Why Are Portable Generators So Loud? – Tips to Reduce Noise

Last Updated on March 15, 2023 by Manager Access

Portable generators are essential tools for many people, providing power in areas where electricity is not readily available. However, one major drawback of these machines is their noise output. Why are portable generators so loud?

Portable generators are loud because they have internal combustion engines that produce mechanical energy, which is then converted into electrical energy. The noise level of a generator is affected by its size and power, the type of engine used, and the exhaust system.

In this article, we will explore why portable generators are so loud, their impact on the environment and human health, and potential solutions to reduce their noise.

Reasons Why Portable Generators Are Loud

Reasons Why Portable Generators Are Loud

Size and power

One of the primary reasons why portable generators are so loud is because of their size and power. Generators come in different sizes.

The larger the generator, the more power it produces. The more power produced, the more fuel is needed to burn, and this fuel combustion creates noise.

Additionally, larger generators have bigger engines, which also produce more noise.

Size and power

For example, a 5000-watt generator produces an average of 72 decibels (dB) of noise, while a 2000-watt generator produces an average of 59 dB.

A small 1000-watt generator produces around 50 dB, which is about the same as a normal conversation.

On the other hand, a 10,000-watt generator produces an average of 80 dB, which is the equivalent of a chainsaw.

Type of engine

Type of engine

Another factor that contributes to the noise level of portable generators is the type of engine used. Generators can have either two-stroke or four-stroke engines.

Two-stroke engines are more lightweight and compact, but they are also louder because they use a mixture of oil and gasoline to lubricate the engine. This mixture causes more fuel to be burned, leading to a louder noise.

In contrast, four-stroke engines have separate oil and gasoline systems, making them more fuel-efficient and quieter.

Exhaust system

Your generator’s exhaust pipe can also contribute to its noise level. Exhaust pipes and exhaust systems are responsible for the discharge of gases produced by the engine, and they can create so much noise.

The size of the muffler, the quality of the materials used, and the design of the exhaust system can all impact the noise level of a generator. A poorly designed or damaged muffler or exhaust pipe, for example, can significantly increase the noise level.

How Can Generator Noise Negatively Affect You

Generator noise can have negative impacts on both your physical and mental health. It also has a negative impact on the environment.

Environmental impact

Generator noise can have significant environmental impacts, particularly on wildlife. Loud noise can disrupt animal behavior patterns, including mating, foraging, and migration.

This disruption can have cascading effects on entire ecosystems. Additionally, a noisy generator can negatively affect the quality of outdoor recreational experiences, such as camping or hiking.

To mitigate these environmental impacts, many countries have established regulations around generator noise levels.

In the United States, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set noise emission standards for portable generators. These standards specify that generators must emit no more than 76 dB of noise from a distance of 23 feet.

Health impact

The loud noise produced by most generators can also have negative health impacts on humans. Exposure to loud noise for prolonged periods can cause hearing damage, tinnitus, and other hearing-related issues.

Additionally, generator noise can increase stress levels, leading to other health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

To reduce the risk of hearing damage, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that workers not be exposed to noise levels above 85 dB for more than eight hours a day.

For comparison, a typical conversation produces around 60 dB of noise, while a chainsaw produces around 120 dB.

Regulations on Generator Noise

Regulations on generator noise can vary depending on the location and intended use of the generator. In some areas, there may be noise restrictions in place for generators used in residential areas, construction sites, or other public spaces.

These regulations may specify a maximum decibel level or a certain time period during which home generators are allowed to be used.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established regulations for the noise emissions of certain types of small engines, including those used in portable generators.

Under these regulations, manufacturers must test their products to ensure that they meet certain noise standards.

The maximum allowable noise level varies depending on the size of the engine, with larger engines generally having a higher maximum noise level.

It’s important to be aware of any regulations or guidelines governing generator noise in your area before purchasing or using a generator.

Violating noise regulations can result in fines or other penalties, and can also contribute to noise pollution and negative impacts on the environment and human health.

In addition to government regulations, there may also be industry standards or best practices related to generator noise.

For example, the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association (PGMA) has established a voluntary standard for generator noise emissions.

This standard sets maximum noise levels for generators in various categories and provides guidance on testing and reporting noise emissions.

Can You Make A Portable Generator Quieter?



One way to make generators less noisy is to soundproof them. Soundproofing involves adding materials to the generator or the surrounding area to absorb or block sound waves.

Some materials commonly used for soundproofing generators include acoustic foam, mass-loaded vinyl, and sound barriers.

Acoustic foam is a type of material that can absorb sound waves, reducing the amount of noise that escapes the generator.

Mass-loaded vinyl is a dense material that can block sound waves from passing through, helping to reduce the amount of noise that escapes the generator. Sound barriers, such as walls or fences, can also be used to block sound waves from passing through.

While soundproofing can be effective in reducing generator sounds, it is important to note that it is not a perfect solution in turning a quiet generator into a quiet one.

It can be expensive and time-consuming to install soundproofing materials, and it may not be possible to completely eliminate all generator noise.

New technologies

inverter technology

Another solution to minimize the noise output of your generator is to use generators operating on new technologies.

Some manufacturers are developing generators that use inverter technology, which can reduce noise levels by up to 50% compared to traditional generators.

Inverter generators work by converting the generator’s output into a stable and consistent electrical signal, which reduces the amount of fuel burned and noise produced.

Some generators also come equipped with noise-reducing features, such as noise-reducing mufflers or vibration dampening systems. These features can help to reduce the amount of noise that the generator produces.

Noise Level of Portable Generators

Generator Type Noise Level (dB)
1000-Watt 50 dB
2000-Watt 59 dB
5000-Watt 72 dB
10,000-Watt 80 dB

Can You Put A Silencer On A Generator?

It is possible to install a silencer on a portable generator to help reduce its noise level. A silencer, also known as a muffler, is a device that is designed to reduce the noise level of the exhaust gases that are expelled from the engine.

Can You Put A Silencer On A Generator?

The silencer works by using various chambers and baffles to absorb and redirect the sound waves, effectively reducing the noise level of the engine.

Many portable generators come equipped with mufflers as standard equipment, but in some cases, additional silencing may be desired.

There are a variety of aftermarket silencers available that can be installed on portable generators, ranging from simple add-on devices to more complex custom muffler systems.

It’s important to note that not all silencers are created equal, and the effectiveness of a given muffler can vary depending on the size and power of the generator, as well as the specific design of the exhaust pipe and muffler.

Additionally, adding a silencer to a generator can potentially affect its performance, including its fuel efficiency and power output.

Key Takeaways:

  • Portable generators are known to produce high levels of noise, which can cause disturbances in both the environment and to individuals nearby.
  • The noise level of a generator is affected by its size and power, the type of engine used, and the exhaust system.
  • Exposure to a loud generator can have significant environmental and health impacts, including disrupting wildlife behavior patterns and causing hearing damage in humans.
  • To reduce generator noise, soundproofing and new technologies such as inverter generators and noise-reducing features can be used.


Portable generators are an essential tool for many people, providing power in areas where electricity is not readily available.

However, they can also be incredibly loud, causing disturbances in both the environment and to individuals nearby. The noise output of a generator is affected by its size and power, the type of engine used, and the exhaust system.

GeneratorGrid.com is an independent review business. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me purchase more generators for testing. - Scott Krager

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