Having a portable source of power can make any adventure, construction task, or power outage a more enjoyable and straightforward experience. Yet despite their inarguably useful nature, many generators have numerous drawbacks. Perhaps the most salient of these issues is noise. For decades, generators have been almost universally caustic and noisy machines that provided electricity in exchange for your, and your neighbor’s, sanity.
Luckily, modern generators have all but eliminated this drawback by using a combination of enclosures, more efficient engines, and inverter-based power. There have never been more options available for anyone seeking an affordable and practical quiet generator. We’ve reviewed some of the most popular quiet running generators, and here are the best quiet generator models we found.
Products Reviewed in This Article
Top 3 Best Quiet Generator ComparedTable could not be displayed.
The Best Quiet Generator Reviews
Just because something is basic doesn’t mean it isn’t great. Westinghouse is one of the oldest manufacturers of electrical devices around, and they have recently forayed into producing generators. When you look at their efficiently and thoughtfully designed generators, the experience they have developed over so many decades becomes apparent. There are not any flashy show-stopping features on the iGen2200, but it does an incredible job of getting the basics right.
The iGen2200 has 2,200 peak watts and 1,800 running watts of output, making it the middle of the road for inverter generators. However, it should have plenty of capacity for most jobs. The upside is that this is a very compact generator. At 47 lbs, this is one of the smallest two-kilowatt models I’ve ever reviewed. It is also extremely quiet. At 52db, this generator is barely audible if it is more than a few feet away.
The front panel is well laid out and has all the necessary features. There is a single 120V outlet, a USB port, and a place for a parallel kit. One detail that impressed me was the rubber covers for all ports. Given the damp or dusty environments that generators are often exposed to, it makes a lot of sense to include a method of keeping grime out of the electronics. It’s a surprisingly rare inclusion and one that I was happy to see.
The Westinghouse also uses a very elegant parallel kit. Many small generators have parallel kits, but the components are often very expensive and bulky. Here, you simply need an inexpensive coupling cable and you are good to go. Like so many other aspects of this generator, the name of the game is simple elegance. Finally, the fuel tank size is worth mentioning. It is 1.2 gallons, rather than the standard gallon or less of the competition. While this may seem like a negligible difference, it constitutes a 20% gain is run time. At 12 hours, this is one of the longer-running models available. Like so many other factors, the small details are what make this such a well-designed machine.
- Very quiet
- Well designed panel
- Dust covers
- Large fuel tank
- Elegant parallel kit
- Relatively small
- Power output
If portability is your primary consideration, the WEN 56125i is hard to beat. Like all of the models reviewed for this roundup, the WEN is an inverter generator model. This means that it produces a “clean” power signal that is safe for sensitive electronics. Provided your expectations are reasonable, it is hard to not like this little powerhouse.
The primary party trick of this model is its almost unbelievably compact size. Compared to the behemoth generators of yesteryear, it can be hard to fathom that making a generator this small is possible. At only 17″x9″x12″, the WEN is not much larger than a case of soda. It is light, too. At only thirty pounds, this is one of the lightest generators on the market. The size means that you’ll never hesitate to throw this portable power source in the back of your car for use at a picnic or tailgate. In terms of portable power convenience, it is a game-changer.
The accolades do not end with the size and weight, however. WEN put “Super-Quiet” right in the name of this model, and they stand by their word. The average noise output of this generator is only 51 decibels, making it quieter than a window air conditioner or a quiet conversation. You can easily use this generator while camping or tailgating without disturbing your neighbors.
Quiet generator reviews seem to unanimously agree that this is a beautifully designed unit. Yet, it does have its limitations. At 1,250 watts, this is a fairly low capacity generator. For most uses, such as powering a blender, a small fridge, a television, or some party lights, it will work perfectly. However, you cannot expect this unit to power your entire house or all three A/C’s in your diesel pusher. This isn’t a flaw, merely a different design decision.
Overall, the WEN 56125i represents a fantastic choice, especially when you consider the low price. For sheer convenience, it is hard to think of a better option.
- Extremely small and light
- Incredibly quiet
- Built-in USB ports
- Great value
- Parallel capable
- Fairly low capacity
Designing a generator is always a question of priorities. Of course, no single unit can ever encompass every possible feature. Thus, picking the right model for you has a lot to do with what features are the most important. The Generac 6866 iQ2000 has some novel features that truly stand out. However, it also has some oversights than may be a hindrance to some prospective shoppers.
The Generac has an electric fuel gauge, a feature I’ve never seen on any generator, much less one of this size. Typically, knowing how much fuel is remaining in a generator is a guessing game. They don’t generally have fuel gauges at all, so you simply have to shine a flashlight into the open filler and judge the level as best you can. Not only does the gauge itself make knowing your fuel level easier, but Generac took the convenience a step further by providing a “time remaining” display. This generator will automatically tell you how many hours it will run before needing to be refueled based on the current load. This removes the guesswork of wondering if you’ll be refilling a gas jug at three in the morning in the dark, so it can be a blessing in the right environment.
However, past this notable inclusion, there are a couple of conspicuously absent features. The first exclusion is USB ports. While this is an easily surmountable problem with a cheap adapter, the fact remains that the vast majority of modern generators include some form of accommodation for phone charging. It’s not a huge ordeal, but it’s a disappointing exclusion. The other quirk is the lack of a dedicated parallel port, which makes coupling two generators for added capacity more difficult. Generac does offer a parallel kit for this generator, but it is expensive and consumes a power outlet on each of the two generators. For many users, this may not be a significant problem, but it is an aspect worth noting.
Beyond these considerations, the Generac 6866 iQ2000 is a solid generator by all accounts. It is quiet, fuel-efficient, and cost-effective. If the two noted oversights do not deter you, then this is an excellent option for many campers.
- Novel fuel gauge
- Run-time indicator
- Good value
- Parallel kit is expensive
- No USB ports
The Champion DH 4000 is a model I’ve had a fair amount of experience with, but it never fails to impress me. Champion refers to this as their “hybrid” series, indicating that is it a mixture between a modern inverter generator and a traditional open-frame design. In essence, they took the electronics and related components of an inverter generator and fit them into the form factor of an open-frame unit. This combination of philosophies allowed Champion to produce a fairly revolutionary generator that represents a staggeringly good value.
The output of the Champion is 4,000 watts, making it a good choice for an RV setup. While the smaller “suitcase” generators are marginally easier to transport, they cannot typically power the air conditioner and other needs of an RV. Yet, the Champion should handle this task admirably. Champion clearly understood that this would be a significant target for this model, as the front-panel is well equipped for campers. The primary outlet is a standard 30-amp RV socket, meaning it can be used for most trailers or motorhomes without any need for adapters. Beyond this, there is also a standard 20-amp outlet that is extremely convenient for lights or other appliances.
Further, the Champion DH has a 12V outlet that Champion has extracted a significant amount of utility from. While you can plug any cigarette-lighter accessory into this outlet, Champion is nice enough to include a USB charger for recharging phones or tablets. They also included a jump-lead adapter, allowing the generator to be used for recharging batteries. It is common to accidentally run-down a tow vehicle’s battery following a long weekend of camping, so being able to solve that problem with your generator is a huge advantage.
This generator almost seems too good to be true. It’s affordably priced, has a high capacity, gives clean inverter power, and is thoughtfully equipped. It is unquestionably an impressive practice, but there are a couple of drawbacks. Because of the open-frame design, this generator is marginally louder than the competition. Thus, if you often camp in noise-sensitive areas, this may not be the best choice. However, if this is less of a factor, it is hard to deny the value of this model.
- Great value
- Hybrid design
- High capacity
- Somewhat loud
When discussing the topic of the quietest generator, it is inevitable to mention Honda. They were early pioneers in the inverter generator space, and the Honda EU2200is is still a ubiquitous model in the range. It is within this context that the EG2800IA is a confusing example of an inverter generator. Much like the Champion DH above, this Honda would best be described as a hybrid model, as it combines inverter technology with a traditional open-frame design. However, I can’t help but feel that Honda lost sight of their mission when designing this unit.
In terms of output, the EU2800 falls into an awkward gap. At 2,800 watts, it has more capacity than the 2,000-watt suitcase models, but not significantly so. Ultimately, this Honda will still be slightly underrated if you need to run multiple large appliances. Yet, because of the marginally increased capacity, this model is a fair bit larger. At almost 70 lbs, the tossable form factor of the small units is gone. Somehow this generator is simultaneously too large and too small.
Noise is another concern here. The smaller Hondas are some of the quietest generators on the market, so I was anticipating a similar performance here. At 67db, this generator isn’t deafening, but it isn’t particularly quiet either. It’s decidedly mid-range. I feel a sense of uneasiness being critical of a Honda Generator, as the quality of this unit is undoubtedly top-notch. If reliability is your primary draw, then there is little doubt that this unit will continue to start easily and provide flawless service for decades. Yet, in terms of specifications, it falls somewhat short of the mark. Unless the specs happen to align with your specific needs, there are better deals to be had elsewhere.
- High quality
- Good panel design
- Awkward capacity
- Fairly expensive
- Not particularly quiet
Ever since Honda released its original series of suitcase-generators over a decade ago, it seems everyone feels the need to toss their hat into the ring. Briggs & Stratton is no exception. The P2200 follows the now-familiar recipe of a fully enclosed suitcase inverter generator that produces roughly 2000-watts. Because this style of generator has become so ubiquitous, the competition within the market is extremely tight. Thus, even a small oversight can result in a model becoming a choice not worth making.
With the P2200, Briggs & Stratton got several things right, but there are also one or two drawbacks. Whether these issues constitute a deal-breaker is ultimately a personal decision based on your needs. The highlight of the P2200 is the engine itself. The 111cc OHV engine is made by Briggs & Stratton in-house, and their century or more of engineering prowess with small engines shows. This generator never fails to start quickly and run extremely smoothly. Although it is ever so slightly louder than some other models at 57db, the noise is less course and more consistent, meaning it is easier to tune-out the noise. From a quality perspective, the engine itself gets well-deserved acclaim.
At 54 lbs, the P2200 is marginally heavier than some equivalent models, but not enough to detract. They also thoughtfully accounted for this by including a rather unique handle design that allows the unit to easily be carried by two people walking side by side. If you ever need to carry this generator a longer distance, this detail is a nice inclusion. The P2200 is also a great value. Although this price varies slightly, this unit normally sells for below most of the competition. It’s a great deal, especially considering the name behind it.
What are the drawbacks then? Primarily, the run time. Compared to other suitcase models, the P2200 has a relatively small fuel tank. Thus, even at only 25% capacity, you can only expect a run-time of about 8 hours before it needs to be refueled. If you need the generator to run overnight, this duration may not be quite enough. Thus, for workshop or tailgating use where refueling isn’t an inconvenience, this model is a great choice. However, for running items overnight, the fuel capacity may be a hindrance worth considering.
- High-quality engine
- Thoughtfully designed handle
- Very smooth
- Great value
- Short runtime
How to Choose the Best Quiet Generator Buyers Guide
When looking for the best quiet generator for the money, it can be tempting to only focus on the noise output. While noise level is certainly an important consideration when dealing with a generator, there are other factors you must also consider.
If you are looking for a whisper quiet generator that performs the way you need, here are the factors you should consider.
Understand Noise Levels Meanings
It is very common for generator manufacturers to advertise how quiet their models are, but many people fail to understand how noise levels are measured. Sound level is measured in decibels, or “db.” However, there are a few things that you must understand about this rating. First, it is not a linear scale. Rather, decibels are measured using a logarithmic scale. Thus, every increase of 10db represents the noise level doubling. For example, 60db is twice as loud as 50db.
Second, this rating is typically measured at a specific distance from the generator. If you read the fine print, you will see that the noise level is reported as “57db at 25 feet.” Make sure the distance is reasonable. Ultimately, everything is silent from far enough away.
Lastly, see if the manufacturer reports the noise output at each load level. Generally, a noise rating will be reported when the generator is running at 25% of its full capacity. However, if you will be running the generator at a higher wattage, that reported level might not be relevant to your use. Although it seems complicated, a small amount of research can go a long way towards understanding how noise measurements work and can help you make a more informed choice.
Consider Fuel Efficiency and Run Time
Another significant consideration when purchasing a generator is its fuel-efficiency and runtime. The importance of this number depends largely on how you plan to use the unit. If you will be using the generator for tailgating or other day-time uses, then having to keep a fuel jug handy for the occasional splash is not a significant hurdle.
Yet, if you need the generator to run overnight either for camping or for power outages, having to wake up at two in the morning gets tiresome quickly. Thus, depending on your needs, consider the run-time listed for each model.
How Many Watts is Enough?
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of numbers when researching generators. It can be confusing to know what capacity you need. Unfortunately, it is a difficult topic to truly condense. For electronics and lights, you can simply look at the device (or research it) to find the wattage consumed by that device. From there, simple addition tells you the amount of power you’ll be using.
However, for larger devices or anything that uses a motor (such as an air conditioner or a refrigerator), you must consider the difference between “starting load” and “continuous load.” Just like a car pulling away from a stoplight, electric motors require more energy for starting than they do for running constantly. Thus, if you intend to run a large device, research the “starting wattage” of your specific devices so you can be sure that your generator has enough output to compensate.
Don’t Overlook The Weight
Like every other aspect, whether or not a certain weight is acceptable will depend on your specific needs. However, as generators get larger, the weight can increase fairly rapidly. The difference between 45 pounds and 70 is often the difference between a unit being easily transported by one person or being lugged by two. In short, if portability is a concern, remain conscious of weight.
Having a quiet quiet generator can be an incredible convenience. Until you own a reliable and convenient source of portable power, you cannot fathom how useful they can be. But finding the best quietest portable generator is not simply a matter of choosing the quietest generator on the market. Beyond its noise output, a generator must constitute a well-designed and reliable package.
With that considered, it is important to take a broad view when reviewing quiet running generators. When all factors were considered, the winner of the best quietest portable generator in this roundup was the Westinghouse iGen2200. While it did not amass many superlatives, it presented an incredibly well-designed package at a great price. They got the details right, and its quiet performance and attention to detail won us over.