Let’s face it: Power generators can be very loud. Even when operating at 25% load, bigger 10,000W+ generators can produce more than 75 dB of noise (measured at 23 ft distance). Today, we will look at generators that produce the least amount of noise, and check out the 5 quietest generators currently on the market.
Why would you want a super quiet generator? Well, nobody likes loud generators. A quiet home generator won’t disturb your sleep or your neighbors. A quiet generator for camping or RV is preferred to loud units.
Generally, generators that produce more than 80 dB of noise are considered to be ‘loud’. Generators that produce less than 60 dB noise levels are considered to be ‘quiet generators’.
On top of that, you have to be aware of decibel restrictions for noise generation. These include:
- Some cities and homeowner’s associations (HOA) have a policy that you should keep your home generator below 75 decibels. Anything above that can result in a fine, especially if you’re running a generator for prolonged periods of time.
- A general rule for camping sites is that a generator should not produce noise levels in access of 65 dB. The best generators for camping and the quiet ones.
How can we figure out which generators are the quietest?
That’s pretty easy in theory. Check 100 of the best selling-generators, crack open the specification sheets, and write down the noise levels (measured in dB) of all the generators. You can easily figure out which generators produce the least amount of noise.
That’s exactly what we did to create a list of the 5 most quiet generators currently on the market (in the 50 dB range). You can find the list of the quietest generators, complete with spec-by-spec (dB-by-dB) comparison and reviews further on.
Note: There is no doubt which is the quietest generator by far, and has been for years now. It’s the Honda inverter generator. You can skip to this list right here:
In practice, however, you have to account for several other specifications. Example: A small 2,500W generator will always be quieter than a big 10,000W generator. That’s why we introduced a special parameter – Watts Per dB – to find the best compromise between the generator’s noise levels and power output.
Furthermore, you have to check for the starting wattages, running wattages, tank capacity, and max. running time of a quiet generator. Of course, you also have to take the price of a quiet generator, the brand of a generator, and user reviews into the equation.
In the list of the whisper-quiet generators below, you will see a comparison of all these specifications for silent generators. To figure out what you’re actually comparing, we will go through these key parameters.
First of all, however, it’s important for everybody who is looking to buy a quiet generator, to understand how we measure which generators are quiet and which ones are loud. Here’s how we do that:
How We Measure Quietness/Loudness Of Generators?
Before we check how loud 50-95 dB generators are, we need to look at how we test the generator’s noise levels. There’s a significant detail that refers to all, even the extremely quiet, generators.
If you crack open the specs sheet of any generator, you will see something like this:
- Noise levels: 68-74 dB.
The first-decibel level (lower sound limit) refers to the amount of noise a generator makes when operating at 1/4 (25%) load. In this case, a 3,000W generator would be producing 750W of power. A big 10,000W would be producing a 2,500W load.
Usually, you operate a generator at above 1/4 load. The second-decibel level (higher sound limit) refers to the amount of noise the generator is making when operating at full load (100% output). For example, that’s when a 2,500W is actually generating a full 2,500W of power output.
Here’s the significant detail you need to be aware of:
We measure the noise levels of generators from 23 feet away. That’s right. A generator with 74 dB maximum noise level output will produce 74 dB only when it’s 23 feet (or 7 meters) away. If you stand right next to a 74 dB generator, your ears will likely suffer from 80+ dB noise.
Because human ears can tolerate noise levels above 85 dB for only so long, the very idea of the quiet below 60 dB generator is so appealing.
To illustrate how loud generators actually are, let’s look at some decibel equivalent:
Decibel Levels Of Quiet Generators
We use decibels (dB) to measure how loud or quiet generators are. Here’s a bit complex definition of decibels from Wikipedia: ‘Decibel is a relative unit of measurement equal to one-tenth of a bel (B). It expresses the ratio of two values of a power or root-power quantity on a logarithmic scale. Two signals whose levels differ by one decibel have a power ratio of 101/10 (approximately 1.26) or a root-power ratio of 101⁄20 (approximately 1.12).’
To simplify that, let’s look at some real-life examples. We can barely hear 0 dB. 10 dB is the noise breathing makes. Whispering is at about 30 dB and refrigerators mostly run at 50 noise levels. Here’s a nice representation of different dB sounds:
As you can see, quiet generators are on the same sound levels as the fridge (50 dB) or a conversation (60 dB). Louder generators can produce as much noise as a truck (80 dB) or even more than a hairdryer (90 dB).
When trying to figure out, for example, how loud is a 74 dB generator, you can check this illustration. A 74 dB generator is as loud as a car or a bus (somewhere in between).
Here are the sound ranges and consequently categorization of generators based on the amount of noise they generate:
- Quietest Generator: Below 50 dB.
- Quiet Generators: 50-60 dB.
- Quieter-Than-Average Generators: 60-70 dB.
- Average Noise Generators: 70-80 dB.
- Louder-Than-Average Generators: 80-90 dB.
- Loud Generators: Above 90 dB.
Now, everybody wants the quietest possible generator. However, we do need to think about generator wattage as well:
Starting And Running Wattage (+ Watts Per Decibel Rating)
In the event of a power outage or for camping, you will need an adequately sized generator. For power outages, whole-house generators with 10,000W+ running wattages are used. For camping and RVs, you need about 2,000-3,000W running wattage quiet generators.
Obviously, the small generators for camping will be quieter than the big whole-house generator for power outages. However, they are capable of generating 3-10x less power output.
The key question here is this:
How do we account for different power generation when comparing which generators are the quietest?
Example: #1 Honda EU3000IS generates 2,800W running wattage and has a 25% load noise levels of 49 dB (Honda generator is an incredibly amazingly quiet generator). #3 DuroMax XP13000EH generates 10,500W running wattages and has a 25% load noise levels of 74 dB. Which one is quieter?
Obviously, the #1 Honda EU3000IS is the quieter generator (49 dB vs 74 dB). That’s not surprising; Honda is a brand that produces the quietest generators and the EU3000IS model is the quietest of them all.
However, we need to take power generation into the account as well. #3 DuroMax XP13000EH generates 10,500W vs 2,800W running watts that the whisper-quiet Honda generates. Big generators produce more noise than small generators; how to put the sound-power compromise on the same common denominator?
The best sound-power compromise rating is the ‘Watts Per dB’ ratio. This ratio simply tells you how many running watts does a generator produce per 1 dB. Here is how it’s calculated:
Watts Per dB Ratio = Running Wattage (W) ÷ Noise Levels (dB)
In our example, #1 Honda EU3000IS has 2,800W running wattage and 49 dB noise levels; hence it has ‘Watts Per dB’ ratio of 58W per dB. #3 DuroMax XP13000EH has 10,500W running wattage and 74 dB noise levels; hence it has ‘Watts Per dB’ ratio of 135W per dB.
That means that #3 DuroMax XP13000EH will generate 135W starting wattage per every 1 dB. That means it has a ‘Watts Per dB’ ratio higher than even the #1 quietest generator Honda EU3000IS (58W per dB).
We can conclude from this that, despite generating 74 dB noise levels at 25% load, the #3 DuroMax XP13000EH is actually quite a quiet generator given its whole-house generator size. If a big 10,000W generator would have a ‘Watts Per dB’ ratio of less than 50, it would be a big red flag for picking quiet generators. We would immediately know that’s a very loud generator.
Tank Capacity And Max. Running Time
The best quiet generator should primarily be as quiet as a mouse. On top of that, it would also be a great generator. Having a big enough gasoline or propane tank capacity to run a generator for at least 10 hours is an integral part of the better generators.
Depending on the generator capacity, these units will have anywhere from 1 to 10-gallon fuel tanks. Generators run either on gasoline or propane, or both (quiet dual fuel generators).
According to Engineering Toolbox, here are the energy density of gasoline and liquid propane (LPG):
- 1 gallon of gasoline contains 124.000 BTU of energy. That means that 1 gallon of gasoline can generate 36.34 kWh of electricity. At 100% generator efficiency, you can run a 3,000W running watts generator for more than 12 hours.
- 1 gallon of liquid propane (LPG or liquid petroleum gas) contains 91.330 BTU of energy. That means that 1 gallon of liquid petroleum can generate 26.77 kWh of electricity. At 100% generator efficiency, you can run a 3,000W running watts generator for almost 9 hours.
Energy Efficiency Of Quiet Generators (Inverters Are The Most Energy Efficient)
In general, gasoline generators will have a 36% longer running time because the energy density of gasoline is 36% higher than liquid propane energy density. The most energy-efficient quiet generators are the inverter gasoline generators.
Example: #1 Honda EU3000IS is the quietest inverter generator on the market. It has a 3.4-gallon gas tank and it can run on 2,800W for 20 hours. Note: The added bonus of an inverter generator is that it can run at extremely low noise levels for a generator.
Honda’s 3.4-gallon tank can hold 421.600 BTU worth of gasoline. At 100% energy efficiency, this would generate 123.56 kWh of electricity.
Here’s why quiet inverter generators are preferred:
The standard generator runs at the set output (usually 100% load) all the time. That means that even when you don’t need 5,000W for example, the standard generator will burn through gas supplying 5,000W whether you need it or not. It will generate a lot of noise all the time.
On the other hand, the inverter generator adjusts its power output to the electric demand. That means it can reduce power output (and handly minimize noise levels) when the electric demand is decreased. This makes inverter generators much more energy-efficient and quiet compared to standard generators.
Note: It shouldn’t surprise you that most of the quiet generators are inverter generators.
With all this in mind, let’s have a look at which are the quietest generators on the market:
5 Best Quiet Generators (Comparison Table + Reviews)
- Quietest Inverter Generator By Honda: Honda EU3000IS (3,000W, 49 dB)
- Best Quiet Generator For RV And Mobile Home: Westinghouse iGen4500 (4,500W, 52 dB)
- Bigger Quiet Whole House Generator: DuroMax XP13000EH (13,000W, 74 dB)
- Small Portable Quiet Generator For Camping: WEN 56203i (2,000W, 51 dB)
- Quiet Dual Fuel Portable Generator For Camping: Champion 200951 (2,500W, 53 dB)
1. Quietest Inverter Generator By Honda: Honda EU3000IS (3,000W, 49 dB)
|Noise Levels:||49 dB|
|Running Watts:||2,800 W|
|Starting Watts:||3,000 W|
|Watts Per dB:||58 W Per dB|
|Tank Capacity:||3.4 gallons|
|Max. Run Time:||20 hours|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||27 x 26 x 21 inches|
There is no doubt which is the absolutely quietest generator on the market and has been the most quiet generator for years now. It’s the advanced inverter Honda EU3000IS generator. Honda is known for making whisper quiet generators and the Honda EU3000IS is their top model.
This is a 3,000W starting wattage and 2,800W running wattage generator. It is the only generator that produces less than 50 dB of noise levels at 25% load (49 dB, to be exact). It has a 58W per dB ratio.
Even at 100% load, generating 2,800W, the Honda EU3000IS produces absurdly low 58 dB noise levels. What’s the secret Honda has that no other generator producer can come close to sound-wise?
The advanced patented Eco Throttle® System inverter technology. The Honda’s inverter generator precisely adjusts the power output to power demand. Honda EU3000IS is the top-rated model in the Honda Super Quiet generators series.
The Eco Throttle inverter technology also makes it the most energy-efficient quiet generator. With a 3.4 gallon tank, it has a maximum running time of up to 20h. That’s longer than any other silent generator.
Everybody loves how quiet the Honda EU3000IS is; nobody really loves the price, however. Honda EU3000IS is superb in every way but it does cost more than $3,000. This is its only drawback.
All in all, Honda EU3000IS is undoubtedly the quietest generator on the market, thanks to the advanced Eco Throttle inverter technology Honda employs. It is the only one that generates less than 50 dB noise levels (25% load), it’s extremely energy efficient, and an utmost reliable generator that will serve you for 10 or more years:
2. Best Quiet Generator For RV And Mobile Home: Westinghouse iGen4500 (4,500W, 52 dB)
|Noise Levels:||52 dB|
|Running Watts:||3,700 W|
|Starting Watts:||4,500 W|
|Watts Per dB:||71 W per dB|
|Tank Capacity:||3.4 gallons|
|Max. Run Time:||18 hours|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||24.5 x 17.5 x 20 inches|
Westinghouse iGen4500’s full name is ‘Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator’. This is the quietest Westinghouse generator in this wattage category. With 93 lbs weight, it’s a perfect quiet generator for RVs and mobile homes.
It is capable of producing 4,500W starting wattage and 3,700W running wattage. That quite a lot of wattage for a generator as silent as Westinghouse iGen4500. At 25% load, it produces only 52 dB of noise. To put in perspective; it has a 71W per dB ratio, even higher than the #1 Honda’s 58W per dB ratio.
Needles to say, this is a portable inverter generator. Inverter generators like Westinghouse iGen4500 produce a minimal amount of noise and have higher-than-average energy efficiency.
Example: Westinghouse iGen4500 has a 3.4-gallon gas tank. With a full tank, you can run it for up to 18 hours. That’s a lot longer than standard non-inverter generators with running times below 12 hours.
What makes it especially useful for RV and mobile houses is more-than-average wattage (you may need that in a mobile home) and a below 100 lbs weight (93 lbs, to be exact). That’s too heavy for camping but it’s a perfect weight for a quiet RV generator or a quiet mobile house generator.
On top of that, it doesn’t cost as much as the #1 Honda generator (that one is $3,000+). You can get it for about $1,000.
All in all, the Westinghouse iGen4500 is one of the top-rated super quiet generators for mobile homes and RVs. It’s very quiet, energy-efficient, don’t weight a ton, and is available at a very reasonable price:
3. Bigger Quiet Whole House Generator: DuroMax XP13000EH (13,000W, 74 dB)
|Noise Levels:||74 dB|
|Running Watts:||10,500 W|
|Starting Watts:||13,000 W|
|Watts Per dB:||135 W per dB|
|Tank Capacity:||8.3 gallons|
|Max. Run Time:||16 hours|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||30 x 29 x 26 inches|
DuroMax XP13000EH is a true powerhouse. This is a big quiet whole-house generator for power outages (the likes we’ve seen in Texas in February 2021). With 13,000W starting wattage and 10,500W running wattage, it can run a whole set of electric appliances even in a big house. You can even run a 5-ton air conditioner with it.
Now, let’s look at the noise levels. DuroMax XP13000EH produces 74 dB at 25% load; that’s quite a lot compared to the smaller below 5,000W running wattage units.
Here’s the somewhat uncomfortable fact:
There is no quiet whole-house generator. The best you can do is to get the quietest possible home generator and with 74 dB noise levels, that’s the DuroMax XP13000EH.
If you look at the watts per dB ratio, the DuroMax XP13000EH is actually one of the most silent big generators. It has a running wattage of 10,500W (enough for a whole house) and a 135W per dB ratio. That’s very high, even for a big generator.
Fuel-wise, the DuroMax XP13000EH is a dual fuel generator. You can fill it up with either gasoline or liquid propane (gasoline is preferable due to higher energy content per gallon). It has a big 8.3-gallon tank which can, when filled with gasoline, last for up to 16 hours.
All in all, if you need a big quiet dual fuel generator for your home, the DuroMax XP13000EH is a reasonable choice. Yes, it has 74 dB noise levels, but all other 10,000W+ generators have even higher (some more than 85 dB) noise levels. With a $1,500 price tag, it’s a budget-friendly generator considering its big 13,000W starting wattage capacity:
4. Small Portable Quiet Generator For Camping: WEN 56203i (2,000W, 51 dB)
|Noise Levels:||51 dB|
|Running Watts:||1,700 W|
|Starting Watts:||2,000 W|
|Watts Per dB:||33 W per dB|
|Tank Capacity:||1.0 gallons|
|Max. Run Time:||10.8 hours|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||17.3 x 11.5 x 17.7 inches|
Here’s the deal about quiet generators for camping. It’s not enough they are whisper silent. They need to be big enough to power all your electric devices when camping (more than 1,000W running wattage) and light enough so that you can carry them (below 50 lbs). The best quiet camping generator that hits all the marks is the WEN 56203i.
This is a 2,000W starting wattage and 1,700W running wattage portable generator. At quarter load, it generates only 51 dB. That’s quiet enough for camping sites (needs to be below 65 dB) and even quiet enough for you to sleep near it.
The key to the low noise levels is the inverter 4-stroke 79cc OHV motor. Together with the eco-mode feature, this inverter camping generator will be as quiet as possible and as energy-efficient as possible.
The power output (and correspondingly the decibel production) adjusts to the power demand. That means that if you’re camping and want to just fill your mobile phone, the WEN 56203i won’t operate at full load. The load will be reduced even below 20% and hence the noise levels will drop significantly.
An important specification for a quiet portable generator for camping is the weight. Anything that’s above 50 lbs it’s almost impossible to carry around the camping site (and most generators are much heavier than 50 lbs). WEN 56203i has a weight of only 39 lbs and is quite portable (you will still need stong hands).
A full 1.0-gallon gasoline tank will run it for up to 10.8 hours.
With a price tag of below $500, the WEN 56203i is overall the best quiet portable inverter generator for camping sites:
5. Quiet Dual Fuel Portable Generator For Camping: Champion 200951 (2,500W, 53 dB)
|Noise Levels:||53 dB|
|Running Watts:||1,850 W|
|Starting Watts:||2,500 W|
|Watts Per dB:||35 W per dB|
|Tank Capacity:||1.1 gallons|
|Max. Run Time:||11.5 hours|
|Dimensions (LxWxH):||17.3 x 12 x 17.7 inches|
Champion 200951 is another lightweight 39 lbs whisper quiet portable generator for camping. It’s a bit bigger and hence a bit louder than the #4 WEN unit, and it costs a bit more. However, it does provide a bit more power and can use both gasoline and liquid propane to provide electricity while camping.
This is a 2,500W starting wattage and 1,850W running wattage portable generator. At 25% load, the Champion 200951 produces all-in-all 53 dB of noise.
It has a 1.1-gallon tank. Remember, this is a quiet portable dual fuel generator; you can fill it up with either gasoline or liquid propane. If you use the energy-richer gasoline, the Champion 200951 can run for up to 11.5 hours.
Needless to say, this is an inverter generator; hence the much lower-than-average noise levels. Champion 200951 is usually available for less than $700:
This has been an analysis of noise levels in power generators. If you have any questions regarding the decibel levels, how generator noise levels are measured, and so on, you can pose the question below and we’ll try our best to help you out.