Survivalist Forum banner

Can you make an inverter generator quiet enough that neighbors outside 100 ft away wont hear?

  • Yes, its possible

    Votes: 20 71.4%
  • No, its not possible

    Votes: 8 28.6%

Can a small inverter generator be made quiet enough that suburban neighbors won't hear it running?

3418 Views 29 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  sharpshooter109
After all the talk here about natural gas shortages and the issues in Texas last winter, I've been thinking about picking up my first generator. I know I will need an inverter so I can run sensitive electronics, I've been looking at some of the cheaper honda look-alikes in the 2000w range. I've also seen some of the cheaper open frame inverters with slightly more wattage (3000w - 3500w continuous) for just a few dollars more (around $50 to $100 more). My purchase is not intended as a total shtf prep, but rather for temporary outages lasting up to a few days. I would need to power a few comfort items: 2 fridges, gas furnace (if natural gas is available but power is out), maybe a tv or microwave. Both of these types of generators could probably handle each of these items, but the 2000w will not be able to power them all at once. While I would like to have a higher wattage unit, I think the benefits of a near silent generator would make it worth it, IF IT IS POSSIBLE.

So my question is this: is it possible to make a small 2000w inverter generator quiet enough that neighbors who are outside and 100 feet away won't be able to hear it running? Imagine it is the day after a winter storm, no cars are on the road, it is virtually silent outside. in my area no one has snow blowers so any small engine noise would be suspicious.

I know I would need to build a baffle box or quiet box to reduce the noise level of the generator. I briefly looked on youtube and found a few examples of people running inverters inside a quiet box. Most of them said it was quieter than a window A/C unit, but I think even that might be loud enough to be noticed. The only time I've ever been around a honda inverter was when I was walking around sporting events. I did notice that you can't hear them until you are nearly on top of them, but a sporting event is also much louder than a quiet neighborhood after a snow storm. If it is possible to quiet an inverter enough I may look further into it, but if it is definitely not possible I will probably look at the bigger but slightly louder open frame inverters.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Most certainly. Even sitting in the bed of a pickup truck, they are nearly inaudible 5 feet away. I have just such a genset. Ensuring adequate air flow is key for a cool running genset. We just set ours under the vehicle at campgrounds (AK) - exhaust facing along the length of the truck. We've yet to hear a noise complaint...

Build a 'hush box'.

I strongly recommend a very stout chain and a way to secure such (say, a ring bolt set in concrete)

BTW -leaving a generator running at night unattended is an invitation for theft...

Best of luck
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Agreed, out of the box they are very quiet. I have very good hearing, and can barely pick up the sound 20 or so feet away. Sound is only one thing you need to keep hidden. Refuel it at night, or when nobody's looking.

Obviously you should not run it in your garage, or near windows/doors. Have you figured out how to get the power into the house? An orange extension cord running across your yard, or through a window, will be a little obvious. I'm about to install an outlet outside and one inside, and will hard-wire the 2 together as a pass-through.
I don't know.
Have you ever been outside walking around when the power is out?

Happened here after a storm last summer. I am on 2 acres and have one of the smaller lots in my area. It was so dead silent you could hear generators running and certainly the direction they were in.

We have a couple of "quiet" ones for RV's and when they are the only sound they can be heard from a distance.

So I would sure try to make it a quiet as possible, but focus more on how to prevent theft. Securing it.

I was worried about the same thing, mine is a 10hp, 4 stroke single cylinder engine. they are just noisey. You can't quiet them much at all. After hearing all the neighbors gensets running I just chained mine to a tree and let er rip.
  • Like
Reactions: 3
I got this Generac for mostly your same reasons. While not "whisper" quiet, it's quieter than the equivalent Honda. I was impressed how quiet it actually is. But as stated above, if it's the only thing running in a quiet area, it can be heard. However, I keep it on my patio and the houses around me tend to baffle what little noise it makes so I'm not too worried about the small noise signature.

Baffling works well. Don't wait until you need it to practice/learn.

While I do have a few inverter generators and the gas to run them, my go-to is now solar. Panels are in spots where nobody can see them, no fumes, no worries.
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Watch Nomadic Fanatic on YouTube. A while back his RV Onan quit and he was showing how quiet the Honda knockoff was in an RV park.
You may need more than 2000W for what you listed.
Motors and compressors have a high start up current. Around 40 % or so more than their running wattage. So a 1500 watt itemcould need 2100+ watts of starting current.

  • Like
Reactions: 2
Test it out before it is actually needed. Dig a hole to put your baffle box in. This directs what sound is left up and not toward the street or the neighbors. Don't completely enclose the generator, leave the top open to the air which the generator needs to run and keep cool.

Line the box with some anechoic foam. Direct the exhaust downward into the dirt or away from the foam so it isn't melted.



Do an internet search for anechoic chambers to learn more.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I have an inverter generator, it is incredibly quiet when idling along. But as you put more load on it it begins to rev up. As it revs up it makes more noise. Even fully revved up it is quieter than a non inverter generator.

If the exhaust is pointing at you it is fairly loud even 50 feet away. If the exhaust is pointing away it is quieter and if there is something between you and it it becomes very quiet. However that doesn't mean neighbors wont hear it, it just means it will be fairly quiet. The quieter the neighborhood is the easier it will be to hear.

Often times in the evening when things get quiet and the wind stops blowing I can hear my neighbors gate opening and closing a half mile away and I can hear their their conversations but can't quite make out what they are saying. So at that time I would expect even the quietest generator would be heard by them.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Last loss of power...to an ice storm....my Honda EU2000i....ran for five days straight....and my two neighbors told me they never heard it running......was sitting in back yard on a slatted bench...covered with a rubbermade tub....with soffett vents...for a rain/sleet/snow cover

the Honda would run 11 hours on the one gallon internal tank......gas furnace/frig/big screen/two laptops ..and a few lights....micro wave with the furnace off......added a remote marine fuel tank to refuel at noon each day...without shutting the Honda off
  • Like
Reactions: 3
I worked in a very dangerous environment where the generators could be hit by flying debris. we had tunnels made from culverts, and buried - earth sheltered generator tubes. point the opening away from others. remarkable sound erduction
  • Like
Reactions: 3
You may need more than 2000W for what you listed.
Motors and compressors have a high start up current. Around 40 % or so more than their running wattage. So a 1500 watt itemcould need 2100+ watts of starting current.
A lot of truth in this. My genset is like 4 or 5KW.

I have to start my refrigerator, or furnace first, then start adding other circuits. Sometimes it takes a couple resets to get them going.

I usually turn the furnace blower on and leave it on so it doesn't have to try and restart later.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
IIRC you have to have a Sine Wave inverter run a computer or other sensitive electronics so the power doesn't fluctuate going to the device. And thats all I know about generators.

I have thought of getting a genny myself. I was just looking at the ones a Northern tool yesterday. All I want one for is to run the refrigerator for a while then run the freezer for a while. I would put mine in the garage with the door cracked open and would buy or make an extension for the exhaust. Or just put it on my back patio in my fenced in yard and run the cord through the window with towels stuffed around it.

Last winter when the power was out I took all the food and put it in laundry baskets and ice chest and put them on the back patio. They stayed frozen or colder out there than in the fridge. I have a little propane gas heater and a Coleman Camp Stove I ran in the house for heat. I have LED Lamps and lots of batteries. We did just fine. No freeze ups and I never ran out of gas. I plan on buying another propane bottle too. That will give me 4 of them.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 3
Correct, you need Pure Sine Wave to run modern electronics on an inverter. Though not pure, it switches the bigger steps into smaller steps on the sinewave, enough for the devices to 'believe' the signal coming in is what they need.

A thought on the noise. If you cannot baffle it, make a louder noise. Lots of folks have battery powered radios, why not just crank it up to hide the noise? Try it now, before you need it, and remember the volume setting.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I like the buried in the ground scenario, that has my mind spinning.
In an emergency scenario such as you posit, I would expect there to be enough loud generators running in the neighborhood that yours would pretty much be unnoticeable. Plan on turning it off at night, this is what most folks around me did after Michael passed thru.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I doubt it. Yes. These things are very quiet. We have one honkin' big portable that the folks 5 blocks away would hear it. But I also use several at our fire department of the small, quiet inverter type. (several Hondas.) So yes, again... they're very quiet. (Forget the decibel rating; we're just kind of talking opinion here.)

However... even with baffling, etc... as has been said, in the dead of night, within nothing on anywhere around on a cool evening without wind/weather, there's almost always a little bit of 'what is that sound?' One answer here is just to avoid running it at oh-dark-thirty. I'm up sometimes for 3rd shift work. Sound just carries at night. Maybe with a lot of snow or when it's snowing a lot less so. But still. Sound will carry better in the cold, even if - ironically - less so through snow. So sometime between 0100 and 0600 when not a lot is moving, even in the 'burbs... except for EMS and delivery and a few other random third shift work types or dumb ass late night partiers, you hear everything. Go outside sometime between 2 - 4 AM for a few nights and listen. Here's what might strike you... 1) Just how utterly quiet it is, and 2) just how much crap actually is moving around at that hour; from small animals to random vehicle traffic. (One thing I can tell you after decades in volunteer EMS, even in your little candy land suburb, there's some crap going on not far away.)

So you might be able to make it really good and keep it to several hundred feet or a bit more. Mostly. But essentially not detectable? That would be a heck of a challenge and still allow for required ventilation.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
I have been running Honda Generators for over 50 years. I still have one I bought in the mid 70's and it runs fine. I would choose the Honda 2200 or two Honda 2200's. Make a 3/4" plywood baffle box, and line it with "Sound Down" (Mylar, acoustic foam, lead impregnated sheet, acoustic foam and glued to the plywood). You may need to have a muffler for the exhaust--a few baffles, with fiberglass fiber on the sides open to the exhaust. Make embankments around the generator if possible.

The Honda's cost more--but they last. They are reliable. Always drain the gas from the carburetor, unless you are going to use the generator within a week. Even though the new ones shut off the gas, and allow the engine to run out of fuel, there is some gas left in the carburetor bowl. That will settle and cause issues in time.
  • Like
Reactions: 3
Here's what might strike you... 1) Just how utterly quiet it is, and 2) just how much crap actually is moving around at that hour; from small animals to random vehicle traffic. (One thing I can tell you after decades in volunteer EMS, even in your little candy land suburb, there's some crap going on not far away.)
It sure is. I live right in town and had problems with people going up and down the sidewalk and letting their dogs crap in my yard. So I install a trail camera. I caught a few of them and after a few kind words they didn't come back. Its surprising how many people jog in the dead of night and how many walk their dogs at 2am.

I got one guy at 3am who was of all things walking his cat on a leash. I kid you not. The camera was mounted on the roof and he spotted the red lights that come on when it takes a photo. So he stood there long enough for me to get several sets of photos. I guess he finally figured out it was a camera and left. And I never saw him again.
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top