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5 Tips on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping

| Updated May 31, 2023

For the sake of your enjoyment, as well as your neighbors, here is how to make a generator quiet for camping.

Camping is a great way to connect with nature, especially if you can still conveniently access electricity. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a heavy-duty quiet generator. Luckily, we have advice on how to reduce generator noise so it doesn't distract you from your zen camping experience.

Now, if your generator is built-in, these tips are not for you per se, but it's good to read through this in case your next rig isn't built-in.

Visiting the beauty of nature in your RV doesn't mean you must go without access to power. And having a camping generator doesn't mean you must put up with that droning, buzzing loud sound either. Not to mention, a noisy generator often means dirty looks from campground neighbors!

So follow these tips to help make your generator quieter while camping. Without producing that invasive droning sound, you'll appreciate your surroundings more by not preemptively scaring away all the wildlife.

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First, Why Are Modern Generators So Noisy?

How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping
Why so noisy?

Power needs to come from somewhere. A generator produces energy by running diesel fuel through an internal combustion engine. The combustion process, which basically means creating power via explosions, makes a lot of noise.

While the engine itself may have a sound barrier, the exhaust of diesel generators nonetheless has a high noise output. After all, the fumes created from explosions need to escape somewhere.

5 Tips – How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping

Now that you know how these small engines work, you can better understand why the following tips can result in a quieter generator.

Tip 1: Move Your Generator Farther Away

How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping
You'll need an extension cord long enough.

We'll start with the most obvious and easiest since this generator solution doesn't require any adjustments to achieve less noise.

An important thing to note is that the manufacturer lists the decibel levels of their products. These sound vibrations were measured at a distance of around 20 feet. So an easy way to reduce the noise of a generator is to move it beyond that threshold until the noise is tolerable from your RV or campsite.

There are caveats to this solution. First, you'll need an extension cord long enough to handle this length. Second, you need to have a campsite without a lot of people around you. It's not a good idea to move your generator's noise level away from you and closer to them!

Tip 2: Buy the Right Generator for Your Power Needs

5 Tips on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping 1
for example…

The good news is, there are two types of generators, and one is considerably quieter. It comes as no surprise that the quietest generator emits lower wattage than its noisier cousin.

The more powerful generator is the traditional kind, which creates much noise. They also run on fuel, and here are the pros and cons for each kind to consider.

While shopping, consider first if you need to power heavy-duty things. This includes refrigerators, constructions tools, a microwave or air conditioning unit.

If you don't need a higher power output for those things, then you don't need to buy a loud generator. Let's say you only need to power your cell phone or a car battery or laptop. Inverter generators make the quietest portable generators and are the most effective ways to stay plugged in without the loud noise.

Due to inverter technology, this best solution for portable energy is 10 to 30 decibels lower than its noisier counterpart. You also need to decide how much noise reduction is worth to you since a lower level of noise typically means more expense.

Once you buy, it's good to know how to maintain your generator for longevity.

Tip 3: Position the Generator Correctly

Since the generator muffler emits the largest amount of noise, face the exhaust pipes away from your campsite and from others.

Also, don't place the generator on hard surfaces that would amplify or shake. If you can't avoid that, placing rubber feet or a rubber mat below the generator can help immensely. Soft surfaces work to dampen the noise.

On that same note, don't place it next to a wall, boulder, or anything that the sound can bounce off of.

Tip 4: Use Sound Deflectors

How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping

If positioning your generator still emits too much noise, there is another simple solution. This involves deflecting sound into the soft ground below it, rather than outward.

All you need are four pieces of plywood that you can prop against the generator on all four sides.

IMPORTANT: Tilt these plywood sheets at an angle against the generator so it doesn't touch the exhaust pipes and catch fire. Also, airflow still escapes this way since the boards are tilted.

This might look ridiculous, but when camping it's certainly an easier option because it's relatively easy to store these boards.

For generators that have a more permanent place at a home, it can be worth building a custom enclosure. While these enclosures certainly look better, they're not particularly portable.

Last Tip on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping: Replace the Muffler on the Generator

Since the generator's muffler is the loudest part, there is some adjusting you can do that makes a big difference.

The first thing you can do is change the generator’s muffler to the vertical position. This essentially makes the direction of the noise face upward. If you don't have sound deflectors to aim the sound into a soft surface, this is the next best option.

Even more effective is changing out the generator’s exhaust pipes. If these pipes are making too much noise, it's because it's funneling sound through too small a space, thus amplifying it. By making the exhaust system bigger, the generator’s noise level could go down as much as 10 to 12 decibels!

How does this work exactly? Sound waves are deflected from the loud engine through perforated tubes inside the muffler. So basically, a higher quality muffler means higher quality muffling of sound!

One of the challenges is that there's no guarantee that replacing this part will make much of a difference. To maximize your chances, there's a technique to check if the muffler is creating the noise, or if the engine itself is the culprit.

To check, put on gloves to not burn yourself. Then while the generator is running, place a thick cloth, like a heavy blanket, over the exhaust pipe. If there is a sizable difference in noise, then you know the muffler is responsible and is worth your quieting efforts. Quickly remove the cloth so there's no chance of it catching fire.

The next challenge you face is buying the right part. Not all exhaust pipes fit all, especially since generators aren't built to have their parts altered on a regular basis. So before buying a new muffler, speak with a small engine repairman or specialized mechanic.

Unless you're good at welding yourself, you might want to hire one of these experts to do this work for you.

Any Other Tips on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping?

Do you have any advice on how to make a generator quiet for camping? Let us know in the comments!

Mike and Jennifer's Great Lakes Shoreline Tour (U.S. Side)

5 Tips on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping 2

Instead of the usual 7 Days that some of our other guides can be done in, with this one, we’re suggesting that you budget more time. This is why we are calling it a “Tour” instead of a 7-Day Guide! There are 86 pages in this new ebook.

In this new Great Lakes Shoreline Tour we cover in detail:

  • Notable U.S. Cities/Towns along each Great Lake (US side) like Watertown, Grand Island, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Vermillion, Mackinaw City, and so many more!
  • What to See/Do Around EACH Lake: Ocqueoc Falls Scenic Site, Les Cheneaux Islands, Antique Boat Museum, and many, many more places, including BONUS side trips!
  • And good Campgrounds for each Lake (US side) – at least 4 or 5 for EACH Lake! With all the info you need to set up reservations.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-11-05

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

4 Responses to “5 Tips on How to Make a Generator Quiet for Camping”

April 09, 2022at4:34 am, Javier Gamez said:

Buy a Honda!


December 07, 2021at9:03 pm, Laurie Shoff said:

So what about us who have a built in generator?
It is what it is?


November 05, 2021at7:58 am, eric said:

Onan gensets run at 1800 rpm, 1/2 of what most do & can take a regular var or tractor muffler. They also have automatic chokes so you don’t have to go to the genset to start it. Best made IMHO.


November 05, 2021at7:50 am, Kent said:

Just in case some readers do not know… Honda makes an inverter generator in 3000 watt and one that is 7000 watt that are extremely quiet compared to other generators. They are pricy and I don’t see them advertised very often. I had the 7000 watt for a food trailer once and it was amazing. Wish I still had it. It was almost as quiet as the little 2000 watt Honda that is so popular.
Another trick I have seen for generators that are not moved often is to run the exhaust through a barrel with sand in the bottom. Something soft on the plywood around it also helps a little more. Anything to “soak up” sound.


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