12 Tips on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping

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As far as outdoor activities go, camping is extremely popular amongst adventure lovers regardless of their age. Today, our life has become really hectic and a normal working day leaves most of us with no time to relax.

It’s no wonder that people crave for a break and love to move out of their homes, out of the city and into the wilderness during the weekend. Camping out in the wild can be a fascinating and exciting experience. You live, eat and sleep in the outdoors and the thrill of it is a completely different thing.

Camping today has progressed with time. There’s a need for power (electricity) to have a full camping experience. It’s impossible to stay without mobile phones these days. Having a power source will help you charge your mobile phone.

It will also help you charge flashlights, power up an induction stove to cook something etc. Hence, a small generator is a must for camping. With a camping generator, you’ll have the required power to make your camping experience more pleasant.

However, generators come with one hiccup – the noise they make. Hearing a loud disturbing generator sound while you’re camping in the quiet and solace of the wild defeats the whole purpose of camping. The trick is to know how to make a generator quiet for camping so you can get the best of both worlds.

Can Generators Get Very Loud?

Usually, generators emit a loud sound while running. The industry standard for the noise level of a normal portable generator is anywhere between 70 to 100 decibels. The noise level will also depend on the size, model and make of the generator you buy.

As with all good things, a quieter generator will cost more than your regular, noisier generator.

However, if you cannot afford to spend that extra money to buy a quieter generator, you could use the following tips and tricks for reducing the sound of your generator.

Why Make Your Generator Quiet?

You’re out camping and you’re looking for some peace and solace. Having a noisy generator can disturb your peace. You should also consider the other people who have come for camping at the same location. A noisy generator will likely disturb them and cause animosity. A loud, noisy generator can cause a lot of sound pollution.

It’s best we look at different methods to reduce the sound made by your generator.

How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping

propane camping generator

You should look at the following methods to silence your generator and enjoy your camping experience with your friends or family.

1. Buy a Quiet Generator 

It’s important to know that larger generators are usually designed for usage in the construction industry and noise is not an issue there. If you don’t want to put in efforts to silence your regular generator then you may want to consider purchasing a “quiet generator”.

These models are made especially for camping and you don’t need to do any tweaks to them before your trip. Yes, they’re a relatively costlier option but do consider your budget versus the effort you will have to put into fixing a regular generator, before deciding on one.

2. Replace Faulty Generator Muffler

This is another important factor to consider. If you’re using an old generator, chances are it may be faulty. This is evident if you notice that the generator is currently making a lot more noise than it used to earlier.

If so, you should try and get it checked by a mechanic. Chances are that the muffler needs replacement. Another possibility could be that the engine itself is faulty. Weigh your options carefully.

If it’s a cheap generator, it may not be worth it to replace the parts. However, if it’s an expensive (and otherwise working well) generator, having the faulty parts replaced may solve your issue.

3. Get a Shelter Box

A shelter box is a box that you can enclose your generator in. This is the easiest and quickest way to reduce the sound made by your generator.

There are shelter boxes available on the market. They enclose all the noise inside them and don’t let it permeate outside. You can easily purchase these shelter boxes online, without having to shell out too much money.

If you’re the artistic type, you could even try and make your own shelter box by purchasing materials from your local store.

4. Use a Sound Deflector

A simple and free technique would be to form a barrier around the generator using any available objects. This may not exactly silence the generator. However, it will disrupt the sound waves and deflect off some of the noise away from your location. It’s known to instantly reduce sound up to 10 decibels.

5. Try Water

Sounds funny? But it’s true! If you connect the generator’s exhaust with a hosepipe and then put the loose end of the pipe into a bucket of water, you’ll see a drastic reduction in the sound made by the generator. The water muffles the sound made by the exhaust, in turn muffling the overall noise made by the generator.

6. Get a Rubber Flap

It’s good to check all the controls of your generator and ensure that they’re in working condition. In case you want to use a baffle box to silence your generator, ensure that you leave enough space that lets you access the control panel.

A simple way to do this is to use a rubber flap right above the access point of the controls. You could simply move this flap and access the controls instead of removing the whole box each time you want to use the generator.

7. Put a Sound Absorbing Mat Below the Generator

Did you know that the sound emitted by a generator is not all from its motor? Some noise is also emitted due to the generator’s vibration. This noise can be reduced if you put a thick, sound-absorbing mat below the generator. This trick also works with other noisy gadgets like pool pumps.

8. Move the Exhaust Pipes

Another simple way to negate some of the sound of your generator would be to change the exhaust pipes’ position. Most generators have their pipes facing outward which is the main cause of the loud sound produced.

The noise comes out from the exhaust pipe. If the pipes are changed to a vertical position, it will deflect the noise upwards (and not outwards). This will help reduce the sound to a great extent.

9. Put the Generator Away from the Camping Tent

You are unlikely to get any sleep if you keep listening to the rumbling noise of the generator all night. It is in your own best interest (as well as the best interest of others around you) that you install your generator at a considerable distance from your camping location. This will reduce the level of noise that reaches you and will not disturb your (well-deserved) sleep.

10. Tighten All Loose Parts

Just like any other appliance, if a part of the generator is loose, it won’t work properly. Most of us skip this simple step of checking on all the parts and tightening the loose parts (if any).

Always remember that any loose part in your generator can add to its noise. Remember to always check all the nuts and bolts on the generator and tighten them regularly. It’s easy and free!

11. Use a Generator Silencer

A tactic that makes the maximum difference in noise level with minimum effort from your end – a generator silencer. You just have to connect the silencer to your generator’s exhaust and like magic, the noise level goes down by a good 12-18 decibels.

One word of caution here would be to ensure that you have enough knowledge about fixing the silencer the correct way. If you do it incorrectly, it can block the exhaust flow of your generator.

12. Wrap the Generator in Fireproof Insulation

Creating a box using fireproof insulation material (like fiberglass, mineral wool etc.) and enclosing your generator in it can also help muffle the sound emitted by your generator. But if you’re doing so, it’s crucial to think about airflow.

Hence, it’s ideal to make it in such a way that the walls of the box can be easily rolled up. It must be removable. Remember to always test it out thoroughly before you enclose the generator in and settle down in your camp.

Why Can Generators Get So Loud?

portable camping generator

While all this while we have been talking about how the generator makes a loud, whizzing sound; which can be disturbing and cause you to lose sleep while camping; we must also consider why your generator makes such a sound.

Let’s look at a few contributing factors:

1. Build

A strong factor in the noise levels produced by a generator is its build. If the generator has high power, uses more electricity; it’s sure to make more noise. The bigger the generator – the more the sound. The smaller the generator, comparatively the sound is lower.

2. Soundproofing

If you soundproof your generator, you can reduce the noise it makes. However, the flip side is that most soundproof boxes are bulky and that in itself can pose a huge hindrance while camping as you will have to carry it with you to the camping location and move it around as required. Most generators come with small soundproof measures applied.

For example, the engine may have a rubber layer around it to minimize sound. The generator’s legs may be covered with rubber pads so that it doesn’t slip and also the vibrations come with a lower intensity. When compared to a generator where these small soundproofing measures haven’t been taken, there will surely be a difference in the sound levels.

3. Energy Level

Each generator has a different energy level. If your generator’s wattage is high, your machine will make more noise. It’s important to understand what exactly your generator’s usage will be (while camping) and then pick your generator accordingly.

4. Location

This fact is simple and straightforward. The closer you place your generator to your camping site, the more you’ll hear its noise. The farther you place it, the lower will be its noise. It also helps to note the surface on which your generator is mounted. If it’s mounted on an uneven shaky surface, it’ll vibrate more and cause more noise. 

5. Fuel

Did you know that the kind of fuel that a generator runs on is also a deciding factor in the noise that it emits? Review all the possible fuels before deciding on a generator. The diesel ones are the most common and obviously the noisiest. If you go for eco-friendly options, they are extremely expensive.

6. Technology

Having spoken about the energy levels of the generators above, it’s also possible to have a powerful generator but with a low noise level. This will depend on the production technology used in your generator.

Generators that have inverter technology are powerful, run smoothly as well as quietly, especially in comparison to the conventional generator designs.

Is There Any Quiet Type of Generator?

If you’re looking at a quiet generator, it’s recommended to purchase one with a good silencing capacity. Go for a stand-by generator and not a portable one. Even better if you could opt for a liquid-cooled model (provided you have the budget for it). These models are easy to maintain.

As discussed above, you could also look at a generator model that comes with an inverter. This particular model not only produces lower sound when compared to traditional models but they are also way smaller in size. This makes them an ideal choice for camping enthusiasts.

As with all good things, these models too come at a price. They are a tad pricier than the traditional ones but offer the perfect solution for camping.

How to Maintain Your Camping Generator

Here are the steps you should follow to properly maintain your generator:

  • Make sure you operate your generator at least once every 3 months for a good 30 minutes, in order to keep it running smoothly.
  • The oil should be replaced after each 50-hour point once the break-in period of 7-10 hours is up. Also, make sure you use a good quality motor oil for the same.
  • Ensure that your generator has fully cooled down before refilling.
  • Maintain your generator regularly.
  • Keep a fair distance from your location while operating the generator.
  • It’s crucial that your gas levels are adequate. Keep checking them. It can be hazardous if your generator runs out of gas while running.
  • Always place the generator on a flat surface while it’s running. It will work better if the ground is even.
  • Protect your generator against theft by locking it.
  • Last but not least, thoroughly read and understand the user manual before attempting installation.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to look at the big picture when purchasing or fixing a generator. Once you consider every tiny aspect, you’ll be able to determine what works best for your camping trip. You could choose to use your own tools and basic available materials to fix your generator.

Or you could choose to purchase a quiet generator. Whatever your choice, this article gives you enough information to take an informed decision and enjoy your next camping trip peacefully! 

David Miller

My name is David and I have been an outdoor guy for as long as I can remember. I have a strong passion for the great outdoors in general and specifically camping. I am the kind of person who spends more time outdoors than indoors. I am a staunch believer in the fact that outdoor life should be well lived because it's in the natural, serene, and untamed wild that we find out who we truly are. Let’s take the journey together.

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