Portable generators bring great convenience to your life. The number of applications for which they are suitable is endless. You can easily use them to:
Power your man cave
Power the RV
Power the camp
Charge your gadgets while traveling
Power Off-grid applications
And much more
While this makes portable generators almost imperative, but they have an inherent flaw which you need to tackle to use them consistently. Which is this flaw? You might ask.
The flaw is the noise which they generate. It dramatically limits the applications for which you can use the portable generators. Before we go into the details of eliminating the noise, let us first understand its causes.
Why are portable generators so noisy?
The general school of thought among people is, the generators are bound to be noisy. However, have you ever wondered why?
We will answer this question below.
1. Combustion process
Many portable generators use internal combustion to generate electricity. The problem with an internal combustion is that it uses moving parts like a piston inside the cylinder to produce energy. These parts certainly make noise. The internal combustion process is one of the most common reasons why portable generators are noisy.
2. Thin casing
What are the most common characteristics of a portable generator? Of course, it is the compact size and the low weight of the generator.
Have you ever thought of how these characteristics are achieved?
The answer is by reducing the weight of the materials used in the construction of the generator. In this bargain, the casing thickness of the generator takes a backseat. When the casing thickness is less, the noise dampening capability of the casing will also be less. So, you will get exposed to more noise when using a portable generator.
3. Running at optimum load
Portable generators often have low weight as compared to the stationary ones. Due to this very reason, they generally run at a high load at all times. The higher the load, the more will be the stress on the engine. As a result, the noise output will also increase along with the energy output. The fact that we use portable generators at a higher load percentage is one of the main reasons why they produce so much noise.
4. Open Design
The thin casing is not the only reason why portable generators are noisy. In some models, the housing is absent. It is done to minimize the need of the fan and aid the natural cooling process.
You might ask, why so in specific portable generators?
The answers are plenty. It can be to reduce costs, reduce weight, or to make it easy to carry. However, the downside of the open design is that you get exposed to generator noise. The design of the generator itself is the reason why they are so noisy.
5. Structural noise
The combustion process of the generator can result in vibration as well. The vibrations of the components and the parts of the generator can result in noise. While many portable generators use dampeners but they cannot eliminate noise. That is why; the structural sound is another reason why your portable generator is noisy.
6. Exhaust noise
If your portable generator uses fuel like gasoline/diesel/propane, the combustion process will not just result in the generation of energy but also smoke and sound waves. If the exhaust of the generator does not consist of an exhaust silencer, it can expose you to all those sound waves.
7. Noisy fan
Many generators use a fan to keep the portable generator within the operating range. The fan dissipates the heat and maintains the temperature of the generator. However, it also adds to the noise.
These are the seven reasons why portable generators are so noisy. So, can anything be done about them?
Yes, we will share with you the ways in which you can get rid of this noise. Before that, we will go into the details of the portable generators so that you can understand more about them.
Types of Portable generators
Portable generators can be of different types. These include:
1. Gasoline generators
The gasoline generators use the combustion process to generate electricity. They have a tank which you need to fill with gasoline to ensure that there is plenty of fuel for the combustion process.
2. Propane generators
The working principle of the propane generators is the same, but the fuel in use is propane. Propane generators have an advantage. It is comparatively easier to store and carry propane bottles. However, the energy content per gallon for propane is lower than other fuels. On the flip side, the gases which it exhausts are much lesser than say a diesel generator.
3. Diesel generators
Similarly, diesel generators use diesel as the fuel source. One thing, however, which you need to keep in mind is that diesel generators are noisier as compared to the other two options. They also lead to more smoke.
4. Hybrid portable generators
The portable hybrid generators can work on any two types of fuels. It means that you can buy a generator which works on gasoline and propane. It becomes easy to maintain and run such a generator.
5. Electric generators
Electric generators work not only as generators but also inverters. They consist of a battery which you can charge through various sources like an electrical outlet, cigarette lighter outlet of your car, windmill, and solar panel.
These are the five types of portable generators which you can choose. Now, we will help you understand why it is essential to have a quiet generator rather than let it generate ample noise.
Importance of having quiet generator
The advantages of having a silent generator are plenty. We will go into these advantages below to help you understand why it is essential to get rid of the generator noise.
1. Better for humans
Continuous exposure to loud sound can result in a lot of side effects for humans. These include:
Reduced hearing capability
Less focusing power
A couple of hours of exposure to loud noise cannot result in the side effects, but if you’re exposed to it consistently, the sound can inevitably cause these problems.
2. No hearing damage to animals
The loud noise of the generator is not only harmful to humans but also animals. It can make animals irritated and agitated. It can impair their hearing capability. That is why, if you have pets around, it is better to reduce the noise of the generator efficiently.
3. Scaling up capability
Have you ever connected a couple of generators in parallel? If yes, you would have experienced an exponential increase in the noise level. Most generators can function in parallel, but the limiting factor is the amount of noise which they can produce. Due to this very reason, you need to first think about limiting this noise before connecting generators in parallel.
4. High versatility
The noise of the generators can often limit applications. If you’re looking to power a classroom or a hospital ward with a generator, the sound can disturb the occupants inside. In that case, you cannot use the generator for that particular application. Thus, noise limits the applications of a portable generator.
5. Low maintenance
When you can reduce the noise output, the generator vibration will also decrease. In that case, the stress on the frame of the generator will be less. It will increase the life of the generator and reduce the need for maintenance. That is why; you can use the generator for a long time.
These are the five primary reasons why you should think about having a quiet generator.
6 ways to solve noisy generator
So, is there a solution to the noise problem? Can you do so without having to buy a new generator?
Of course, there are numerous ways to get rid of the generator noise. We will highlight these below to give you an idea regarding how you can reduce the generator noise output.
1. Change the position of the exhaust pipes
The usual portable generator consists of a horizontal exhaust pipe. The disadvantage of the exhaust pipe is that the people get exposed to the sound waves. The sound waves are directional. That is why, when they come from the exhaust pipe horizontally, they continue to travel in the same line. It means that they often encounter humans in the vicinity.
On the other hand, when you change the position of the exhaust pipe to the vertical one, the waves will disperse vertically, which means that they will not reach the humans in the vicinity. That is why the simplest change you can make to your generator to reduce the noise is to position the exhaust pipes vertically.
2. Use a sound deflector
The next solution is to use a sound deflector. You have to place it in the space between the generator at the spot where humans and pets are present. It will reflect the sound waves or absorb them. Doing so will ensure that you can reduce the sound at least by 10 dB.
Any solid object can work as a deflector which means that you will not have to spend extra money to create one. All you need to do is to position it in the right way so that you can deflect the sound ways in the other direction.
3. Use a better exhaust muffler
Exhaust mufflers for generators work in the same way as silencers to for your motorbike. There is a wide variety of exhaust mufflers available for generators these days. They reduce the noise considerably, which means that irrespective of the placement of the generator, you will not get disturbed by it.
Generally speaking, the larger the size of the exhaust muffler, the more sound it can eliminate. That is why it is essential to take into account this factor will choosing the exhaust muffler.
Exhaust muffler can reduce the pitch of the noise. It means that it will be less loud. That is why; this is a tip which you should use.
4. Use water to your advantage
You might be thinking, how can you use water to reduce the generator noise?
The technique to use water to your advantage is easy. You have to connect pipe at the end of the exhaust.
The other end of the pipe will go in a bucket of water. What will this do?
It will ensure that the sound waves go into the water. It can help you cut the noise output of the generated by as much as 80%.
You should punch a small hole in the pipe at a higher position. It will ensure that if the water reverses, it will drain out and will not reach the generator.
5. Mount the generator on a platform
All the above methods will help you tackle the sound ways from the exhaust of the generator. What about the structural vibrations which produce sound?
The best way to tackle those is to mount to the generator on the platform. The platform should have thick padding underneath to absorb the vibrations. That is why; you can tackle the vibrational noise with this method.
6. Create an enclosure
If you do not mind devoting a bit of time and effort to reduce your generator noise, this tip can work wonders. Rather than just mounting it on a platform or creating a sound reflector, it is a good idea to create a proper enclosure.
We can already hear you say, but that is a lot of effort. An easy way out is to create a semi-permanent structure rather than a permanent one.
You can create this enclosure from cinder blocks. You need not cement them neither you need to use a sealant. You can place them one on top of other until the height is more than the generator itself. The beauty of cinder block solution is that you can remove them when you do not require them. Moreover, you can create such an enclosure in less than an hour, which means that you will not have to devote a lot of time to do so.
If you’re looking for a permanent solution, you can use plywood to create one. Due to the thickness, the cinder blocks work even better than the plyboard.
If you have a noisy generator, it does not mean that you cannot silence it. Rather than spending money on buying a new generator, it is time to use any of the 6 methods above to reduce the noise.
So, is your portable generator noisy? You’re not alone. The inherent design of portable generators can make them loud. There are, however, plenty of ways to solve this problem. You can use our guide above to not only identify the problem but also pick the right solution from the tips highlighted above. Each of those solutions can reduce the noise output, which can help you use your portable generator without having to bear the high noise.