Everyone talks about NOISE being the biggest problem when it comes to generators
Is it true though?
So when does a generator considered noisy?
Here are all the answers and a few recommendations based on testing.
If you are hosting a wedding or a party, you want to be able to power all the beautiful lights and music that you need without hearing the loud buzz of a generator. It just ruins the ambiance of the great outdoors.
So, today I’m going to help you figure out how to choose the right type of generator and how to make sure that you’re getting the best deal when you buy one.
How to choose the right type of generator
The type of generator that you need will change depending on what you plan to use it for. Someone who plans to host parties every night will likely need a less intense generator than someone who plans to power their entire house during hurricanes and other weather events.
Conventional generators have a separate alternator and engine, and they also run at full speed no matter what’s attached to them. They tend to be larger and heavier than their inverter generator counterparts. They also tend to be a little more expensive.
Inverter generators are generally designed to create less noise, and only run as fast as they need to to power what is attached to them. This makes them a little more energy efficient and makes them last a little longer if you aren’t using a lot of power.
You can also link multiple inverter generators together to increase their power output, as long as they are the same type of generator. Inverter generators are also easier to carry around, because they tend to be smaller. If you’re looking for a quiet generator, chances are, your best bet is going to be an inverter generator.
How to choose the right size generator
The more things that you have plugged into a generator, the more power it is going to use and the faster it is going to use the fuel inside it. The more you use it, the louder it will be. There’s a direct correlation.
You should also look for a generator with idle control technology, which will allow the generator to idle like your car does when you’re sitting at a stoplight, and use less fuel.
How much power do you need?
There are three common wattage ratings when it comes to inverter generators – 1000 W, 2000 W, and 3000 W plus.
If you aren’t worried about heavy power use, then a 1000 W generator might be enough for you.
However, you want to run more than one appliance at a time, your best bet is going to be getting a generator that is more powerful and can be throttled down whatever power level you need. Check out the short guide below to get a general idea of the power needs that these appliances draw.
General Guide to Appliance Power Needs:
These are just general estimates based on manufacturers power requirements, so make sure to check your own appliances to get the most accurate calculation of your power needs.
Oven: 3,000 watts Microwave: 1,200 watts Laptop: 150 watts Smartphone: 4 watts Portable Fan: 100 watts Water Heater: 500 watts Refrigerator: 1,400 watts
Oven: 3,000 watts
Microwave: 1,200 watts
Laptop: 150 watts
Smartphone: 4 watts
Portable Fan: 100 watts
Water Heater: 500 watts
Refrigerator: 1,400 watts
If you still aren’t sure how much wattage you will need, Honda offers a free wattage calculator to help you figure out how powerful a generator you need.
Key terms to keep in mind
For example, a reading of zero means that it is the lowest level a human ear can possibly hear. A reading of 160 would destroy a humans eardrums. Generators measure their loudness with a-weighted decibels, listed as dBAs. The louder it is, the higher the dBA rating.
So what is the difference between dBA vs dB? dB is the raw basic measurement of sound using SNR (signal to noise ratio). dBA is as explained above.
The watt is a unit of power that measures the rate of energy transfer. It measures the rate energy is generated or consumed. When it comes to generators, the wattage used will go up depending on what is plugged into it.
What do the decibel levels mean?
The decibel numbers on a generator correlate to how loud that generator is. Decibels are a measurement of sound, named after Alexander Graham Bell.
General Practical Guide to Noise Levels
Translating a decibel reading into what something actually sounds like can be pretty difficult. With that in mind, here’s some general readings to help you figure out how loud a rating is. However, you should be aware that these ratings will change depending on how close or far away you are from the source of the sound.
Lawnmower: 90 dBA Normal Conversation: 60 dBA Vacuum Cleaner: 70 dBA Nightclub: 110 dBA Computer: 40 dBA Jet Take Off: 150 dBA Bird calls: 44 dBA Breathing: 10 dBA
Lawnmower: 90 dBA
Normal Conversation: 60 dBA
Vacuum Cleaner: 70 dBA
Nightclub: 110 dBA
Computer: 40 dBA
Jet Take Off: 150 dBA
Bird calls: 44 dBA
Breathing: 10 dBA
What makes a generator so loud?
The engine of a generator is essentially the same as that for a very large lawnmower, while it does the same job of providing power that your electricity normally would. It does this by burning gasoline or other types of fuel, which requires a lot of effort on the engine’s part.
The more power you want it to produce, the louder it’s going to be, simply because of how an engine works. If you wanted to go really fast in a car, it would also be extremely loud.
Best methods to compare generators
When you’re shopping you should always look at the price ranges. When it comes to generators, there is an extent to which you get what you pay for. However price is not always an indicator of quality.
You want to make sure that you are getting a generator that can create the amount of power that you need from it while you’re searching. If you are worried about not having enough power, it’s better to go for a higher wattage than a lower one. Most generators can idle or throttle their output to work for a lower wattage need, but they can’t do more than they’re rated for.
– Fuel Efficiency
Generators run off of fuel – usually either propane, gas or diesel. Because of this, you will have to top it up regularly. You want to pick a generator with a high fuel efficiency, and part of that is because of the type of fuel it uses.
Propane burns the cleanest, but also burns the fastest of the three types of fuel. Gasoline is the most common, and is fairly efficient. Diesel generators are fairly uncommon, but are the most efficient. Keep an eye on the label to see how long it is expected to last with different watt usage.
– Noise Level
Keep an eye on those decibels, people! The higher the number, the louder the generator will be. However, you should also look at the distance that it is measuring the decibel level at.
To make sure that you have an apples to apples comparison, look at the distance that is listed on the label. The larger the distance That the sound is measured at, the lower that will be.
You double that distance you can expect approximately a change of about 6 decibels. If you multiply the distance by 10, you’ll see about a 20 dB drop. However, it’s not an exact science.
You can use this to make sure that you are getting something that is within acceptable noise range for you and the way that you intend to use the generator. Generally, these generators range from 50 to 65 dBA
If you’re looking for a portable generator, you will want to make sure that it is something you are able to carry. Most generators list a product weight on the label, but you’ll need to add the weight of whatever fuel you have in it to that number. Most portable generators range between 35 and 50 pounds on their own. The weight tends to be generally proportional to the wattage level, though not always.
– Estimated runtime
You can check the reviews on various retailers to see the general estimated run time for each generator that you are looking at. Make sure that when you are comparing, you are comparing similar what loads on the generator. A generator running at its full capacity is going to use more fuel than something running only 50 W. This will play into the as well.
– Is It Grounded?
You should look and find out whether The generator you are looking at purchasing comes with its own grounding wire. Grounding is Incredibly important to make sure that surges of energy do not way everything attached to this generator, or the generator itself.
– Starting Method
Some generators start with a button, others start with a recoil similar to many push mowers. Make sure when you are looking for a generator that you are able to use the method that it starts with.
-Exhaust Emissions Certificate
There are three different types of exhaust emissions certificates. One comes from the Environmental Protection Agency, another comes from the California air resources Board, and the third is from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
If you live in the United States, but not in California, you don’t have to have the CARB emission certificate. If you live in Canada, you need to have the CSA certificate. However, the EPA’s Standards are lower than those for CARB or CSA certificates.
Cool Features To Look For:
There are a lot of awesome features that can make your generator a significantly more useful device for you. However, you should make sure that you aren’t just buying it for the cool display or fun new feature. Make sure that these features are actually useful for you, like the ones below.
You should also make sure that the features your generator brags about our stable and work regularly. You don’t want to have to send your generator in for repair every few times you use it because the screen isn’t working properly.
– Electrical Overload Breaker
An electrical overload breaker will make sure that if your generator gets overloaded, it will not fry the circuits on the interior of the generator. It’s similar to a circuit breaker in your house.
– Economy Mode/ Eco-Mode
This is called different things by different companies, but an economy mode or eco-friendly mode allows you to save fuel while running lower levels of wattage through your generator.
– Parallel Connector Port
Having a parallel connector port will allow you to connect another identical generator to your current generator to have even more power at your disposal.
– Sine-Wave Energy Generation
You intend to run electronics like your laptop or your smart phone from your generator, this is an important feature To make sure that you have. Sine wave energy is constant. There are no fluctuations within its generation, which allows sensitive electronics faith while being used.
– LED Display
Some of the fancier generators will have a LED display for the control panel – Showing what power output it has, the current fuel level And it’s estimated remaining runtime.
Simple as this may seem, not all of these generators come with wheels. Wheels are very important if you do not think that you can lift and carry generator that you’re looking at. Many of the heavier generators offer a wheel kit that can be purchased for an additional fee from the manufacturer. If it doesn’t, you might have to place it in that little red wagon that you been keeping in the shed.
How To Compare Warranty’s
One of the other useful ways to compare different generators is to look at the warranty that their company offers. There are two key ways to compare warranties: the length of time they’re active and whether they are limited or not. Make sure that you read the paperwork for your generator thoroughly.
Some home improvement stores offer warranties of their own that can be added on top of the manufacturer’s warranty. This might be worth looking into if you intend to buy in store.
If you are looking online for your generator, you can often find the manual and warranty paperwork as a PDF to read before you buy. This can be a useful tool to compare your different options for a generator.
Most generators offer a warranty that is two or three years long. The longer a warranty, the better, especially if you only use your generator once in a blue moon.
Limited or Unlimited?
Much like a warrantee would get for any other electronic device or vehicle, Different warranties include different things. A limited warranty will generally cover manufacturing issues such as a faulty part on the interior of the engine, but it won’t cover user error issues – or anything they think they can blame on user error.
An unlimited warranty generally means that you can hit it with a car and they’ll still replace it for you if it’s within the time period they cover. These warranties are much more rare than their limited counterparts, but this would be an asset if you do a lot of traveling or intend to use your generator heavily.
You should also look and see whether the warranty is for the use that you will be using it for. Some warranties are only for residential or home use, which is fine if you’re intending to use it for yourself, but others are for commercial use.
If you intend to use this for a commercial business such as a wedding venue or something like that, make sure that you are covered under the warranty for your generator. If a generator is found to be used in an unauthorized way, often this will void the warranty that comes with it.
You should look to see if warranty covers Things that are plugged into your generator as well. This is more likely on an unlimited warranty, but may only cover up to a certain dollar amount.
What to do if your generator is noisy? Throw it away and buy a new one? Or can it be fixed? Are there simple things that can be changed to fix it?
Now that you have chosen your perfect generator, you may be looking for ways to make it even quieter. From home. These can only do so much, though, so make sure you buy something that you think will be an acceptable range of noise.
– Move it further away from where there are people
The simplest way to make your generator less annoying is to move it further away from the people that it is annoying. The closer you are to the sound source, the louder it’s going to be. If you can move the generator, that will help make it more bearable to listen to for long periods of time.
Since you are looking for a quiet generator, you probably went with one of the portable ones. Put that to good use, and move it! Make sure that your extension cords are long enough to make this work, and that you won’t be annoying your neighbors more by moving it closer to their houses.
As mentioned above, doubling the distance that’s you are from the generator will drop about 6 dB from the noise level, and multiplying the distance by 10 will drop about 20 dBA.
– Plug less into it!
The more power that you are requiring from your generator, the louder it is going to be. If the level of sound is a problem, unplug some of the smaller things or one large appliance, and the noise level should go down on an inverter generator.
Depending on how handy you are, there are a few other ways that you can adjust the amount of noise that your generator makes.
You can do this by replacing the muffler with a larger one, by changing the direction of the exhaust pipe, adding a vibration dampening material to the exterior, and building an enclosure.
– Replace the Muffler
Muffler kits tend to start at about $50 apiece, or you can get an automotive muffler, but one of the ways to bring the dB rating down is to install a better muffler.
The larger a muffler that you have, the more it will muffle the sound.
However, this is not a guarantee that it will bring the sound down by a large amount. Make sure before you try this that it will not void the warranty on your generator to add on these aftermarket parts, just in case.
– Add Dampening Material
One of the reasons that generators are so noisy is because they have a lot of moving parts inside them.
This leads to a lot of vibrations that makes a lot of noise. You can add sound dampening materials to the hard surfaces of the exterior of your generator, as long as you make sure not to block the airflow. If you block the airflow of your generator, you run the risk of it overheating and catching on fire.
You can also add anti-vibration mounts underneath the generator – things like rubber mounts dampers and spring mounts can be fitted to anything connected to the generator and will help with the level of sound that comes out.
– Move your exhaust pipe to be vertical
This may seem strange, but, changing the direction of the exhaust pipe on your generator from horizontal to vertical will force the soundwaves to be channeled up into the air rather than out towards you.
Since theses engines are usually the loudest when it comes to exhaust, this will help to make the sound a little bit less obnoxious. You should always make sure that your exhaust is not pointing at your house. It makes a huge difference in the sound level, and also makes it harder for those gases to get into your home.
– Build an enclosure
Building an enclosure will also act as a muffler for the generator. If you build something, make it large enough for air to flow around your generator and make sure that there is some airflow in the building.
Adding an electric fan that will send air flowing across will be helpful in making it run better and avoiding overheating, while also reducing the amount of noise.
This room needs to be vented well so that the exhaust toxins do not build up within the room.
Avoid materials like wood for the floors and interior walls that amplify the vibrations. Using some of the damping material mentioned above would do well, as would acoustic fencing.
You should also make sure that you have easy access to this room to add fuel and to make any needed repairs to the generator without any trouble.