The power offered to an RVer by the presence of a generator is priceless, especially for boondockers like us. But not every RV has a working built-in genny. Fortunately, there are lots of portable generators on the market. The question is… are there quiet generators on the market?
In today’s post, we’re looking at the quietest generators on the market today. Because generator noise is not only annoying to the user, it’s also incredibly annoying to anyone nearby.
So, let’s take a look at some high-quality, fuel-efficient portable inverter generators that keep the noise levels down and the power output up!
- 1) Is There Any Such Thing as a Silent Generator?
- 2) What Does “Quiet” Mean Expressed in Decibels?
- 3) What Are the Quietest Portable Generators on the Market?
- 4) Do You Use a Quiet Generator to Power Your RV?
Is There Any Such Thing as a Silent Generator?
Before we jump into a discussion about the quietest generators out there, let’s take a couple of minutes to understand what we mean when we use the term “quiet generator”.
First of all, if you’re looking for a silent generator, you’re in the wrong post. We’d love for you to keep reading, of course, but no fuel-powered generator will be silent. If you want a truly silent generator, you’re in the market for what’s commonly called a “solar generator”.
The term “solar generator” is used to describe a combination device that includes batteries and an inverter and which is capable of being powered by the sun via solar panels (or by your vehicle’s 12V charger or 110V shore/house power).
The term is a bit of a misnomer in that a so-called “solar generator” doesn’t really generate power as much as it stores it for later use, but we’ll let that go for the moment.
You can investigate them more thoroughly by visiting our linked post on the topic, but a solar generator for RVs is the only totally silent “generator” you’ll find.
With that distinction between solar and gas generators made, let’s take a look at what noise levels really mean.
What Does “Quiet” Mean Expressed in Decibels?
Before we introduce the quietest generators on the market, we want to offer a general explanation of what “quiet” means in terms of decibels. A decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement that is used to help quantify the intensity of a sound.
Below, you’ll see measurements for the generators rated using dBA. This means that a different weighting filter was used to approximate the human ear’s response to sound, although the measurement is still in decibels. These dBA measurements usually refer to noise and its effects on humans and other animals, and are widely used in industry while discussing noise control issues, regulations, and environmental standards.
That way, when we share the noise level of each generator, you’ll have a fair understanding of what level of noise we’re actually expressing.
It’s important to note that the metric of decibels varies based on distance from the source of the sound, so it’s a bit more complicated than we’re making it for the purpose of this post.
The important thing to remember is that most generator manufacturers measure the decibel rating of their products from somewhere around 23 feet (7 meters).
Here’s a rundown of several levels of noise with which most of you may be familiar, along with the number of decibels represented by each noise level:
Painfully Loud Requiring Hearing Protection
- Gunshots/Fireworks: 140 decibels (dBA)
- Jet planes taking off: 120 dBA
- Car horns: 110 dBA
- Lawnmowers/Power tools: 90 dBA
- Alarm clock: 80 dBA
- Vacuum cleaner: 70 dBA
- Normal conversation: 60 dBA
- Moderate rainfall: 50 dBA
- Whisper: 30 dBA
For the purpose of today’s post, we searched for “quiet generators” that fall into the “moderate” category (50-60 dBA) or lower.
For the sake of comparison, note that most portable gas generators that are NOT inverter generators have a decibel level ranging somewhere between mid-70 to mid-80 dBA. This is above the level we (or anyone) would consider “quiet”, so we’ll be focusing on inverter generators which tend to be considerably quieter.
In short, the difference between standard gas generators and inverter generators (which are also fuel-powered) is in the way they produce power. The way an inverter generator works not only contributes to fuel efficiency but also reduces the noise level of the generator significantly.
For more information, please refer to our post entitled, “What Is an Inverter Generator?”
Also, note that there’s a difference in dBA depending on the power being used. So, when you look at a generator’s starting watts -vs- running watts, keep in mind that the generator will generally be louder when starting than when running. And it will be louder when under a larger load (i.e. running a large electrical appliance or air conditioner) than when idling.
When we refer to the decibels (dBA) of a particular portable generator in the paragraphs that follow, that dBA rating will be when the generator is RUNNING, not starting.
What Are the Quietest Portable Generators on the Market?
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the quietest generators on the market today.
Arguably the quietest and one of the most popular portable inverter generators on the market is the Honda EU2200i.
This is a compact, lightweight inverter generator that is an extremely portable little genny. It packs a powerful punch while weighing less than 50 pounds.
With an output of 2,200 Watts (at 120 volts), the Honda EU2200i is powered by the 121cc top-of-class Honda GXR120 commercial series engine. It’s equipped with Honda’s CO-MINDER sensor, an advanced carbon monoxide detection system with automatic shut-off, as well as Bluetooth connectivity for monitoring and adjusting it from afar.
Note that this is a coil start as opposed to a push-button start, so you’ll pull a cord to start this little Honda.
These little inverter generators have small fuel tanks, but this one is rated to run for 3.2 hours at its rated load, or 8.1 hours at 1/4 load. This generator also has an ECO mode for extended efficiency.
The EU2200i will run your RV’s small appliances including a typical RV refrigerator/freezer (as opposed to a residential fridge like ours), a microwave, coffee pot, blender, hair dryer, or computer, and will charge up your personal electronic devices.
The question with this popular little generator is whether or not it’ll run your RV’s air conditioner. That’s an important question but the answer is “it depends”.
With 2,200 Watts of power, it’s absolutely capable of starting and running smaller AC systems. In some cases, a soft start for RV AC units may be necessary.
In other cases, with larger AC units or with more than one AC unit, one might need to also purchase a second Honda EU2200i and companion cabling which will give you 4,400 Watts of power in total. We’ll link to both the EU2200i and the companion package below.
The noise level of the Honda EU2200i is 57 dBA at its rated load (starting), and 48 dBA at 1/4 load (running).
This is assuredly one of the quietest generators (if not THE quietest) on the market today.
- MORE POWER. SAME LEGENDARY QUALITY. - The EU2200i delivers 10% more power than the previous EU2000i - enabling you to power more of what you need, in...
- So quiet, your neighbors will thank you. The EU2200i operates at 53 to 62 dBA, which is less noise than a normal conversation. This makes it ideal for...
- Add a second EU2200i for additional power. Two identical models can be paralleled with an optional cable or cord for up to 4400 watts of power, or...
Westinghouse iGen 2200
Another small, lightweight gas-powered portable option is the Westinghouse iGen 2,200 Watt (120V) inverter generator.
More budget-friendly than the Honda EU2200i, this unit has a little 4-stroke engine and produces 1,800 rated watts and 2,200 peak watts. It weighs in at only 46 pounds, and has overload protection, automatic voltage regulation, and a low oil shut-off feature.
Equipped with two 120V 20-amp outlets and two USB ports, the Westinghouse iGen 2200 can power most of your RV appliances, devices, and electronic equipment. It may even be able to power some small AC units.
In “Economy Mode”, this generator is said to offer a 12-hour run time on a 1.2-gallon gas tank. (This is likely in 1/4 running mode.)
Similar to the Honda, the Westinghouse iGen can be used in tandem with another iGen and a separate 30A parallel cord for a total of more than 4,000 Watts of power.
Westinghouse states that the iGen 2200 has a noise level “as low as 52 dBA”. We assume this means that when running at low power, the noise level can fall as low as 52 dBA, (louder than the Honda EU2200i).
- 1800 Rated Watts and 2200 Peak Watts at Less Than 3% THD - Weighs Only 47.4 Lbs. - Gas Powered - Two 120V 20 Amp Outlets; Two USB Outlets.Alternator...
- Great Choice for Home Use as an Emergency Backup in a Power Outage - Strong Enough to Run All Your Home Essentials
Should you want to connect two Westinghouse iGen generators for a total of 4,000+ Watts, you may do so with this parallel cord:
- Easy to use, compact, plug-and-play parallel system featuring illuminated plugs and switches
- No bulky, complicated junction boxes, extra hardware, Or tedious ground terminal wiring needed
A third small, highly portable and very quiet inverter generator is the WEN 56203i.
This little powerhouse weighs in at only 39 pounds and produces 2,350 surge Watts and can run continuously to provide 1,900 Watts of clean power.
It features the WEN Watchdog CO Shutdown Sensor that automatically shuts down the generator if dangerous carbon monoxide levels are detected. It also has a fuel shut-off that uses up the fuel that remains in the carburetor prior to shutting down (good to help prevent problems when storing the generator).
This little unit is budget friendly and will run all of your small appliances and safely run your sensitive devices and electronics.
Several reviewers have noted that the WEN 56203i would not run their RV AC units. However, several others confirmed that it will run a 13,500 BTU ducted AC unit with (and without, according to one reviewer) the aid of a Micro-Air EasyStart soft starter installed in the AC.
WEN notes that the 56203i runs at 51 dBA at 1/4 load. This puts it within our criteria of moderate noise, but we remind you that at startup and at higher loads, it will run a bit louder, though likely still under our threshold of 60 dBA.
- Produces 2350 surge watts and 1900 rated watts of clean power for safe charging of sensitive electronics (phones, tablets, televisions, computers,...
- The WEN Watchdog CO Shutdown Sensor helps protect both you and your family by automatically turning off the generator if dangerous levels of carbon...
Champion 3400-Watt Dual Fuel RV Ready Portable Inverter Generator
This unit from Champion Power Equipment falls just barely within our criteria for the quietest generators, but the higher wattage Champion units don’t quite qualify.
This is a dual-fuel (gas/propane) generator that has a push-button electric start with a 3-position ignition switch. A convenient touch panel lets you access all controls in a single location.
This unit has a 4-stroke 192cc OHV engine and weighs in at a significantly heavier 97 pounds. Power ratings are 3,400 starting watts and 3,100 running (continuous) watts with up to 7.5 hours of run time on a 1.6-gallon tank of gasoline or up to 14.5 hours on propane.
This generator produces clean power for sensitive electronics and is “RV-Ready” with a 120V 30A RV outlet plus two 120V 20A household outlets as well as a 12V DC outlet and dual USB adapter.
The noise level of this 3,400-Watt dual-fuel generator is noted by Champion to be 59 dBA at a distance of 23 feet.
- Dual Fuel – Operate your 3400-watt portable generator right out of the box on either gasoline or propane, plus the unit holds 0.6-quarts of oil...
- Convenient Electric Start with 3-Position Ignition Switch – Battery included, plus Quick Touch Panel allows you to access all your controls in one...
If you’re looking for a larger (and, unfortunately, much heavier) generator to power the entirety of a large RV, you’ll find a comparatively quiet candidate in the Honda EU7000IS.
With an output of 7,000 Watts and a 389cc engine with ECO throttle, this unit will power a large AC or even two AC units on an RV.
We’ve seen this unit referred to as portable, but its portability is certainly limited at a whopping 263 pounds. However, it does have handles and wheels for maneuverability once it’s on the ground.
The Honda EU7000IS has a push-button electric start and the same high-quality clean inverter technology as the EU2200i for powering sensitive electronics. It also has the CO-MINDER carbon monoxide monitoring system and Bluetooth connectivity for controlling the generator from your smartphone.
Depending on the load, this generator is capable of giving you 16 hours of power with its 5.1-gallon fuel tank.
In separate documentation, Honda states that the noise level of the EU7000IS is 52 to 58 dBA or “less than 60dB”, which keeps us within the “moderate noise” category.
The downside to this unit, in addition to its weight, is cost. At over $5,000 it isn’t an impulse purchase and likely only a viable option if you have specific need for the higher power output.
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Do You Use a Quiet Generator to Power Your RV?
Let us know in the comments which “quiet generator” you use and how it’s been working out for you!
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