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3 Quiet Off Grid Generators + 7 Ways To Sound Proof A Generator

Buying a quiet generator is the first step in limiting the noise from an off-grid generator. You can also use generator noise soundproofing methods like: a soundproof shed, a generator muffler, increasing the padding underneath the generator.

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A prepper generator is an invaluable asset when you are off the grid. And if SHTF and no other power source works, a generator can become your life saver.

But generators have also had a bad reputation for being noisy. Arousing the anger of an ‘anti-noise’ neighbor or calling the attention of a snoopy intruder are some of the consequences a noisy generator could bring upon you.

So, how do you reduce generator noise and reap the fruits of having an off-grid generator without angering neighbors or attracting unwanted attention?

Buying a quiet generator is the first step in limiting the amount of noise from an off-grid generator. And if you have a noisy model, you can use generator noise soundproofing methods such as building a soundproof shed, using a generator muffler, and increasing the padding underneath the generator.

There are also other simple DIY methods that you can use to reduce the noise from your prepper generator. We’ll tell you about them later in the article. In the meantime, here are the 3 key questions that the article will be answering for you.

  • Why are generators so noisy?
  • Exactly how much noise do generators make?
  • Why should you reduce the noise of your generator?
  • What are the best ways to reduce generator noise?

Let’s jump straight into the details of each of these questions.

In a hurry? If you just want to get to our conclusions, here are our top picks and recommendations!

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Table Of Contents show

Why generators make noise

There are two main ways we can explain the noisy nature of generators. The first has to do with how generators work, or generator technology. The second gives focus to the specs of your generator choice. Let’s look at the particulars of each.

Generator technology and generator noise

Generators have an engine that burns fuel to create energy. The fuel combustion process as the engine moves inside its casing is what causes noise.

In conventional generators, the engine runs at full power to keep up with power demand. This makes the generator engine struggle to maintain a standard 3600 rpm in a typical 60 Hz frequency generator design. As a result, noise and shaking are augmented.

In inverter generators instead, the shaking is reduced by the fact that they have a more complex engine with minimal engine movement. Also, these generators produce energy in a 3-phase process: high-frequency AC is converted to DC and inverted to stable AC.

Because DC is a uniform line of power, an inverter generator can maintain a uniform level of noise, plus the sine wave is a pure wave that produces no noise.

Because of this, inverter generators are able to maintain a constant 3600 rpm without the struggle of a conventional generator. Besides, inverter generators also have a complex exhaust system which, together with a smooth-running engine, reduces noise and shaking to a greater extent.

While this is the general explanation for generator noise levels, individual generators can produce less or more noise depending on their specifications.

Generator specs that affect the amount of noise it produces

Every generator is made with specifications that determine how it harnesses or burns fuel to produce energy. As such, generator specs can tell if a generator is going to more or less noisy. Here are 3 key generator specs that affect the level of noise in a generator.

Generator type

The quietest generators are those that run on natural energy (usually solar, wind, or hydro). But when it comes to fuel-burning generators, inverter generators carry the day.

Fuel type

As already stated, solar-powered generators are overall the quietest. The noisiest are those that run on fossil fuels: diesel, gasoline, and propane in that order.

Between generator type and fuel type, an inverter generator running on propane will make the least noise.

Generator size

As a rule of thumb, generator size and generator noise level are negatively correlated. This means that the bigger the generator, the noisier it runs.

If you’ve purchased a generator or have looked at generator options, you may have noticed that a 6000W generator has a higher noise level rating (in decibels [dBA]) when compared to a 2000W generator.

It’s worth noting though that generator manufacturers have looked for ways of reducing generator noise, and some home standby models have been fitted with noise-reduction technology, even though they are high-wattage generators.

So exactly how much noise do generators produce? Let’s answer that question before we proceed.

How much noise do generators make?

When buying a generator, it is important to check its rated level of noise. As we tell you later, noise can have negative outcomes even on your health. Besides, most states have local noise regulations that you have to abide by.

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dBA) and generator noise levels can vary significantly depending on:

  • Generator size
  • Manufacturer technology
  • Generator fuel type

Also, most generators have a noise level between 50dBA and 80dBA. But some can go below 50dBA and others up to a 100dBA or beyond.

As a general rule, a noise level of 70-80dBA is considered a safe noise range. Dangerous noise levels start around 85dBA, and you should avoid exposure to such levels of noise for extended periods and protect your ears whenever possible.

To give you an idea of how much noise you could be exposed to in a day, here is a decibel comparison chart for some of the common home-use appliances and environmental circumstances.

Noise source/environmentdBA
Jet engine at 100ft140
Pain Begins125
Pneumatic chipper at ear120
Chain saw at 3ft110
Subway train at 200ft95
Walkman on 5/1094
City Traffic85
Telephone dial tone80
Chamber music, in a small auditorium75-85
Vacuum cleaner75
Normal conversation60-70
Business Office60-65
Household refrigerator55
Suburban area at night40
Quiet natural area with no wind20
Threshold of hearing0

So, when buying an off-grid survival power generator, here are 3 summary points you should keep in mind about a generator noise level.

  • Decibels are determined by logarithmic calculations and are not as obvious as 80dBA is twice as loud as 40dBA. Instead, an additional 10dBA can be twice as loud, in which case an 80dBA generator is twice as loud as one that’s rated at 70dBA.
  • 70-80dBA is the safe listening zone throughout the day (24hrs). Sustained high levels beyond this range are deemed dangerous for your hearing.
  • As a variable metric, noise level in dBA is linked to distance from the source. Most generator manufacturers calculate generator noise levels at approximately 23ft (7meters).
  • When buying a generator, check with your local authorities to know what the accepted noise levels for the zone are, so you can be sure that your choice generator has a dBA rating within the accepted range.

With this info, you’ve probably already guessed some of the reasons why you should soundproof your generator noise. Read details on that in the next section.

Why you should sound proof your generator

Noise is often described as pollution. It’s, therefore, obvious that reducing the level of noise is an environmentally friendly move.

But there are additional reasons why you should ensure that your survival generator noise is kept under minimal levels. Here are the 3 most obvious reasons to keep your prepper generator silent:

To prevent hearing damage

Consistent high noise levels can be detrimental to your hearing. As stated earlier, sustained exposure to noise levels exceeding 80dBA begins to mark a danger zone.

So, you sure don’t want a generator that puts your hearing ability at risk. As it is said, when it comes to human body parts and abilities, "nature has no spare parts.”

Apart from your hearing, extreme and consistent exposure to high noise levels has non-auditory effects on your health. Experts suggest that an average daily exposure to noise levels around 45-50dBA can trigger health problems such as stress, obesity, cardiac diseases, hypertension, and eventually death.

Avoid trouble with neighbors

No one likes noisy neighbors, and it doesn’t matter if the annoying noise from your house is from a necessary emergency power generator. Also, while some neighbors can be tolerant of ‘necessary’ noise, others are outright intolerant.

Any intolerant neighbor can cause you trouble with a noisy generator. Besides, they can also use prevailing local noise regulation laws to sue you, which could get you penalized if you are not within the legal limits.

As such, using a generator silencer is not an option when it comes to dealing with neighbors. Consider it a ‘good neighborliness’ detail.

Keep intruders away should SHTF

In SHTF situations, avoiding unwanted attention is a survival tactic. Noise can easily sell you out to intruders looking to harm others or to neighbors and intruders desperately searching for survival supplies.

The noise of a prepper off-grid generator could signal to a neighbor or intruder that you have the much-desired power that everyone else is lacking, and that you probably have a few other essential supplies like food and water.

So, keeping a low profile is paramount in diverting intruder-attention away from you. And remember, this should be taken as a prepping detail observed even before the disaster situation hits. Because let’s be honest, if you run a generator in ordinary times, you are most likely to run it during emergencies.

And now that you know all this about the reasons why generators make noise, how much noise they make, and why you should reduce the noise from your generator, we can proceed to tell you how to make your generator quiet as a cricket.

7 ways to sound proof your off grid generator

There are several technological ways of soundproofing generator noise. But there are also other simpler DIY ways and a generator choice-related option that you can use. We tell you about the generator choice option first then proceed to the rest.

Here’s a summary list of the 7 methods to reduce generator noise for preppers and off gridders:

  1. Buy a quiet generator right from the start (Buying options included).
  2. Build a generator noise soundproofing shed.
  3. Install a generator silencer / muffler (Buying options included).
  4. Increase padding underneath your off grid generator.
  5. Build a generator soundproofing box.
  6. Create a sound wall with ply boards.
  7. Use simple DIY sound-reduction methods.

Buy a quiet off grid generator from the start

The first step you can take when considering how to reduce your off-grid power generator noise is buying a quieter one from the very start.

Buying a silent generator can save you some extra time and money trying to soundproof its noise. Besides, some of the generator noise soundproofing methods we’ll tell you about may not work everywhere.

For example, if your off-grid location is densely inhabited, methods such as installing your generator far from your off grid cabin may not work.

To ensure you have the most silent generator, you’ll have to do your research and compare generator noise rating (dBA) against your power needs (watts).

We opted to give you a hand by showing you 3 of the most quiet generators in the market:

Most Silent Off Grid Generator: PowerSmart PS5025 Portable 2000-Watt Inverter Generator

This super quiet generator has a noise rating of 48dBA at 23ft. That makes it quieter than a home refrigerator (55dBA).

For off-grid prepping, the PowerSmart PS5025 Portable 2000-Watt Inverter Generator will save you from any noise-related trouble with neighbors and will not call the attention of intruders.

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Other specs of the PowerSmart PS5025 include:
  • 1700 running watts / 2000 surge watts.
  • Gas powered.
  • Extremely lightweight (42.5lbs).
  • 1.05 gallon fuel tank.
  • 12V DC output and 5V USB output.
  • Economy Mode for energy and fuel efficiency.
  • CARB Compliant.

Best Overall Quiet Off Grid Generator: WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator

Another super quiet generator with a noise rating of 51dBA which is less than a normal conversation (around 60dBA).

You can run the WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator for 10.8 hours @ 25% load, which could mean an entire night powering your essential appliances without power interruption or noise disturbance for your off-grid neighbors.

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other specs of the WEN 56203i include:
  • 1700 running watts / 2000 surge watts.
  • Gas powered.
  • Extra lightweight (38.6lbs).
  • 1 gallon fuel tank.
  • 2x three-prong 120V ports, 1x 12V DC receptacle, and 2x 5V USB ports.
  • Low fuel shutoff to maximize generator lifespan.
  • CARB Compliant.

Best High-wattage Quietest Off Grid Generator: Westinghouse iGen4500 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator

A 3700/4500 watt generator will charge plenty of your appliances and devices while you are off the grid, and it gets better if the generator only has a 52dBA noise level and a whooping 18hrs run time.

The Westinghouse iGen4500 also has special efficiency features like the remote start with a key fob and the option for an electric start along with the recoil start.

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other specs of the WEN 56203i include:
  • 3700 running watts / 4500 surge watts.
  • Gas powered.
  • 93lbs weight.
  • 3.4-gallon fuel tank.
  • 2x 120V outlets, 1x TT-30R RV outlet, and 2x USB ports.
  • Low fuel shutoff to maximize generator lifespan.
  • Economy Mode for maximum fuel efficiency.
  • CARB Compliant.

As can be guessed, these extremely quiet generators will save you the trouble of noise reduction. But if you want higher-wattage generators that are rated above 60dBA, then you can choose one of the following generator-silencing methods.   

For some not-so-silent off grid generators for preppers, check out our guide on the various types of off grid generators.

Build a generator noise soundproofing shed

There are different ways and materials you can use to build a generator shed. One of the most common methods is stacking cinder blocks around the generator to create a wall that is at least one foot higher than your generator. The wall should be at least 6 inches (all round) away from the generator.

But soundproofing generator sheds can be built with other generator soundproofing material such as wood and concrete blocks as shown in this quick video below.

The most important detail when building a generator noise reduction enclosure is that you don’t block the generator’s exhaust pipe or enclose it in a way that there is no exchange of air. This would cause overheating and negatively affect the generator’s functioning.

Install a generator silencer / muffler

Especially when it comes to inverter generators, manufacturers try to enhance the already advantaged quiet technology of these generators. One such way is including a muffler.

A muffler is a device used to dissolve the noise from a generator engine. It is installed at the end of your generator’s exhaust pipe and can reduce the noise of a generator by 10dBA, which as explained earlier, could count as cutting the noise by half.

If your generator has no muffler or has one that needs upgrading, you have three options to choose from:

  1. Buy a muffler/silencer specifically designed for generators.
  2. Add a muffler that is designed for cars, which are sometimes a better choice. You’ll, however, need to do some work to adjust the exhaust pipe so it fits.
  3. Make your homemade generator muffler. But if you are not sure about how to make a silencer for a generator, don’t go for this option as mistakes can lead to explosions.

Here too, we opted to give you two of the best generator silencers on Amazon:

Walker 17911 Economy Pro-Fit Universal Muffler:

This aluminized steel muffler can be used to build a customized silencer for your generator. It has a tube-and-partition design in the interior for higher noise suppression.

The Walker 17911 Economy Pro-Fit Universal Muffler is 24 x 6 x 6 inches in length and has a 2.25” outlet. It is easy to bolt on any standard exhaust pipe even though some adjustments may be needed to fit your generator type. The aluminum casing offers durability and corrosion resistance.

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Thrush 17715 Turbo Muffler:

The Thrush 17715 Turbo has a 100% aluminized coating for corrosion resistance and durability. On the inside, the muffler is built in a tri-flow classic turbo design.

The silencer can be expanded for custom installation, with an overall length of 18.5" and a 2.5" inlet/outlet at the side and center.

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Increase padding underneath your off grid generator

If your SHTF power generator is placed on a hard surface, the shaking from engine activity is going to cause more noise. By increasing the soft padding under your generator, you can reduce the noise significantly.

The padding can be made from rubber mats, carpet, or any soft material that would serve a cushioning purpose.

Build a generator soundproofing box

If you have observed open frame and enclosed generators, you may have noticed that the one with a casing around it produces less noise. The generator soundproofing box uses a similar technique to dampen the vibration and noise of a generator within the box.

You can either make your homemade generator baffle box or find a soundproof generator box for sale from manufacturers that make them.

Whichever choice you make, you’ll have to provide ventilation, or install a fan, to prevent overheating and create openings for the exhaust pipe, as well as provide access to the power outlets.

Create a sound wall with ply boards

Hard surfaces usually deflect sound. You can use plywood to create a wall around your prepper power generator and that way reduce noise significantly.

Your ply boards should be higher than your generator and you can arrange them in a box shape. This will send sound downwards to the ground. You can opt to leave one of the sides open, but ensure it is the side where noise is not going to be an issue, away from residential homes for example.

This is a cheap and easy to do method as long as you have the plywood. Alternatively, you can opt for one of the premade portable generator soundproof fences such as the Zombie Box, which will achieve high generator noise reduction.

Use simple DIY off grid generator sound-reduction methods

There are a few other simple DIY methods that you can opt for if none of the above is realizable or the emergency has caught you unawares.

Use a bucket of water

Water is a sound insulator and can be used to temporarily channel generator noise into a bucket of water.

Follow these 2 simple steps:

  1. Connect a hose to the exhaust pipe and dip the other end into a bucket of water.
  2. Make a tiny hole at the point where the hose enters into the bucket to prevent water from running into the generator exhaust pipe. You could also place the water bucket at a lower level than the generator since water won’t flow upwards.

The noise from the generator will be lost in the water. But you have to keep in mind that this is a temporary solution and it does not take care of any noise from generator vibrations.

Redirect exhaust pipe (vertically instead of horizontally)

A horizontally fitted generator exhaust pipe sends noise in the direction where it will sound more amplified than if you are on the opposite side.

If you use a heatproof pipe to extend your generator exhaust pipe straight up so that it is vertical rather than horizontal, the longer pipe will reduce the noise and diffuse it at the opening, making it more difficult for anyone to pinpoint the source of the noise. Doing so can also disperse noise and reduce its traveling distance if it is windy.

Install the generator away from your off-grid cabin

This may not work as an emergency solution, but it can help when the reason for reducing generator noise is to divert it from neighbors.

Install your generator at about 100-200meters away in a portable generator enclosure (open or closed) depending on the situation so that noise is not easily perceptible.

You will need an extra length of connecting cable and electric wire, and you also have to work your way to keep the wires concealed (underground).

The risk with this method is that anyone can tamper with your generator if you are not vigilant. Besides, an intruder can easily trace your location from a distant-installed generator.

How to reduce generator noise FAQs

To complete your info-bank on how to reduce generator noise for preppers, here are 3 FAQs:

Can I use a car muffler to silence my off-grid portable generator?

Yes, you can use a car muffler to silence your emergency backup power generator. Even though the inlet/outlet may not be compatible, you can do a few adjustments to the generator exhaust pipe so that it is customized to the muffler’s inlet/outlet. With that, you can achieve a 10-15dBA generator noise reduction.

Which generators are the quietest?

The quietest generators are inverter generators with noise levels below 60dBA. But for both conventional and inverter generators, the noise level will vary depending on the technology used by the manufacturer, generator size, and fuel type.

Some of the popular generator manufacturers who make super quite generators include Honda, Westinghouse, and WEN. Generators with higher wattage usually have higher noise levels, and propane generators produce the least noise when compared to diesel and gasoline off grid generators.

What is a Zombie Box for generators?

A Zombie Box for generators is a premade noise-reducing enclosure that is used with portable or standby generators and other electrical equipment. The box is not only soundproofing but also weatherproof.

Zombie Boxes reduce generator noise by 50-75% without inhibiting the generator’s cooling and airflow requirements.

How to reduce generator noise conclusions

The balance between the comfort of having power from a generator during an emergency or while off the grid and keeping neighbors and intruders green about your power source by reducing generator noise can be tricky.

Generators have a bad reputation for noise. But that does not have to be the case. The good news is that manufacturers are already employing newer technology to make quieter generators.

But because generator engines have to make noise that could vary from minimal (below 60dBA) or plenty of noise (above 60dBA), using generator noise reduction methods is an option every off-grid prepper should consider.

Building a generator noise soundproofing shed, using a muffler, increasing the padding underneath your generator, and using simple DIY methods like a bucket of water or redirecting the generator exhaust pipe are among effective methods for soundproofing generator noise. 

You’ll have to see what works best for you so you can avoid trouble from neighbors and intruders due to generator noise.

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
Telson Survival

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