Are Propane Generators Quiet?


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Sudden loud sounds like a car horn or a long period of exposure to a high level of noise can lead either to sudden and permanent hearing loss or increased stress levels, so manufacturers have a responsibility to show how much noise a machine makes. This way, consumers can make safe choices. When shopping for your propane generator, you’ll find that manufacturers even print what noise level you can expect from your machine, but aren’t they quiet?

Propane generators are quiet when running on specific settings. Sound levels range from 52 to 79 dB. The low end of the range is like a quiet office environment. Look for manufacturer sound guidance, inverter technology, and muffling devices to get the quietest propane generator for your needs.  

This article will help you understand which features to look for when choosing a propane generator, and what you need to think about to ensure your generator runs quietly. It will also explain how noise is measured and how you can use noise measurement guides to buy a quiet propane generator that will cover your power supply needs. So, read on!

Are Propane Generators Quiet

Why Are Propane Generators Quiet?

Propane generators run with sound levels that vary from 50 dB(a) to around 80 dB(a). These numbers reflect noises that are like a normal conversation through to the sound of heavy traffic heard from a distance of seven meters. Within this range, there are tolerable and intolerable noise levels for users. This is why manufacturers focus on lowering noise levels where possible. 

Features That Make Propane Generators Run Quietly

Propane generators are some of the quietest generators available as manufacturers apply design components to limit the noise a generator produces. Components to consider when purchasing your propane generator are exhaust technology and motor mufflers, noise-insulating casing, anti-vibration systems, as well as the type of throttle and inverter system.

Within a conventional generator that runs with an alternator, the engine runs at a constant rotation speed. This means a constant level of machine noise. Generators with inverter technology vary the speed of the motor in relation to the load. When the load requirement is less, the generator produces less noise.  

The load is the demand for power that’s placed on a generator. It’s affected by the number of appliances and each appliance’s power, including start-up power and running power. The greater the load, the harder the generator works to supply a constant supply, and the higher the noise level. So to minimize sound output from your generator, consider the load you plug into it.

Examples of Generators and Sound Level Emissions

Generators such as Honda’s 2200i include Eco-System Throttle for low noise emission. It boasts a sound power of 52 dB(a) along with added fuel consumption economy. Meanwhile, Yamaha’s EF2000iSv2 has a special casing that muffles its motor noise. The Yamaha generator emits 51.5 dB(a) when running at a quarter of its load capacity. 

Compared to the smaller generators and still considered as quiet, the 12000EH Dual Fuel Generator emits a competitive 74 dB and delivers 12,000W of power. 

What to Consider When Buying Your Propane Generator

When it comes to buying your propane generator, there are certain factors you must consider. For one, propane generators with inverters are typically more expensive than generators that run with a standard alternator. It’s also worth thinking about where you’re going to use the generator since sound travels differently in different environments. 

It’s best to select your propane generator’s power output capability in line with the power demands of the appliances you want to power.

Are Propane Generators Quiet

To calculate the best generator for your needs, note the appliances you want to support. Each appliance is labeled with the wattage. Add up the wattage for each item you want to power. Some appliances demand more power when they start than when they’re running, so you’ll need to consider this in your calculations.

Once you have your appliances and their wattage total, you have a rough guide on the wattage your generator will need to deliver. To take care of start-up demands, factor in a margin of about 10% additional power to your final wattage total. This should guarantee your generator will power your appliances.

Selecting Propane Generators by Noise Level Rating

In line with the International Organization for Standardization directions, makers of propane generators must publish a machine’s sound power. This number shows how a person can expect to experience the sound emitted from a device. It’s known as the sound power

To better appreciate how this rating applies, it’s useful to know how humans perceive sound. Hearing varies from person to person. What can be loud or intolerable for one person can be a comfortable level for another. The sound guides printed with generator specifications give a general overview of how a sound’s effects will be perceived. 

Understanding the Sound Rating Guide on Propane Generators

The noise that a generator makes is often indicated with dBA or dB(a) and sometimes LWA. To get this data—sound levels are measured 7 meters or 23 feet away from the source of the sound. What’s actually measured is the sound’s effect within its surroundings and not the sound at its source. 

Are Propane Generators Quiet

As a guide, the higher the sound level number, the louder the generator will be. A lower measure of sound is important if you want to keep noise to a minimum.

What Sound Ratings Mean for the Human Ear

The human ear can hear a range of sounds, from a whisper to an explosion. A soft whisper heard from about one meter away measures about 35 decibels. In comparison, a normal conversation rests at around 65 decibels. In today’s market, it’s possible to buy a propane generator with a sound output of 52 dB(a). A generator with this noise rating should be comfortable for most people.

Some more powerful propane generators have a sound value of 68 dB(a). This noise level is like that of a noisy office or of a toilet flushing. Sound ratings that come in above 80 dB(a) are like an alarm clock or a vacuum cleaner. While a kitchen blender or the airplane cabin during normal flight measures around 90 dB(a).

How to Limit the Noise Levels of Your Propane Generator

Once you have selected the quietest propane generator that’s suitable for your needs, there are other factors you can control to limit the sound.

  • Manage the load on your generator to limit sound. The load level is proportional to the amount of sound a generator gives off. If you don’t need to fully load your generator and have it run at half or quarter of its load capacity, you can reduce its noise levels.
  • Use a sound-absorbent surface for your generator. Consider the surface where you place your generator. If you’re out camping, and you have soft ground, this will help to absorb vibrations made by the motor in the generator. Where possible, place your generator upon a material that will dull any vibrations.

  • Apply distance for quieter levels of noise. In the same way that material like rubber absorbs vibrations, so does distance. As sound travels through its environment, sound waves lose energy and impact. The further away you can place your generator, the quieter your experience will be. If you can’t put your generator further than the recommended safe distance, use a noise-absorbing barrier to act as a muffler.

A note of precaution: Be careful not to block the generator exhaust or reduce ventilation to the device if using a noise-absorbent barrier.

Final Thoughts

When looking for your ideal generator, make sure your generator can power your appliances in the conditions you need it to work in. Use the machine specifications to select the noise rating that’s best for your environment and, where possible, manage the load capacity to ensure your propane generator runs quietly.

Chris Hewitt

Chris is a Texas-based freelance writer who loves the outdoors and working in his garage. When he's not enjoying the Texas sun, he can be found tinkering with all sorts of things in his workshop.

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