Generators provide emergency electricity in the event of a blackout, run power tools on the jobsite, and deliver affordable energy for necessities when camping or RVing.
The quietest generators are usually compact, computer-controlled inverters that have small, efficient motors; advanced mufflers; and great fuel efficiency. While a traditional generator runs at the same speed, an inverter generator self-regulates, delivering power that’s more consistent.
Choosing the best quiet generator to have on standby can be tough. In this guide, we list some of the best quiet generators on the market and explain their capabilities, so buyers can be confident they’re choosing the right one.
- BEST OVERALL: Honda EU3000iS Gas-Powered Portable Inverter
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: A-iPower SUA2000iV 2,000-Watt Portable Inverter
- BEST POWER: Westinghouse iGen4500c 4,500-Watt Inverter Generator
- BEST PORTABLE: Champion Power Equipment Dual Fuel Inverter
- MOST USER-FRIENDLY: Generac 7127 IQ3500 Portable Generator
- BEST CARB COMPLIANT: Wen 56225i 2,250-Watt Portable Inverter Generator
- BEST DUAL-FUEL: Pulsar 12,000-Watt Dual Fuel Portable Generator
- BEST PARALLEL-COMPATIBLE: Genmax GM9000iE Gasoline Inverter Generator
- BEST 10,000 WATT: Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Generator
- BEST FOR RV: Champion Power Equipment Dual Fuel Generator
How We Chose the Best Quiet Generators
The quietest portable generators keep electronic devices charged, RV AC units cool, and small appliances running without making too much noise. While sleeping at a campsite or when in earshot of residential areas, quiet generators typically have 49- to 61-decibel volume levels.
Many quiet portable generators have sufficient wattage to power devices, ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 watts. Select models are powered by gasoline only, while others also offer dual-fuel capabilities. Parallel connection is also available in a few generators, though kits or cords are usually sold separately. Convenience is also prioritized with carbon monoxide detectors, easy-to-use electric starts, built-in handles, or LED and LCD screens for monitoring.
Since many of these models are inverter generators, portability is also an important factor. Most are lightweight and have compact designs, while others may be too heavy for some to carry. Finally, each of the quiet generators on our list comes with a variety of outlets, including household outlets, USB ports, RV outlets, or even DC outlets.
Our Top Picks
Our top picks include some of the best quiet generators on the market. Whatever an individual’s needs may be, there’s likely to be a generator on this list that’ll hit the mark.
Generators have two ratings: one for startup watts (most electrical devices produce an initial surge) and one for running watts. The latter is usually significantly lower—a drop of as much as 25 percent in real-world performance—but the efficiency of the Honda quiet generator is underlined by a mere 10 percent difference. That makes the EU3000iS with its 2,800 running wattage equally useful at home or on the go.
Regarding noise, it runs between 50 and 57 decibels. At low power, it’s as close to a noiseless generator as we found, and certainly quiet enough for campsite use. Owners can expect 19.6 hours of runtime on one 3.4-gallon tank of gas. Though this model doesn’t score well with fuel consumption, starting it is easy, and the motor has both overload protection and a low-oil alert. There’s no dedicated USB port, but owners can always run the required charger off one of the 120-volt (v) household outlets.
- Noise level: 50 to 57 decibels
- Wattage: 3,000 watts (starting); 2,800 watts (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, 1 RV outlet
- Will run for up to 19.6 hours on a single tank of fuel
- This inverter’s built-in overload protection cuts the circuit to prevent damage
- The motor has a low-oil alert and automatic shutoff to prevent damage
- Sturdy handles on either side of the generator make it easier to carry
- Fuel efficiency is good, but tank capacity is just 3.4 gallons
- There are no USB ports included, which some will find frustrating
Get the Honda quiet generator at Northern Tool + Equipment.
Those looking for quiet power on the go (and don’t care to spend a fortune) may want to consider this portable inverter generator from A-iPower. For a low-cost quiet generator, it’s certainly not under specified. With two 120V outlets and two 5V USB ports, this generator produces clean, safe, quiet power for computers, tablets, and other personal electronics. A low-idle mode increases fuel efficiency, and there are the usual overload and low-oil alerts.
With a start-up rating of 2,000 watts, the A-iPower’s true running figure is 1,600 watts. That’s perhaps less than many will want for home backup, but it’s more than acceptable for powering personal devices on a camping trip. At 48 pounds, it’s not particularly heavy, and at 52 decibels it won’t drown out those campfire conversations.
- Noise level: 52 decibels
- Wattage: 2,000 watts (starting); 1,600 watts (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V outlets, two 5V USB ports
- A good choice for small devices and modest power requirements
- Specification includes a low-idle mode that helps increase fuel efficiency
- An automatic shutoff for low fuel prevents dirt from getting dragged through the system
- Relatively lightweight, with a useful built-in handle that helps portability
- Modest tank size limits runtime, which is typical for many small models
- 1,600-watt running power means output is lower than some alternatives
Get the A-iPower quiet generator at Amazon.
Westinghouse has long been considered among the best generator brands in independent reviews, typically offering high performance at a reasonable cost. The Westinghouse iGen4500c is a fine example, combining excellent output with good fuel efficiency and low noise.
Starting output is 4,500 watts, with 3,700 watts for normal running. It will deliver up to 18 hours of runtime from a single 3.4-gallon tank of gas. There is a push-button ignition and a convenient remote key fob.
The Westinghouse iGen4500c has a TT-30R connector for direct attachment to RV systems, plus two household and two USB outlets. It can run in parallel with another similar model, potentially upping the power to 9,000 watts and 7,400 watts, respectively. There is a low-oil shutoff to prevent engine damage and a CO shut-off to protect users from noxious carbon monoxide gas. It is also EPA and CARB compliant for low emissions.
- Noise level: 52 decibels
- Wattage: 4,500 watts (starting); 3,700 watts (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, 1 RV outlet, and two 5V USB ports
- High performance without excess noise; can be run in parallel for double the output
- 3.4-gallon fuel tank provides up to 18 hours of runtime
- LED data center provides comprehensive feedback for remaining runtime, voltage, and fuel level
- Low-oil and carbon monoxide shutoffs protect the engine and health of users
- While faults are uncommon, starting has been an issue for some owners
Get the Westinghouse iGen4500c quiet generator at Amazon, Lowe’s, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
This dual-fuel inverter from Champion Power Equipment is a feature-packed solution for those who need power for work or leisure. This generator’s compact dimensions, light weight, and low 53-decibel noise level make it the best quiet generator for camping, especially given that it can run off propane that is often used for camp cooking or lighting. Performance is such that it could also run tools on the jobsite.
It is rated for 2,000 watts starting and either 1,700 watts running on gasoline or 1,530 watts on propane. A clear and simple dial switches between the two. Parallel capability means these figures can be doubled if two devices are run in tandem. Its economy is excellent, with up to 11.5 hours of power from a tank of gasoline or a remarkable 34 hours from a standard 20-pound propane tank. Hose and regulator are included.
There are two standard household outlets and a 12V DC vehicle-type power socket. While there is no direct USB port, an adapter is provided.
- Noise level: 53 decibels
- Wattage: 2,000 watts (starting); 1,700 watts (running) on gas; 1,530 watts (running) on propane
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, one 12V DC outlet
- With a weight of just 39 pounds, this is one of the lightest generators around
- Using propane can provide up to 34 hours of runtime from a 20-pound tank
- Has parallel capability, allowing compatible models to be linked for increased performance
- A dual USB adapter is provided for charging phones, tablets, and laptops
- Though many might not consider it a problem, some may find manual starting inconvenient
- Using the propane option results in a small drop in power output
Get the Champion Power Equipment quiet inverter at Amazon.
Although today’s modern quiet portable generators are much less intimidating than older equipment, their operation isn’t always as straightforward as it could be. For those who choose the IQ3500 from Generac, that’s not the case.
Push-button starting means generating power couldn’t be easier, and a multifunction LCD screen shares information on the generator’s fuel level, watts output, and—particularly useful—the runtime remaining before refueling. This generator includes two standard household main outlets, an RV connection, and two USB ports.
At 109 pounds, it’s not lightweight, but the 3,000 watts of running power it offers makes that a small price to pay for the performance and versatility. Generac doesn’t publish decibel levels for its portable generators, but it does promise to run 40 percent more quietly than its Honda competitors.
- Noise level: Unspecified
- Wattage: 3,500 watts (starting); 3,000 watts (running)
- Outlets: 2 household outlets, 1 RV outlet, and 2 USB ports
- Has an easy electronic push-button start button and pull-cord backup
- A choice of 2 engine speeds for maximum power or better fuel economy
- A built-in LCD screen provides clear and accurate performance feedback
- Parallel capability means that 2 generators can be combined for double the power
- Generac claims to be 40 percent quieter than Honda, but no decibel figures are provided
- Though well made and versatile, it is expensive compared to similar models
Get the Generac quiet generator at Amazon, Tractor Supply Co., or Menards.
The introduction of clean air legislation started in California in the late 1960s, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards have now been adopted in 15 states and Washington, D.C. Basically, if a manufacturer’s machinery doesn’t comply—and many high-performance generators do not—they cannot be sold in those regions.
The competitively priced Wen 56225i is CARB and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliant while providing an impressive 1,800 watts of running output. It’s a very quiet generator at only 53 decibels. There are also two 120V household outlets, one 12V DC outlet, two USB ports, and the usual overload and oil pressure warning lights.
- Noise level: 53 decibels
- Wattage: 2,250 watts (starting); 1,800 watts (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, one 12V DC outlet, and 2 USB ports
- This generator’s highly efficient low-emission motor is both CARB and EPA compliant
- Overload and oil pressure warning lights alert owners to potential problems
- Clever engine shutoff prevents unused fuel sitting in carburetor after shutdown
- Has a compact, lightweight construction with built-in handle for easy portability
- This Wen quiet generator is very affordable but does contain a lot of plastic parts
- Though generally reliable, a variety of fault reports suggest quality control is inconsistent
Get the Wen quiet generator at Amazon, Target, or Wen.
Those looking for a quiet dual-fuel generator that also offers high performance may want to check out this dual-fuel portable generator from Pulsar. Peak power is 12,000 watts on gas and 10,800 watts on propane, with running watts of 9,500 and 8,550, respectively. Despite that impressive output, noise is as low as 74 decibels, which is something few rivals can match.
Versatility comes by way of four household outlets, an RV outlet, and a 120V/240V 50A outlet ideal for jobsite use. It is also transfer-switch ready, making it possible to link directly to a home’s main fuse board for backup in the event of a power outage. It will run for up to 12 hours on an 8-gallon tank of gasoline. We were unable to find factory figures for propane, though we estimate around 5 hours from a 20-pound tank could be expected. Although relatively heavy at 209 pounds, lift-up handles and 10-inch never-flat wheels help with mobility.
- Noise level: 74 decibels
- Wattage: 12,000 watts (starting) on gas; 10,800 watts (starting) on propane; 9,500 watts (running) on gas; 8,550 watts (running) on propane
- Outlets: One 120V/240V outlet, four 120V household outlets, 1 RV outlet
- Combines impressive performance with the option of using gas or propane
- Transfer-switch ready giving the possibility of plugging directly into home electrical systems
- Easy push-button electric starting; CARB compliant for low emissions
- Provision of fold-down handles, and wheels with rubber tires improves mobility
- Although rare, breakdowns are not unknown
- At 209 pounds, this portable generator is considerably heavy to move around
Get the Pulsar quiet generator at Amazon.
While a generator with the flexibility to cope with changing power demands isn’t uncommon, few match the Genmax GM9000iE in terms of versatility, low noise level, and performance. A standard output of 9,000 watts starting and 7,600 running is impressive, but thanks to parallel compatibility, this can potentially be doubled with the addition of another unit. This makes the Genmax GM9000iE a practical option as a home standby generator that’s equally valuable for jobsite use.
The reliable 458-cubic-centimeter motor will run for several hours on a 6.9-gallon tank of gas. While perhaps not the most efficient generator we looked at, this is the quietest generator that delivers this level of power. It is RV ready, can deliver 240V if necessary, and has a carbon monoxide alarm and remote electric starting. A digital LCD provides useful runtime and output data.
- Noise level: 62 decibels
- Wattage: 9,000 watts (starting); 7,600 watts (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, 1 RV outlet, one 120V/240V outlet, 2 USB outlets, one 12V DC outlet
- The ability to run 2 units in parallel gives over 15,000-watt output
- Can provide 120V or 240V for home backup or jobsite use
- Automatically shuts off if unsafe levels of carbon monoxide are detected
- Push-button electric start plus a remote key fob for user convenience
- At 259 pounds, it is heavier than most competitors that offer similar performance
- Although quiet for such a powerful model, it is a relatively expensive unit
Get the Genmax quiet generator at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Tractor Supply Co.
Generators of 10,000 watts and above are popular because they are capable of powering numerous household appliances in the event of a power outage. While the impressive Westinghouse WGen9500DF was never going to be the quietest generator, it makes up for increased decibels by providing unrivaled performance and value.
This is a dual-fuel model running at 12,500/9,500 watts on gasoline or 11,200/8,500 watts on propane. Efficient fuel consumption allows up to 12 hours of runtime on the former and 7 hours on a 20-pound propane tank.
Starting is simple via an onboard push button or remote key fob. There is also a pull cord in the unlikely event that these fail. At 211 pounds, it is heavy, but a lift-up handle and large rubber-shod wheels help with maneuverability.
- Noise level: 74 decibels
- Wattage: 12,500/9,500 watts on gasoline (starting); 11,200/8,500 watts on propane (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, one 120V/240V 30A outlet, one 120V/240V 50A outlet
- High-performance model that switches quickly and easily from gasoline to propane
- Transfer-switch ready, allowing for direct connection to suitably wired household electrical systems
- Electronic push-button starting plus remote key fob; pull-cord backup
- Tough roll bar and never-flat wheels make it ideal for jobsite use
- Traditional generators like this Westinghouse are significantly louder than inverter models
- Despite lift-up handle and wheels, it is a large, heavy machine
Get the Westinghouse WGen9500DF quiet generator at Amazon or Acme Tools.
RV owners looking for a powerful, quiet, and easy-to-use generator may want to check out this dual-fuel inverter generator from Champion Power Equipment. Its engine produces 4,500 starting watts and 3,500 running watts and will run for up to 14 hours at 25 percent load. It has sufficient performance to run numerous devices, and thanks to a dedicated outlet, can plug directly into an RV’s electrical system.
The ability to run it off propane also makes it a consideration for camping use, jobsites or anywhere gasoline isn’t readily available. A simple dial selects the fuel type and provides push-button starting. The Champion Power Equipment is also parallel capable for those who require additional output.
It is significantly heavier than many of the other inverter generators featured, though wheels help mobility. At 61 decibels, it is not a very quiet generator either. However, it offers an excellent combination of performance and convenience for RV owners.
- Noise level: 61 decibels
- Wattage: 4,500 watts (starting); 3,500 watts (running)
- Outlets: Two 120V household outlets, one 120V RV outlet, one 12V DC outlet
- Dedicated outlet for direct power supply to RVs (with the appropriate cable)
- Good fuel economy provides long runtimes on both gasoline and propane
- Digital readout offers output and runtime figures, plus LEDs for fuel level
- Parallel capable, offering the opportunity to double the power output
- While wheels and handle help, a weight of 103 pounds reduces portability
- Although the vast majority are reliable, some owners have reported starting problems
Get the Champion Power Equipment quiet generator at Amazon.
What to Consider When Choosing a Quiet Generator
There are a variety of factors to consider ahead of buying a quiet generator for backup power needs. In this section, we take a closer look at what these factors are to help shoppers find a model that provides enough power and portability at the lowest decibel levels.
Wattage is typically the most critical factor to consider when buying a quiet generator. While generators typically have different wattage ratings, here’s an important point to remember: The higher the wattage rating, the higher the power output. Higher wattages usually mean larger, more expensive units, but quiet generators are usually compact and small, providing moderate power output for laptops, smartphones, and other small devices.
Those in the 1,000- to 1,600-watt range are great for camping and minor jobsite use, but not for home backup. For that, a minimum of 2,000 watts is recommended (to run an oven or large refrigerator), although 3,000 watts or more will be needed to run several items concurrently. Every electrical device has a label with the watts rating on it, which may help when deciding which generator to buy.
Fuel Type and Capacity
Quiet inverter generators typically use gasoline as a fuel source, and dual-fuel generators can run on propane, too. This is a big advantage, allowing owners to choose the fuel they use based on their needs, such as power output requirements, fuel availability in the area, and the fuel type that they have on hand.
Inverter generators have an isolated gasoline tank with a fuel capacity that ranges from as small as 2 gallons to more than 10 gallons. The larger the generator fuel tank, the longer it will be able to provide gasoline-based power, but the size of the generator itself also increases.
Fuel capacity has no bearing on how much propane can be used with the generator; propane gas is stored under pressure in canisters, which attach to the generator with a hose and pressure regulator for direct fuel consumption.
Quiet inverter generators are usually half as noisy as large or open-framed models, often in the 50- to 60-decibel range. To better understand generator noise output, here are some common comparable sounds:
- Refrigerator: 50 decibels
- Normal conversation: 60 decibels
- Hairdryer: 70 to 90 decibels
The quietest generators also use sensors to detect how much power they need to expend, throttling down for smaller loads and producing lower noise levels. Neighbors, either at home or a campground, will appreciate that a quiet inverter generator was chosen over a noisy, open-framed model.
Size and Weight
Physical size and weight will also be factors for some shoppers to consider. Since these units are meant to provide power where it is needed, small inverter generators are usually top-handled or side-handled units that can be picked up with one hand and carried with ease, as they’re typically lightweight around 40 to 50 pounds.
Heavier units weighing up to 100 pounds come with wheel kits to make portability easier. Both constructions are compact enough to bring to the campsite, stow in the car, or keep in the garage for when backup power is needed.
The quietest portable generators may be equipped with features that make their operation as convenient as possible. These include:
- Electric start: Instead of using a pull cord to start a generator manually, many modern generators offer an effortless electric start. This mechanism can be in the form of a push button, a switch, and even an electric start operated by remote control. Automatic transfer switches also fall into this category.
- Multiple outlets: Not only are multiple outlets convenient, but they also help distribute the generator’s electrical load when powering multiple devices. Having a quiet generator with at least two household electrical outlets is recommended for efficiently spreading the electrical load. Quiet generators may also have RV outlets and USB outlets.
- Load sharing: Purchasing a set of like-branded generators will often provide the ability to wire them in parallel, also known as load sharing. This means that by using a brand-specific kit, owners can plug one generator into another to combine their wattages and produce even more power. Load sharing can also be a less expensive way to produce enough wattage to run large appliances or power everything in an RV at once.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from shoppers who are looking for the best quiet generator for their homes.
Q. What is considered quiet for a generator?
A range of 50 to 60 decibels is considered quiet for a generator. Unlike many traditional generators, which operate at loud volumes, modern inverter models are much quieter. While there is no such thing as a portable silent generator, any that run at under 60 decibels (about the same level as normal conversation) are generally defined as quiet. Some manufacturers suggest a higher limit of 75 decibels, which is similar to office noise or high-quality vacuum cleaners.
Q. Why are inverter generators so quiet?
Inverter generators don’t use alternators like typical open-framed models might, requiring the engine to work harder and produce more heat. For that reason, inverter generator engines run more quietly. In addition, manufacturers can close them inside plastic housing for even better noise control without overheating.
Q. Do generators have to be maintained?
Just like your car, a generator’s engine requires periodic maintenance. This includes routine oil changes (after 20 hours of use for a brand-new generator and every 100 hours of use afterward), cleaning the air filter after 100 hours of operation, and ensuring that it runs for 20 or 30 minutes at least once every 3 months.
Q. Can I leave my generator running overnight?
It isn’t recommended to run a generator continuously. Models that rely on gas should not run after their standard runtime, which can be determined by their weight, tank size, and power consumption. Overnight needs can often be supplied by a portable power station that can be recharged using a quiet generator or by using an environmentally friendly solar generator.
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