In this article we review and discuss in detail three excellent Small Quiet Generators that we are well worth your hard-earned money. We think you’ll be surprised by our conclusion on this one so continue reading about our top picks for three of the best small quiet generators you can buy.
If you’re in the market for a small quiet generator, we’ve got just the thing for you. We’ve chosen three of the best small inverter generators that are among the quietest, lightest and most fuel efficient that you’ll find anywhere.
Of the three fantastic little generators that we’ll be reviewing here, they have many similarities and a few subtle differences. The Westinghouse iGen1200 is the most powerful of the three with 1200W peak power and 1000W running power, it’s also much cheaper than the other two. These being the Honda EU1000i and the Yamaha EF1000iS. Both of these generators have a maximum peak power output of 1000W and 900-watts of constant running power. So, even though the Westinghouse has 200W more peak power, we can basically classify all these generators as 1KW quiet inverter generators (give or take a few watts).
Before reviewing each of these quiet generators in their own right, I’m going to sum up what they all have in common.
Compact, with extra power : Briggs & Stratton P2200 PowerSmart
All three of these generators use inverters with a low Harmonic Distortion (HD) pure sine wave. When looking at a generator in this wattage class, an inverter is definitely more important than it would be for a larger generator.
The first reason why I say this is because of the type of equipment that you’re likely to be running off the generator. When it comes down to it, 900W-1000W of running power doesn’t give you too much to work with. You won’t be running large appliances (like refrigerators or air conditioners) on any of these generators. You also won’t be running heavy machinery. If you’re looking at power tools, this would be a small hand drill or two, perhaps a circular saw or angle grinder (if it’s not too powerful).
This means that most people will be running electronic equipment on these small generators – TVs, computers, stereos and the like. It is these appliances that are most affected by HD because they rely heavily on electronic circuitry. Electronics is what is damaged by a distorted sine wave. An inverter is the only sure way of protecting these electronic devices from excessive HD.
The second reason why an inverter is so important is purely because of the size of the alternator. The larger a generator is, the better it is at handling power fluctuations. It’s only when you’re close to a generator’s peak power output that HD becomes a big problem. When a generator exceeds around 75% of its maximum constant power output, the alternator and governor cannot adjust to changes in the power demand that easily and this is when the HD starts reaching dangerous proportions. An HD of less than 3% is recommended as the perfect sine wave for electronics, though up to about 5% won’t really damage most equipment. Because 75% of 1000W is only 750W, you’re going to be running these generators close to their peak power output using only a few appliances. You, therefore, need that inverter to protect your equipment.
Ford FG2200iS | Example of a small quiet inverter generator
Being able to increase your power output is great, especially when the generator doesn’t have too much power, to begin with. All of these generators have parallel connection ports. This means that you can connect them to another generator (in the same model range) and increase the power output to that of all the generators connected in parallel.
This versatility has great advantages. The most notable of these being that you are able to use a small generator that’s light enough to carry in one hand when that’s all you need. You never need to be limited to the power output of that small generator because when more power is required, you can simply connect a second generator (or more, in most cases) and have all the power you need for larger appliances.
There’s a massive demand for generators that aren’t noisy. These small generators are ideal for campsites and neighborhoods where noise is an issue. All the quiet generators in this review produce noise levels lower than 65dBA. A normal conversational voice is around 65dBA, so these generators can only be described as whisper quiet.
By using low-noise engines, improved muffler designs, and insulated acoustic enclosures, these generators are able to run much quieter than they otherwise would have.
Fuel Efficiency & Low Emission Levels
Another benefit of using inverter technology is the ability to lower the engine revs when the power demand is low. Most generators run at a constant RPM. This can be anything from 3000RPM to around 5500RPM, depending on the alternator design. When the power that you’re using doesn’t require such a high RPM, excess fuel is being used for no reason. You’re, quite literally, burning through your money. By using a smart throttle or eco-throttle (it’s the same thing), the generator will manage the engine revs to match the output power requirement. Thereby reducing the fuel consumption and the noise levels – an engine is quieter at low revs.
One of the concerns with gas engines these days is emission controls. Worldwide, an emphasis is being placed on producing internal combustion engines that produce low levels of harmful emissions. Regulations vary, but just about every country in the world has emission control certifications. In the US all internal combustion engines need to meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
The state of California has about the strictest emission control standards in the world. This means that in order to sell a gas generator in California, these units have to comply with a separate set of standards set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). All the generators in this review are both EPA and CARB compliant. This means that they can be sold throughout the US. Many generators may be EPA compliant but not CARB compliant, meaning that they cannot be sold or used in California. This won’t be the case with any of the three small quiet generators in this review.
WEN 56200i | Easy to carry around and Quiet
Tailgating, camping and working on site with a generator means that you’ll be transporting it every time you use it. Having a generator that’s compact and lightweight is a big advantage in this regard. All these generators have a modern design, favoring an enclosed casing over a steel frame.
The casings used for these generators are primarily aimed at reducing noise, whilst still protecting the engine and alternator from damage when transporting them. The added advantage of this design is both in reducing the weight as well as the bulk of these machines. They all weigh around 30 LBS, making them very easy to carry. They are also designed with handles that make it very easy and comfortable to carry the generator using only one hand.
Reviews | Best Small Quiet Generators
Having looked at the common factors that make all of the generators that we’ve selected for this review so fantastic, it’s time do a detailed review of each of these small quiet generators. After reading this review, you’ll be in the perfect position to decide which one is going to be the best for your needs.
While the prices vary greatly between the three options, I urge you to read the review of each model carefully before deciding which one to buy. After reading this review, you may find that paying a bit more for the generator when you buy it, could end up saving hundreds of dollars over the life of the generator.
Best small quiet generator for the money. Well-balance, quiet, thoughtful design and solid engineering makes this our top pick for overall value.
- Lightweight and Compact Design: the iGen1200 weighs 35 lbs. and Features a Built-In Carry Handle for Easy Transportation
- Safely Powers Sensitive Electronics Such as Laptop Computers, Cell Phones, & More (1000
- Running Watts and 1200 Peak Watts at <3% THD)
- Features 2 USB Ports (5V DC) and a 120 VAC 20A Household Duplex Outlet – Easily Power Your Phone or Other Electronic Devices
- Enhanced Fuel Efficiency – 30-50% More Fuel Efficient Than a Traditional Generator!
- Quiet Operation: the iGen1200 Utilizes a Double-Insulated Acoustic Enclosure, Asymmetrical Cooling Fans, and Low Tone Mufflers to Reduce Operating Noise
- 1,200 Peak Watts, 1,000 Running Watts
- Fuel Efficient – 9 Hrs on 0.8 Gal of Gas @ 25% load
- Very Quiet – Less Noise than Normal Conversation Volume
- Safe for Electronics – Inverter Technology
- Lightweight – Only 33 lbs
- 3-Year Warranty and Lifetime Technical Support
- EPA, CSA, CARB Compliant
Documents for the Westinghouse iGen1200:
Like many of you reading this review, I have been a big fan of both Honda and Yamaha generators for the longest time. Though Westinghouse has really thrown the cat in among the pigeons with the iGen1200. Westinghouse has not been in the portable generator game as long as the two other brands, but they’re one of the oldest (and most respected) electric company in the world. Not only did they build some of the first power generation plants in the US, they have been on the forefront of electric and electronic innovation for well over a century. As I’ve come to learn about the Westinghouse portable generators, I’ve been more than impressed and they are certainly one of the best competitors in this market.
Not only does the Westinghouse iGen1200 deliver the best power with 1200 watts of peak power and 1000 continuous running watts, but it is far cheaper than the other two – by a long shot. This makes it difficult to justify buying either of the other two quiet small generators in this review, no matter how much we respect the brands. In some areas, the little Westinghouse may be slightly less refined, but it offers basically the same features and, as mentioned before, a higher wattage output.
The 54cc 4-stroke Westinghouse engine runs like a dream and thanks to the economy throttle switch on the front of the machine, it’s incredibly fuel efficient. The Westinghouse iGen1200 has a tiny 0.8-gallon gas tank, yet it’s able to supply power at 50% load for just over 7-hours on a single tank of gas. Like any generator of this size, it uses a recoil starter. I don’t think that you get a small generator with an electric starter, it’s not warranted for such a small engine. Be that as it may, the Westinghouse iGen1200 is remarkably easy to start. I’ve read countless customers reviews written by elderly and slim built ladies who say that they had no problem starting the Westinghouse iGen1200. So I can’t see anyone having a problem getting it started.
Westinghouse doesn’t give exact noise level specs for this generator, except to say that it’s quieter than a speaking voice. So all we can deduce from this is that it has a noise level below 65dBA. It’s certainly quiet enough to use in a suburban area or campsite. The weight is reasonable at 33 LBS, though it is the heaviest of the three small quiet generators in this review.
The Westinghouse iGen1200 is a neat looking machine, contained in a modern-looking durable plastic housing. It has four rubber feet on which it stands and these eliminate what little vibration the generator produces and further reduces the noise levels. At the front of the generator is a control panel with a duplex NEMA 5-15R 120V outlet, this gives you two 15A household power outlets. It also has dual USB charging ports. Both the AC and USB outlets are protected by rubber covers. There are warning lights for low oil (in which case the engine will shut down) and current overload, which would mean that the circuit breaker has tripped and needs to be reset. Another safety feature on the Westinghouse iGen1200 is a spark arresting muffler. This generator allows for parallel connection. You’ll need a parallel connection cable for this, which will also allow for an RV connection plug.
At the side of the generator, all the operations for starting the generator are conveniently placed for quick and easy starting. There’s a large on/off switch directly below the recoil starter. This switch controls the fuel valve and engine ignition in one action, which makes things as simple as they can be. Just to the left, you have a lever control for the choke. This is a really easy and effortless generator to get going.
Along with the generator, you’ll get a bottle of SAE 10W-30 engine oil, measured to the exact 11.8-ounces that the engine crankcase holds. You also get a funnel and basic tool kit, as well as detailed booklets for quick start, specs and a complete user manual. Basically, you get everything you need to get started and keep your Westinghouse generator in tip-top shape. This also includes a service guide, telling you what to do after the required running hours have elapsed.
It would very difficult to recommend any small quiet generator over the amazing little Westinghouse iGen1200. It’s a robust machine, their 3-year warranty attests to this. Above all, this generator comes at an irresistible price, considering that offers all the features that you want from a small inverter generator that’s virtually silent. As far as I’m concerned, this is the pick of the bunch out of the small quiet generators in this review.
We recommend using the Westinghouse interactive generator sizing guide to help you decide the right size generator for your needs. The last thing you want to do is invest in a generator only to find out it doesn’t have enough power for your specific needs. It’s better to have more power than you need than not enough.
Tech Specs (Westinghouse iGen1200) :
- Run Time at %25 Load (hrs.) : 9 hrs.
- Run Time at %50 Load (hrs.) : 7 hrs.
- Gasoline Peak Watts : 1200
- Gasoline Running Watts : 1000
- Peak Amps at 120V : 10 amps
- Running Amps at 120V : 8.3 amps
- AC Voltage : 120 Volts
- DC Voltage : 5 Volts
- AC Frequency : 60 Hz
- Parallel Capable with WHPC cord (sold separate) : Yes
- Engine Horse Power (HP) : 1.8 HP
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) : <3%
- Automatic Voltage Regulator : (AVR) Yes
- Starting System : Recoil
- Engine Displacement : 54cc
- Engine Brand : Westinghouse
- Engine Type : OHV 4 Stroke
- Engine Speed : Variable
- Engine RPM Max : 5200
- Operational Volume at 25% Load : 52 dBA
- Operational Volume at 50% Load : 58 dBA
Excellent small quiet generator if you want the best engineering. A pricey model but designed to perfection.
- Power for fans, TV, lights and small power tools and appliances
- This popular model can operate a wide variety of small appliances. Take a look at the applications tab for more examples.
- Super quiet – less noise than normal conversation
- So quiet, your neighbors will thank you. The EU1000i operates at 53 to 59 dBA, which is less noise than a normal conversation. This makes it ideal for camping, supplemental RV power and any other activity that requires quiet operation.
- Lightweight and compact
- Engine : Honda GXH50T
- Weighing only 29 pounds, the EU1000i is incredibly lightweight and portable.
Fuel efficient – runs up to 7.1 hr on 0.6 gal. of fuel
- Eco Throttle System, the EU1000i offers great fuel efficiency. It runs 3.2 to 7.1 hours on a single tank, depending on the load.
- Advanced inverter technology – reliable power for computers and other sensitive equipment
- As reliable as the power you get from your outlets at home.
- Double your power with parallel capability : Need more power? Add a second EU1000i for additional power. Two identical models can be paralleled with an optional cable or cord for up to 2000 watts of power.
- 12v – 8.0A DC output : The EU1000i has a DC outlet for use when charging 12-volt automotive type batteries. (Requires an optional charging cord.)
- Protected by Oil Alert
- Protects the generator by shutting the engine off when low oil is detected.
USDA-qualified spark arrestor/muffler
- Circuit protected
- Protects the generator from being overloaded.
- 2 year residential warranty
✓ View or download the manual for the Honda EU1000i.
After singing the praises of the Westinghouse iGen1200 so loudly, you may think that I don’t consider the Honda EU1000i that highly. This is absolutely not the case. Ordinarily, Honda would probably be my first choice. It’s just that the price of the Westinghouse is so much lower, making it hard to resist. Is the Honda EU1000i more durable than the Westinghouse iGen1200? Perhaps, but no one can say for sure. Based on Honda’s reputation for indestructibility, some may think so. Though before you write this generator off based on its price (and slightly lower wattage), read this review of the EU1000i. There are some compelling reasons why you might want to consider the Honda as your best option.
Run in Parallel : Scale your power as you need it.
On the face of things, the Honda EU1000i looks almost identical to the Westinghouse iGen1200. The Honda is red, whereas the Westinghouse is blue – if that matters to you. Other than this, you may not think them all that different. It’s only when you dig a little deeper, that the Honda shows some impressive traits that may justify its much higher price tag. We should also consider that the Honda EU1000i delivers 900 running watts and peak power of 1000W, which is a little less than the Westinghouse.
The Honda EU1000i uses their GXH50 (49.4cc) engine. I hold this engine with the highest regard. It’s fantastic and has proven to be reliable and super tough. This generator has an even smaller gas tank than the Westinghouse (0.6-gallons). Running at a full load, you’ll get a little over 3-hours from a tank of gas and just over 7-hours at 25% load. Giving you specs in this way makes it difficult to compare their fuel consumption when you’re actually using the generator. No need to worry about this, because I did the math for you.
By my calculations, the Honda is 10% more fuel efficient than the Westinghouse. This gives us some food for thought. Admittedly, the Honda is way more expensive than the Westinghouse, but your purchase price is a once off expense. Your running costs (most importantly gas) is going to be with you for many years and this can change the picture entirely. Depending on how much you use the generator, the gas savings when using the Honda can make a substantial difference. Again, I’ve done the math for you.
VIDEO | How to Operate the Honda Inverter Generator
I’m basing this calculation on the average US gas price as at December 2017 ($2.20 per gallon). This brings me to an estimated 4600-hours of runtime to recoup the extra money that you would have spent on the Honda vs the Westinghouse. This would mean running the generator for 8-hours per day for 575 days (a little over 1½-years). When it comes down to it, the Honda is going to save you money in the long run. If you use your generator regularly, it may make financial sense to go for the Honda. On the other hand, if you’re going to be using it for a week or two once a year, it may take a lifetime (or more) to make up the difference in price vs what you’ll be spending gas. Only you can determine which would work better for you, based on how many hours you expect to use the generator each year.
Other than the fuel consumption, there isn’t any reason why either of these generators should be better than the other from a user point of view. The Honda has the same recoil starter setup with the on/off switch and a choke lever in exactly the same position and they function in the same way. The control panel is also at the front of the generator and is basically the same. The only difference being that, instead of two USB DC ports, the Honda has a 12V DC outlet with an alligator clamp adapter cable for battery charging. This means that the Honda is preferable if you intend charging a 12V car or deep cycle battery. It also has parallel connection ports and a spark arrestor. The Honda doesn’t have rubber covers for the electric outlets. This isn’t a big deal, but protecting the outlets from dust and moisture does add to the durability of the machine.
VIDEO | Learn more about Honda EU Generators
The Honda EU1000i has overload protection and low oil shutoff to protect the engine. There are warning lights on the control panel to alert you to these situations. It’s very quiet with a noise level of 53dBA at 25% load, climbing to a maximum of 59dBA at full load. So it will never be louder than a speaking voice. The Honda is also exceptionally lightweight, 28.7 LBS.
The Honda EU1000i may seem ridiculously expensive when compared to the Westinghouse iGen1200, but there are those who will pay extra purely because of their past experiences with Honda equipment. Honda makes fantastic machines. The most convincing argument in favor of the Honda is the fuel savings which may look insignificant until you put that into a real-life context. This generator has the backing of Honda’s renowned service and a 3-year warranty.
Try Honda’s generator sizing guide to help you choose the right generator size.
A wonderfully built small quiet generator designed with you in mind. Professional quality.
- Lightweight, easy to carry design — Compact lightweight alternator reduces weight to 27.9 lb., the lightest weight in its class
- MZ50, 50cc, air-cooled (fan assist), OHV, 2-valve, 4-stroke single
- Smart Throttle, load sensing rpm control — Greater fuel efficiency and noise reduction by automatically adjusting engine speed to match the load
- Auto Warm-up — Automatically increases engine speed for 4~6 minutes to ensure smooth power delivery during cold start ups
- 12 Volt DC output, battery-charging cables included — Recharge 12-volt batteries for RV, auto, marine, etc.
- Exclusive dual coil alternator stator — Greater output at a lower engine speed for reduced noise, fuel consumption, and engine wear
- Centralized control panel — Easy access to controls
- Gasoline petcock lets you shut off the gas to run the carb dry for storage — Prevents stale gas problems
- 50cc Overhead Valve (OHV) engine — Noise-reducing operation with improved efficiency, increased reliability, and low oil consumption
- Large fuel fill access — Wide mouth fuel fill reduces spilling and overflows during refueling
- 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
- 50 state legal — Meets emission regulations, including CARB
- Factory Warranty — Covers the entire generator for defects in parts and workmanship for three (3) years when the generator is used for non commercial, industrial or rental use. When the generator is used for commercial, industrial or rental use, Yamaha covers the generator for two (2) years
Having compared the Westinghouse iGen1200 to the Honda EU1000i, we now have to ask where Yamaha EF1000is fits into all of this? I’m going to say that the Yamaha holds a fantastic position among these three. It’s more expensive than the Westinghouse, but quite a bit cheaper than the Honda. Like the Honda EU1000i, the Yamaha EF1000is also has a running capacity of 900W with a peak load of 1000W. Though when we go through the specs on the Yamaha, it emerges as the most cost-effective when comparing the purchase price and running costs of the Yamaha EF1000is to the others.
The Yamaha 50cc OHV, 4-stroke engine is the most fuel-efficient of all three these small generators. This makes it the best value for money in the long run. We’re talking about 11.9-hours runtime from the 0.66-gallon gas tank at 25% load. If we compare this to the Honda which gives you 7.1-hour from a 0.6-gallon tank, the Yamaha is about 30% more fuel efficient than the Honda which is already better than the Westinghouse. If we take into account the difference in purchase price, it’s going to take less than 1800-hours runtime to make up the difference in price between buying the Westinghouse and the Yamaha – a little over 6-months with daily use at 8-hours per day. When you look at it this way, the Yamaha EF1000is is a fantastic deal.
The control panel on the Yamaha has a different layout to the others, with everything on the side of the generator. It has exactly the same outlets as the Honda – 2 X 120V household outlets and a 12V battery charging outlet. These sockets also don’t have rubber covers, unlike those on the Westinghouse. It has the same recoil starter as the other two and is just as easy and simple to start. This model has the advantage of an auto warmup function which automatically increases the engine speed at startup for 4-6 minutes, allowing the engine to reach operating temperature.
The Yamaha EF1000is is the lightest of the three at 27.9 LBS. It’s also the quietest with noise levels ranging between 47 and 57dBA depending on the engine speed. Safety features are the same as the others – low oil shutoff, spark arrestor and overload circuit breakers with the relevant warning lights. The only area where the Yamaha EF1000is doesn’t match up to the other two is in the fact that it doesn’t have parallel connectivity. If you’re going to want more than the 1000W/900W capacity of the generator, this is going to come as a disappointment.
When it comes to their usability, all three these generators are very similar with only slight differences. What really differentiates them is their price and fuel consumption. In this regard, the Yamaha is the winner. It’s not as expensive as the Honda and offers the best runtime on a gallon of gas than either of the other two. As a brand, no one can’t dispute that Yamaha is as great as any and you get a 3-year non-commercial or 2-year commercial warranty on this amazing little generator.
Learn more by visiting the Yamaha site.