Top 10 Best Quiet Portable Generators
Portable power generators are small and compact power generators which convert chemical energy of the fuel into the electric energy using small internal combustion engines. Internal combustion engines can be rather noisy, which is main concern of future owners.
But, thanks to the advanced mufflers' designs, sound insulation and new designs, portable generators can be almost 'whisper quiet', especially at lower power settings. And since they rely on chemical energy of the fuel (gas, propane, diesel), they can operate day and night, unlike solar and wind generators that depend on the sun or wind.
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Quiet Portable Generators Intro
When looking for a new portable generator, there are few important details to pay attention to, including:
Noise level: Obviously, if one looks for 'quiet' portable power generator, noise level is of utmost importance. Quiet power generators are intended for camping, RVs, for emergencies and similar situations and are located very near people and any additional noise my increase discomfort level and stress.
When checking noise levels, be sure to check actual noise level (given in 'dB' or 'dBA' - dBA levels are weighted noise levels according to the noise weighting curves to approximate the way the human ear hears), but also at what distance (given in feet, yards or meters) and at what exact power level. Power levels are very important since required output power dictate how much fuel will generator consume and the more fuel is used, the louder the power generator is.
Noise scale is not linear, it is logarithmic, but to get the idea of noise levels, average noise levels of few common sounds/activities:
- leaves rustling, soft music, whisper: ~30 dB
- average home noise: ~40 dB
- normal conversation, background music: ~60dB
- office noise, car cabin noise at 60 mph: ~70 dB
Anything above 85 dB may be harmful.
On average, power generator below 50dB is excellent, below 60 dB is quiet, below 70 dB loud, but perhaps acceptable depending on the power levels and circumstances, while anything above 70 dB is IMHO too much noise for anything but large industrial power generators.
Type of Engine: Portable generators use two-stroke and four-stroke engines. Two stroke engines are simpler and require less maintenance (at least in theory), while four stroke engines are generally more fuel efficient. Size of the engine is usually given in cubic centimeters (cc or ccm), rarely in cubic inches or liters.
Type of Fuel: Most portable generators run on gasoline, but there are also 'dual fuel' and 'tri fuel' power generators that can also operate using Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) and/or Natural Gas (NG) - multiple power sources may come very useful in emergencies when one or two fuel types isn't readily available.
Larger power generators mostly use diesel fuel, because of the better fuel efficiency, but they are also heavier and noisier.
Type of oil: internal combustion engines are lubricated with the oil stored in onboard tank and it must be replaced periodically. In order to prevent any damage to the engine when oil level drops, some units are equipped with automatic engine shut-off feature. Always use oil recommended by the manufacturer and be sure to check oil levels periodically and to change it when time comes.
Each power generator comes with the maintenance table/chart, listing most important maintenance tasks and their interval.
Fuel Tank and Operating Time: Fuel tank capacity is given in gallons or liters - the larger the fuel tank, the longer operating time. However, be sure to also note power levels - it is not the same if the power generator is running at 25%, 50% or 80% of maximum output power.
Fire Hazard: Gasoline, engine oil, propane, natural gas, strong currents, high voltages ... all these are ingredients for a 'proper' disaster, so whatever you do with your power generator, be sure to act professionally and with respect toward your gear - for short, stay safe. In order to prevent potential disaster, it is highly recommended and in some countries even mandatory to have one or more fire extinguishers when operating power generators.
Modern home fire extinguishers are easy to use and have quick reaction time (pull the pin out, point it toward the fire and press the button/handle).
Mandatory or not, when purchasing power generator, get at least two home fire extinguisher. Why two of them? Well, try one in calm and orderly conditions - it may be very helpful if something goes wrong one day with your power generator or with something else. Again, better be safe than sorry ...
Output Power: Most power generators feature nominal power (constant output power) and surge power (maximum output power for a short period of time) and are given in watts (W) or kilowatts (kW).
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) value: power generators in theory feature 'pure sine' output, but in real life output is not 'pure sine' for many reasons. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) value measures how close power output is close to the theoretical 'pure sine' - THD of 3% or less is considered good enough, even for more sensitive electronics.
Power Outlets: most common power outlets are 120 AC power (usually given with the maximum current value in Amps), 12V DC outlet, and USB power outlets.
Parallel Connections: some power generators can be connected in parallel in order to share both output power and their external load. In order to be connected in parallel, some generators require special parallel kits, while other may be connected directly.
Remote Control: some power generators come with Bluetooth and/or WiFi connectivity, allowing the users to control and monitor them using smartphones and tablets. This is great option, since power generators must be kept outside due to the fumes.
Physical Dimensions and Weight: physical dimensions (L x W x H) is usually given in inches and centimeters, while the weight is given in pounds and kilograms - these values are important because many people have limited storage areas and sometimes inches (or centimeters) are important. Also, in certain applications, weight limits are important as well.
Construction: There are generally two types of power generators - fully enclosed power generators and open frame power generators. Fully enclosed units are usually smaller units with extra low noise levels, while larger units are usually open frame units, with an easy access to individual components. However, even large units may come with enclosure kits in order to reduce the noise even further. Larger and heavier units may even come with a pair of wheels for easier transportation from one place to another.
EPA/CARB compliant: if the power generator is both fully EPA and CARB compliant, it means that it can be legally used without any specific permits in whichever state user lives.
First Start: before the very first start, be sure to thoroughly read the manual and to go through start up check list. Also, if you are unsure about electric connections, ask a professional electrician to help you with the setup, at least the first time your power generator is being used. Better safe than sorry.
There are many other little details that one should check, but these are the most important ones.
When picking the best quiet portable generator for yourself, take into account your own needs and requirements.
Portable Generators Up To 2000 Watts
Power generators with nominal power of up to 2000 watts are smallish and compact, suitcase sized units, being usually powered by singe cylinder engines in 70-80 cc range.
All required components are kept inside the enclosure, keeping the noise rather low, especially at lower power ranges. However, as the power is increased, so is the noise.
These are simple to use and maintain units, but in order to operate flawlessly, they also must be maintained properly.
A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
A-iPower SUA2000iV features nominal output power of 1600 watts, with peak/surge power of 2000 watts.
Its 1.1 gallon (4.2 liters) fuel tank ensures long operating time without refuling of up to 4 hours at 100% load and up to 7 hours on 50% load. Recommended engine oil is SAE 10W-30 with oil capacity of 0.4 quarts (0.38 liters).
Unit is EPA/CARB compliant and may be shipped to all 50 states. Also, A-iPower SUA2000iV is 'Parallel Ready' portable generator, requiring only cables that come with the generator by default - one just need another generator.
A-iPower SUA2000iV is powered by 79cc engine, and it weighs only 46 pounds (~21 kg), with physical dimensions of 21 x 12.5 x 19 inches (~53.3 x 32 x 48.3 cm).
According to the manufacturer, noise levels are:
- 58 dBA: 50% load, 21 feet (6.4 m),
- 68 dBA: 75% load, 21 feet (6.4 m),
which is rather quiet, at least when not loaded fully.
Power outlets include: parallel ready ports (cables included), 12V multifunction port (with 12VDC adaptor plug/USB ready), 120V 20A 5-20R port, 120V 30A L5-30R port (adaptor included).
Additional features include output indicator, low oil alarm, overload alert, low oil automatic shutdown, easy to read fuel gauge, 2 year non-commercial and 1 year commercial warranty, etc.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check A-iPower SUA2000iV Super Quiet 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT is another compact and lightweight, low-noise portable generator.
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT features nominal power of 1800 watts and peak power of 2200 watts.
It is gas powered unit (79 cc engine), weighing only 43 pounds (~19.5 kg) and physical dimensions of (L x W x H) of 20 x 12.5 x 18 inches (~51 x 32 x 46 cm). Also, it features two 120V AC 20 Amps 5-20R outlets and one 12V DC output.
Unit also features indicator lights for low oil, overload and output ready, with automatic low-oil engine shutdown.
THD levels are under 3%, making it safe for electronics.
Gas tank of 1.3 gallons (4.9 liters) ensures up to 13 hours of operation at 25% load. Recommended oil is 15W-40, with oil tank capacity of 400 ml.
Noise level is 52 dBA at 25% load (distance?).
Westinghouse WH2200iXLT is parallel ready, it just need additional cables for parallel connection.
Also, unit is EPA/CARB compliant and it comes with 3-year limited warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Westinghouse WH2200iXLT Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Generac 7117 GP2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
Unit is powered by 80cc engine and it comes with 1.2 gallons (4.5 liters) fuel tank, allowing up to 10.75 hours of run time at 25% load and 7 hours at 50% load. Oil capacity is 0.35 liters, with recommended oil 10W-30.
Indicator LED status lights alerts the user on low-oil, overload and power ready events. Also, it comes with automatic low-oil engine shutdown feature.
Generac 7117 GP2200i is parallel ready generator, but it requires additional parallel kit Model 7118, which is sold separately.
Power outlets include two 120 V 5-20R ports, 12V DC port, and USB charging (5V/1.5A) port.
Generac 7117 GP2200i weighs 46.6 pounds (~21 kg), with physical dimensions of (L x W x H) 19.7 x 11.4 x 17.9 inches (50 x 29 x 45.4 cm).
Generac 7117 GP2200i comes with 2 year limited residential and 1 year commercial warranty.
Manufacturer doesn't state exact noise levels of this model, but at lower loads it is around 60 dB. At higher loads, noise is increased, despite fully enclosed body.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Generac 7117 GP2200i Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Briggs & Stratton P2200 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator
Briggs & Stratton P2200 comes with 1 gallon fuel tank, enabling the unit to operate at 25% load up to 8 hours. Unit is powered by 111cc engine, featuring low-oil automatic shutdown. Unit weighs 54.6 pounds (~24.8 kg) with physical dimensions of 21 x 12.5 x 17.35 inches (~53.3 x 32 x 44 cm).
THC levels are less than 3%, making it suitable for powering sensitive electronic devices.
Noise level is 59 dB at 25% load at 21 feet (6.4 m) distance.
Output ports include two 120V household ports, one 12V 5A DC outlet with USB adapter.
Briggs & Stratton P2200 is parallel ready unit, requiring additional parallel kit.
Unit comes with 2 year limited residential and 1 year limited consumer warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Briggs & Stratton P2200 PowerSmart Series Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Portable Generators Between 2000 And 5000 Watts
This category contains larger and more powerful models, used for powering various types of loads at home, in RVs, on camping/fishing trips, in emergencies and similar.
With bigger engines and larger output powers, noise is increased as well. However, some models are still rather quiet, but perhaps not 'whisper quiet' any more ...
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
Unit features one cylinder, four stroke 192cc air cooled engine, electric (battery included) and recoil start, low-oil automatic shut-off, nominal power of 3100 watts and maximum surge power of 3400 watts when powered by gasoline and 2790/3060 watts when powered by propane.
Fuel tank capacity is 1.6 gallons, allowing the unit to operate up to 7.5 hours at 25% load. Also, 20 pounds propane tank allows the unit to operate up to 14.5 hours at 25% load.
Oil capacity is 0.6 quarts (0.54 liters), with recommended 10W-30 oil.
As it label suggest, Champion 3400-Watt power generator may be powered by gasoline or propane gas.
Noise level is very acceptable 59 dB at 23 feet (7 m).
Output power features less than 3% THD and may be used for powering sensitive electronics too.
Output ports include 20V 30A RV port, two 120V 20A household outlets and 12V DC port with dual USB adapter for charging smartphones and tablets.
Champion 3400-Watt weighs 95.7 pounds (~43.4 kg) and comes with a pair of transport wheels.
Also, unit may be connected in parallel using additional parallel connection kit.
Unit comes with 3-year limited warranty. It is also EPA/CARB compliant.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Westinghouse iGen4500DF Dual Fuel Portable Inverter Generator
Westinghouse iGen4500DF is another dual fuel portable power generator featuring nominal power of 3700 watts and maximum surge power of 4500 watts when being powered by gasoline and 3350 running watts and 4050 peak watts when being powered by propane.
Fuel change can be done 'on the fly' with no need to shut off the engine while switching among the fuels.
Onboard gasoline tank capacity is 3.4 gallons (12.9 liters), ensuring 18 hours of operation at 25% load. Oil tank capacity is 0.6 quarts (0.54 liters) with recommended SAE 10W-30 oil - unit comes with low-oil automatic shut off protection.
Westinghouse iGen4500DF features electric start via button or remote control with maximum reach of almost 100 meters (109 yards!). Also, it comes with output ready indicator, overload indicator and overload protection.
Unit features TT-30R RV outlet, and with 3350+ watts, it is strong enough to power almost everything in most RVs. Other ports include 2 120V outlets and 2 USB ports.
LED data center displays all relevant data, including remaining run time, power output, fuel level, voltage and lifetime run hours.
At less than 3% THD, the iGen4500DF is suitable for powering sensitive electronics, including TVs, laptops, tablets and similar.
Westinghouse iGen4500DF is NOT parallel ready power generator, but with 3+ kW of output power, it is strong enough for most RVs, camping sites, homes (in emergencies), etc.
Unit weighs 98 pounds (~44.4 kg) and features a pair of transport wheels, with physical dimensions of (L x W x H) 24.5 x 17.5 x 20 inches (62.2 x 44.5 x 50.8 inches).
Noise level is 52 dBA - manufacturer doesn't state power level and distance, but thanks to the enclosed construction, noise levels are rather low considering the output power.
Westinghouse iGen4500DF comes with 1-year commercial and 3-year residential warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Westinghouse iGen4500DF Dual Fuel Portable Inverter GeneratorAmazon link (link opens in the new window).
Generac GP3000i Super Quiet Inverter Generator
Gasoline tank features capacity of 1.06 gallons (4 liters), while oil tank capacity is 0.6 quarts (0.54 liters), with recommended oil SAE 10W-30.
According to the manufacturer, operating time at 25% load is 5.8 hours and 4.5 hours at 50% load.
Unit is parallel ready, but it requires Inverter Parallel Kit, which is sold separately.
This is rather compact unit, with physical dimensions of (L x W x H) 22.2 x 13.3 x 18.4 inches (56.5 x 33.9 x 46.7 inches) and weight of 59.5 pounds (~27 kg).
Output ports include one Duplex 120V 20A 5-20R port, one 120V 30A L5-30R twist lock port, two USB ports (5V/2.1A, 5V/1A).
Additionally, Generac GP3000i comes with indicator lights for low oil, overload and power ready events. Also, unit feature automatic shutdown in the case of low oil event in order to protect the engine.
THD level is below 3%, making this unit suitable for powering sensitive electronics like TVs, laptops and similar.
Noise levels - well, manufacturer doesn't state actual noise levels (with power level and distance), but most of the users are quite happy how silent it is.
Generac GP3000i comes with 3-year limited residential warranty and 1-year commercial warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Generac GP3000i Super Quiet Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
DuroMax XP4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator
DuroMax XP4000S is powered by 208cc 7HP engine, and features 3300 running watts and 4000 starting watts.
Gasoline tank capacity is respectable 3.96 gallons (15 liters), allowing the unit to operate at 50% load for up to 12.3 hours (practically - half a day). Oil tank capacity is 0.6 liters.
Unit is EPA/CARB compatible and approved in all 50 states.
Physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 24 x 17 x 17 inches (~61x 43.2 x 43.2 cm) and it weighs 105 pounds (~47.6 kg) with an empty tank.
Engine features automatic low-oil shutdown system, while power outlets include two 120V household outlets and one 120V 30A twist lock outlet.
Noise level is 69 dB, but the manufacturer doesn't state the distance and the power load.
Considering its strength and other features, DuroMax XP4000S is rather affordable portable generator.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check DuroMax XP4000S Gas Powered Portable Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Well, we said 'Top 10' quiet portable generators, but we had to add Honda EU3000IS. The only reason is that it didn't fit 'Top 10' was its price. But, if you need a good and reliable quiet power generator and you don't mind paying little bit more, consider this model.
Honda EU3000IS Gas Powered Portable Generator
Honda EU3000IS features fuel tank of 3.4 gallons (~12.9 liters) allowing it to operate from 7.2 to 20 hours, depending on the load (20h at 25% load).
Thanks to the enclosed design, noise levels are very low, and range between 49 to 58 dB - 50 dB at 25% load, but the manufacturer doesn't specify the distance.
Unit is powered by 196cc Honda GX200 engine, and features 2800 running watts and 3000 surge watts. Also, unit is parallel ready and it requires just a pair of cables for connection with another Honda EU3000iS.
Power outlets include 20A 125V Duplex, 30A 125V Locking Plug and 12V DC 12A.
Starting system is recoil and electric. Note: when the unit arrives, be sure to read the manual thoroughly, including the charging of the onboard battery :)
Physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 25.9 x 17.6 x 22.0 inches (~65.8 x 44.7 x 55.9 cm) and it weighs 131 pounds (~59.4 kg).
Honda EU3000IS comes with 3-year limited warranty for both commercial and residential applications.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Honda EU3000IS Gas Powered Portable Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Portable Generators 5000+ Watts
5000+ watts portable power generators are large, heavy and robust units that are able to power much more than a trailer, RV and similar.
However, due to the increased power outputs, these units tend to be more expensive and to create more noise.
DuroMax XP10000E Gas Powered Portable Generator
DuroMax XP10000E is powered by 18HP 440cc engine, featuring 8000 running watts (8 kW) and 10000 starting watts (10 kW) - and that is a lot of power.
Unit is EPA/CARB compliant and approved for use in all 50 states.
Fuel tank capacity is 8.3 gallons, ensuring runtime of 10.4 hours at 50% load. Oil capacity is 37 fl. oz. (1.1 liters), with SAE 10W-30 oil being recommended.
Note: DuroMax XP10000E is gas only unit, while DuroMax XP10000EH is dual fuel power generator.
One of very interesting features of this unit is that it can operate at both 120V and 240V or 120V only.
Available ports include one 120/240V 50A heavy duty outlet, one 120/240V 30A twist lock outlet, one 120V 30 twist lock outlet and two 120v 20A household outlets.
Units physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 40 x 29 x 27.5 inches (~101.6 x 73.7 x 70 cm) and it weighs 249 pounds (~112.8 kg) - unit comes with a pair of wheels.
According to the manufacturer, noise levels are below 74 dB, but without stating actual load or distance.
Also, official manufacturer's web site state 3-year limited residential warranty, while some other sites claim 1-year limited residential warranty.
DuroMax XP10000E Gas Powered Portable Generator is not a toy - it is large and powerful unit and before ordering one, be sure to check its actual specifications since there are several very similar models on the market.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check DuroMax XP10000E Gas Powered Portable Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower Inverter Generator
Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 is powered by 306cc engine, and features 5 gallon full tank providing 14 hours of runtime at 25% load. For safety reasons, engine features low-oil automatic shut-off.
Physical dimensions are (L x W x H) 25.53 x 21.12 x 21.43 inches (~64.9 x 53.7 x 54.5 cm) and weighs 128 pounds (~58 kg).
Unit comes with built-in 8 inch (20.3 cm) 'Never Flat' wheels.
Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 comes with four 120V-20A GFCI-protected outlets, two USB outlets and one 120V-240V-30A locking outlet capable of connecting into electrical system via a transfer switch. Also, the use of an RV adapter in the twist lock outlet provides 120V 20.8A (half) of the total available power.
According to the manufacturer, noise levels are 66 dB at 25% load, but the manufacturer doesn't state distance.
Briggs & Stratton 30675 Q6500 features 2 year limited consumer and 1 year limited commercial warranty.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Again, we said 'Top 10' quiet portable generators, but we had to add one more Honda model, in this case Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator.
Again, the only reason is that it didn't fit 'Top 10' was its price. However, if you need a good and powerful portable generator and you don't mind paying little bit more, consider this model.
Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator
Honda Eu7000is is powered by 389cc Honda GX390 EFI engine, featuring advanced fuel injection system for increased fuel efficiency and longer runtime on a singe tank of fuel. Unit features standard recoil and electric starting system.
Fuel tank capacity is 5.1 gallons (19.3 liters), ensuring 18 hours runtime at 25% load.
AC output is 120/240V 7000 starting watts (58.3/29.1A) and 5500 running watts (45.8/22.9A).
Unit doesn't feature 12V DC output, but it comes with 20A 125V GFCI Duplex, 30A 125V Locking Plug and 30A 125/250V Locking Plug.
Physical dimensions of the unit are (L x W x H) 33.4 x 27.6 x 28.4 inches (~84.8 x 70.1 x 72.1 cm) and it weighs 261 pounds (~118 kg) dry.
Noise level is 52 dB at 25% load, but the manufacturer doesn't state the distance - nonetheless, that is very quiet for 1375 watts (25% load), thanks for fully enclosed design.
Honda Eu7000is is parallel ready using parallel connection kit, indicator lights (ready, overload, oil low), folding handle, transport wheels, automatic engine shutdown, i-Monitor display, etc.
Honda Eu7000is comes with 3 year limited warranty for both residential and commercial use.
For more reviews and recommendations, feel free to check Honda Eu7000is Inverter Generator Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
Quiet Portable Generators - Few Final Words
So, which quiet portable generator to buy? Well, it all comes down to individual needs and requirements.
If you are looking for compact, lightweight power generator that will be used for most basic needs in emergencies and perhaps during camping and similar trips, than small suitcase-style fully enclosed units is recommended.
If you like off-the-grid adventures and you need more power, then larger fully enclosed or frame-style unit is required, with features that suits your needs.
And whatever you do, be sure to stay safe and keep the manual close - portable power generators operate reliably only when maintained properly according to the manufacturer's recommendations.