Quiet Generators

Having a powerful generator can make your life easier by giving you the ability to keep your lights on during an outage, to power tools in the furthest reaches of your yard, and to allow you to take the power-hungry comforts of home with you on the road.

But generators are typically noisy, which can generate complaints from the neighbors as well as make it impossible to hold a conversation anywhere near the generator.

Thankfully, you don’t have to live with a generator that hurts your ears. In this article, we’ll review 10 of the best quiet generators to fulfill your portable power needs.

But first, what makes a generator noisy or quiet?

Generator noise is typically measured in dBA at a distance of about 20 feet from the generator. For reference, a typical conversation is around 50 dBA, while yelling is around 60 dBA or more.

But be wary of generator noise ratings. They are often measured under a small power load, which produces less noise than running the generator at full steam.

The most important consideration in figuring out whether a generator is going to be noisy or quiet is whether the generator is a traditional or inverter generator. Inverter generators are typically much quieter because they use microprocessors to control the engine and scale its effort to the amount of power being drawn.

That means inverter generators can have much lower minimum noise outputs compared to traditional generators.

In addition, the type of noise insulation that generators are built with can matter a lot. Some ultra-quiet generators are built with oversized mufflers, while others have a heavy-duty case around the engine to trap noise.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the 10 best quiet generators.

1. WEN 56200i 2,000 Inverter Generator – 51 dBA – EDITOR’S CHOICE

  • Rated Wattage: 1600 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 51 dBA
  • Weight: 48 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 6 hours (50% load)

This quiet and lightweight inverter generator from Wen features an eco-mode that helps you get the most runtime out of your fuel tank. With eco-mode engaged, you can get up to six hours of runtime at 50% load.

With a noise output of just 51 dBA at 25% load, this generator is impressively quiet. Even better, the noise scales only marginally as the load creeps towards 1,600 watts.

Despite offering only 1,600 running watts, the generator isn’t short on outlets. It offers two 120-volt outlets, a 12-volt DC charging port, a port for connecting two generators in parallel, and a USB charging port.

Note that the generator only comes with a two-year warranty, compared to the three-year policy offered on more expensive competitors.

Pros:

  • 51 dBA noise output at 25% load
  • USB charging port
  • Eco-mode for longer runtime
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons:

  • Only two-year warranty
  • Limited to 1,600 running watts

2. Pulsar 2,000 Watt Inverter Generator – 59 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 1600 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 59 dBA
  • Weight: 47 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 8 hours (50% load)

This 2,000-watt generator from Pulsar is one of the louder quiet generators we recommend, but it has a number of other redeeming qualities.

First, this generator sports an eight-hour runtime at 50% load. That means you can get a full day of power out of this generator without needing to stop and refuel.

In addition, it’s extremely lightweight and portable for easy transport to wherever you need power.

Best of all, it is priced for anyone who’s on a budget.

Ideally, this generator is a small secondary unit for applications where quiet and portability are at a premium. That way, the non-premium engine won’t see an excessive amount of use.

Pros:

  • Budget price
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Economy mode for extended runtime
  • USB outlet

Cons:

  • Pulsar engine lacks long-term durability
  • Loud compared to other quiet generators

3. Rockpals 2000 Watt Inverter Generator – 58 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 1800 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 52 dBA
  • Weight: 46 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 6 hours (50% load)

This generator from Rockpals costs a bit more compared to the competition, but it brings a lot of impressive features with it.

First, this generator is EPA- and CARB-certified so it can be bought and used anywhere in the country.

Second, it sports 1,800 running watts to give you enough power to add in an extra appliance or increase your runtime compared to 1,600-watt generators.

The generator is extremely quiet, with just a 52-dBA noise output at 25% load and a maximum 58 dBA output at full power.

The design is somewhat more boxy and less compact than other portable generators, but at just 46 pounds you won’t have any trouble moving it around.

On top of all that, Rockpals offers free lifetime technical support for this generator.

Pros:

  • 1,800 running watts
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Maximum 58 dBA noise output
  • Eco-mode
  • Two USB ports
  • Free lifetime technical support

Cons:

  • Less compact design
  • Only two-year warranty

4. Westinghouse 2200 Inverter Generator – 52 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 1800 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 52 dBA
  • Weight: 43 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 13 hours (25% load)

It’s almost hard to believe how quiet and lightweight this generator is given its power output.

This Westinghouse generator is capable of producing 1,800 watts of continuous power and 2,200 watts of surge power – all the while never exceeding 60 dBA of noise. At a 25% load, it produces just 52 dBA of noise so you’ll hardly even know it’s there.

The generator also weighs a scant 43 pounds and is designed to be stowed away in any small space. It’s EPA- and CARB-certified, so you can use it anywhere in the country.

In addition, Westinghouse provides a three-year warranty on the generator’s engine and parts. However, users report having difficulty getting any help from Westinghouse’s customer service team.

The other downside is that there is no USB port to charge your small electronics without hogging one of the two 120-volt AC outlets.

Pros:

  • 52 dBA at 25% load
  • 2,200 watts of surge power
  • Extremely lightweight and compact
  • Three-year warranty

Cons:

  • No eco-mode to conserve fuel
  • No USB ports
  • Poor customer service

5. Champion 2000 Inverter Generator – 53 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 1700 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 53 dBA
  • Weight: 5 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 5 hours (25% load)

This Champion generated is designed with a stackable frame to allow it to be run in parallel with one or more of the same model. That way, you can increase your available power beyond 1,700 watts.

However, if you don’t plan on buying two or even more models – they’re somewhat pricey – the stacking frame simply makes this generator heavier and less compact.

Another important note about this generator is that the runtime is relatively short, at just 9.5 hours at a 25% load. It also lacks helpful features like USB charging ports.

That said, Champion includes a three-year warranty and free lifetime technical support. If you do plan on connecting generators in parallel, it’s very helpful to have that support.

Pros:

  • Stacking frame for organized parallel operation
  • 53 dBA at 25% load
  • Three-year warranty
  • Free lifetime technical support

Cons:

  • Stacking frame is heavy and less compact
  • Somewhat pricey to buy multiple units
  • Short runtime

6. Champion 3100 Inverter Generator – 58 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 2800 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 58 dBA
  • Weight: 95 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 8 hours (25% load)

This quiet RV-ready generator is capable of producing up to 2,800 continuous watts without producing over 70 dBA of noise. While it’s louder than 2,000-watt generators, the 58 dBA of noise at 25% load is also not so loud as to be a problem in most situations.

The generator is ideal for use with an RV thanks to the built-in 30-amp RV-outlet. Note that while the 120-volt AC outlets and the DC charging outlet have their own circuit breaker reset buttons, resetting the RV outlet requires turning the generator off completely.

The runtime is relatively short as a result of the trade-off between compactness and fuel tank size. That said, there is an eco-mode to help get the most out of your gas tank.

Pros:

  • RV-ready outlet
  • 2,800 continuous watts
  • Circuit breakers on 120-volt and 12-volt outlets
  • Compact and portable, with wheels
  • Three-year warranty
  • Lifetime technical support

Cons:

  • No breaker reset for RV outlet
  • Short runtime
  • No USB charging port
  • Somewhat expensive

7. WEN 3100 Inverter Generator 56310i-RV – 57 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 2800 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 57 dBA
  • Weight: 81 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 5 hours (50% load)

This generator from Wen is a direct competitor to the similarly powerful generator from Champion. But it makes a number of different design choices that offer more versatility.

This generator starts off slightly quieter, putting out 57 dBA at 25% load. Plus, it’s almost 15 pounds lighter and has a more compact body overall.

Importantly, the runtime is significantly longer. The expanded gas tank allows you to run the generator for 7.5 hours at 50% load, compared to less than four hours on the Champion generator.

Wen retained the RV-ready outlet and added two USB charging ports for small electronics. However, there is still no breaker reset button for the RV-ready outlet.

On top of all that, this generator is slightly less expensive than the Champion generator.

The only downside is that the warranty is not as long or as supportive.

Pros:

  • RV-ready outlet
  • 2,800 continuous watts
  • Circuit breakers on 120-volt and 12-volt outlets
  • Two USB ports
  • Compact and portable with wheels

Cons:

  • No breaker reset for RV outlet
  • Only two-year warranty

8. Honda EU3000iS Inverter Generator – 58 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 2800 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 49 dBA
  • Weight: 75 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 20 hours (25% load)

This premium Honda generator doesn’t come cheap – it’s more than twice the cost of similarly powerful competitors.

But if you need a generator for many years to come, there’s simply no substitute for a genuine Honda engine when it comes to reliability and durability.

This generator also excels in a number of performance categories. For example, it sports an incredible 20-hour runtime at a 25% load thanks to a larger 3.4-gallon fuel tank.

In addition, it’s one of the lightest generators in its size class at just 75 pounds.

And more than anything else, it’s quiet. This 3,000-watt generator puts out just 49 dBA of noise at a 25% load – making it quieter even than most 2,000-watt generators.

Pros:

  • Incredibly quiet for its size
  • Long 20-hour runtime
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durable, reliable Honda engine
  • Three-year warranty
  • RV-ready 30-amp outlet

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • No USB ports
  • No wheels for transport

9. Briggs & Stratton 30651 Portable Inverter Generator – 59 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 1700 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 59 dBA
  • Weight: 55 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 8 hours (25% load)

This generator from Briggs & Stratton is relatively quiet and offers the reliability of this reputable company.

However, beyond that it can be difficult to justify the cost of this generator given how its features stack up against the competition.

The generator has an extremely short runtime of just eight hours at a 25% load. The 59-dBA noise output at the same load is less than impressive given that generators from Wen and Rockpals are much quieter.

In addition, it’s relatively heavy for its size at 55 pounds. There are no wheels, so you’ll need to use the H-carry handle to move it around. The main advantage here is that you can carry it with two people.

Also note that this generator is not CARB-certified, so it can’t be bought in California.

 Pros:

  • H-carry handle allows two-person carry
  • Individual breaker resets for each AC outlet
  • Compact

Cons:

  • Relatively heavy for its size
  • Short runtime
  • Loud compared to competitors
  • Not CARB-certified

10. Atima 2000 Inverter Generator SD2000i – 61 dBA

  • Rated Wattage: 1700 watts
  • Noise Level (25% load): 5 dBA
  • Weight: 50 lbs.
  • Estimated Runtime: 3 hours (25% load)

The Atima generator from Yamaha is an intriguing recent addition to the quiet generator lineup.

It comes with a genuine Yamaha engine, which explains the slight price premium. However, the inclusion of a reliable Yamaha engine makes this generator still something of a steal.

In terms of noise, the generator is on par with the best of the competition – it produces 51.5 dBA at 25% load or a maximum of 61 dBA at full load.

While the design of this generator is somewhat unconventional, it’s still lightweight enough for carry at just 50 pounds. The generator’s panel features the standard dual 120-volt AC outlets and 12-volt DC outlet, but there are no USB ports.

The generator comes with a two-year warranty and free lifetime technical support.

Pros:

  • Genuine Yamaha engine
  • Excellent price for premium design and components
  • 5 dBA output at 25% load
  • Free lifetime technical support
  • CARB-certified

Cons:

  • Premium price
  • Only two-year warranty
  • Lesser known brand in US

Frequently Asked Questions

How much wattage do I need?

Wattage and noise go hand in hand. More powerful generators are almost always louder, and the more power you draw from a given generator the louder it will get.

That means that in order to find the quietest generator, you likely want to get the smallest generator that can meet your power needs rather than sizing up to the next power class.

Don’t skimp, though. While you can power inverter generators in parallel to increase your power, doing so every time is a hassle and in most cases will produce more noise than simply having one larger generator.

You can also keep an eye out for premium quiet generators, like models from Honda, that remain extremely quiet even as they offer more power. However, expect these generators to cost quite a bit extra.

 Should I look for circuit breaker resets?

One of the often-overlooked features on generators’ panels are circuit breaker reset buttons. While these resets aren’t strictly necessary, they can save you a significant amount of time and wear and tear on your generator.

The reason is that without breaker resets, you need to turn your generator on and off every time an outlet trips its breaker. Even with inverter generators running at moderate loads, breaker trips are an inevitable part of running a generator.

Do I need USB ports?

Since all of the generators we reviewed are inverter generators, they’re safe to use for charging sensitive electronics like a smartphone.

Whether you need USB ports comes down largely to how you plan to use your generator. If you expect to be charging a phone in addition to powering appliances, having a USB port can help out with keeping your two 120-volt AC ports free to use for other things.

Conclusion

Generators may have a reputation for being loud, but they don’t have to be noisy. Our roundup of the 10 best quiet generators can help you find a quiet generator to keep your home running in an outage or to your next project.

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