bet, and also showed you which are some of the most promising units. But now it’s your turn to evaluate your needs, weigh in advantages and benefits, and pick the best quietest generator for you.


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