Quietest Generator – Quiet Portable Generator Reviews

Want a quiet generator? How about the absolute quietest one? For a generator to qualify as a “quiet generator” it needs to have a noise level of below 60 decibels. This is about the same level as the sound of two people having a conversation. If you’re looking for the quietest portable generator on the market then you need to be aiming just above 50 decibels for one that puts out decent power without too much noise. Our top choice for quietest generator is the Generac 6866 iQ2000 with the Honda EU2000i running a very close second place. We’ve reviewed these as well as some of the other best quiet portable generator options on the market.
Quietest Portable Generator

​Want a quiet generator? How about the absolute quietest one?

For a generator to qualify as a “quiet generator” it needs to have a noise level of below 60 decibels. This is about the same level as the sound of two people having a conversation.

If you’re looking for the quietest portable generator on the market then you need to be aiming just above 50 decibels for one that puts out decent power without too much noise.

Our top choice for the quietest generator is the Generac 6866 iQ2000, with the Honda EU2000i running a very close second place. We’ve reviewed these as well as some of the other best quiet portable generator options on the market.

Image

Model

​​Power

​Noise Level

Weight

Price

Rating

Quietest Portable Generator

​2000W

​52dBA

​46lbs

$$$

Honda Quietest Portable Generator

2000W

​53dBA

​45.6lbs

$$$$

Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

​2000W

​51dBA

​48lbs

$$$$

Quiet Portable Generator

​2000W

​51.5dBA

​45lbs

$$$$

Silent Portable Generator

​1200W

​53dBA

​33lbs

$$

Briggs & Stratton 30651 Quiet Generator

​2200W

​59dBA

​54.6lbs

$$$

Quiet Inverter Generator

​2000W

​53dBA

​47lbs

$$$$

Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

​2200W

56dBA

​46.6lbs

$$$

Quietest RV Generator

​3100W

​58dBA

​80lbs

$$$

Quietest Home Backup Generator

​6500W

​66dBA

​109lbs

$$$$$


​Quietest Portable Generator Reviews

Quietest Portable Generator Reviews
Generac 6866 iQ2000 Super Quiet Generator - 1600 Running Watts/2000 Starting Watts
Quietest Portable Generator

​Generac are the leaders in producing the quietest generators on the market. When it comes to performance we think these are neck and neck with Honda. If you’re comparing noise levels then the Generac 6866 has the edge and is a little quieter at 52dBA.

This is one smart generator too. The LED dashboard shows fuel level, wattage use, run-time and the generator status. The power bar gives you good visual feedback to see how much more you could draw from it before it tops out.

The gas tank will hold 1.06 gallons and will run for 7.7 hours at 25% load which is pretty good. We liked how compact and light it was. At 20”x12.6”x17” and only 46 lbs this is the quietest portable generator at this power output range.

​If you're looking to buy the quietest camping generator for the money then this is your best bet. ​Your neighbors on the next campsite won’t even know you’re running one. You’re probably not going to notice the 1dBA difference in noise output but the lower price and smart interface make this a better buy than the Honda EU2000i.

Generac are the leaders in producing the quietest generators on the market. When it comes to performance we think these are neck and neck with Honda. If you’re comparing noise levels then the Generac 6866 has the edge and is a little quieter at 52dBA. This is one smart generator too. The LED dashboard shows fuel level, wattage use, run-time and the generator status. The power bar gives you good visual feedback to see how much more you could draw from it before it tops out. The gas tank will hold 1.06 gallons and will run for 7.7 hours at 25% load. We liked how compact and light it was. At 20”x12.6”x17” and only 46 lbs this is the quietest portable generator at this power output range. This is the quietest camping generator and your neighbors on the next campsite won’t even know you’re running one. You’re probably not going to notice the 1dBA difference in noise output but the lower price and smart interface make this a better buy than the Honda EU2000i.

Honda Quietest Portable Generator

​There’s a reason you keep seeing Honda generators wherever you go. They produce the most reliable generator on the market. The EU2000i also happens to be one of the quietest generators available.

Generac are quick to point out that the 6866 iQ2000 is quieter than the EU2000i, which is true. What they won’t say is that at 53dBA the Honda generator is only about 1dB louder. This is a difference you wouldn’t be able to notice unless you had superhuman hearing.

As a consequence, this unit regularly features either at number one or two in quiet portable generator reviews. At just under 46 lbs it’s a little lighter than the Generac with about the same physical size.

The fuel tank holds a gallon of fuel that will last you an impressive 8.1 hours at 25% load. It doesn’t come with any fancy LED display but you do get the famous Honda quality and durability built in. The price tag is a little higher than other 2000W generators but it will outlast every single one of them.

Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
WEN 56200i Quietest Portable Generator - 2000-Watt

​This inverter generator is extremely quiet and packed with features. At 51dBA it’s the quietest generator we reviewed and is a great quiet portable generator for camping. It’s only the great pricing of the Generac unit and the reliability of the Honda generator that pushed this model into a very close third place.

At full load it will supply continuous 1600W with a super clean 120V AC output voltage. At full load the output only has 0.3% total harmonic distortion which makes it ideal for charging sensitive electronics like your laptop.

What we really like are the extra features like the 12V DC and 5V USB outlets. The eco mode will improve the fuel efficiency but we would have preferred a little longer run time than the 6.6 hours you get from the 1 gallon tank.

If you want convenient and safe charging of sensitive electronics and insist on having the quietest generator then this is a great choice.

Quiet Portable Generator

​We love the retro look of this generator but it’s the low noise output that makes it particularly impressive. At 51.5dBA it’s one of the quietest generators we’ve reviewed just behind the WEN.

The heart of this quiet generator is a super reliable Yamaha engine that starts easily and just keeps on going. It’s CARB compliant and the great fuel efficiency results in an impressive 10.5 hours run time on a single 1.1 gallon tank of fuel.

We would have preferred it if they had made refilling the oil a little easier. Make sure you’ve got a small bottle of oil and a funnel or it’s going to get messy.

This is not a cheap generator but it’s super reliable and really quiet. If you’re looking for a quiet portable generator then at 45 lbs this compact unit will be hard to beat. This is an ideal choice for a small quiet generator for camping.

We love the retro look of this generator but it’s the low noise output that makes it particularly impressive. At 51.5dBA it’s one of the quietest generators we’ve reviewed just behind the WEN. The heart of this quiet generator is a super reliable Yamaha engine that starts easily and just keeps on going. It’s CARB compliant and the great fuel efficiency results in an impressive 10.5 hours run time on a single 1.1 gallon tank of fuel. We would have preferred it if they had made refilling the oil a little easier. Make sure you’ve got a small bottle of oil and a funnel or it’s going to get messy. This is not a cheap generator but it’s super reliable and really quiet. If you’re looking for a quiet portable generator then at 45 lbs this compact unit will be hard to beat. This is an ideal choice for a small quiet generator for camping.
Yamaha EF2000iSv2 2000W/1600W Most Quiet Portable Generator
This inverter generator is extremely quiet and packed with features. At 51dBA it’s the quietest generator we reviewed and is a great quiet portable generator for camping. It’s only the great pricing of the Generac unit and the reliability of the Honda generator that pushed this model into a very close third place. At full load it will supply continuous 1600W with a super clean 120V AC output voltage. At full load the output only has 0.3% total harmonic distortion which makes it ideal for charging sensitive electronics like your laptop. What we really like are the extra features like the 12V DC and 5V USB outlets. The eco mode will improve the fuel efficiency but we would have preferred a little longer run time than the 6.6 hours you get from the 1 gallon tank. If you want convenient and safe charging of sensitive electronics and insist on having the quietest generator then this is a great choice.
Silent Portable Generator

​If you don’t need quite as much power as the units above then the Westinghouse iGen1200 is a great choice. The 1000W output is plenty enough for tailgating or charging your electronics while camping.

At 53dBA this is a very quiet generator so you definitely won’t hear it over the sound of your campfire guitar session.

We like that it comes with a 12V DC output as well as 2 USB ports for charging your phone or other similar devices. The fuel tank only holds 0.8 gallons but you’ll get 9 hours of run time at 25% load of a single tank of gas.

With a running output of 1000W it may not have enough grunt to power a lot of devices but the low price makes it a good lower end option if you’re after a cheap portable generator.

It’s parallel ready so you could always double up if you need more power. The parallel kit is sold separately. Where it really shines is in how lightweight it is. At a measly 33 lbs this is a really lightweight and quiet portable generator.

Briggs & Stratton 30651 Quiet Generator
Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 Quiet Portable Generator
If you don’t need quite as much power as the units above then the Westinghouse iGen1200 is a great choice. The 1000W output is plenty enough for tailgating or charging your electronics while camping. At 53dBA this is a very quiet generator so you definitely won’t hear it over the sound of your campfire guitar session. We like that it comes with a 12V DC output as well as 2 USB ports for charging your phone or other similar devices. The fuel tank only holds 0.8 gallons but you’ll get 9 hours of run time at 25% load of a single tank of gas. With a running output of 1000W it may not have enough grunt to power a lot of devices but the low price makes it a good lower end option if you’re after a cheap portable generator. It’s parallel ready so you could always double up if you need more power. Where it really shines is in how lightweight it is. At a measly 33 lbs this is a really lightweight and quiet portable generator.
Westinghouse iGen1200 Quiet Portable Inverter Generator - 1200W / 1000W

Briggs & Stratton may be more well known for their rear tine tillers but they also make some fairly quiet generators like this one. With a noise output of 59dBA it may not be the quietest generator but that’s still just quieter than a normal conversation.

What really makes this unit stand out is that you get 2000W of running wattage at about 70% of the cost of some of the higher end generators we reviewed above. The output voltage has less than 3% total harmonic distortion so it’s ideal for charging sensitive equipment.

It isn’t certified CARB compliant but it’s still efficient enough to give you 8 hours use of the 1 gallon fuel tank. It weighs a hefty 54.6 lbs but it’s still portable enough to be used as a camping generator or in your RV. This is a good option if you’re looking for more power for less money.

Briggs & Stratton may be more well known for their rear tine tillers but they also make some very quiet generators like this one. With a noise output of 59dBA it may not be the quietest generator but that’s still just quieter than a normal conversation. What really makes this unit stand out is that you get 2000W of running wattage at about 70% of the cost of some of the higher end generators we reviewed above. The output voltage has less than 3% total harmonic distortion so it’s ideal for charging sensitive equipment. It isn’t certified CARB compliant but it’s still efficient enough to give you 8 hours use of the 1 gallon fuel tank. It weighs a hefty 54.6 lbs but it’s still portable enough to be used as a camping generator or in your RV. This is a good option if you’re looking for more power for less money.
Smarter Tools STAP-2000iQ 1600W / 2000W Portable Quiet Generator
Quiet Inverter Generator

​This compact powerhouse uses the Yamaha MZ80 engine so you get the reliability that goes along with that pedigree. Smarter Tools have used a super-quiet muffler and USFS-approved spark arrestor to keep the noise level down.

​They claim a noise level of 51dBA but it’s probably closer to 53dBA in reality. The higher pitch sound also makes it sound a little louder than the Honda or Yamaha.

This unit is very fuel efficient and is certified as both EPA and CARB compliant. It puts out a running 1600W with a pure sine wave so it’s ideal for your sensitive electronics.

It’s highly portable at only 47 lbs and is easy to carry. This generator seems, in a lot of ways, very similar to the Yamaha EF2000i but for a slightly lower price.

If you’re looking for a quiet portable generator then this is a solid option. It sells for a reasonable price but we’d be tempted to spend the extra $100 and rather buy the Honda.

Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200W Portable Quiet Generator
This compact powerhouse uses the Yamaha MZ80 engine so you get the reliability that goes along with that pedigree. Smarter Tools have used a super-quiet muffler and USFS-approved spark arrestor to keep the noise level down. Smarter Tools claim a noise level of 51dBA but it’s probably closer to 53dBA in reality. The higher pitch sound also makes it sound a little louder than the Honda or Yamaha. This unit is very fuel efficient and is certified as both EPA and CARB compliant. It puts out a running 1600W with a pure sine wave so it’s ideal for your sensitive electronics. It’s highly portable at only 47 lbs and is easy to carry. This generator seems, in a lot of ways, very similar to the Yamaha EF2000i but for a slightly lower price. If you’re looking for a quiet portable generator then this is a solid option. It sells for a reasonable price but we’d be tempted to spend the extra $100 and rather buy the Honda.

​This unit is a slightly bigger form factor than the Generac iQ2000 to squeeze a few more Watts out of it. It’s not quite as quiet as the iQ2000 but it’s still pretty quiet at around 56dBA.

They’ve increased the size of the fuel tank to 1.2 gallons and this will last you around 10.75 hours on a single tank.

We like that in this Generac unit you get a 12V DC output as well as a USB output. They’ve used nice rubber caps to keep the connectors clean and dry when not in use.

You don’t get the fancy LED display that the iQ2000 has but this quiet small generator has clear status lights and the simple controls are easy to use.

While they’ve upped the power output and fuel capacity it still only weighs 46.6 lbs so we’d still consider it a very portable generator.

With this unit you get an extra 100W running wattage for a lower price than the iQ2000. You do sacrifice a little on the noise output though with it running at around 56dBA.

Quietest RV Generator
Champion 75537i 3100W Quietest RV Generator
This unit is a slightly bigger form factor than the Generac iQ2000 to squeeze a few more Watts out of it. It’s not quite as quiet as the iQ2000 but it’s still pretty quiet at around 56dBA. They’ve increased the size of the fuel tank to 1.2 gallons and this will last you around 10.75 hours on a single tank. We like that in this Generace unit you get a 12V DC output as well as a USB output. They’ve used nice rubber caps to keep the connectors clean and dry when not in use. You don’t get the fancy LED display that the iQ2000 has but this quiet small generator has clear status lights and the simple controls are easy to use. While they’ve upped the power output and fuel capacity it still only weighs 46.6 lbs so we’d still consider it a very portable generator. With this unit you get an extra 100W running wattage for a lower price than the iQ2000. You do sacrifice a little on the noise output though with it running at around 56dBA.

​If you’re looking for the quietest RV generator then this is a great bet. It may not be quiet enough to be used as a camping generator but in an RV it works really well.

At 58dBA it’s not as quiet as some of the more silent generators above but it puts out plenty of power with 2800W running wattage.

The control panel is on the side of the unit which allows for an uncluttered, well laid out panel. They’ve included a 12V DC output but no USB output unfortunately.

It has a 120V 30A RV output and two 120V 20A household outlets. The power output is clean enough for sensitive electronics with a total harmonic distortion of less than 3%. It will handle the power surge from a 15,000 BTU air conditioner switching on pretty easily too.

The increased power does come at a cost to your fuel consumption. The 1.6 gallon tank will only last you around 8 hours at 25% load. Also, if you want the wireless remote start option it’ll cost you an extra $200.

Quietest Home Backup Generator

​If you’re looking for a quiet portable generator that has enough power to be used as a household backup generator then this is a solid choice. With an output of 5000 running Watts we were impressed that it only put out a noise level of 66dBA.

 This is 60% quieter than standard generators of this size. It’s not going to work as a quiet camping generator but at this level you’re definitely not going to hear it in the garage.

As with all Briggs Stratton engines you get great fuel efficiency. The 5 gallon fuel tank will last you around 14 hours at 25% load.

For it’s power output it is surprisingly light and easy to move around on its wheels. The telescoping luggage style handle makes it simple to move around and wheel into place.

You can connect an RV adaptor to the twist lock outlet if you need some serious power in your RV.

​Quiet Portable Generator Buying Guide

​The quietest generator will always be an inverter generator rather than a conventional generator. Here are the main differences between an inverter generator and a conventional generator.

Generator type - conventional vs inverter


Standard Generator - A standard generator runs on either diesel or gasoline, with diesel being the loudest generator option by a long way. A standard generator will run at a constant speed regardless of the load that is being drawn from it.

This results in a constant level of noise coming from the generator. The petrol powered engine rotates an alternator and it puts out 120V AC power.  These are the more old school generator types. They are reliable and cheaper but very noisy.

Inverter Generator - Inverter generators are the newer type of generators and incorporate smart electronics to improve efficiencies and noise levels. These generators also have a gas engine but they convert the initial AC power into DC and then back to a clean 120V AC output.

The way that they do this allows the generator to run at lower revs making it a lot quieter. The electronic controls also allow the generator to throttle its speed according to the load. This means that when you’re drawing less current from it the generator will be a lot quieter than when it’s at maximum output. There’s no such thing as a “silent generator” but an inverter generator is the quietest generator.

​What Type Of Generator Do I Need?


Choosing the right generator for your needs really comes down to power output and physical size. If you’re looking for the best home standby generator or for more industrial use then you’re probably not too concerned about how portable it is.

In this case it’s more about having enough power to run your household while the power is down. If you want the best inverter for camping, RV use, tailgating or other recreational activities then you’re going to be more concerned with getting the quietest portable generator.

The power output of these will normally be around 2000W which is fine for most recreational activities. These quiet small generator units are easy to fit in the trunk of your vehicle and are easy to carry around to wherever you’re going to set up.

Power output - What size generator do i need?

Portable Generator Sizing Chart


Generator manufacturers will normally quote the engine capacity of the engine in the generator but it’s the power output that is most important. Generator output power is quoted in Watts (W). When comparing generators it’s important to understand the difference between starting Watts and running Watts.

Starting Wattage - The peak power output that you can get from a generator when revs up to its maximum is the figure that is always quoted in the product name or description. Starting wattage refers to the peak power the generator can put out for a short period of time.

This is also sometimes referred to as the surge power, or surge capacity, of a generator. These are also the figures that are used in the generator model numbers. This power output is an indication of the amount of power the generator can supply if there is a sudden surge when a device connected to it starts up. The generator will not be able to sustain this power output for more than a brief moment.

Running Wattage - This is the maximum, ongoing, power output that the generator will be able to sustain. Sometimes you’ll see that the description of a generator quotes two numbers. The first will be the starting wattage while the second, lower figure, will be the running wattage.

Both starting wattage and running wattage figures are important to take note of. To illustrate, if you are running an AC in your RV it could draw 1,800W when it starts the compressor up and then settle down to drawing around 1,200W while running. Your generator needs to be able to supply both the peak power required as well as the continuous power required. It’s always a good idea to allow for 10% - 15% more than the maximum power you will require.

How To Quiet A Portable Generator

The source of the generator noise is the small internal combustion engine. Essentially what you are hearing is the small gas explosions happening in the cylinders as well as the sound of the rotating parts that make up the rest of the engine. Most of this sound moves from the inside of the engine and out through the exhaust.

The quietest generators will have a muffler attached to the exhaust which performs the same function as the one on your car. It reduces the intensity of the noise coming out of the exhaust.

Some people have added extensions to the generator exhaust. The longer the exhaust, the quieter the generator. Of course, there’s a practical limit to how long you can make the exhaust. You could eventually end up with a really quiet generator that is no longer portable. Also, increasing the length of the exhaust increases the back pressure and will ​strain the engine of the generator.

You can also cover the generator with a portable generator cover. This will make the generator quieter but you need to make sure that the cover is well ventilated. You could even make your own generator cover. Just remember that the generator will produce heat and also needs oxygen to keep the engine running so ventilation is important. Your generator is air cooled so free flowing air is a must.

Using a quiet generator box or angled panels to surround the generator will also reduce the noise. Even if you decide to leave the top off for ventilation you will still be making it quieter. The sound will be deflected upwards and less of it will reach your ears.

Put it further away from you. For every doubling of the distance between you and the generator the sound intensity will be four times lower. So, a generator that is 20 feet away from you will have a sound intensity four times lower than if you stand 40 feet away. If you reduce the sound intensity by ten times then it will sound half as loud to you. So, by moving it just over four times the distance away it’ll sound half as noisy. If you’re camping then make sure that when moving the generator you don’t end up putting it closer to your neighbors.

Dampening materials - Manufacturers of the quietest generators will use noise absorbing glass wool inside a molded casing to reduce the noise of a generator. If you’ve bought a cheaper generator that doesn’t have this material inside the casing you could try adding some. The problem with using noise absorbing glass wool or foam is that these also act as insulators. They keep the noise in but also stop the heat from escaping or air from getting into the air intake. Make sure that if you add sound dampening material that you’re not blocking heat or air passages.

Put it on something soft - A generator on concrete will always sound louder than if it’s on grass. If the surface has some give in it then it will help to dissipate the sound vibrations. It also helps to have decent rubber vibration isolation feet under the generator.

Quiet Generator - Noise Level Measurement

You’ve probably heard people use the word “decibel” when comparing sound measurements. In simple terms it’s a unit of measurement for how loud a sound is. A sound measuring 0dB is the lowest sound a healthy human ear can detect.

Our ears are more sensitive to some frequencies than others so to correct for this the measurement used for the best sound level comparison is dBA. This scale adjusts for how our ears experience lower frequency sounds like the ones that come from your generator.

You don’t need to understand all the science behind decibels and sound level measurements. The important thing to remember is that a lower dBA figure means a quieter generator.

Also, every increase of 10 dB means a doubling in how loud the generator sounds to us. eg. A generator with a 51 dBA noise output sounds half as loud as a generator that puts out a 61 dBA sound level.

Some generator manufacturers will give a single figure for the noise output while others will quote a range. If a generator is rated at say 53dBA this is the noise level at 25% load. If it is quoted as 53dBA - 57dBA then these are the noise output levels at 25% and 100% load.

A generator naturally gets quieter the further you get from it. The noise levels that are used to compare generators are measured about 21 feet (US standard) or 23 feet (European standard) away. These are generally measured at 25% load.

You can expect that when manufacturers test their own products they’re going to fiddle with these measurements as much as possible to have their product end up being the quietest generator on the market. So take these figures with a pinch of salt. All kinds of things like air pressure or density, humidity, what it’s standing on and other factors can affect the readings so use them as a guide rather than absolute figures.

Quiet portable generators will normally be rated at just above 50dBA. It’s difficult to imagine exactly how loud that is so here’s a good Noise Level Chart that will help you get and idea of what that sounds like. ​

Most city ordinances or Home Owner’s Associations will specify that you need to keep any noise you make below 75 decibels so if you are running any one of the quiet generators we’ve reviewed here then you’ll be way below that.

Silent Generator vs Power Output - The Tradeoff

If you get a generator with a 1000W output it’s understandable that it’s going to be quieter than a 3000W generator. More Watts means more noise. If you’re looking for a quiet generator but want the best bang for your buck then you could look at the Watts per dBA figure.

If you take the power output of a generator and divide it by the quoted output noise level you get the Watts per dBA. Let’s say you’re trying to decide between a 1800W generator with a noise level of 53dBA and a 2200W one rated at 55dBA.

The first provides 34 Watts per dBA (1800/53) while the latter provides 40 Watts per dBA (2200/55). That means that for every increase in Watt of output power the 2200W generator actually has a smaller increase in noise than the 1800W generator does. Remember, output noise levels of generators are measured at 25% of load.

For these two generators that would be at 450W and 550W respectively. You might even find that when you’re running both of these at around 1500W that the 2200W generator could be the quietest generator of the two. Even though it has the higher “quoted” noise level.

If you need more power but want to keep the noise to a minimum then it would be better to buy two smaller generators rather than one big one. The best portable generators will be parallel ready. This means that they have outlets that allow for two of the same generators to be connected in parallel by means of a cable kit.

Fortunately for our ears, sound isn’t additive but power is. This means that connecting two generators in parallel will give use double the power but not double the noise. There will be an increase in how loud the generators sound but it won’t be significant. Using two 2000W generators will be a lot quieter than a single 4000W generator. Of course, while the sound doesn’t double the purchase cost will. It's worth buying two smaller camping generators if you don't want to disturb other campers.

Generator Engine Capacity

There is a direct correlation between the size of the engine and the amount of power (and noise) the generator can put out. More cc’s means more Watts. Some generators are more efficient than others which means that for the same engine capacity they can squeeze a few more Watts out. If you’re looking to buy the quietest generator then you definitely don’t want the one with the biggest engine.

Generator Fuel Efficiency

The quiet portable generators reviewed above mostly have a fuel tank of around 1 gallon. How long will this fuel last? Well it really depends on how hard the generator is made to work. A conventional generator rotates at a constant speed so it’s simple to state an amount of hours per tank of fuel.

An inverter generator has a smarter throttle and will speed up and slow down depending on the load. To make comparisons between these kinds of generators simple the fuel efficiency is quoted as hours per tank at 25% load.

When comparing generator run times make sure you take the fuel tank size into account. Take the quote run time in hours and divide it by the tank capacity. This will give you an “hours per gallon” figure which will give you a better idea of comparative fuel efficiency. Just remember that this comparison only holds true when comparing generators with the same output power.

EPA and CARB Compliance

Closely related to generator fuel efficiency are the EPA and CARB certifications. These certifications are only given to the most efficient generators that meet strict emission controls. If you live in California then you need to make sure that you buy a CARB compliant generator. If you buy a generator online and it isn’t CARB compliant then the supplier won’t be able to ship it to you.

Eco-mode throttle - regulates engine speed as devices are plugged in and out so that the generator only uses as much fuel as is absolutely necessary.

Sinewave Technology - Just saying that a generator puts out 120V AC doesn’t really tell you much about the quality of the power you’re getting from it. You want the output voltage to follow a perfect Sinewave as far as possible. This is especially important if you’re going to be plugging sensitive equipment like your laptop into the generator.

Some generators put out what is called a “modified sine wave” signal. These are normally fine for running lights or a stove plate but not good for sensitive electronic chargers. If you’re going to be charging your laptop or camera then make sure that the generator puts out a true sine wave.

You’ll also see that some generator specs mention THD, or Total Harmonic Distortion. Without getting too technical, this is just a measure of how “clean” the signal coming out of the generator is. If the THS is below 3% then it’ll be fine for your sensitive electronics.

Generator Voltage Outputs

Generator output voltages

Generators will always have one or more 120V AC outputs with household outlets. If you want an RV generator then you need to make sure that the generator has an RV outlet that is rated high enough to cater for your RV. Some of the best portable generators will also have 12V DC outputs as well as USB outputs. These can be very convenient for charging your phone or other devices without having to carry extra chargers.

Generator Protection

GFCI - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter also known as a Residual Current Device (RCD). If a generator has built-in GFCI protection then it will switch the generator off if current flows through an unintended path, like you.

Conclusion

Having a generator as a backup at home, camping, in your RV or for recreational purposes makes life so much easier. Just make sure that you do proper calculations of your power budget before shopping around. If you want the quietest portable generator then any one of the units in the quiet portable generator reviews above will do the trick. Aim for the lower end of the 50dBA to 55dBA range while still putting out the amount of power you need. If you want the quietest generator with the best reliability then we’d suggest choosing either the Generac iQ2000 or the Honda EU2000i. These are the best quiet portable generators and are as silent as you can get.


The quietest generator will always be an inverter generator rather than a conventional generator. Here are the main differences between an inverter generator and a conventional generator.

Generator type - conventional vs inverter
Standard Generator - A standard generator runs on either diesel or gasoline, with diesel being the loudest generator option by a long way. A standard generator will run at a constant speed regardless of the load that is being drawn from it. This results in a constant level of noise coming from the generator. The petrol powered engine rotates an alternator and it puts out 120V AC power.  These are the more old school generator types. They are reliable and cheaper but very noisy.

Inverter Generator- Inverter generators are the newer type of generators and incorporate smart electronics to improve efficiencies and noise levels. These generators also have a gas engine but they convert the initial AC power into DC and then back to a clean 120V AC output. The way that they do this allows the generator to run at lower revs making it a lot quieter. The electronic controls also allow the generator to throttle its speed according to the load. This means that when you’re drawing less current from it the generator will be a lot quieter than when it’s at maximum output. There’s no such thing as a “silent generator” but an inverter generator is the quietest generator.

https://youtu.be/ZcxCEQ0KWHE

What Type Of Generator Do I Need?

Choosing the right generator for your needs really comes down to power output and physical size. If you’re looking for the best home standby generator or for more industrial use then you’re probably not too concerned about how portable it is. In this case it’s more about having enough power to run your household while the power is down. If you want the best inverter for camping, RV use, tailgating or other recreational activities then you’re going to be more concerned with getting the quietest portable generator. The power output of these will normally be around 2000W which is fine for most recreational activities. These quiet small generator units are easy to fit in the trunk of your vehicle and are easy to carry around to wherever you’re going to set up.

Power output - What size generator do i need?

Generator manufacturers will normally quote the engine capacity of the engine in the generator but it’s the power output that is most important. Generator output power is quoted in Watts (W). When comparing generators it’s important to understand the difference between starting Watts and running Watts.

Starting Wattage - The peak power output that you can get from a generator when revs up to its maximum is the figure that is always quoted in the product name or description. Starting wattage refers to the peak power the generator can put out for a short period of time. This is also sometimes referred to as the surge power, or surge capacity, of a generator. These are also the figures that are used in the generator model numbers. This power output is an indication of the amount of power the generator can supply if there is a sudden surge when a device connected to it starts up. The generator will not be able to sustain this power output for more than a brief moment.

Running Wattage - This is the maximum, ongoing, power output that the generator will be able to sustain. Sometimes you’ll see that the description of a generator quotes two numbers. The first will be the starting wattage while the second, lower figure, will be the running wattage.

Both starting wattage and running wattage figures are important to take note of. To illustrate, if you are running an AC in your RV it could draw 1,800W when it starts the compressor up and then settle down to drawing around 1,200W while running. Your generator needs to be able to supply both the peak power required as well as the continuous power required. It’s always a good idea to allow for 10% - 15% more than the maximum power you will require.

How To Quiet A Portable Generator
The source of the generator noise is the small internal combustion engine. Essentially what you are hearing is the small gas explosions happening in the cylinders as well as the sound of the rotating parts that make up the rest of the engine. This sound moves from the inside of the engine and out through the exhaust.

The quietest generators will have a muffler attached to the exhaust which performs the same function as the one on your car. It reduces the intensity of the noise coming out of the exhaust.

Some people have added extensions to the generator exhaust. The longer the exhaust, the quieter the generator. Of course, there’s a practical limit to how long you can make the exhaust. You could eventually end up with a really quiet generator that is no longer portable. Also, increasing the length of the exhaust increases the back pressure and may eventually strain the engine of the generator.

You can also cover the generator with a portable generator cover. This will make the generator quieter but you need to make sure that the cover is well ventilated. You could even make your own generator cover. Just remember that the generator will produce heat and also needs oxygen to keep the engine running so ventilation is important. Your generator is air cooled so free flowing air is a must.

Put it further away from you. For every doubling of the distance between you and the generator the sound intensity will be four times lower. So, a generator that is 20 feet away from you will have a sound intensity four times lower than if you stand 40 feet away. If you reduce the sound intensity by ten times then it will sound half as loud to you. So, by moving it just over four times the distance away it’ll sound half as noisy. If you’re camping then make sure that when moving the generator you don’t end up putting it closer to your neighbors.

Dampening materials - Manufacturers of the quietest generators will use noise absorbing glass wool inside a moulded casing to reduce the noise of a generator. If you’ve bought a cheaper generator that doesn’t have this material inside the casing you could try adding some. The problem with using noise absorbing glass wool or foam is that these also act as insulators. They keep the noise in but also stop the heat from escaping or air from getting into the air intake. Make sure that if you add sound dampening material that you’re not blocking heat or air passages.

Put it on something soft - A generator on concrete will always sound louder than if it’s on grass. If the surface has some give in it then it will help to dissipate the sound vibrations. It also helps to have decent rubber vibration isolation feet under the generator.

Quiet Generator - Noise Level Measurement
You’ve probably heard people use the word “decibel” when comparing sound measurements. In simple terms it’s a unit of measurement for how loud a sound is. A sound measuring 0dB is the lowest sound a healthy human ear can detect. Our ears are more sensitive to some frequencies than others so to correct for this the measurement used for the best sound level comparison is dBA. This scale adjusts for how our ears experience lower frequency sounds like the ones that come from your generator. You don’t need to understand all the science behind decibels and sound level measurements. The important thing to remember is that a lower dBA figure means a quieter generator. Also, every increase of 10 dB means a doubling in how loud the generator sounds to us. eg. A generator with a 51 dBA noise output sounds half as loud as a generator that puts out a 61 dBA sound level.

Some generator manufacturers will give a single figure for the noise output while others will quote a range. If a generator is rated at say 53dBA this is the noise level at 25% load. If it is quoted as 53dBA - 57dBA then these are the noise output levels at 25% and 100% load.

A generator naturally gets quieter the further you get from it. The noise levels that are used to compare generators are measured about 21 feet (US standard) or 23 feet (European standard) away. These are generally measured at 25% load.

You can expect that when manufacturers test their own products they’re going to fiddle with these measurements as much as possible to have their product end up being the quietest generator on the market. So take these figures with a pinch of salt. All kinds of things like air pressure or density, humidity, what it’s standing on and other factors can affect the readings so use them as a guide rather than absolute figures.

Quiet portable generators will normally be rated at just above 50dBA. It’s difficult to imagine exactly how loud that is so here’s a good Noise Level Chart that will help you get and idea of what that sounds like. (http://www.noisehelp.com/noise-level-chart.html)

Most city ordinances or Home Owner’s Associations will specify that you need to keep any noise you make below 75 decibels so if you are running any one of the quiet generators we’ve reviewed here then you’ll be way below that.

Silent Generator vs Power Output - The Tradeoff

If you get a generator with a 1000W output it’s understandable that it’s going to be quieter than a 3000W generator. More Watts means more noise. If you’re looking for a quiet generator but want the best bang for your buck then you could look at the Watts per dBA figure. If you take the power output of a generator and divide it by the quoted output noise level you get the Watts per dBA. Let’s say you’re trying to decide between a 1800W generator with a noise level of 53dBA and a 2200W one rated at 55dBA. The first provides 34 Watts per dBA (1800/53) while the latter provides 40 Watts per dBA (2200/55). That means that for every increase in Watt of output power the 2200W generator actually has a smaller increase in noise than the 1800W generator does. Remember, output noise levels of generators are measured at 25% of load. For these two generators that would be at 450W and 550W respectively. You might even find that when you’re running both of these at around 1500W that the 2200W generator could be the quietest generator of the two. Even though it has the higher “quoted” noise level.

If you need more power but want to keep the noise to a minimum then it would be better to buy two smaller generators rather than one big one. The best portable generators will be parallel ready. This means that they have outlets that allow for two of the same generators to be connected in parallel by means of a cable kit. Fortunately for our ears, sound isn’t additive but power is. This means that connecting two generators in parallel will give use double the power but not double the noise. There will be an increase in how loud the generators sound but it won’t be significant. Using two 2000W generators will be a lot quieter than a single 4000W generator. Of course, while the sound doesn’t double the purchase cost will.

Generator Engine Capacity

There is a direct correlation between the size of the engine and the amount of power (and noise) the generator can put out. More cc’s means more Watts. Some generators are more efficient than others which means that for the same engine capacity they can squeeze a few more Watts out. If you’re looking to buy the quietest generator then you definitely don’t want the one with the biggest engine.

Generator Fuel Efficiency
The quiet portable generators reviewed above mostly have a fuel tank of around 1 gallon. How long will this fuel last? Well it really depends on how hard the generator is made to work. A conventional generator rotates at a constant speed so it’s simple to state an amount of hours per tank of fuel. An inverter generator has a smarter throttle and will speed up and slow down depending on the load. To make comparisons between these kinds of generators simple the fuel efficiency is quoted as hours per tank at 25% load. When comparing generator run times make sure you take the fuel tank size into account. Take the quote run time in hours and divide it by the tank capacity. This will give you an “hours per gallon” figure which will give you a better idea of comparative fuel efficiency. Just remember that this comparison only holds true when comparing generators with the same output power.

EPA and CARB Compliance
Closely related to generator fuel efficiency are the EPA and CARB certifications. These certifications are only given to the most efficient generators that meet strict emission controls. If you live in California then you need to make sure that you buy a CARB compliant generator. If you buy a generator online and it isn’t CARB compliant then the supplier won’t be able to ship it to you.

Eco-mode throttle - regulates engine speed as devices are plugged in and out so that the generator only uses as much fuel as is absolutely necessary.

Sinewave Technology - Just saying that a generator puts out 120V AC doesn’t really tell you much about the quality of the power you’re getting from it. You want the output voltage to follow a perfect Sinewave as far as possible. This is especially important if you’re going to be plugging sensitive equipment like your laptop into the generator. Some generators put out what is called a “modified sine wave” signal. These are normally fine for running lights or a stove plate but not good for sensitive electronic chargers. If you’re going to be charging your laptop or camera then make sure that the generator puts out a true sine wave.

You’ll also see that some generator specs mention THD, or Total Harmonic Distortion. Without getting too technical, this is just a measure of how “clean” the signal coming out of the generator is. If the THS is below 3% then it’ll be fine for your sensitive electronics.

Generator Voltage Outputs
Generators will always have one or more 120V AC outputs with household outlets. If you want an RV generator then you need to make sure that the generator has an RV outlet that is rated high enough to cater for your RV. Some of the best portable generators will also have 12V DC outputs as well as USB outputs. These can be very convenient for charging your phone or other devices without having to carry extra chargers.

Generator Protection
GFCI - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter also known as a Residual Current Device (RCD). If a generator has built-in GFCI protection then it will switch the generator off if current flows through an unintended path, like you. (https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/GFCI)

Having a generator as a backup at home, camping, in your RV or for recreational purposes makes life so much easier. Just make sure that you do proper calculations of your power budget before shopping around. If you want a quiet portable generator then any one of the units in the quiet generator reviews above will do the trick. Aim for the lower end of the 50dBA to 55dBA range while still putting out the amount of power you need. If you want the quietest generator with the best reliability then we’d suggest choosing between the Generac iQ2000 or the Honda EU2000i. These are the best portable generators and are as silent as you can get.
Quiet Portable Generator Buying Guide
If you’re looking for a quiet portable generator that has enough power to be used as a household backup generator then this is a solid choice. With an output of 5000 running Watts we were impressed that it only put out a noise level of 66dBA which is 60% quieter than standard generators of this size. It’s not going to work as a quiet camping generator but at this level you’re definitely not going to hear it in the garage. As with all Briggs Stratton engines you get great fuel efficiency. The 5 gallon fuel tank will last you around 14 hours at 25% load. For it’s power output it is surprisingly light and easy to move around on its wheels. The telescoping luggage style handle makes it simple to move around and wheel into place. You can connect an RV adaptor to the twist lock outlet if you need some serious power in your RV.


Product Images Sourced From Amazon.com

Briggs & Stratton Q6500 - Quietest Home Backup Generator
If you’re looking for the quietest RV generator then this is a great bet. It may not be quiet enough to be used as a camping generator but in an RV it works really well. At 58dBA it’s not as quiet as some of the more silent generators above but it puts out plenty of power with 2800W running wattage. The control panel is on the side of the unit which allows for an uncluttered, well laid out panel. They’ve included a 12V DC output but no USB output unfortunately. It has a 120V 30A RV output and two 120V 20A household outlets. The power output is clean enough for sensitive electronics with a total harmonic distortion of less than 3%. It will handle the power surge from a 15,000 BTU air conditioner switching on pretty easily too. The increased power does come at a cost to your fuel consumption. The 1.6 gallon tank will only last you around 8 hours at 25% load. Also, if you want the wireless remote start option it’ll cost you an extra $200.
There’s a reason you keep seeing Honda generators wherever you go. They produce the most reliable generators on the market. The EU2000i also happens to be one of the quietest generators available. Generac are quick to point out that the 6866 iQ2000 is quieter than the EU2000i, which is true. What they won’t say is that at 53dBA the Honda generator is only about 1dB louder. This is a difference you wouldn’t be able to notice unless you had superhuman hearing. As a consequence, this unit regularly features either at numer one or two in quiet portable generator reviews. At just under 46 lbs it’s a little lighter than the Generac with about the same physical size. The fuel tank holds a gallon of fuel that will last you an impressive 8.1 hours at 25% load. It doesn’t come with any fancy LED display but you do get the famous Honda quality and durability built in. The price tag is a little higher than other 2000W generators but it will outlast every single one of them.
Honda EU2000i Companion Quietest Inverter Generator, 2000 Watts

    David Miller

    David is a health conscious and houseproud family guy. When he’s not being used as a jungle gym by his kids you can find him working on his latest DIY project in the garage.