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Last Updated on February 6, 2024
Whether you live in an area where the power often goes out, or you’re expecting a rare weather event to occur, a generator might be an essential part of your survival toolkit.
For people who enjoy camping, working, or just exploring the outdoors, portable generators can also be handy in many applications. Some have higher decibel levels than others and depending on the circumstance a quieter noise level may be required.
If you don’t have time to read the complete article, check out our favorite products below.
Either way, a full-size and fully noisy generator isn’t often the best option.
Therefore, we’ve rounded up the best quiet generators that are also portable and handy for many applications whether you’re at home, on the road, or at a campground.
Here are our top recommendations for getting the quietest generator possible. Jump to our recommendations.
|Generac 6866 iQ2000
8 Criteria To Consider When Buying A Quiet Generator
Not sure what to look for when shopping for a quiet generator? Here are the most important pre-purchase considerations, plus FAQs on generators that operate as quietly as possible.
Here’s what to consider when purchasing a quiet generator.
1. Inverter vs. Standard Generator
These days, most generators are equipped to handle sensitive electronics. But technically, a “generator” is not, while an inverter does have the protections our tech devices need.
In general, inverter generators run longer, quieter, and more efficiently than standard generators. That’s good news if you’re looking for a generator to deliver quiet power in a residential setting or even on the road in an RV.
While you might be tempted to choose a generator that has a “quiet” label, inverter generators are often the quietest option.
And, as Consumer Reports notes, you can typically carry on a conversation even standing right next to these types of generators.
2. Fuel Capacity
For many consumers, fuel capacity is key because no one wants to be a slave to their inverter.
After all, we want power, and we want fuel efficiency; we don’t want to top off the fuel every few hours.
The best news is, with the fuel efficiency of most inverter generators, fuel consumption isn’t really an issue. Therefore, you’ll need to consider what fuel capacity is best for your application.
If you only plan to run the generator periodically, a smaller fuel tank capacity won’t be an issue. However, if you need to run the unit nearly continuously, the larger the reservoir is, the more you can relax.
- See Also: Best Dual Fuel Generators
The Watt rating of the inverter is another essential consideration. Depending on what you plan to operate with the inverter generator, you will want to calculate how much power you’ll need.
A generator with too little power will only burn out under stress. Too much power, however, and you’re just overpaying for something you won’t use.
Figure out which appliances or items you will need to use most often and calculate the wattage from there. Keep in mind that many products run at a specific wattage, but they also see a spike in energy draw when starting up.
Energy considerations are especially important if you plan to use your generator to operate power tools, sustain an AC or other household appliance, or switch up which items you have plugged in.
4. Automatic Throttling
Many generator inverters feature throttling mechanisms that adjust the output of the unit based on what devices are plugged in and drawing power.
The feature helps with overall efficiency and takes the pressure off you; you don’t have to monitor the output as closely when the unit is automatically cycling up or down.
Consider whether this is a key feature for you, and what the potential benefits are, especially if you’re new to operating an inverter.
5. Environmental Compliance
Some generators are incompatible with local, state, or federal regulations regarding emissions and other environmental considerations.
For example, some generators may not ship to California because of emissions certification requirements.
Other generators may lack USDA-approved spark arrestors or other safety or environmental features.
To ensure you receive a unit that is rated safe and legal, be sure to read the fine print and ask the manufacturer for documentation if anything is unclear.
Using a generator inverter without the proper certifications can result in a citation, and you may even accidentally start a fire (or worse) with a device that malfunctions.
6. Parallel Compatibility
Most inverters can run parallel with another unit from the same class. However, not all units are compatible, and not every unit comes with the cables or other items necessary to run a parallel system.
Also, in some cases, using two generators in a parallel configuration may cost more than purchasing a higher wattage unit, to begin with. Decide which you prefer and factor in the costs and convenience for both options.
7. Indicators and Lights
Not all inverters have indicator lights or displays which show wattage, and even fewer have fuel gauges.
Many units have run time indicators, but many others don’t. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider which features are must-haves before you purchase a unit.
8. Decibel Level
It’s common to see the abbreviation dBA in terms of the noise level in a generator, but what does it mean?
dBA stands for decibels, which are, of course, a measure of sound. According to Purdue University, breathing involves a decibel level of about 10, which is barely audible.
A quiet suburb with conversation in a home is about 50 dBA, which means a generator with a rating between 50 and 60 dBA is fairly quiet. Anything over that level may sound annoying, but a typical generator will come in far over that level.
And in terms of what noise levels are acceptable in various locations, state parks may ban generators entirely or make rules about upper decibel limits.
Of course, the lower the better, but if you plan to use your inverter on private property, you may opt to sacrifice a few decibels for other features.
7 Best Quiet Generator Reviews (2022 Testing Results)
1. WEN 56203i Super Quiet 2000-Watt Generator (Quietest Portable)
WEN’s Super Quiet generators promise to deliver high power with a low noise level in a portable package that’s rated safe to use with electronic devices and more.
With a decibel rating of 51, WEN’s generator is as quiet as a window AC unit or an average-volume conversation.
But that’s not the only plus: these generators are also rated safe for laptops, cellphones, tablets, and other electronics that tend to be vulnerable to overloading.
An ultra-efficient fuel tank offers over five hours of power at half-load, and there is also an Eco-Mode Throttle to save gasoline.
The feature allows the generator to detect when items are plugged or unplugged, allowing it to manage fuel consumption accordingly.
Low-oil and low-fuel settings mean automatic shutoff for safety, and indicator lights keep you updated on what’s happening.
Plus, if you need more power, you can link up two WEN generators with a separate connection kit to share wattage.
Oil changes are a regular occurrence with this small but mighty unit (about every 25 hours), and you’ll also want to remove the gas if you’re going to let it sit for any amount of time.
However, that might be difficult, as when you shut these generators off, it automatically closes the fuel line, thus trapping fuel in the carburetor if there was any still circulating.
The quietest mode is, of course, the eco mode, but the noise level is relatively low even when you’re throttling on full power.
- Parallel connection function
- Includes USB ports
- Eco-Mode adjusts to conserve fuel
- USDA-approved spark arrestor
- Low fuel tank capacity limits usage without refueling
- Fuel draining issues
2. Honda EU3000iS Generator
Clean inverter power plus a noise level that’s low enough to sustain a regular conversation nearby, Honda’s EU3000iS has everything you need for long-lasting generator power.
With a quiet range of 49 – 58 decibels, Honda’s EU3000iS might just be the envy of your neighbors or anyone whose generators prevent them from having a conversation at a regular volume.
Not only does this unit produce a substantially lower noise level than a typical generator, but it also sips fuel while other generators guzzle it.
An eco-throttle mode helps ration the fuel, but even running at full power, you can expect great ‘mileage’ out of these generators.
It starts with a quick pull and offers a reliable and safe power source for your home or campsite.
It is a hefty generator, however, weighing in at well over 150 pounds with fuel onboard.
Despite its small size, you will want to consider the weight before any other factor if you’re planning to move the generator frequently or use it on the move, then you’ll be happy to know that it’s RV ready.
One frustrating aspect of this generator is it ships without oil. Therefore, to get it started upon arrival, you’ll need to have oil on hand.
You may also want to have tools on hand to ensure everything is in its proper place before attempting to start the inverter up.
In addition to oil (and potentially a couple of tools), you will also want to track down a 12V charger cable for charging external batteries as it’s not included with the inverter.
- Operates at 49 to 58 dB
- Up to 20 hours on 3.4 gallons of fuel
- Auto shutoff when oil is low
- 2800 Watts
- AC outlets only (no USB)
- Electronics-safe inverter power
- Low dBA output
- Fuel efficient
- Weighs in at nearly 200 pounds (with fuel)
- Ships without oil
- No USB outlets
3. Yamaha EF2000iSv2 Portable Inverter Generator
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Yamaha packs the features of larger generators into a small and portable unit that operates as quietly as any other in its class. The EF2000iSv2 has smart features that help make operation easier and more efficient.
Lightweight and compact, Yamaha’s EF2000iSv2 is one of the smallest portable generators available. But although it’s small, it has a long run time and is exceptionally fuel-efficient via the Smart Throttle.
Smart Throttle is a load-sensing RPM control that adjusts the engine speed based on the load. You’ll save fuel with this feature, but it also helps reduce the noise level when operating at lower speeds.
At ¼ rated load, you can expect about 10.5 hours of run time, an impressive stat for such a small generator. You can also use the generator’s parallel function to team it up with a second generator from Yamaha (cables are not included).
As far as the noise level, the generator ranges between 51.5 dBA to 61 dBA, neither of which is terribly loud. The generator also has rubber vibration isolation feet, which Yamaha notes also helps reduce the noise level and keep things running smoothly.
And when it’s time to stow the generator away, the gasoline petcock comes in handy. The feature allows you to cut off gasoline to the carburetor for storage, ensuring there won’t be any buildup when you break it out again for the next use. It’s carb compliant too.
You may find it’s necessary to change (or add to) the oil often, partly due to the oil reservoir’s small size. Overall, however, it’s a minor drawback.
- 1600-Watt power output
- Muffler with USFS-approved spark arrestor
- 51 dBA
- Smart Throttle varied engine speed
- CARB Compliant
- Fuel gauge
- Gasoline petcock
- Oil Watch Warning system
- Three-year warranty
- Fuel efficient with the smart throttle
- Easily visible fuel gauge
- Gasoline petcock for storage
- Consumes a lot of oil (and oil reserve is small)
4. Atima AY2000i
A handy generator that’s truly portable, Atima’s AY2000i is powered by a Yamaha engine and shares the same fuel-efficient capacities as the renowned Powersports company. The super-quiet noise level is also comparable to similarly equipped generators.
At around 50 pounds, the Atima AY2000i is one of the manageable portable generators with one key feature: it’s powered by a Yamaha engine.
However you feel about brand names, Yamaha has a great reputation for its generators, so it’s safe to say you can expect high performance from this unit.
And although it’s lightweight by generator standards, one end has a set of wheels for maneuverability. Its shape is a bit bulky, but overall, this generator is a lot trimmer than many other inverter options and a bit nicer to look at, too.
An LCD display helps add to the overall appearance, and the aluminum styling blends in nicely wherever you opt to use the generator.
The integrated wheels are handy for moving it around, but the narrow profile means you can likely lug it by the handle quite comfortably as well.
With the innovative design, however, you might expect more features, such as a fuel gauge or other indicators. But there are none; apart from the aluminum casing and flashy paint job, there isn’t much that’s very modern about this inverter.
This carb-compliant generator does the job and does it quietly, but it still starts with a pull-cord and requires you to track hours of operation to get an idea of the fuel consumption.
- Yamaha engine
- CARB Compliant
- Two-year support
- Smart Throttle varied engine speed
- One-gallon fuel capacity
- 3-hour run time at ¼ load
- 51 dBA to 61 dBA
- 1600-Watt power output
- Easy to move (wheels)
- Smart Throttle for fuel efficiency
- No fuel gauge
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5. Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200
A handy inverter generator with a light overall weight and reasonable sound production, the Briggs & Stratton 30651 P2200 Inverter Generator packs plenty of power into a small package.
With a computer-controlled engine, Briggs & Stratton’s inverter generators maintain an efficient and consistent power source that’s also quiet.
It offers 1700 Watts of power and is easy to use and transport at a lightweight of just over 55 pounds.
Carrying handles are a helpful feature on this model, but it’s the lighter weight that’s most helpful for maneuverability.
In terms of drawbacks, there is one potential pitfall of this model: it won’t ship to customers in California. Unfortunately, this Briggs & Stratton inverter generator won’t pass emissions rules for the state, and the company hasn’t yet created a California-compliant option.
And although the decibel output is relatively low, it’s not one of the quietest generators available. But in terms of sticking to a budget, Briggs & Stratton might be the ideal solution—as long as you don’t live in California.
An eight-hour run time (at 25 loads) means you’ll have plenty of power for most needs throughout the day without running low on fuel.
There is no eco mode, however, so you have little control over the fuel consumption apart from powering down appliances.
For a handy and easy to run generator option that’s reasonably quiet, the 30651 P2200 portable generators are one of our best choices.
- 1700 running Watts
- 1-gallon fuel tank
- Parallel connector port
- 59 dBA operating volume
- 2 120V outlets
- 12V-5A DC outlet with USB adapter
- 24-month warranty
- Multiple outlets and parallel connector port
- Maneuverable (with handles) and lightweight
- USB compatible
- Does not ship to California
- Lower running Watts
6. Generac 6866 iQ2000 Generator
Generac’s 6866 iQ2000 operates at three separate levels with varying noise levels, giving you the ability to customize the output to suit a range of needs.
Three modes of operation ensure you can achieve the lowest noise level possible depending on your power needs with the Generac 6866 iQ2000.
The PowerDial allows you to start the generator up quickly while a rocker switch toggles between the three settings.
The light-up display shows how much wattage the generator is producing so you can determine the right setting and what you can plugin. A run-time remaining display helps you gauge fuel remaining and plan accordingly.
The display features are handy for keeping track of output and fuel reserves, and these are also two features we don’t often see on portable generators.
And at just under 50 pounds, Generac’s quiet generator is a handy option, too. The top handle helps with maneuverability and it’s lighter than most other inverter generators on the market.
One drawback to note is the machine’s requirement for pure fuel; it appears that low-quality gasoline causes issues with the engine. To avoid corrosion and rough operation, aim to use high-quality gas if possible.
A specific decibel rating is missing from the manufacturer’s outline, but this Generac model likely won’t disturb the average person engaging in conversation, which is a plus in terms of keeping the noise level to a minimum.
And of course, the lower level outputs produce less noise, which is ideal for running the generator at night when you only need an appliance such as a fan or a small AC unit.
- 06-gallon fuel capacity
- PowerDial functions
- PowerBar wattage display
- 7 hours run time at 25 load
- Parallel kit available (not included)
- Economy, Standard, and Turbo modes
- 1600-Watt output
- 53 dBA
- PowerBar shows wattage produced
- Adjustable engine speed helps cut down the noise level
- Time until empty indicator
- Appears sensitive; low-quality gasoline causes issues
7. Champion 4000-Watt DH Series Open Frame Inverter
An open-frame style generator that’s 50 percent quieter than Champion’s standard model, the DH Series offers a 17-hour run time and plenty of clean electricity for your household electronics (and more).
Not only is Champion’s DH Series inverter quieter than its predecessor, but it’s also 20 percent lighter. The open frame means it’s easy to handle and cuts some of the bulk off other generators.
The unit utilizes Quiet Technology digital inverter components and offers Clean Power with low THD.
It arrives fully assembled (just add gas and oil), and the Quick Touch Panel makes adjustments simple.
There’s also Cold Start tech to ensure you have power when you need it, regardless of the environmental conditions, and a 2.9-gallon fuel tank means plenty of run time, too.
The 64-dBA noise level is only a bit louder than a regular speech from about 23 feet away, meaning it’s substantially quieter than Champion’s other offerings.
Economy Mode offers an even quieter operation with power consumption monitoring to adjust the output depending on what you connect or disconnect.
Overall, for its handy size and ample fuel tank, the Champion DH Series open-frame unit is a great choice for remote power that lasts.
Of course, it’s a bit louder than fully enclosed models, but the trade-off is lighter weight and better portability.
- Economy Mode to save fuel and extend engine life
- 64 dBA
- Up to 17 hours run time on 3500 running watts
- 120V 30A RV and two 120V 20A household outlets and 12V DC outlet with dual USB adapter
- Parallel ready with an optional Parallel Kit
- Three-year warranty
- Lifetime technical support from Champion
- Lighter weight than an enclosed inverter
- Ample fuel tank capacity
- Maneuverable thanks to the lightweight frame
- Economy Mode with fuel-saving capabilities
- Slightly louder than fully-enclosed generators
Below we answer the most common questions consumers have about generators that operate quietly.
1. Can You Get a Quiet Generator?
The question of whether you can get a quiet power generator is a difficult one to answer. There are no completely silent generators, so all will have some kind of noise level.
But while a certain decibel level may be comfortable for one person, it might be too loud for another.
Most of the generators listed here are “quiet,” but the sound is all relative, and for some people, they will still seem “loud” unless they’re far away from where you live or work.
2. How to Quiet Generator Noise?
Although the inverters here all have a lower decibel level than standard generators, you can achieve further sound dampening through a few innovations.
First, you can insulate generators (be careful not to block airflow), turn the unit away from where you’ll be spending time, or even put it inside a small building or shed if it will be a permanent or semi-permanent fixture.
Sound deadening materials can help insulate against noise and might also help protect generators from the weather or other outdoor damage.
3. Where to Buy a Quiet Generator?
You can often find generators for sale in home improvement and hardware stores, but in certain seasons, these tend to be unavailable or come with a higher price tag. You may also notice a slim selection of generators for sale.
Therefore, shopping online can help you not only get the inverter that fits your needs, but a decent deal to suit your budget as well.
4. How to Quiet a Gas Generator?
Unfortunately, there’s no effective way to cut all of the noise that a generator produces. However, today’s generator inverters sip gas instead of guzzling it, resulting in better efficiency and lowered noise levels.
Plus, cycling features ensure you’re only consuming the power you need while the inverter accommodates for dips or spikes in wattage.
- Also Read: Generac IX2000 Generator Review
While there’s no such thing as a truly silent generator, today’s technology has made it possible to achieve very low noise levels while generating plenty of power.
Whether you need to run an AC unit or power an entire RV or home, there’s a quiet outdoor generator to do the job without all the noise pollution.
And the best part is, the relative quiet isn’t the only benefit of these portable and energy-efficient generators. There are plenty of helpful features that make generating power easy and even enjoyable.