Portable generators are great for many activities; they can provide electricity on the go or at home, enabling you to get through a camping trip or a blackout with your most important devices intact. Unfortunately, that precious energy often comes with a downside: the disturbance caused by a noisy generator.
Many modern, stationary generators don’t have that problem, thanks to a quality muffler that keeps the noise to a minimum. Portable generators, on the other hand, usually leave a lot to be desired in the noise reduction department. Your portable generator may not have come with a good muffler, or the muffler that it did come with may no longer effectively reduce noise after extensive use.
Fortunately, you can always solve this problem with an upgrade. Read on to better understand the noisy generator problem and learn about the best mufflers to help you solve it ASAP.
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Getting a Handle on Generator Noise
While the most obvious answer to the question, “how loud is your generator” might be “really loud,” that noise level can actually be quantified. Portable generators tend to produce 70 to 100 decibels (measured at 23 feet, according to the industry standard), roughly equivalent to a vacuum on the low end and a motorcycle on the high end. Anything above 85 decibels (dB) is harmful over long periods of time.
Where your generator falls in that range will depend on its size and manufacturer. Generally speaking, more money pays for a quieter generator and saves you the trouble of figuring out how to better muffle yours. But not everyone can afford a top flight generator. For the rest of us, there are a number of other ways to reduce generator noise production.
Reasons to Quiet Down Your Generator
Reducing the noise created by your generator can not only provide you with some extra peace of mind, but also serve as an act of consideration for those around you. In a neighborhood where dwellings are close to each other, your generator noise can easily become a problem for your neighbors. Demonstrating a good faith effort to reduce that noise can help ease tensions.
Another scenario that makes a loud generator even more problematic is when weather conditions force you to bring your generator into the garage. The garage will end up acting as an amplifier, pushing decibel production into the dangerous range. Figuring out how to muffle that noise becomes even more important.
These are only a couple of the many potential reasons you might need to reduce the amount of noise your generator creates. Whatever your reason might be, this guide will provide you with a number of possible solutions.
All combustion engines come with some sort of muffler to reduce the noise that the produce, but many of these factory mufflers are not particularly effective. So, one way of decreasing generator noise is to replace an ineffective factory muffler with a more effective aftermarket one.
When purchasing an aftermarket muffler for your generator, you have to make sure that the new muffler is going to fit. Some mufflers will only fit a particular generator while others are designed to be compatible with many different models. To figure out what muffler you’ll need, consider the size of your generator, the size and type of the factory muffler, and whether a clamp-on or threaded adapter is needed. You’ll also want to think about how many diffuser discs the muffler has – more discs will further reduce noise.
Muffler Installation, Step by Step
1) First, unplug both the spark plug and battery plugs in order to prevent electricity from flowing
2) Detach the factory-installed muffler
3) If necessary, assemble the parts of the new muffler as indicated in the instructions that come with it
4) Use the appropriate adaptor to attach the new muffler to the generator
5) Turn on the generator and make sure that there are no leaks around the joint.
A muffler worth its salt and properly installed will typically decrease generator noise by ten to fifteen decibels.
Further Noise Reduction Measures
Obtaining an effective muffler is likely the most important step you can take to reduce generator noise, but here are a few other tricks that can also work:
Construct an Enclosure for Your Generator
You can build an enclosure that can be placed around your generator using plywood, insulation, or other similar materials. However, you need to make sure that your enclosure still allows for adequate air flow around the generator, with a place for the exhaust to escape. Failure to do so could cause the generator to overheat and become seriously damaged.
Similar to building an enclosure but less complicated is using a barrier to deflect sound away from where people are. This barrier can be set up using almost any spare building materials you have lying around, like plywood or sheet metal.
Displacing the Generator
If you have plenty of space, then another way to deal with generator noise is to simply move it farther away. With the help of an extension cord and a surge protector, you can get some distance between your portable generator and your living quarters so that it becomes less of a bother.
Use a Sound-Absorbing Base
The surface upon which your generator has been installed can be a big factor affecting how much noise it makes – wood or concrete may actually end up amplifying that sound. Placing a sound absorbent material beneath the generator, such as a sturdy rubber mat, will diminish noise levels.
The Less Vibration, The Better
A good deal of generator noise is caused by vibration, especially with larger generators. Make sure that none of the parts or pieces of the generator are loose, and tighten up anything that is. And don’t put the generator on a surface that is going to vibrate with it.
If You Get Desperate, Buy a Quieter Generator
Many higher-end generators are designed to run relatively quietly, and their specifications will often indicate how many decibels of noise they create. If you have a serious generator noise problem, the best solution may be to replace the generator.
By now, you should have an idea of how to reduce the amount of noise your generator makes. All that remains is to put that plan into action!