In a world as full as uncertainty as 2020, no one wants to take any more risks.
Generators provide the perfect backup for your electricity source in case of power outages.
Building a generator sound box can massively reduce the amount of noise that your generator makes.
You can buy many different types of soundproofing materials to build the box and each will reduce the level of noise differently.
Easy tips to reduce generator noise
Ensure you choose a generator that is the right size for your energy requirements. More powerful generators will produce more noise than smaller ones. For the quietest performance, choose the smallest generator possible to meet your energy demands.
Take note of where your exhaust pipe is pointed. Try to point it in an upright direction, or at the very least, away from where you are sat. Ensuring the exhaust fumes are being propelled away from you will keep the generator noise to a minimum.
Try not to sit too close to the generator. At a minimum, we recommend being no closer than 20 feet to the generator. This will not only reduce the noise but is also a smart safety precaution.
We suggest purchasing a few long, heavy-duty, outdoor electrical extension cords to run from the generator to you.
A soft surface for the generator to rest on is the best option for noise reduction. This is because the softer surfaces will have more of a cushioning effect and muffle the sound a little.
Hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete will make the vibrations louder and increase the reverberations. If your only option is to set the generator up on hard ground, place a rubber mat underneath to decrease the noise slightly.
What is a generator sound box?
It is also called a baffle box and you can easily make one yourself as they can be made to your specifications. It is a construction that sits around the generator, closing it in to reduce the noise it makes.
When making one, you must take care to incorporate holes for heat to escape so that the generator does not overheat. If this happens then it could be a fire hazard. You should take care to have an easy access point for emergency usage.
It is not easy to buy one that is premade, but our tips will take you through a step-by-step guide on how to make your own. If you do not want to do this, weather covers designed for your generator are often sufficient.
What do I need to make a generator sound box?
- Medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
- Mass loaded vinyl (MLV)
- Foam mats
- Green glue (or other kind of acoustic caulk)
- Ventilation duct
- Pencil and paper
- Measuring tape
- Right angle ruler
- Table or circular saw
- Wood glue
How do I make a generator sound box?
The first thing you need to do is measure the size of your generator. This differs between models and manufacturers and it is important to measure accurately.
You will need to measure the height, width, and depth of your generator. Add 6 inches to each of your measurements to allow room for insulation.
Measure out the correct panels for the sides of your sound box using your right angle ruler on the MDF. We advise double-checking your measurements before you cut the wood.
Cut the panels out of the MDF using whichever saw you prefer. Take care to cut exactly to your measurements.
Measure the diameter of your ventilation duct. Add a 1-inch border to this measurement (add 2 inches to the diameter). On the panel that is to be used on the ceiling of your soundbox, mark out a hole for the vent duct. It should be off to one side rather than in the center.
Do the same on one of the side panels of the soundbox. Cut both of these circles out to create holes in the MDF panels.
Lay all of the panels out on a flat surface. The ceiling board should be in the center and the side boards all around.
Measure the size of each panel and mark out corresponding panels of MLV. Cut carefully and glue to the interior surfaces of the boards.
Take care to use acoustic caulk around the edges as the MLV is prone to pulling up at the corners.
Add a few layers of foam mats to the interior walls on top of the MLV. You will need to measure and glue these in the same way as you did for the MLV. Take care to apply acoustic caulk around the edges and corners again.
With another person helping, hold up the panels you have made around the sides of your generator. Screw them into place using an electric screwdriver. You can install a couple of hinges to the front panel to make it a door for easier access if you like.
Attach the ceiling panels to the frame of the soundbox and screw into place.
Install the vent ducts through the holes you created earlier. Ensure you tighten them fully. If they are not fully tightened, the vent ducts can move around when the generator is turned on.
Factors to consider
The material you construct your sound box from will alter the level of soundproofing provided. MDF is the most effective, but plywood also works well.
It is much cheaper to make your own sound box than purchase one.
Other ways to reduce generator noise
An easy and cheap way to reduce generator noise only needs a bucket of water and a flex tube made from galvanized metal. Do not use a garden hose for this. Attach one end of the hose to the exhaust of the generator.
The other end should be placed in the bucket of water. The water muffles the sound but there are a few safety precautions to take.
Ensure the water is as far away from the generator as possible and make a small hole in the top. This reduces the pressure and ensures water does not get drawn back into the generator.
There is a way to attach a car exhaust muffler to your generator to reduce the noise. They are designed to minimize the noise from a car engine and in principle, work the same on generators. This is not suitable for amateurs to attempt and you should always speak to a qualified mechanic or electrician first.
Purchasing a modern generator will often reduce the amount of noise it makes when in operation. This is because they have mufflers and other noise-reduction technologies built in. They tend to be more power-efficient as well. Modern generators tend to be smaller and more durable than the older models.
As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the generator, the noisier it will be. This is because sound-proofing technologies are the least useful part of the generator and are the first to be scrapped when trying to reduce costs.
If the noise level of a generator is particularly important to you, consider splashing out a little more when you are purchasing.
There are many soundproofing accessories that you can purchase for your generator. These include noise deflectors and rubber feet. Noise deflectors divert the soundwaves from the generator away from where you are located. These do not eliminate the noise made, but they do reduce the level.
The rubber feet serve the same purpose as a rubber mat. They minimize the vibrations felt on the ground as some of the movement is absorbed in the rubber.
If you do not want to go to the hassle of making a sound box, but do have some plywood boards lying about, we have an easy trick for you. The boards need to be longer than your generator and will reduce the noise level as the hard surface will reflect the sound waves.
Lean the boards against the generator in a square or triangular shape. The box shape is the optimal one for noise reduction as the sound will be diverted towards the ground. If your generator is portable this noise reduction method is easy to construct and dismantle.
You can also build a sound wall by building up cinder blocks around the generator to slightly above the top. Leave space between the blocks and the generator for a safe and convenient sound muffler.