What’s the quietest generator you can buy? Well, we’ve compiled several quiet portable generators that we think you’ll love. If you’ve ever owned a portable generator you know that they can be annoyingly loud but thankfully technology has improved over the years and the options for consumers is growing. If you’re going to buy a generator it makes sense to invest your money in the quietest generator available.
Let’s get started…
The Search For the Quietest Generator
I’ve got a quick story I think you’ll definitely be able to relate to. It happened on a campsite more than a few years ago, and I’d just woken up from a wonderful dream. I was expecting to hear the birds chirping, or at the very least the wind blowing through the trees overhead. Instead, I was faced with one of the worst sounds I’ve ever heard in my life. The gentleman who decided to pitch his tent close to ours was running the loudest generator I’ve ever heard in my life.
Ever since then I’ve always been interested in finding the quietest generator possible which satisfies my needs. We usually need a generator for one of two reasons. Some of us love spending time in the great outdoors, and others want a generator handy in case the weather plays up and the lights go out. In either case, being able to use the quietest generator you can find will please your ears. We’re going to look at some of the quietest portable generators today, but before we do there is a few things to keep in mind.
Conventional vs Inverter Generators
We’ve covered the difference between the two different kinds of generators on the website in the past, but as far as noise is concerned there is only one winner. All other things being equal, an inverter model will always be a whisper quiet generator compared to its deafening nemesis, the conventional generator. In fact, the noise difference won’t even be close, because a conventional generator is designed to run at a constant speed no matter what you’ve got hooked up to it. Any inverter generator has the ability to throttle the engine speed depending on the load needed.
Video | Inverter Generator vs Traditional Generator
What Will Your Portable Generator Be Used For?
We need to clear up something crucial before we can even begin to talk about decibel levels. After all, would you really spend money on something if it’s not capable of satisfying your needs, even if it doesn’t make a lot of noise? The best quiet generator must also give you the power output you need to run a huge selection of things. As you know by now, you’ll either want your generator for camping trips or blackouts, so we’ll focus on those situations.
You’ll find inverter generators will come with 3 very common wattage ratings, but today the generators we’re going to look at will be rated as one of the following:
Please note — it’s also common to find inverter generators with a power output of only 1,000 watts, and they’re perfectly capable of running certain appliances. The trouble is, when you’re running more than one thing you’ll have to add the wattages up, and you’ll find 1,000W inverter generators won’t be capable of running lots of things at once.
2,000 Watt Generators
A 2,000 watt generator will allow you to have the option of exceeding what you might consider light power usage, yet they’re still extremely portable enough to carry anywhere with you. They also lend themselves better to appliances that require more power to run. We’re talking about things like heaters and microwave ovens, which can both come in handy when camping.
3,000+ Watt Generators
There isn’t much to say about 3,000 watt generators other than the fact they’re absolute beasts. If you own one, it will become your best friend whenever the power goes out and you need to keep your home running as much as normal. They’re even capable of handling an AC system, along with any other appliances you’ll need to use.
Video | Generator Safety and Maintenance Tips
A Little List Of Appliance Wattage Requirements
Earlier on we said the reason a 1,000 watt quiet generator wasn’t perhaps the best idea in the world is because it couldn’t run a lot of things at once. We’ll go over some cool things you should know about a quiet portable generator, but first here is a little list of the wattage ratings of some common appliances you’ll want to run:
- Oven – 3,000 watts
- Laptop – 150 watts
- Coffee Machine – 1,500 watts
- TV – 200 watts
- Smartphone – 4 watts
- Portable Fan – 100 watts
- Stereo – 60 watts
- Water Heater – 500 watts
- Iron – 1,100 watts
- Toaster – 1,200 watts
- Refrigerator – 1,400 watts
- Blender – 300 watts
NOTE: You can use Honda’s wattage calculator to help you determine the right size generator. Also, click the image below and download the handy worksheet.
For more information on generator sizing read: What size generator do I need?
Calculating The Decibel Levels Of Generators
Before we move onto any of the more interesting stuff, I just want to make sure you know how the noise rating of a generator is calculated, as you’ll see the various decibel levels (dBA) being mentioned on the quietest generators as a major selling point. The US standard for calculating the dBA of a generator is carried out by calculating the noise level from 21-feet away using microphones, whereas the European standard is 23-feet using the same method. You’ll notice there isn’t much difference between the two, but now you’ll know where the dBA comes from.
As a completely rough estimate, let’s assume all the quietest portable generators we’re going to be looking at today will be between 50 dBA and 60 dBA. This could also have something to do with whether the generator in question is running at or under full load, but they’ll usually fall in between those decibel levels. Now let’s compare them to some other decibel levels of noises I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of in the past:
- Rock Concert – 100 dBA
- Lawn Mower – 90 dBA
- Alarm Clock – 80 dBA
- Vacuum Cleaner – 70 dBA
- Home Computer – 40 dBA
- Human Conversation – 60 dBA
It’s hard to believe, but a whisper quiet generator isn’t as loud as a human conversation. Especially if it’s with your mother-in-law, though I’m sure you could already have worked that out.
More Power Equals More Decibels
This is going to vary depending on the model if a couple of generators have the same power output, which could come down to something as simple as a better engine. But more power will always equal more decibels, so a 3,000 watt generator will be louder than a 2,000 watt generator. The decibel level will also always increase as you add more appliances to the generator because you’ll require more engine power. Although that might sound obvious, it should be something you’re fully aware of so you’re not mislead by random figures later on.
Decibels Are Stranger Than You Think
Before we move onto looking at the quietest generators, there are some interesting facts you might like to know about decibels, because they’re actually a lot stranger than they seem.
The Numbers Don’t Really Make Sense
If you were to have a hearing test, you would generally be able to hear things at around 0 dBA. If you were exposed to 160 dBA it would destroy your ear drums, and you would feel pain at 130 dBA. The difference between 0 and 130 is obviously 130, but as far as decibels go it is around a billion times louder.
You Might Enjoy Different Decibel Levels
Have you ever been driven insane by someone having a normal conversation on the phone while you were in a coffee shop? And at home you might have been able to relax while listening to loud rock music. It’s easy to presume a lower decibel level is better, but you might personally prefer something a bit louder.
The Sound Of A Generator Is Subjective
When you own one of the quietest generators it won’t make much of a difference as you’ll not be close enough to hear it, but this cool fact still holds true. Even though generators sit at different decibel levels, you might like one better because of the sound it makes. Do you like one that hums away, or one that sounds like it’s chugging along?
The Quietest Generator You Can Buy
Now we’re ready to look at some of the super quiet generator options available to you, and they come from a big selection of various brands. Some are from brands you would consider the industry leaders. I know you would like the quietest portable generator possible, but at the same time there are a lot of other things you’ll need to take into consideration before you find the right one for you. Therefore, we’ll begin by looking at exactly how loud each generator is, and then we’ll look at the other benefits of each inverter generator.
- 2800 running watts/3100 starting watts.
- RV Ready – TT-30R outlet.
- 120V AC load / 12V DC outlet.
- Up to 8 hour run time at 25% load.
- 58 dBA at 23 ft.
- Wireless remote, push button electric and easy pull recoil start.
- Low oil shut-off sensor.
- USDA approved spark arrestor.
- Integrated mobility kit.
- Built in carrying handles.
Overview | Champion Power Equipment 75537i
Even though this Champion inverter generator produces a whopping power output of over 3,000 watts, it’s still only got a rating of 58 dBA at 23-feet. From the chart we looked at earlier, it’s quieter than a normal conversation. Although it’s when you’re standing 23-feet away, if you were running the generator while camping or in an emergency situation it’s likely to be that far away from you anyway. Another thing to keep in mind about the power output is that 3,100 is the starting watts, and it actually runs at 2,800 watts.
The generator runs off a Champion single cylinder 171cc 4-stroke OHV engine, and if it’s only running at 25 percent load a full tank of gasoline will last you a very respectable 8 hours. You would expect any generator so powerful to be pretty large, but even though it’s not tiny it’s still classified as portable. It has large handles to help you carry it around, which shouldn’t be too hard for someone strong as it weighs less than 100 pounds, but it’s got wheels built into it to help you whisk it around easily.
It’s capable of running at 120V AC load, and it also has a 12V DC outlet along with charging cables to cover all your bases. If you’re curious as to how easy it is to start and operate, along with its wireless remote it has a push button electric and easy pull recoil start. Perhaps its other crucial feature is the low oil shut-off sensor, because it’s always nice to know your expensive small quiet generator isn’t going to go up in smoke when you forget to fill it with oil.
Ideal for: Light construction projects, camping, boating, street vendors, operating lights, stand-by power source
- 2000 watts of Honda inverter 120 VAC power.
- Reliable Honda GX100T OHC four-stroke engine.
- Whisper-quiet operation — 59 dB(A) at rated load, 53 dB(A) at 25% load
- Easy to carry – under 46 lbs
- Fuel efficient – up to 8.1 hrs on 1 gal of gas.
- Can be used to power sensitive electronics like computers.
Honda EU2000i Documents:
Overview | Honda EU2000i
Honda are a legendary brand, and the EU2000i Camo is a legendary inverter generator. If you’re only running at 25 percent load, you’ll only reach a noise level of 53 dBA. On full load it will still only reach 59 dBA. To put that into perspective, the noise will be somewhere between listening to a normal conversation and sitting in a private office. Along with the throttle slowing down the engine, the Honda engine and special sound dampening materials help to make this one of the quietest generators you can buy.
It has a 98.5cc Honda GX100 engine, and has both 120V AC and 12V DC outlets. It’s packing 2,000 starting watts, and the running watts is 1,600. How much does the inverter generator weigh considering it can run appliances at home or while you’re outdoors? Surprisingly, it weighs around half the weight of the Champion generator we’ve only just looked at. You’ll have to see it before you have a true idea of how light it is, because when you’re walking around with it you’ll think you’re carrying a briefcase to work.
Sound comparison between the Honda EU2000i and the Yamaha EF2000iS, which seems to be its immediate rival among consumers.
We’ve talked about Honda having a superior engine, so how about some facts to back it up? For starters, it can run for roughly 3.5 to 8 hours on a single tank, which will depend on the load you’re running it at. If you’re not running it at full load it’s more than capable of chugging away all through the night. The fuel efficiency is even more unreal, because to run for those 8 hours all it takes is a single gallon of fuel. If you’re in need of double the power you can string a couple of them together too.
Not only is this one of the quietest generators you can buy but it’s easily one of the best, if not ‘the best’ portable generators. Just have a look at the features the engineers have packed into this model.
- Powered by Yamaha’s MZ80; 79cc, air-cooled (fan assist), OHV, 2-valve, 4-stroke, single cylinder engine with electronic capacitor discharge (CD) ignition.
- Auto decompression system reduces engine compression to provide a light recoil starter pull for effortless manual starting.
- Cast iron cylinder liner provides excellent heat dissipation and extends service life.
- Pulse Width Modulation provides super “clean” power. As clean or cleaner than you get from a household receptacle.
- Rated AC output for continuous use is 1,600 watts / 13.3 amps.
- Bonded neutral
- Non-fuse type circuit breaker (NFB) prevents internal circuit damage in the event of an over load.
- Yamaha’s Noise Block body design features a moulded casing and noise-absorbing glass wool to provide ultra quiet operation.
- Smart Throttle / Economy Control automatically adjusts engine speed to match the load, saving fuel, reducing noise and engine wear.
- Manual choke
- Auto Warm Up (4 to 6 minutes) ensures consistent power delivery during cold start-ups.
- Yamaha’s Oil Watch Warning System automatically shuts off the engine when oil level is low and will not re-start until oil is added, preventing costly engine damage and enhancing long-term durability.
- Indicator lights for AC power output, low oil and AC overload.
- Washable foam air filter reduces maintenance costs
- 12 Volt DC output and cables for charging RV, auto and marine 12-volt batteries.
- On-off fuel petcock lets you shut off the gas to run the carb dry for storage, helping to prevent stale fuel problems, which are becoming more common with ethanol based fuels.
- Large fuel fill hole and sealable vent on gas cap for easy filling and transporting. Fuel gauge is standard
- Cleanable spark arrestor stops the possibility of sparks from exiting the exhaust.
- Rubber feet isolate vibration for smoother operation and reduced noise.
- Suitcase style handle and light weight (21 kg / 46 lb) make the EF2000iS very portable.
- CSA approved (Canadian Standards Association)
- EPA & CARB Emission Engine Durability Rating. Yamaha generators have the longest emission engine durability ratings issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
- 3-year warranty for “residential / home” use or “commercial use.”
View or download the MANUAL.
Overview | Yamaha EF2000iS
Yamaha plays in the same league as Honda, and they seem to have the edge when it comes to decibel levels depending on how you look at it. When it’s running at full load, which won’t be every time you use it, you’re still only talking about a noise rating of 61 dBA. Where it shines is when you’re running your Yamaha EF2000iS at 25 percent load, because it drops all the way down to an almost silent 51.5 dBA. It has the same starting and running watts as the Honda, which are 2,000 and 1,600 respectively.
In case you’re worried about running too high a load on your inverter generator, Yamaha have included a special safety feature. The electrical overload breaker will ensure all the internal circuitry won’t get fried if you accidentally overload it. It has something in common with the Champion Power Equipment generator too, because it also has an automatic shut-off valve that cuts the power if your oil level is too low. It will be impossible for you to start it up again until all is rectified, so always have some spare oil handy.
Also comes in a cool camo design.
The engine is a Yamaha 79cc MZ80, and it will once again provide you with both standard AC and DC power outputs. If you were carrying either the Yamaha or Honda inverter generator it would be hard for someone to tell the difference, because this one will also look like you’re carrying a little briefcase around. It even weighs around 2 pounds less, although it’s only 44.1 pounds so it’s not like you’ll be able to tell the difference. Depending on the load you’re placing on it, the big selling point with this quiet generator might be the 10.5 hour running time when in economy mode.
To learn more on the Yamaha generator read our in-depth review.
Includes: 12V DC charging cord, Spark plug socket, Oil funnel, Start up oil
- 1700 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts.
- True sine wave inverter technology.
- Economy mode to save fuel.
- Overload protection.
- 120V AC Load / 12V DC outlet
- Up to 9.5 hours run time at 25% load.
- 53 dBA at 23 ft.
- Only 49 lbs.
- Easy pull recoil start.
- Low oil shut-off sensor.
- USDA approved spark arrestor.
- Stackable design. Parallel capability: 73500i Parallel Power Kit (Kit sold separately).
- Built in carrying handle.
View or download the MANUAL
Overview | Champion Power Equipment 73536i
You’ll notice a lot of differences between this Champion generator compared to the last one, although they’re still both excellent depending on your needs. This model is rated at only 53 dBA from 23-feet away, which might not seem like a lot even though it could be the difference between sounding annoying or not. There is a downside, because the 73536i only has 2,000 starting watts and 1,700 running watts. It’s still a perfectly good inverter generator, especially if portability is a concern because you won’t need wheels with this one.
It only weighs a touch less than 50 pounds, which is almost as light as the Honda and Yamaha generators. The only big difference with the Champion is the handle, and once you’ve seen it I’m sure you’ll agree the design could have been a little better. It contains a Champion 80cc single cylinder 4-stroke engine, which is more fuel efficient than you might expect. If you’re only running at 25 percent load it will run for around 9.5 hours, but what makes it better is the fact it’s only going to use a gallon of fuel.
The easy pull recoil start means you’ll have no trouble getting it going whenever you want to use it. Hopefully that should be for many years to come thanks to it being designed for a long life. It has a low oil shut-off sensor like its big brother, so it’s not going to fail you as soon as you forget to fill it with oil. The ease of maintaining your generator along with its economy mode will also help extend its life. We also can’t forget, it still supplies both 120V AC and 12V DC power, plus they can be stacked if you want something more powerful and portable than the 3,100 watt model.
- Safe for sensitive electronics
- Fuel Sight Gauge : Conveniently displays how much fuel is left.
- Multi-Featured Control Panel : Includes four 120V household outlets, one 120V, 30A locking outlet, a USB port and a 12V DC battery charging outlet for powering lights, radio, TV, small appliances, laptop/tablets, cell phones an RV and more.
- Parallel Connector Port : Connect two units together for even more power
- Multiple Outlets for Your Power Needs : (4) 120V Household Outlets(1) 120V 30A Outlet(1) USB Port(1) 12V DC Charging Outlet
- Powersmart Series Technology : Inverter technology produces quiet, consistent power for your RV, small business, tailgate or even home backup.
- LCD Statstation Display : The easy-to-read LCD screen shows the amount of power being used, total unit hours, and maintenance reminders, including oil, air filter, and spark plug changes
Overview | Briggs & Stratton P3000
This P3000 SmartPower Series inverter generator from Briggs & Stratton is another monster. As such, it’s one of the loudest generators we’re going to review today, which is strange because at 59 dBA it’s still quieter than a normal conversation. It has 4 120V household outlets, a 120V 30A outlet, a 12V DC power outlet, and on top of all that it also has a single USB port. The 171cc engine has 3,000 starting watts and 2,600 running watts, plus because the power output is so high it is perfect for backing up your home.
When it’s running at 25 percent load it will last for around 10 hours, and even though the power output is huge it will still only take 1.5 gallons to fill the tank. Its easy-to-read LCD screen will tell you exactly how long it has left to run before you need to fill it up again. The LCD screen also displays maintenance reminders, and although you should keep a close eye on them there are safety features built into the generator. It will shut down automatically as soon as it senses there isn’t enough oil.
It is larger than the briefcase-style generators, although Briggs & Stratton have made it as portable as possible for you. The design of the handle and the wheels make it feel like you’re wheeling a suitcase around the airport. The weight is roughly 30 pounds heavier than some of the 2,000 watt models, which isn’t too much of a difference. It’s also unlikely you would ever need this considering the large power output, but as with any decent inverter generator you’ll be able to hook it up to another one for double the power, although I’m not sure you would need the parallel port unless you live in a mansion.
- Extremely quiet operation is comparable to the sound of a normal conversation according to the US Department of Health and Human Services
- EPA III and CARB Compliant 79.7 cc 4-stroke OHV engine produces 2000 surge watts and 1600 rated watts
- Great for campgrounds, construction sites, tailgates and power outages
- Produces clean power to safely operate and prevent damage to sensitive electronics such as smart phones, tablets, televisions and computers
- Includes two three-prong 120V receptacles, one 12V DC receptacle and one 5V USB port
View or download the MANUAL.
Overview | WEN 56200i
I’d like to introduce you to the quietest generator we’re going to look at today. With a noise rating of only 51 dBA at 25 percent load, it’s right in the middle of the sound you’d hear from a conversation and the noise coming from a computer. Even though it literally is a whisper quiet generator, it doesn’t lack power. It has 2,000 starting watts, and still easily hits 1,600 running watts. It also packs a 79.7cc 4-stroke OHV engine under its hood, with 3 120V AC outlets, a 12V DC outlet, and a USB port thrown in for good measure. Even though it’s the quietest, it’s still not the lightest.
The inverter generator weighs 48 pounds, so it’s a couple of bags of sugar heavier than all the other lightweight generators we’ve looked at. You’ll still be able to carry it around by the handle like a little briefcase. The WEN 56200i gas tank has the capacity to hold a single gallon of fuel, which will keep running for around 6 hours. This time instead of only being able to run at a quarter load it will be able to run at a half load for the 6 hours, so if you’re running on a lesser load it’s going to keep working all night.
The biggest safety feature we’ve looked at so far is the automatic low oil shut-off, which the WEN 56200i has in case you were wondering. It will also shut off automatically when it senses your fuel is running too low, and both of them combined will safeguard the circuitry along with other parts of the generator from damage. There will be indication lights on the front panel, so you’ll easily be able to see what is going on at all times. The total harmonic distortion at full load is only 1.2 percent, so it’s a great choice for vulnerable electronics, but so are all the others too.
The Quietest Generator You Should Opt For…
The way I see it, you have a couple of different options when trying to choose the best quiet generator. Let’s start by saying they’re all amazing, and I’m sure if you were gifted any of them you would have no complaints. That being said, there are glaring differences even though they are all so quiet. The price needs to be taken into consideration, but the expensive ones have a better engine and they’ll last you longer. The power output might be more important than anything else depending on what you need it for.
You could even be a fan of some of the smaller things like the shape, weight, or safety features. I’m not sure if you can go wrong with any of them, so like any other purchase you’ll need to carry out due diligence. Choose the ones you think you like best, and when you’ve decided you can click through and read the reviews past customers have left. It’s the only real way you’ll know what you’re getting, and because they’re all quality generators (and brands) the mountain of reviews will help you come to a final decision.