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Having a quiet RV generator can add to the fun and comfort of camping.
But, a loud RV generator can annoy both you and the campers around you.
Moreover, there are restrictions to running generators if the noise level is above the limits of the National Park or campground.
So, how to quiet your RV generator? To make your portable generator quieter, place 4 pieces of cheap plywood around the generator in the shape of an enclosure box. However, the best option is to buy an inverter generator that is both quiet and fuel-efficient.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a few quick and easy ways to make your RV generator quiet as cricket and let you enjoy camping.
Table of Contents
Choose the Right Size RV Generator
The size of your generator is the first place you should start to avoid getting a noisy generator.
Generators use combustion engines to generator electricity. The size of the motor varies, depending on the rated output of the generator.
Therefore, the higher the output wattage, the bigger the engine and the louder the generator.
Additionally, buying a generator larger than your need means it will be more expensive, weigh more, and use more fuel.
On the flip side, getting an underpowered generator will mean running the generator at higher loads. This will reduce the life of the generator, increase fuel consumption and noise level.
Choosing the right size generator is critical, whether you have a 30 amp or 50 amp RV.
Tip: Calculate your total power needs plus 20% extra is the total output wattage you should look for in a generator.
Use Plywood to Deflect Sound
Using plywood to deflect sound is the easiest and quickest way to quiet a portable generator.
Sound deflection works by redirecting the sound from the source towards a different direction away from you.
To quiet your generator, you need 4-sheets of inexpensive plywood like Baltic Birch and a sheet of non-flammable material like Thermo-Tec 13575.
The sizes of the plywood will vary depending on the size of your generator.
However, my advice will be to measure your generator and add 2 feet to each side to buy the correct size plywood. The extra length will ensure you have more open space for proper airflow and gases to escape.
Now place the generator on the ground and place the plywoods on all four sides of the generator, making a ventilated enclosure.
Cover the inner side of the plywood that will face the generator exhaust with the fire-resistant sheet to prevent fire.
You can go an extra mile to further dampen the sound by covering the other three plywoods with sheets of sound deadener like the Noico 80 mil.
This way, the sound from your portable generator is deflected towards the earth lowering the decibel level immediately.
However, if you’re camping on solid ground (asphalt or concrete), you need to place a generator pad like the DiversiTech EL3636-3. This will help absorb vibration and dampen the sound.
Overall, plywood deflectors are the easiest to use and store. You can store them in the back of your truck or RV and put them together in under 30 seconds.
Tip: If you boondock in areas with high humidity, make sure to buy good quality plywood to prevent damage from moisture.
RV Generator Quiet Box
A generator quiet box is simply an acoustic enclosure that is designed to dampen the generator sound.
Also known as a generator baffle box or noise reduction box is an excellent way to make your portable generator quieter.
The best part about a baffle box is it is easy to build, use and transport. Additionally, it can protect your generator from the elements (rain, sun, and snow) if it’s constructed with weatherproof material.
There are not a lot of soundproof enclosures you can buy, and ones you can cost more than your generator itself. Whereas building a quiet box for a generator is pretty easy, even for a beginner.
However, there are two important things you need to keep in mind when building a baffle box.
One, a generator produces a lot of heat, and to cool the generator and prevent fire, you need proper ventilation.
Two, the exhaust fumes from the generator are very toxic and deadly. You need a proper way for the fumes to exit the baffle box.
Additionally, the build-up of exhaust gases will also suffocate the generator and prevent it from running.
Tip: Paint your baffle box with a light color or cover the exterior with reflective sheets like NAVAdeal to reflect the sun’s rays.
Install a Muffler to Quiet Generator
A muffler or silencer is simply a device that is used to dampen and reduce the noise produced by an internal combustion engine.
On average, installing the right muffler can help make your generator quieter by 10-15 decibels.
However, it may be challenging to find a muffler that fits your exhaust pipe precisely, right out of the box. There will be some alterations necessary to make the muffler work and fit perfectly.
There are special mufflers designed for generators, but you can use a car or any automotive muffler if that is available to you.
With the right muffler at your disposal, it’s time to decide how to install it on your generator. You have two options, welding or clamping the muffler onto the generator exhaust pipe.
Welding the muffler will make the generator quieter compared to clamping. This is because welding will make a perfectly air-tight bond, while with clams, you’ll have leaks.
If you’re inexperienced in welding like me, you need to call for help from a professional.
Want to buy a muffler online? Try Amazon.com
Tip: Check for leaks in the exhaust pipe, muffler, and the welded joint.
Soundproof Onboard Generator Compartment
By now you should have a few ways to make your portable generator quieter. And they work.
But what if your RV comes with an onboard generator compartment? How will you soundproof an onboard RV generator compartment?
New RV owners may not have to worry about soundproofing the onboard generator compartment. However, in most old RVs, the soundproofing material on the generator compartment may have worn off because of age.
Soundproofing your onboard generator box is very straightforward. Replace the old soundproofing material with a high-quality sound deadener like the Noico 80 mil.
Generally, with onboard generator boxes, you don’t have to worry about space and ventilation. Plus, you can run the generator in the rain and snow without any worries.
Note: Altering your RV may void any/all warranties. Additionally, running a generator inside the onboard generator box may result in a build-up of carbon monoxide.
Buy a Quiet Generator
Portable RV generators are expensive, and buying a new set when you have an existing working generator may sound like a waste.
But there are a lot of advantages to buying a new quieter generator.
Among them the most important are, newer models come with updated technology that reduces noise, fuel consumption and produces clean power.
On the other hand, the methods we talk about to quiet your generator will work with your old existing models. But the downsides are, they have a lot of hours on them, are gas guzzlers, and don’t produce clean power.
There are portable generators on the market that are so quiet that you’ll barely be able to hear them running. Most importantly, come with an affordable price tag.
Buying a new quieter generator is the best option for full-time RVers and for people who go camping in the wild every other weekend. You can avoid buying a new generator if you hit the boonies once or twice a year.
Tip: Buy an inverter generator as they are the quietest and most fuel-efficient but more expensive compared to conventional generators.
Other Ways to Reduce your Generator Noise
There are many other ways to quiet down your generator, but the ones we spoke about above are the easiest and most effective.
However, if you don’t like the idea of moving around with a baffle box or buying a new generator, we have a few more simple ways to reduce noise.
Reduce Generator Vibration
Vibrations from the moving parts are a huge contributing factor to why your generator is making noise.
Knowing ways to reduce/dampen vibration can substantially reduce noise from your portable generator.
There are many ways to dampen the vibrations produced by your generator. The easiest being running your generator on grass or sand.
These surfaces act as a cushion to absorb the sound from the generator, making it sound less.
However, you can use an anti-vibration pad like DiversiTech EL3636-3 if you’re camping in a place where grass or mud isn’t available. Just place the pad beneath the generator, and you’re good to go.
This will work to quiet the noise caused by the vibration on any hard surface like concrete, asphalt, or wood.
Place the Generator Away from your RV
A simple hack to make your portable generator sound less is to place it far away from your camper.
Yes, this is a great way to quiet an RV generator without any modification.
However, how far away you can place your generator will depend on a few factors. Factors like, are you camping in a campground with specifically designated campsites, or you’re boondocking in open land.
Camping in a campground means you have limited space, and you have your neighbors to think about. If you’re boondocking with fewer to no neighbors, you don’t have to worry about space.
The further you place your generator away from your RV, the quieter it will sound.
But, this poses a few problems.
One, the further away you palace your generator from the RV, the longer the extension cord you’ll need.
Two, the farther away the generator is from your camper, the higher the risk of getting stolen. Anyone with a pickup can come and give your generator a ride before you can reach it.
However, a good rule of thumb is to place your portable generator at least 20 feet away from your RV. This will prevent the problems we spoke about plus prevent fumes from entering the camper.
Additionally, facing your exhaust pipe away from your RV will also help make it quieter.
Frequently Asked Questions
How loud is too loud for an RV generator?
Every campground is different in terms of how loud your generator can be. They also have specific hours when you can and cannot run your RV generator.
On the other hand, National Parks have rules that state you cannot run your generator if its sound exceeds 60 dBA at 50 feet. This is also true for most campgrounds.
Therefore, know about your campground’s accepted generator noise level beforehand and plan your strategy accordingly.
You can use a mobile app or a sound meter to measure the output decibel of your generator at 50 feet.
Note: The Decibel Comparison Chart will give you an idea of the different sound levels of a few equipment and situations.
Why are generators so noisy?
In this post, we’ve seen a few effective methods to make your RV generator quieter.
But, do you know what causes a portable generator to make noise in the first place? Let’s talk about it.
Portable generators use an internal combustion engine to produce electrical energy. You may have the most expensive RV generator, but it will make some noise.
Generally, the noise is produced from the combustion process, moving parts, alternator, exhaust, and vibration. Additionally, the bigger the output rating of the generator, the louder the generator.
Though, with technological advancement, you’ll find generators in the market that have enough punch to power your RV but sounds like a normal conversation.
In other cases, your generator may be louder than expected because of its age. Look for signs like frequent power output drops, not starting easily, and smoking.
Alternative Sources of Power
From wind turbines to solar power generators, you have a few ways to power your RV if you like to remove a noisy generator from your boondocking equipment list.
Unlike fossil fuel generators, producing electricity with solar or wind is completely free FOREVER. Most importantly, they make ZERO noise.
However, you need to keep in mind that going green will limit your power needs. You’ll be limited to just using small appliances.
Additionally, they won’t produce electricity on demand. Without the sun or wind, these sources of electricity are useless.
However, if you have limited power needs and the most important thing for you is enjoying nature. Then go green, else go with a portable inverter generator.