Generators produce some noise depending on the generator types. The noise is unbearable, while others make generator noise low enough that you can converse while it operates.
Currently, there are no U.S noise emission standards binding manufacturers of portable generators. However, some generator noise level regulations prohibit the use of a noisy generator in some residential areas.
According to European Economic Community (EEC) generator noise level regulations, a generator is considered okay if it produced roughly 71 dBA at 50 feet for a low- output rated electrical generator and 73 dBA for a high-output electrical generator.
And with the generators sold widely in a world market, most of the generators sold in the USA market meet the general generator noise level regulations. And you know what, most of the generators sold in the market produce sound emissions below the ECC standards limits.
What are the Generator Noise Level Regulations in Campgrounds?
According to the National Park Service (NPS), generators that exceed 60 dBA at a distance of 50 feet are prohibited.
However, according to a research interview, the sound level meters are rarely used for enforcing the generator noise level regulations.
The 60 dBA at 50 feet noise regulation standard is there for enforcing the use of generators in special events like concerts and weddings where a permit is issued.
Additionally, the generator noise level regulation also prohibits unreasonable noise depending on the location, impact on park users, time of the day, and more.
It’s considered illegal to cause public inconvenience and annoyance when using a generator making an unreasonably loud noise.
Other recreation/park agencies use the same worded noise level regulations.
Portable Generator Noise Regulations in Camping Grounds
Modern portable generators are quieter than the older models, and their noise levels are no longer an issue. However, recreation managers still emphasize the need to provide a more peaceful atmosphere in the camping grounds at night.
The most effective method to control the use of portable generators in campgrounds is educating the campers in campground etiquette and creating ‘quiet hours.’ The hours are primarily between 2200 and 0600 hours. At times they may extend depending on the campsite.
The enforcement of ‘quiet hours’ and the use of modern quieter generators appear to satisfy most campers. There are some cases where the recreational manager can allow more silent generators to operate throughout the night.
But they shut down the models creating excessive noise using the list of generator noise levels allowed in the park, between 60 – 65 dBA at 50 feet.
What is the Noise Level of a Generator?
Generators are classified as portable and standby generators. These two types produced different noise levels depending on size and capacity. And the more the generator is in operation at a go, the louder the noise will be.
Portable generators are quieter than standby generators. Their noise levels range between 50 and 70 decibels. However, the noise level might increase when you connect your load.
Another thing, the noise levels are affected by how powerful the generator is. A generator with a 10-decibel increase is considered 10x more powerful.
That means a generator producing 70 dB is 10x as loud as a generator producing 60 dB. But note, emergency generators might exceed 100 decibels.
That means a standby generator is way loud than a portable model. The generator noise mainly comes from the engine and the exhaust.
That might be why manufacturers of these generators use an enclosure and a large-size muffler to try and reduce the noise level.
How Many Decibels is Considered Quiet for a Generator?
Though generator noise is somehow subjective, I consider a quiet generator less than 60 decibels at 20 feet and a quarter load. That allows you to have a conversation or even a phone call without having to scream.
However, that is not everyone’s quietness. Some people argue that 65 decibels are acceptable for residential and open-air generator use.
Remember, the noise level might increase with an increase in load. If you run the generator at full load, you might want to place it further to reduce the noise level. The far the generator is, the less noisy it is.
What is Acceptable Generator Noise Level?
Generator noise regulations in the U.S. are mainly used to regulate generators in forests and campgrounds. Nothing much is mentioned on what’s permissible in residential or industrial applications.
However, according to the EPA, 24-hour exposure to 70 decibels environmental noise will not cause measurable hearing loss. Likewise, 55 decibels of outdoor noise and 45 dB indoor noise won’t cause any interference and annoyance.
In general, the permissible noise limit for a generator in residential areas is 55 decibels during the day and 45 at night.
The acceptable generator noise level for industrial areas is 75 decibels during the day and 70 decibels at night. Commercially, the adequate level is 65 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night.
When it comes to diesel generators, the acceptable noise level for a model producing up to 1000 KVA of its rated capacity is 75 dBA. It’s also necessary to have an acoustic enclosure.
Are Inverters Quieter than Generators?
Yes. Inverter generators are quieter than conventional generators. They are not only built to provide cleaner power but also operate quietly. Their noise levels range from 42 decibels to 60 decibels. What do they have that makes them quieter?
- Most of these generators are run by 4-stroke engines, which are inherently quiet and at the same time reliable.
- The construction of inverter generators features quality construction and materials designed to protect your investment and help keep operating noise levels low.
- Ultimately, most inverter generators come with an enclosed body, a design that provides exceptional soundproofing.
- There is also the inverter technology itself, which also contributes to sound reduction during operations.
Why is My Generator So Loud?
If your generator is producing a higher noise level compared to what I’ve discussed above or compared to generators of its size, it might be because of one or more of the following reasons:
Affordable price isn’t always the best ideal. At times, it could mean the product is made using inferior quality materials and components.
And in this case, that could be the reason why your generator is loud. The generator might lack features that help reduce sounds, such as an efficient muffler, soundproofing material, and rubber pads.
Another reason your generator might be so loud is the use of an inadequate quality muffler. Most portable generators come with inexpensive dampers, and most buyers never bother to check them.
After some years, it’d be best to get an exhaust replacement to ensure it can handle sound reduction effectively. You can use the perfect muffler for your generator.
When there are loose nuts and bolts, they can increase the noise the generator produces during operation.
When these parts vibrate, they make the steel components make a lot of noise. And when this adds to the operation noise, the intensity of the overall sound increases.
The wrong distance and location can also make your generator to be louder than you’re used to. If you face the exhaust to your tent or house, the generator will be more audible. The same applies when the generator is near your home or your camping tent.
Lastly, there is an engine problem. If your engine has even the tiniest problem, such as a faulty ring or losing a component, it will start to alarm you with louder operation noise.
Such problems aren’t significant enough to stop the generator operation, but they will surely increase its noise.
Can I Make My Generator Quieter to Meet Generator Noise Level Regulations?
Yes, of course! There isn’t much you can do, but you can lower the noise to a few decibels. There are few things that you can try and soundproof your generator. The best part is, you can apply these improvements and tricks at home or the campground. How do you soundproof a noisy generator?
1) Move It Further Away
Placing your generator at a convenient distance away from your home, camp tent, or R.V., something like 20 feet away, can help reduce the amount reaching your ears.
You can get yourself extra-long, heavy-duty extension cords that will allow you to use the generator some distance away from you. However, make sure it’s a secure spot, somewhere you can see it from your tent.
2) Face the Exhaust Pipe Away
Another trick you can try is facing the generator exhaust pipe away from your ears. You can also try facing the open side of the generator engine away since the two parts are the primary source of generator noise.
3) Use a Soft Surface
Soft surfaces can act as sound absorbers. It can take all the vibrations from the generator. If you can find a smooth surface, invest in an anti-vibration mat. It’ll work quite well as it’s designed to offer the same benefits.
4) Use Sound Deflector Panels
The use of sound deflectors is another trick that can help make your generator quieter. And the best part is, it’s a DIY task.
The deflector panels deflect the sound waves to the ground for absorption instead of reflecting them away, thus reducing the generator noise by a few decibels.
You need four 4-feet long and 3-feet tall plywood sheets made from a non-flammable material, with my recommendation being drywall since it’s fire-resistant.
How to set them up: prop the sheets against the generator at an angle enough to allow fresh-cold air in and exhaust fumes out.
5) Use Water as a Muffler Extension
If your generator is still noisy even after the above trick, you can try water as an extension for the generator muffler.
All you need is water in a bucket and a piece of fire-resistant hose. Connect the one end of the hose to the muffler, create a seal, and insert the other end to the bucket.
By doing so, you will be directing the generator noise waves inside the water for silencing.
6) Replace Your Generator Muffler
Today, there are some quiet mufflers designed to make a generator less noisy. Replacing your portable generator with a robust and effective model can help reduce the noise.
And the best part is, replacing a muffler is a simple process. All you need is to open a set of screws on it and screw in the new exhaust replacement.
You should, though, check if the muffler is compatible with your generator. Even though some manufacturers say their models are universal, the screws might not fit well, thus creating another noise source.
While checking for compatibility, consider the muffler size, type, and adapter, not forgetting to check whether it’s threaded or clamped.
7) Place the Generator in an Enclosure
You can improve the soundproofing by placing your generator in a soundproofed enclosure. If you get a suitable unit, you can even reduce the generator noise by half.
You can buy a ready-made generator enclosure or build your own. And you know what, building a soundproof generator enclosure isn’t that hard with basic DIY skills.
You ought to consider, though, using high-quality and heat resistance materials with weather resistance properties. What’s more, the enclosure has to have enough ventilation while keeping the elements out.
Besides this, the structure has to be sturdy enough to withstand heavy storms and in an easily accessible spot, away from the windows, doors, and air vents.
You can read my full article on how to make a generator enclosure here.
Can You Cover a Generator While It Running?
Yes. But in the suitable generator enclosure with the proper ventilation to allow it to breathe. You could also place it in a ventilated shed, somewhere no one can fit it in.
What not to do: never run your generator indoors. The generator runs and produces fumes of carbon dioxide, which are highly toxic and could kill you in minutes. That’s why you must never run the generator in a room anyone can fit in or near your home windows and doors.
What Brand of Generator is the Quietest?
Two or three generator brands produce the quietest models, but Honda has been rated the winner by its users because of its popular Honda E2200i.
The company employs the use of quite-operating and efficient 4-stroke engines. Their generators also feature quality construction and materials that also contribute to the low-noise operation of their generator.
Another thing, Honda Superior Technology, totally enclosed body, and their inverter technology in their inverter generators have made their models quite reliable in producing low-noise power. Their generator noise rating ranges from 42 – 73 decibels.
Is 65 dB Loud for a Generator?
A 68-decibel generator is average – it’s neither loud nor quiet. Such a generator produces a moderate noise level, only three decibels above the accepted level at a campsite. However, I’m assuming the noise level was measures at 20 feet or less.
68-decibel generators are quite common and provide a relatively good balance of power and efficiency. They are an excellent choice for residential and campsite applications.
If you find it loud, you can quickly reduce the noise by using one of the soundproofing techniques discussed here.
Generator Noise Level Regulations – The Wrap
Generator noise level regulations are mainly used for production, export, and import standards. Some countries are pretty strict when it comes to these regulations. However, as a user, you don’t have to worry much. However, if you’re planning to go camping, you have to ensure your generator produces less than 65 decibels at 50 feet. Also, check with your camp manager if there will be ‘quiet hours.