March 2, 2022

How Loud is a Generac Generator?

There are lots of good reasons to get a home generator, so what holds people back from getting them? Some homeowners assume they’ll never need a generator, or it will be too expensive. Some assume it will be too loud, and annoy the neighbors, or themselves. Maybe they have a neighbor with a noisy old portable generator that annoys them every time the power goes out. How loud are home generators, compared to other sound sources? 

Before we can make these comparisons, we have to understand how sound is measured. The unit for measuring sound is the decibel, and since it’s measured on a logarithmic scale, which people aren’t used to, these measurements can be a little confusing. 

Here’s one way to explain it. 

A 50 db (decibels) sound is:

Ten times as loud as a 40 db sound.

100 times as loud as a 30 db sound.

1,000 times as loud as a 20 db sound.

10,000 times as loud as a 10 db sound.

100,000 as loud as a virtually silent 0 decibel sound.

Normal conversation is about 60 db. Anything over 85 db can damage your hearing, though prolonged exposure to quieter sounds can be harmful too, especially if it’s at a harmful frequency (pitch.)

Here’s a list of sounds, with their measurements in decibels:

Soft music, whispers, Rustling leaves30 db
Typical home noise40 db
Normal conversation, Background music60 db
Office noise, Car interior noise at 60 mph70 db
Vacuum cleaner75 db
Lawn mower, Heavy traffic, Window AC unit, Noisy restaurant80–89 db 
Shouted talk, Subway train90–95 db
Motorcycle, ATV96–100 db
School dance101–105 db
Snowmobile, Chainsaw, Gas-powered leaf blower106–115 db
Loud symphony, Sports crowd, Rock concert120–129 db
NASCAR races130 db
Gun shot, Siren at 100 feet140 db

A generator’s noise level will depend on a number of factors, such as its type, fuel source, size, brand, and noise-canceling features. If you want an especially quiet generator for tranquility’s sake, or you need to keep the noise of your generator under a certain number due to local codes, the first thing you should consider is probably the size of your generator. Larger generators are usually louder than smaller ones, as you would expect. 

Fortunately, recent model home standby generators are all designed to be quiet enough to not annoy your neighbors, provided they’re properly installed and maintained. They’re typically not much louder than a heat pump at top capacity, and you can run them more quietly if you run them at half capacity. Diesel units tend to be louder than generators that use natural gas or propane. Here are a few noise levels of home generator models, from the industry standard of 23 feet (7 meters) away, at top capacity:

62 db – Cummings Power Generation

64 db – Briggs & Stratton

66 db – Generac Guardian line

69 db – Kohler Power Systems

RVs and campers often use inverter generators, which are designed to be quiet enough to meet the often strict noise codes for campsites. (The National Park Service prohibits generators louder than 60db at a distance of 50 feet.) Here are a few examples of inverter generators, with their expected noise levels in normal conditions:

57 db – Honda EU22001

59 db – Westinghouse WH1000i 

59 bd – Briggs & Statton P2200

Portable generators are smaller than home backup generators, but tend to be much louder. That’s because they’re stripped down for portability and lack the material that dampens the sound of home backup generators, such as soundproof casing, rubber pads, and efficient mufflers. If they’ve been jostled and lugged around on a number of camping trips, a screw or bolt inside the unit can become a bit loose, which increases the noise. At the aforementioned distance of 23 feet, portable generators average between 70 and 100 decibels. That’s a very significant increase from home backup generators. Since prolonged exposure to noise above 85 decibels can damage your hearing, check the sound ratings on a portable generator before you buy it. 

Besides running generators at lower capacities (which is also cheaper) there are other ways to reduce your generator’s noise level. You can talk to your installer about location, and see if you can place your model away from bedrooms or neighbor’s houses. But your choices of location are pretty limited because you want it to be near the circuit breaker. You can also install acoustic sound barriers around the generator. They can be temporary or permanent. Rigid materials are more effective at dampening sound. This can include sandbags or concrete walls. Seidel Electric Inc helps home and business owners throughout the Blairstown, New Jersey area with advanced electrical solutions. Whether you need generator repair or want to install a new unit, our qualified technicians will arrive to offer friendly and professional support. Contact our team today to learn more about our services and financing options.