With the increase of severe weather incidences globally, a generator has become essential. It’s a handy equipment that can save your life during a power outage, the power you while you enjoy outdoor sceneries, and run your RV. It’s a reliable backup plan where you need power most.
However, there is one problem you have to deal with; a high amount of noise produced while the generator creates the power. I’m assuming you’re here because you want to know how to make a generator quiet. Right? There is much waiting for you in this post, so read along to the end.
- What Makes a Generator Loud
- Why Should You Silence Your Generator?
- How to Make a Generator Quiet
What Makes a Generator Loud
Before you can treat the disease, it might be crucial you understand the cause. That’s why I want to introduce to you what makes your generator loud. For sure, it’s nothing to do with you. So, let’s go through the various reasons why your generator makes noise.
Whether it is a standby generator or a portable generator, most of its noise comes from its construction parts. The noise might be from the engine, cooling fan alternator, induction coil, engine exhaust, or even mechanical noise. Each of these parts does create some level of noise. Depending on the generator’s construction and the exposure of these parts to the open air, your generator might be noisier than others.
a) Engine Block
Like other machine motors, a generator motor does rotate to provide the needed energy conversion to provide you with power. During this rotation, the unit produces noise that is even worsened by vibrations as the aftermath.
What’s more, due to the motor producing heat during the rotations, there is the need to cool it down to prevent damage. For this reason, some generators come with air-cooling fans that make extra noise. Other models use a liquid cooling system, which is quieter and effective; however, these models are expensive to purchase and maintain.
b) Exhaust System
Your generator noise might also be coming from the generator muffler. It might not be practical or faulty. Mufflers are put in place to reduce the generator noise. If the used muffler is not sufficient or malfunctioning, the noise might be higher than usual.
Various generator types produce different noise levels depending on the technology used and their size. For instance, you cannot expect a standby generator to make noise equal to a portable generator. You cannot also expect your portable inverter generator to produce the same noise level as your 15000-watt portable generator. The fuel type is also a factor here. If your generator runs on gasoline, it will be slightly louder than a propane generator. If it uses solar power, the generator is completely noise-free.
You might be hearing intense generator noise because you’re using it quite close to your windows, RV, or tent. The placement of your generator plays a massive role in reducing the amount of generator reaching your ears. The far it’s, the better.
The material you place your generator on is another crucial factor. If you put it on a metal bench, you can be sure the noise level will be higher. That happens when you place your generator on surfaces that work as sound amplifies.
Another thing that might amplify your generator noise is unstable, hard surfaces like metal, concrete, and more. These surfaces and spots enhance vibration and ultimately boost the noise levels. That’s why the preferred site needs to be soft and stable, something that absorbs the engine vibrations.
Another reason your generator is noisier is the amount of power output it is producing at that time. As aforementioned, the large generators generate more noise due to their massive engines that generate high power output. Your generator will be quieter if you’re drawing 25% of the load than when you’re drawing anything above 50% of its load.
Open-frame generators are relatively noisy compared to inverter generators. Why? The inverter technology employed on the inverter generator conceals the engine noise with the plastic enclosure. The enclosure also reduces overall vibration noise. What’s more, most of these generators come with economy mode or a variable-speed engine that minimizes the noise depending on the load.
Why Should You Silence Your Generator?
Why should I bother silencing my generator? You might ask. Your generator might be keeping you, your kids, or even your neighbor up at night. It might not be ideal for use in large gathering campground or tailgate party. Here are the most common reasons why you may want to quiet your generator.
Almost everyone wants to be on good terms with their neighbors and keep healthy relations. However, that won’t happen if you have a noisy generator that rattles at 75dB. At the time, you will get yourself into a heated argument with your neighbor because of it. Reducing the generator noise can help your neighbor and your family sleep better at night.
You may also want to silence your generator while you camp. A camping generator needs to be a convenient power source for both you and nature while you enjoy free time outdoors. Generator noise might cut you happiness or even disrupt the nature’s best gift the silence. Making your generator quiet will be a plus for you and nature.
How to Make a Generator Quiet
Now that you understand what causes generator noise and why you should make your generator quiet, it’s time you get to know how to make a generator quiet. Here is a list of the top 8 best ways to make your generator quieter. Read along!
1) Move It Further Away
The first thing you might want to start making your generator quiet is to consider placing the generator at a convenient distance from your house, RV, or camp tent. That is one of the crucial factors in ensuring your campsite stays quiet while you run the generator. You should know, your placement distance from the camp is affected by various factors.
You need to assess the scope of your camping site. Are you camping on a campground that has specific campsites, or are you boondocking on open land? If your campground offers small-sized spots for camping, you need to consider your neighbors. It would be best to have a convenient site to place your generator; a place not close to their camp spot.
If you’re boondocking is open land with no other campers, your most significant consideration is your extension cord(s) length, the walking convenience, and the safety of your generator. Place it on the spot to walk to start it and get back to your tent quickly. Also, consider a distance that you can monitor the generator for its safety.
Most generator brands in the market today do indicate the noise rating of their generator models in decibels. The ratings are mostly measures at around 7-meters away. So, it’d be best if you placed your generator at least 20 feet away from your camp tent to operate it in that noise range.
If you’ve got all the space and no camping neighbors, you can invest in extra-long, heavy-duty extension cords ideal for your generator and something that won’t lose power. That way, you’ll have the freedom to place the generator far away.
If it’s a residential generator, you need a place far from the windows, doors, and vents. The sound also needs to travel away from the house. You can place it in a spot where the wind pushes against it. That way, the cold wind will help cool it down while also carrying some generator noise.
2) Point Exhaust Pipes Away from You
Another way of making your generator quiet is to adjust the positioning of the generator’s noisy bit away from you. The generator’s loudest parts are the engine and its exhaust system. As far as reducing the generator noise goes, turning the generator engine and exhaust pipe to face the other way away from you might be the trick you’ve been searching for all this time. The trick here is to direct the noise waves away from your ears, keeping your neighbors in mind. You should know, this trick won’t make the generator silent but reduce the noise that comes your way.
3) Place It on a Soft Surface
I did mention something with a soft surface before. Placing your generator on it would help reduce the noise too. Once you have a convenient, distanced spot to place the generator, all you need now is a sound-absorbing surface. You need a surface that takes in all the vibration, not a surface that amplifies it like concrete, asphalt, stone, or wood.
While camping, the best option for you is to place the generator on plane dirt or grass. These two surfaces offer excellent noise-reducing options. They absorb and dampen the vibration noises created by the rumbling generator.
If you’re using your generator on a place with no softer surfaces, an anti-vibration mat will work quite well. These products are made using rubber. They will help soften the generator vibrations and noise. All you need is to place the generator on them and mitigate the nose produces by generator vibrations.
4) Shield Using Sound Deflectors
Once you have found the best spot for your generator, away from your house or campsite, the next best thing you can do to make your generator quiet is to shield it using sound deflectors. It might sound technical, but this is a simple DIY thing to do. It’s a trick that can go a long way if you’re looking for the best way to make a generator quiet.
All you need is four plywood sheets and a sheet of non-flammable material. The most recommended is drywall, as it’s relatively fire-resistant. Each of your plywood sheets must be at least 4-feet wide and at least 3-feet tall.
How do you set it up? Prop each of the sheets up against your generator at an angle. Remember to use the drywall on your generator’s side that has the exhaust to prevent the deflectors from catching fire. Also, leave some spaces to allow cold air in and exhaust fumes out.
The setup deflects the sound wave to the ground where they are absorbed instead of reflecting them. That way, you can lower your generator decibels quite well without affecting its performance in any way.
5) Use Water as Generator Muffler
If you’re still getting a high noise level after trying all the above, you can try the water trick. Here you’ll need a bucket of water to use it to reduce the overall exhaust noise. It’s an excellent way of fixing a default exhaust as you wait to get a better exhaust replacement.
All you need to do here is fix a garden hose to your generator exhaust pipe and insert the other end inside the water in the bucket. When you do this, you’re directing the sound waves inside the water where they are silenced.
And to ensure water doesn’t travel back to the generator, make a hole near the exhaust pipe entrance. Make sure you create a micro-hole and not a big one that might leak the sound. The generator won’t be completely quiet since it’s still vibrating, but at least you can enjoy a much serene environment.
6) Replace the Muffler
As you might have noticed, any combustion engine equipment has some sort of a muffler to lower the motor noise output. With generators coming fitted with factory-installed mufflers, the problem is somehow less effective as they should be.
So, that brings as to the next best thing you can try to reduce your generator noise: replace your generator current muffler with a more robust, effective one. Replacing it is a straightforward process; you only need to open a few screws.
Modernized mufflers are widely compatible with most generators. However, some are designed to fit particular generator sizes. Therefore, while searching for the best muffler to purchase, double-check and make sure it fits perfectly into your generator.
The main factor to consider here is the generator size concerning the muffler size, type, and adapter it uses, threaded, or clamp-on. There is also the number of diffuser discs. The more the discs present, the more influential the muffler gets.
You can also replace it with a car muffler instead. In most cases, a car muffler will silence a portable generator. What you need here is a flexible exhaust tube. You should also have some welding skills to use when attaching the muffler to your generator exhaust.
If you do it right, it can reduce the generator noise by 15 decibels. However, this might not work with any generator. I recommend combining this with an ideal quiet generator enclosure.
7) Build a Generator Enclosure
A generator enclosure is one of the most effective ways you can silence your generator. If you build the right sound-reducing enclosure, you can reduce your generator decibels by half. That means you get to enjoy maximum power output from your robust portable generator with a low noise level, close to that of an inverter generator. It’s crucial I mention, this DIY process requires you to have a few woodworking skills. However, it’s a simple, straightforward procedure.
What you’ll need
Glue and caulk
A pair of hinges
Mass Loaded Vinyl
Closed-cell vinyl nitrile matting
Circular or Table saw
Two 6-inch air ducts
How to build a quiet generator enclosure
Step 1: Determine your generator dimensions. You can decide to measure it to get the exact measurements, or you can choose to check the user manual for the manufacturer’s dimensions. That will help you determine the size of the enclosure you need to build. It’s best you give it some few inches allowance on all sides to allow the soundboard and the insulation to fit. Building a bigger enclosure won’t hurt as you can use it for other uses like silencing your small air compressor.
Step 2: Cut the MDF soundboard. Use the dimensions you got as a step to cut it. You can use a circular saw or Table saw to cut it into the correct sizes. Label each board piece to prevent confusion during installation.
Step 3: Make the ideal ventilation holes. It would be best if you gave your generator ventilation to allow it to breathe as it rattles. The quiet enclosure requires two ventilation ducts that are at least six inches in diameter. Place one at the box top panel towards the back, and the other on the side panel opposite the side with the top hole. That allows fresh air to get in low and force out the hot air through the top vent.
Step 4: It’s time to apply the first insulation layer. You need it for soundproofing, and you need several layers for excellent sound dissipation. The first sound muffling layer needs to be Vinyl MLV. It will block noise better than noise than foam. Cut the material into appropriate sizes and attach it to the soundboards you cut using the GreenGlue soundproofing sealant.
Step 5: Add the 2nd insulation layer. You can use neoprene fabric foam matting as the second insulation layer. Same as before, cut it into the right sizes that fit the cut MDF. Attach it on top of the already-installed vinyl insulation layer. Caulk the edges using glue to give optimum insulation.
Step 6: Assemble your parts. You can start screwing down the four MDF side panels to the floor panel.
Step 7: Screw the hinges. Take one of the top panel widths, screw the hinges, and attach it to your box.
Step 8: Attach the vent ducts. With the box almost done, it’s time to attach the air vent ducts. It’s a perfect way to replenish the air inside your quiet generator enclosure. And since you want to make the enclosure as soundproof as possible, it’d be best to use air vent ducts with lots of corners to obstruct sound movement.
Step 9: You may decide to paint it to give it an attractive look, but it’s not a must. You might also want to provide it with caster wheels for easy storage.
8) Place it in a shed
I decided to give this option at the end of the guide since it comes with some risks. If you’ve got an empty shed that’s some distance away from the house, you can put the generator in it to try and reduce noise. One issue with this method is, it might trap harmful and dangerous emissions that might become life-threatening to unsuspecting visitors. It might also create an echo, making it even worse.
However, there something you can do to try and mitigate these two issues. The first one is to ensure the shed is adequately ventilated to allow optimum airflow. And to prevent echoing, use acoustic panels on the shed walls to absorb the noise and avoid reflection of the sound waves.
And there you have it; everything you need to understand about how to make a generator quiet. These tips can help you lower your overall generator noise level for a more harmonious usage. And the best part is, they apply both at home and while you camp.
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