How to Make a Generator Quiet + The Quietest Generator for Camping!
Ah, there’s nothing like getting out in the great New Zealand wilderness: the sound of tui and god-knows-what other birds this unique country has evolved. Then, your van has run out of juice so it’s time to power up your fridge or perhaps charge your phone. So, you get your portable generator out and BAM – the groaning spluttering sound takes over the whole ambience! Urgh, if only there was a way to make your generator quieter while camping…
Luckily, we have 10! Don’t worry, you’re not the first to run into this camping debacle while road tripping around New Zealand. Propane and gas generators are typically 80-100 decibels while running – about as loud as a washing machine. We’ll show you several ways to shave off a few decibels in this list of quick tips, as well as show you the quietest generator for camping!
1. Switch to a Solar Powered Generator!
Although the rest of the techniques we’re going to mention to quieten noisy gas/propane generators are a good “duct tape” solution, we’re not going to waste any time in giving you the most effective method of making your generator quieter when camping: simply switching to a solar generator! Taking free and clean energy from the sun, solar-powered generators are also much more eco-friendly than propane or gas power that, as we all know, is rapidly destroying the beautiful world we love to camp in!
The Quietest Generator We’ve Found
At 35 decibels, i.e. as quiet as a whisper, Bluetti AC300 is the quietest generator for camping that we’ve found. The 3,000W inverter module generator has seven ways to recharge including solar power, your vehicle’s power, dual AC and dual AC and solar. There is no built-in battery in the AC300 and it must be combined with their B300 expansion battery. However, the combination has no moving parts to maintain and has a seamless uninterrupted power supply. Need we say more? Head to bluettipower.com.au to learn more about the quietest power generators for camping.
2. Make Sure Your Generator isn’t Oversized or Overloaded
Back to fixing your noisy gas generator for now. Generally, the more power output the noisier the generator is. If you have a heavy load generator giving a high power output, it will be much noisier than a more compact generator. Overloading a smaller generator by using too much power, however, can also produce additional noise and worse, damage the engine in the long term.
So when you’re choosing a generator for camping, take some time to really assess your power needs in order to not go too big or too small. Get tips on choosing a generator from our guide, How to Choose a Generator for Your Motorhome, Campervan or Tent.
3. Maintain Your Gas Generator Well
Gas or propane generators have lots of moving parts that, like a car engine, the older they get, the noisier they become. Make sure you maintain your generator well in order to keep noise to a minimum. Give it fresh oil after every 100 hours of use, change your spark plug and air filter every 200 hours of use, and start up your generator at least every 30 days and let it run for a few minutes. If you’re not using it regularly, store your generator with an empty tank.
4. Face the Exhaust Away From Your Campsite
It’s pretty simple but you won’t believe the number of campers who don’t do this! If you’re one of them, we’re not judging; just giving you some friendly advice. If you position the generator’s exhaust end away from you (and fellow campers), you’ll reduce the noise a fair amount. Some models of generators also have exhaust pipes that point toward the sky, which also works, so check your model for that.
5. Move Your Generator 6 Metres (20 Feet) Away from Your Campsite
Decibel ratings on many generators are measured from within approximately 6m (20ft) of the generator. With that logic, if you move your generator at least 6m (20ft) away from your campsite (and fellow campers, of course), you’ll reduce the noise you hear tremendously. Perhaps it’s time to purchase an extension cord!
6. Use Sound Deflectors
Ok, so there are all sorts of tutorials on the internet on how to build a soundproof cage for generators, but this is not the most practical solution for campers with portable generators who don’t want to lug too much stuff around. Instead, place your camping generator on a soft surface like grass (not concrete if you can avoid it) and lean three sheets of plywood around the generator and one sheet of non-flammable material like drywall on the side with the exhaust. Prop these sheets against the generator at an angle for the noise to reverberate down toward the ground while still leaving room for airflow.
7. Replace Your Generator’s Muffler
Most generators should already have a muffler installed in the exhaust. But if your generator is particularly loud then perhaps the muffler needs replacing (or you could just replace it with a larger one anyway). Generator mufflers are made of perforated tubes that are designed to deflect sound waves and a good quality one can reduce your generator’s noise by 10 to 12 decibels. Mufflers for generators aren’t exactly an easy thing to pick up at a hardware store, however, so it’s best to take your generator to a mechanic or a small-engines repair centre for advice, parts and installation.
8. Install Rubber Feet
We’ve touched a little bit on putting your generator on a soft surface, but if you don’t have the option, install rubber feet on the base of your generator instead. This will reduce the vibration noise. If you can’t find rubber feet for your generator, rubber feet for washing machines work or use a foam mat or use a couple of layers of old carpet.
9. Use the “Water and Hosepipe” Trick
This is a real “old wives’ trick” for quietening a generator, not to mention sounding a little sketchy, but it’s something many campers still use time and time again. All you need is a bucket of water and a hosepipe. Put small pinpricks in the hose to stop pressure from building up. Then, fix the pipe to the end of the generator’s exhaust and put the other end of the pipe in a bucket of water. The sound will be muffled by the water.
10. Buy a New Generator
If you’ve tried all of the quick-fix solutions and your generator is still, well, doing your head in, then perhaps it’s time to give your generator to a new home (one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, after all) and make an investment in a new therefore quieter generator. If you’re comfortable with gas-guzzling generators, then new models will highly likely be quieter than your old one due to the newer parts and more contemporary soundproofing technology. Regardless, no new gas or propane generator is going to be as quiet as an electric/solar-powered generator, so why not give one of those Bluettis a go? You can also look into alternative power supplies, as listed in How to Get Electricity When Camping in New Zealand.
More Camping Tips for New Zealand
That’s it for our list of the best ways to make your generators quieter when camping! For more camping tips like this, check out our other camping guides:
- How to Choose a Generator for Your Motorhome, Campervan or Tent
- Camping Essentials Checklist for New Zealand
- The Best Camping Meals, Inc. Camping Food List
Finally, plan a campervan road trip around New Zealand from scratch using How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand.