A generator is a fabulous thing when you’re an RVer. It allows you to have electricity wherever you may roam, giving you the opportunity to run your A/C in the middle of the desert or heat up a cup of coffee in a Walmart parking lot.
That said, even the best things in life have drawbacks, and generators are no exception. The biggest issue with generators? They’re loud. In fact, depending on what kind of generator we’re talking about, they can be extremely loud, making them nearly impossible to use if you have any neighbors at all.
If you happen to own one of these super loud generators, you may be feeling a bit disappointed that you can’t put it to good use without disturbing the sleep of everyone near you. Fortunately, there are ways around this problem. With a bit of effort—and sometimes a dash of creativity—you can quiet RV generator noise so everyone around you can have peace even as you run your A/C, microwave, or phone charger.
Wondering how to quiet down a generator? There are few different options out there. In this article, we will discuss ways to quiet a generator so you can travel comfortably and quietly no matter where you may roam.
Making Generators Quieter: 3 Methods
So what are these methods for how to quiet your generator? There are three that we know of, and of those, two stand out as the ideal ways of quieting a generator.
The three methods are:
- Baffle Box
Each has its pros and cons (as we’ll discuss below), so you can choose the method that works best for you, your budget, and your travel style.
The Muffler Method
The first option for how to quiet a generator is the muffler method. An RV generator muffler works in the same way it would work on a vehicle. It captures the loud sound and, as the name suggests, muffles it. It does this by bouncing the sound around in a very precise manner, canceling out the sound along the way and releasing a much quieter noise out the back end.
Unfortunately, an RV generator muffler silencer is incredibly expensive. Additionally, in order for a generator muffler to be at all effective, it must be installed correctly.
Sure, you can get a bit of muffling power from a muffler that is rigged onto the generator exhaust pipe. However, in order to get the full effect, the muffler must be welded into place. Many people don’t have the tools or skills needed to do this job properly.
We also must mention that while a muffler works well on the type of generator installed inside of an RV, it isn’t always the best option for freestanding generators. This is because much of the noise of the appliances actually escapes out the sides of the generator, which aren’t covered as they would be on an in-RV generator.
In the end, while a muffler might offer relief from the noise of a generator, it is an expensive and complicated solution that doesn’t work as well as many would like. For this reason, we recommend looking into other options for how to quiet generator noise—unless you’re dealing with a generator that is installed in your RV.
Best Way to Quiet a Generator: The Plywood Method
The next method we listed is the plywood method. It can only be used on standalone generators, not those installed into the RV. However, if this is the type of generator you have, it is our favorite option for how to quiet generator noise because it works well, is incredibly inexpensive—you may even have what you need on hand already!—and absolutely anyone can put it together on their own.
To use this method, simply collect 4 pieces of plywood. The pieces need to be at least a bit bigger than the sides of the generator. Lean one piece of plywood onto each side of the generator, creating a sort of lean-to house around the appliance. This lean-to helps contain the noise and can easily drop sound levels by 10 decibels or more.
Want even more sound-reducing power? You can enhance this plywood method by using OSB or even sheetrock in place of the plywood. Another option is to paint your plywood—or OSB or Sheetrock—with a layer of tar to further absorb the sound.
It should also be noted that in order to ensure your generator doesn’t overheat and become damaged or cause a fire, it’s important that you build your structure with plenty of ventilation. Fortunately, this is easy enough to accomplish by placing the end of each sheet of wood a few feet away from the generator and then leaning it in, leaving a nice gap between the wood and the appliance.
Baffle Box for Generator
The plywood method above is fantastic in that anyone can do it and it’s super portable. That said, it isn’t exactly pretty to look at, and those who use their generators often might find that their lean-to tends to fall over or slip out of place. The answer? A generator baffle box.
A baffle box is simply a box that your generator can be placed inside of in order to contain the noise it creates. It works just like the plywood method, but looks a bit nicer, stands a bit stronger, and is less cumbersome to get set up each time you wish to use it.
Most people choose to build their own baffle boxes out of plywood, something that works well, is relatively inexpensive, and leaves a lot of room for customization, but requires a little bit of elbow grease. Still, most people find that the finished product is quite nice, making it worth the effort.
To make your own baffle box, just build a wooden box for your generator to fit inside. Make sure to add holes for ventilation, including a spot where the exhaust escapes. To make your baffle box even more soundproof, consider painting tar on the inside of the box or making an inner box and an outer box and putting insulation between the two to further muffle sound.
Some people will create a hole for refueling, removing the need to remove the box each time the generator needs to be topped off. Others will add a handle to make the box easier to carry.
Besides the three noise-reducing methods listed above, there are a few other things you can do to ensure you aren’t bothering the neighbors or driving your own family crazy when running your generator. Try using these tips in addition to or instead of the methods mentioned above to find the perfect solution for your situation.
Move Away from RVs
The great thing about a portable generator is that it’s…well, portable. Try moving the generator as far from your RV and the other rigs around you to see if that makes things quiet enough to get some rest. Extension cords help make this possible, as does a lot of open space, making boondocking in the wilderness the perfect opportunity to give this a try.
Place on Solid Ground
Considering how loud generators already are, you definitely don’t need the sound created by a wobbly generator added to that. For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you place your generator on stable, solid ground where wobbling and vibrations won’t be an issue.
Shop for a Different Generator
Our last tip is also the most expensive option. Nevertheless, it does tend to solve the problem with the least fuss. If you own a big, noisy generator, your best bet might just be to go out and purchase a different one, ensuring the next generator you buy is less noisy.
Buying a Different Generator: What to Look For
Let’s say you do decide to start shopping for a new, quieter generator. Do you know what you should be looking for? Most people don’t. For this reason, we’re going to take a minute to discuss the kinds of things to keep an eye out for when shopping for a less noisy generator.
Generally speaking, you will be looking for an inverter generator with its own enclosure. These are much quieter than the larger, less-enclosed type that tend to be used on worksites and in emergency situations. Additionally, they are lighter, making them easier to travel with.
Sound Rating vs Power Output
Usually, the more power you get from a unit, the noisier it’s going to be. Fortunately, RVers don’t tend to need a ton of power. In fact, unless you’re wanting to run the air conditioner or microwave, a 2,000-watt generator should be sufficient for your RVing needs. A good, enclosed 2,000-watt inverter generator should only put out around 65dB, making it a relatively quiet option.
That said, those who wish to run things such as the A/C will require more power than a 2,000-watt unit can provide. At that point, a 3,500-watt generator will be needed. As long as you go for an enclosed unit, you should be able to find a fairly quiet 3,500-watt generator that is about equivalent to a 2,000-watt unit in terms of sound output.
Of course, your new, super quiet generator can also be surrounded by plywood or put in a baffle box to help silence it further and make it even more discreet.
Our Favorite Super Quiet Portable Generators
Prefer not to do the shopping yourself? No worries! We’ve done a lot of research on this very topic and have some excellent recommendations that we know you’ll be happy with. Try one of the generators below for a quiet experience that’ll keep you comfortable even in the middle of nowhere.
This incredibly well-made and reliable piece of equipment is the favorite option of an enormous number of RVers. It’s lightweight for starters, and for those who only require 2,000 watts or so, it gets the job done quite nicely. Best of all, this generator produces a mere 57dB of sound, making it one of the quietest generators on the market.
The Harbor Freight “Predator” generators are also a fantastic option. They have a 2,000-watt unit that we love almost as much as the Honda generator mentioned above. However, the 3,500-watt unit is probably our favorite 3,500-watt generator on the market. It’s also reliable and easy to use, and like the Honda unit above, it puts out only 57dB of sound—an incredible feat, considering the power it’s putting out.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to get the power you need in your RV wherever you are, and without making a huge racket. Try one of these tips or employ a variety of them to create a surprisingly peaceful generator experience that most people would think impossible.
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