Last updated on October 20th, 2019

Making Your Generator Quiet: Things You Should Know

Generators have a reputation for being loud but there are several measures that you can take to minimize the noise level. Finding a model that is specifically designed to run quietly is one option but even if you have a louder model, there are noise cancelling tactics.

This is a quick guide on how to find a generator that runs as quiet as possible and how to make an especially loud generator less of a nuisance.

Specs Affecting Noise Levels

The products specifications offer you some insight on how loud the engine runs. These are the details to pay attention to when buying a new product.

Generator Type

The technology used and the type of generator is also an indicator of how loud the engine runs. Overall, the machines using inverter technology are the quietest, followed by a home standby unit (especially when it runs on propane) and portable generators being the loudest.

Fuel Type

Certain generator types run far quieter than others but most of it depends on the fuel type. For example, solar powered generators are practically silent which is why this type is recommended for indoor use.

Generators running of fossil fuels are the loudest, although there are some notable differences between the different fuels. Diesel engines make the most noise, followed by gasoline and propane being relatively quiet.

Engine Size

As a general rule, the bigger the engine, the louder it runs which also means that more powerful generators are likely to make more noise than small capacity ones. This is why a heavy duty portable generator of 8000 watts, for example, has a higher decibel rating than a 2000 watt version from the same range.

There are exceptions, though. A home standby model is very powerful but it is fitted with noise cancelling technology so it can be installed very close to the house without it being too noticeable.

There are also inverter hybrids, which have more capacity than the traditional inverters with an open-frame design that makes it more lightweight. These are a good alternative to conventional portable generators if you are concerned about the decibel rating.


There are several design details that manufacturers can include to reduce noise. Examples are mufflers, rubber sound insulation and a sound canceling frame or casing.

However, many manufacturers do not include these aspects in the design since this would also mean that production costs are higher and so the selling price, as well. You then have the option of either buying a more expensive model or adding on such accessories yourself.

Customization for Quieter Running

As mentioned, you can get accessories which are sound canceling when installed properly. However, there are more changes that you can make.

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Adjust the Pipe Positioning

Horizontal facing exhaust pipes are the noisiest because the sound waves head directly towards something. Naturally, generators come with the instructions to place the exhaust facing away from the house or other buildings but your neighbors at home or on the campsite might not appreciate this as much.

The solution is having the exhaust pipes face upwards. The more vertical position means it is also not facing anything directly.

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Add Mufflers

Many portable generators already come with mufflers but if they don’t deliver to your satisfaction you can replace them. Contact the customer service or your nearest hardware store to ask which mufflers would be most compatible.

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Water bucket Trick

This method does not require permanent adjustment but you are changing how it functions. This method channels the noise from the exhaust to a bucket filled with water, the idea being that water is a sound insulator.

To make this work, connect a hose to the exhaust and have the other end drop into a bucket filled with water. Place a small hole where the hose reaches the top of the bucket to prevent any water from entering the exhaust pipes or place the generator at a higher level.

Note that this only reduces the noise from the exhaust pipes and does not reduce the noise caused by vibrations.

How to Reduce Noise Without Customizing

If you prefer avoiding making any changes to the generator itself, there are still ways to muffle the sound. Some of these tips still require some DIY but some are simpler than you think.

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Place Far Away

It is as simple as that. The further away it is, the less chance that you will hear it so make use of longer hoses whenever possible.

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Create an Soundproof Box

Building a box for a generator not only prevents the sound from traveling very far, it can also act as an outdoor storage space for the machine. Browse online for safe materials that can handle the heat and weather conditions and look up tried and trusted designs.

Remember that  fuel-powered generators require enough ventilation to prevent dangerous levels of carbon monoxide  building up. Fireproof insulation material is a good example for this task.

If you would like something less permanent, you can make use of sound canceling partitions that you can move at any time.

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Install Sound Deflectors

Sound deflectors are hard materials that bounce the sound waves to a different direction. In some cases they are used to create a more direct line towards you but in this case you obviously want to set up the deflectors that they move away from your RV or house.

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Place on Rubber

Some of the noise simply comes from the vibrations so having the machine shake less can also lower the decibels. A simple rubber mat under the generator is already enough to reduce the vibrations or shop for a special anti-vibration mat.

Alternatively, buy rubber legs or wrap rubber around the bottom of the frame. Make sure that the material is heat-resistant because these machines can get quite hot.

The best tactic is applying several sound-cancelling methods at the same time. A generator will never be completely silent but these tricks can take away some of the nuisance.

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