Phil has been working as a technical engineer since his graduation, and has never thought of changing his profession. Also, he’s an avid fisherman and camper, so it’s not only work which makes him deal with generators.
Last updated: January 19, 2021
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Generators have a reputation for being loud and causing noise complaints from your neighbors or even requiring ear protection. But that doesn’t have to be the case thanks to new quiet generator models that are hardly louder than a conversation when you start them up. The best quiet generator provides just as much power as your typical noisy generator, but can be used in a far wider variety of situations because of its low noise output.
In looking for the best silent generator, we considered a number of features. We looked primarily at noise level, but we also considered how much power each generator was capable of putting out. In addition, we took into account how long the generator could run for on a single tank of gas, since this affects how you’ll be able to use it. Finally, we considered whether the generator was an inverter generator, since this allows it to be used in parallel and with sensitive electronics.
We spent tens of hours researching technical specifications and customer reviews for quiet generators to find the best options on the market today. Our 10 favorite quiet generators are highlighted in the table below, and continue reading for detailed reviews of each model. Our buying guide discusses everything you need to know about choosing a quiet generator. Finally, we wrap up our three overall favorite quiet generators to fill your power needs.
Despite how burly this inverter generator from Wen is, it produces less than 55 dB of noise at a 25% load. The generator is rated for 2,000 watts of surge power and 1,600 watts of continuous power to provide you with enough juice for any small application.
The runtime, six hours at 50% load, is in line with other generators that we reviewed and is helped by the inclusion of an eco-mode switch that can be engaged on the front panel of the generator. Still, the generator is somewhat limited by its small one-gallon tank more than it suffers from issues with fuel efficiency.
The 56200i features a single USB charging port for charging small electronics like a smartphone, which is a nice addition for the utility of this generator. In addition, for situations where you need more than 1,600 watts of continuous power, the generator is capable of parallel connection so you can put multiple units together. The price of the generator is low enough that buying multiple units is relatively reasonable.
The generator has a large padded carry handle for transport, but it is on the heavy side, since it weighs in at 48 pounds. That said, users didn’t find the generator to be too heavy for small moves from the car to a worksite or around a campground. Note that the generator is somewhat taller and less compact than similar generators of this power output, which can affect where you can store it.
All the features together make the WEN 56200i a perfect generator for a boat, a camp, or a tailgate party, where you’ll need a quiet and portable generator with high enough output to power small appliances. The company offers a two-year warranty on this generator, although users did not report any issues with the unit after several years of use.
Don’t let the sticker shock of this generator get to you too much – it is far and away the quietest generator on the market today. When running on a low output, the Honda EU2200i is capable of keeping its noise to just 48 dB – and even at full power, it only produces 57 dB.
The other main draw to this inverter generator is the genuine Honda engine. The massive 121cc engine offers up a sizable 2,200 watts of surge power and 1,800 watts of continuous power. And of course, Honda engines are known for their reliability, which means that despite the price this generator could save you money on buying or fixing a cheaper generator in the long run. Users confirm that the quality Honda is known for in their engines is present in this generator, and while the generator only comes with a three-year warranty, you can expect it to last a lifetime.
The downside to this generator is that it has a relatively low runtime of just eight hours at 25% load. This is largely because of the small 0.95-gallon fuel tank, which was a perplexing design decision by Honda. Given that the generator is only rated for 1,800 running watts, this almost guarantees that you’ll need to refuel the generator over the course of a standard day in the field.
The panel of the generator features two 120-volt three-pronged outlets and a 12-volt DC battery charging port, but lacks additional features such as a USB port. A simple breaker reset switch allows you to reset the AC outlets in case they surge during your generator use.
What we liked:
Quietest generator on the market today
2,200 watts of surge power
Highly reliable Honda engine with three-year warranty
This generator from lesser-known generator company Rainier offers a low-priced option for a quiet inverter generator. The generator produces just 52 dB of noise, putting it on par with generators that cost nearly $100 more.
It is also relatively powerful and capable of producing a maximum of 2,200 watts and 1,800 continuous watts. The four-stoke OHV engine and somewhat larger 1.3-gallon gallon engine combine to give this generator one of the best runtimes we have seen of eight hours at 50% load or 13 hours at 25% load. There is also an eco-mode switch on the generator panel that can help with getting the longest possible runtime from this generator.
Users found that the recoil starter was highly responsive and started the generator even in cold conditions. The generator’s panel has a pair of 120-volt AC outlets and a 12-volt DC outlet, which comes with a USB converter rather than having a standalone USB charging port. The outlets are all tied to a single breaker reset button, although this is typically not an issue.
At just 44 pounds, this generator is also surprisingly lightweight. The large top carry handle doesn’t provide much space for your hand if you’re wearing gloves, but otherwise makes it easy to transport this generator.
The generator is EPA and CARB certified so it can be bought and operated anywhere in the US.
One important downside to this generator is the warranty. Residential users only receive a short one-year warranty, while commercial users get an even shorter six-month warranty.
What we liked:
Eight-hour runtime at 50% load
52 dB of noise at 25% load
Lightweight and portable
EPA and CARB certified
What could be better:
Very short one-year warranty, or six months for commercial users
This quiet inverter generator from Generac is ideal for applications where portability and noise are at a premium. The generator is lightweight at just 47 pounds and has an easy to grab carry handle on the top, making it easy to transport wherever you need it.
The generator is capable of producing up to 2,200 watts of surge power and 1,700 watts of continuous power, putting it right in line with other generators in this size class on performance and price. The 1.2-gallon fuel tank allows it to have a 10.75-hour runtime at a 25% load. There is also an economy mode that can be activated from the generator’s panel to improve the fuel efficiency and runtime.
While the noise output is not rated by Generac for this generator, users report that it is roughly equivalent to the output of the Westinghouse iGen2200 – in the range of 52 dB at 25% load and a bit over 60 dB when fully loaded.
The generator’s panel includes two 120-volt AC outlets and a 12-volt DC outlet, all of which have breaker reset buttons for easy operation. In addition, there is a USB charging port to take advantage of the clean inverted power this generator produces.
The warranty on this generator is somewhat short compared to competitors, at just two years for residential users. In addition, the warranty drops to just one year for commercial users, which can be an issue for contractors looking for a quiet generator to use on residential jobs. However, this generator is sold for under $1,000, which is a good value for your money.
What we liked:
10.75-hour runtime at 25% load
52 dB (estimated) at 25% load
All outlets have breaker reset buttons
USB charging port
Lightweight and portable
What could be better:
Only two-year warranty for residential users and one-year warranty for commercial users
The highly efficient genuine Yamaha engine on this generator allows it to have one of the most impressive runtimes of any 2,000-watt generator on the market at 8.5 hours at 25% load. That makes it an ideal choice for all-day tasks and events. Of course, the generator is also relatively quiet and produces up to 53 dB of noise when running towards the low end of its power range. When fully loaded, it produces around 60 dB of noise, which is impressive for the power it offers.
Yamaha EF2400iSH produces a maximum power output of 2,400 watts and a continuous power output of 2,000 watts. Users found that the recoil start works on the first try every time, even when starting from cold conditions. They also appreciated that the panel is relatively compact, making it easy to find all of the functions of this generator in a single spot without having to keep searching around it.
This generator lends itself to easy and convenient long-term storage thanks to a fuel shutoff that allows the carburetor to be run dry. Users found that the drain is very efficient at removing leftover fuel so that there is no stale fuel when it comes time to bring the generator back out of storage.
The generator weighs less than 56 pounds and is about 2.2 cubic feet in size, making it one of the smallest and most lightweight portable generators that we reviewed. The 3 carry handles on top make it easy to transport.
On top of all that, this generator comes with a three-year warranty from Yamaha to protect your investment. The only drawback to this generator is that it doesn’t feature USB charging ports to make charging small electronics simple.
This 4,000-watt generator from Champion is the only generator we reviewed outside of the 2,000-watt generator class, in part because of its impressive all-around performance and relatively low noise for its size.
The generator is rated for 3500 watts of continuous power output and 4,000 watts of surge output, which is plenty of power to keep a home’s essential appliances running during an outage or for use with a larger RV at a campground where noise regulations are an issue. The generator produces 64 dB at a 25% load, so you will still need to be careful as to how and when you use it. Especially in the mornings and evenings, 64–70 dB of noise is more than enough to wake up your neighbors or other campers.
In terms of runtime, users were quite happy with this generator. It is surprisingly fuel efficient at half-load, running for up to 17 hours while using less than three gallons of gas. Although some users would have liked to see an electrical starter on a generator of this size, they found that the recoil start was responsive and reliable.
This generator is especially well-suited for RV use in particular thanks to a RV-ready twist-lock outlet and the 12V DC battery charging outlet. There are also two 120-volt AC outlets, but no USB charging port to take advantage of the clean inverted power. Note also that while the 120-volt and 12-volt outlets have breaker reset buttons on the generator panel, resetting the RV outlet requires fully turning off the generator’s engine.
The Champ comes with a limited three-year warranty, although users reported no issues with the generator over that timeframe.
This inverter generator from Westinghouse is tied with the Honda generator to lead the 2,000-watt class of generators in available power output. The generator is capable of putting out 2,200 watts of surge power and 1,800 watts of continuous power.
In contrast to the Honda generator, though, this model is capable of running for up to 12 hours at a 25% load so you don’t have to worry about running out of power halfway through the day. The secret is an efficiency mode, which can be activated with a button on the front panel, that keeps the fuel use to a minimum while maintaining the same output power. Still, if you’re drawing anywhere near the rated load of this generator for extended periods, you’ll have to refuel at least once during the day.
What’s really surprising about this generator, especially given the modest price, is how quiet it is. At a 25% load, the generator produces just 52 dB of noise and users found that they could easily hold conversations around the generator.
Another advantage to this generator is that it includes a USB charging port in addition to the two 120-volt outlets. Note, however, that there is no 12-volt DC outlet for charging batteries, which can be an issue for some users. The 120-volt outlets have a breaker reset button on the generator panel.
Westinghouse offers a three-year warranty for residential users, but contractors looking for a small generator to use on residential properties, where noise is an issue, will want to be aware that commercial users only get a one-year warranty.
The words quiet and generator do not seem compatible, but there has been an influx of quiet generators in the market. The Briggs & Stratton P2200 is a sterling example of this type of generator. Although it comes in a rather large and bulky design, this is one of the quietest generators on the market. It produces just 59 decibels of noise while working.
The power output is decent as the generator offers 2000 watts of rated power and 1700 watts of peak power. At 25% load, this model will run for up to 8 hours, which is a feat better than several others in this category.
The outlets here come in very handy, especially the single USB port. With this outlet, you will be able to charge smaller devices right from the generator.
Although it comes in a bulky design, the manufacturer has fitted this with a padded handle. Therefore, you will not find it too burdensome to carry. You can move it around with relative ease.
The only downside of this generator is that the 1-gallon tank is small. Therefore, you might have to refill it sooner than you’d like.
Overall though, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option in this category on the market. All the features, when combined, result in a generator that you will certainly enjoy using for a long time. Added to this is the 2-year warranty period. Therefore, you can use it with peace of mind, knowing that any issues that might come up during that time will be handled by your warranty.
This unique generator design generator from Champion is allows you to add power in modules as needed. The framed design is meant to be stackable, so that you can run multiple units of this generator with a parallel operation kit sold separately by Champion. The frame does add some space to the generator, so this can actually be unhelpful if you are not planning to purchase multiple units of this generator. On the other hand, it also makes it easy to carry and store the generator.
The generator itself is rated for 2,000 watts of surge power and 1,700 watts of continuous power. While the runtime is roughly average for this size class, it is not bad for half-day events or power needs – 9.5 hours at a 25% load. The fuel tank is just one gallon in volume, so you won’t be spending much money on gasoline to keep this generator running.
Of course, the other big draw to this generator is the low noise level. This generator is surprisingly quiet at just 53 dB, although keep in mind that using multiple units of this generator is still louder than simply buying a single larger quiet generator like the Champion Power Equipment 100302.
Users found that the generator is easy to start with the recoil starter, although they did wish for a fuel shutoff so that the generator could be stored for long periods without worrying about stale fuel. In addition, while the generator features inverted power through two three-pronged 120-volt outlets, users would have liked to see a USB port for charging small electronics from this generator.
Champion offers a three-year warranty on this model, which is another advantage given the relatively modest price.
What we liked:
53 dB noise
What could be better:
No USB charging ports
No fuel shutoff valve
Relatively short runtime at moderate to high power
This generator from Pulsar is an ideal budget pick for anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive yet quiet inverter generator. The generator is comparable to more expensive models in this size class in terms of its power output and runtime. It offers a peak wattage of 2,300 watts and a continuous power output of 1,800 watts, while running for six hours at a 50% power load.
In terms of noise, you do get what you pay for. The Pulsar G2319N produces a relatively loud 59 dB of noise at 25% load, putting it on par with much more powerful generators in terms of noise production. Thus, most users would be better served by spending a little bit more money to get a quieter generator.
That said, the generator has a fully-featured front panel with two 120-volt outlets, a USB charging port, and a 12-volt DC battery charging outlet. Both the AC and DC outlets have breaker reset buttons right on the generator panel for easy reset after a surge. In addition, users found that the recoil starter is highly reliable and appreciated that the generator produces highly clean inverted power. One option, given the budget price, is to increase the effective power of this generator by running it in parallel with a second unit.
The other place where the low price of this generator shows is in the short warranty – in contrast to the three-year warranties found on more expensive models, this generator only comes with a one-year warranty from Pulsar.
What we liked:
USB charging port
Breaker reset buttons
Six-hour runtime at 50% load
What could be better:
Extremely loud at 59 dB and up
Only one-year warranty
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned more about our 10 favorite quiet generators on the market today, how do you choose between them to get the generator that’s right for you? This is an important question given that while these generators all have low noise outputs in common, they differ in a number of other important features. Our buying guide will cover everything you need to know about how quiet generators can be and how to choose a generator that is both quiet and has all the features you need.
How quiet a generator can actually be?
Unfortunately, no generator is truly silent. While generator technology has been improving, bringing the price and noise output of quiet generators steadily downward, you’re still likely to hear your generator when it’s operating.
Right now, the quietest generators on the market are typically putting out around 50 dB of noise. This is about the same amount of noise produced by an inside conversation – in other words, extremely quiet for a machine running on a gasoline-powered engine. At 50 dB, you certainly won’t be bothering anyone and you’ll be able to easily hold a conversation near your generator.
However, at 60 dB, the noise level is twice that at 50 dB. Many quiet generators reach this volume when they are loaded, and it is also the base volume for many generators larger than 3,000 watts, such as the Champion Power Equipment 100302. More powerful generators that can power a food truck or a large RV usually operate at around 70 dB and more, depending on the brand and power output, so for example NorthStar models are usually noisier, but on the other hand much more powerful.
At 60 dB, the noise is more similar to a large air conditioning unit or the background noise in a restaurant. This still isn’t too loud, but you may need to yell to be heard over the generator if you are standing close by.
The more powerful, the louder: How much power do you need?
As a general rule of thumb, generators get louder the larger the engines are and the more power they are capable of producing. That means that in order to get the quietest possible engine for your needs, you want to also get the smallest possible generator that can fulfill your power needs. For example, if you can get by with a 2,000-watt generator, that will be better for reducing noise than sizing up to a 4,000-watt generator like the Champion 100302.
However, keep in mind that noise also depends on how heavily your generator is loaded relative to its rated power output. For generators within the same class, a difference of a few hundred watts in rated power and a few dB of base noise output can end up making a big difference in how much noise the generator produces when it is actually in use.
To keep noise as low as possible, you’ll need to draw as little power from your generator as you can.
Are inverter generators quieter than commercial ones?
Inverter generators are significantly quieter than most conventional generators. There are several reasons for this.
The first and most important reason that inverter generators are so quiet is that they use a series of computer chips to regulate the engine in response to the load being drawn. That means that the engine is not run at full-throttle the entire time, which is quite loud, but rather adjusts its output and noise according to the power you are using.
The second reason inverter generators are relatively quiet is that they are typically encased in an insulating frame that is designed to protect the sensitive electronics. This frame is often designed to be extra thick to keep the engine noise down, as well as to reduce vibrations that can produce even more noise.
Finally, inverter generators are often outfitted with oversized mufflers, such as the kind found on cars, to keep the engine noise down as much as possible. While conventional generators can be outfitted with these mufflers as well, there is typically less emphasis by manufacturers on this component.
How long you need to run your generator?
Another important consideration when choosing a generator is how long you will need to run it for without adding new fuel. It is unsafe to add fuel to the generator while it is still running or even while it is hot, so refueling can be a time consuming process as you wait for the generator to cool down.
The main factors that affect generator runtime are fuel efficiency and fuel tank capacity. In general, four-stroke engines like those found on the Pulsar, Rainier, Champion, and Westinghouse generators, among others we reviewed, are more fuel efficient. Inverter generators also tend to be more fuel efficient than conventional generators, which helps increase runtime.
Fuel tank capacity is also important, though, and tank capacities can range widely. For example, the Honda generator has a fuel tank less than one gallon in volume, which limits its runtime to just eight hours at 25% load. In contrast, most of the other generators we reviewed have 1.2-gallon or larger fuel tanks, which offer runtimes more in the range of 10 or more hours at 25% load.
It’s also important to consider safety features when choosing a generator. All of the generators we reviewed have a built-in low-oil shutoff, as well as a light or other indicator to let you know when the engine oil is running low. All models also have built-in overload protection, which trips a circuit breaker in the even that you try to draw too much power from the generator. Both of these safety features protect not only you and your appliances from a surge, but also protect the generator’s engine from expensive damages.
Another thing to look for on generators is a reset button for individual outlets’ circuit breakers. Generators like those from Honda, Westinghouse, and others have these circuit resets. While they are not strictly necessary, they allow you to reset an outlet after the breaker trips without fully turning off the generator’s engine.
Tips and tricks
Maintaining your generator is extremely important to ensuring that it will last for years to come. The most important piece of maintenance for every generator is to keep it well oiled, since having low oil will not only prevent you from using the generator when you need it but also can severely damage the engine. Plan to replace the oil after the first 25 hours of use of your new generator, and every 50 hours after that.
Another important tip is to watch your gas levels. In particular, running the generator until it fully runs out of fuel can damage the engine. This is because sludgy residue builds up at the bottom of the fuel tank and is sucked into the engine when the fuel runs extremely low.
In addition, it is important not to leave old gasoline in the tank. Gasoline goes stale after a few months of exposure to air and can damage the engine as well.
When refilling your generator’s fuel tank, be sure to allow the generator to fully cool down before refilling the gas tank. Pouring gas into a hot generator is a serious fire hazard that can damage the generator or cause injury to yourself.
Another important tip for operation, especially for a quiet generator, is to run the generator on a flat, level surface. This will reduce the amount of vibration that the generator experiences when it is running, which will help reduce wear and tear on the engine as well as make the generator run more quietly.
Quiet generator prices
Quiet generators can range widely in prices and a lot depends on who the manufacturer is. For example, the Honda generator we reviewed comes at a significant price premium – $1,400 – because it contains a Honda engine and Honda is known by consumers as a highly reliable engine maker, also considered to be one of the best generators for tailgating. The Yamaha generator similarly comes at a price premium because of Yamaha’s reputation. In general, most other quiet inverter generators in the 2,000-watt size class retail for around $400–$500, although budget models like those from Rainier and Pulsar can sell for less than $400.
Most campsites have noise policies that prevent extremely loud noises throughout the day and restrict noise after a certain time at night. In general, any generator producing around 60 dB of noise or less during the day should not attract the attention of other campers or campground hosts. At night, you may be able to run a generator at around 50 dB but many campsites will not let you run a generator at all after noise restrictions take effect.
Unfortunately, no. The noise of two quieter generators is additive, so having two less powerful generators located next to each other will still be louder than having a single generator. In this case, you need to make sure that you opt for the generator that will offer enough power to meet your needs.
The EPA – Environmental Protection Agency – and CARB – California Air Resources Board – give their certifications to generators that meet specific emissions guidelines. Choosing a generator that complies with EPA and CARB regulations is not strictly necessary unless you plan to purchase or use a generator in the state of California. If you are in California, you are required by state law to get a CARB-certified generator.
The amount of noise a generator produces varies based on the amount of power you are drawing from it, so you can make a generator run more quietly by drawing less power. That may mean unplugging one or more appliances. In addition, you can try to reduce noise by putting the generator in an insulated area, but make sure that the generator still has plenty of air flow if you do that.
Yes, although you want to be sure that the extension cord is of sufficient thickness to handle the wattage coming out of the generator. Typically, an extension cord rated for outdoor use is sufficient – these are typically 12-gauge extension cords. Another important thing to note is that you should never run an extension cord longer than 100 feet from the generator, as this can cause a dangerous voltage drop over the length of the cord.
Our three overall favorite quiet generators on the market today are the WEN 56200i, the Honda EU2200i, and the Rainier R2200i. All three of these generators are inverter generators and are capable of being run in parallel with a second unit of the same model. The Honda generators come at price premiums because of the reputation of these engine-makers, while the Rainier generator is surprisingly inexpensive given how quiet and versatile it is. For the price, the Rainier generator is very impressive, but it does have a worryingly short warranty of just one year. The Honda generator’s main shortcoming is the lack of USB charging ports – otherwise, it could easily be our Editor’s Choice. However, we feel that the WEN generator is the best quiet generator you can get because of its impressively quiet engine, lightweight and compact design, and USB port. And please keep in mind that quiet generators are also being made by other respectable manufactures, like for example Lifan generators, have lots to offer, so if you would like to extend the comparison in order to make the best choice, you are most welcome.