How to Make a Portable Generator Quieter

Generators are incredibly beneficial when it comes to camping or sleeping away from electrical mains.

Generators run on fuel and can charge electronics, run small appliances, and avoid your guests killing each other due to their phones being dead. Overall, generators are excellent pieces of equipment to take with you into the wilderness. 

However, there is one glaringly obvious drawback when it comes to portable generators - they’re just so noisy! Some people deal with the noise better than others.

If you’re just using the generator to get some juice back into your phone, you probably will be able to put up with the noise for half an hour or so. 

But what happens when you need the generator for cooking or keeping your food chilled in a mini-refrigerator? Using a portable generator for longer than an hour can really begin to grind on you, particularly if you can’t get away from it. 

Portable generators also pose the risk of scaring away wildlife or annoying other holiday goers around you. If you’ve come to a camping spot with the sole purpose of hunting or fishing, a loud generator is bound to affect your final result. 

Moreover, you might not want to deal with the confrontation of others who are just trying to enjoy some peace and quiet on their holiday. As you can see, a portable generator can be a real pain as well as an invaluable asset.

It’s unreasonable to expect you to leave your handy generator at home, which is why we’re here to help. 

We’ve found eight of the best methods of making your portable generator quiet. If one of our methods doesn’t work, simply move onto the next one.

Keep your holiday enjoyable by keeping your portable generator quiet! 

How to Make a Portable Generator Quieter

Only Stick to What You Need

Our first tip is something that should be applied before you even leave the store with your portable generator. If we’re too late and you’ve already purchased your generator, we hope you’ve kept the receipt just in case! 

You need to know how much power you’re going to need from your generator before you even buy one. It’s easy to spot the biggest generator with the best power supply and decide to buy that one.

However, bigger is not always better! The larger the generator, the larger the noise it will make when in use. So if you’re only using your generator to charge your devices yet you purchased the largest one possible, you might be suffering through a noisy situation for nothing. 

You might want to weigh the options against each other. Which of the following situations sounds better to you - less electricity and less noise, or more electricity and more noise? If the former sounds best you might only need a generator capable of putting out a few hundred watts of power.  

However, if you are planning on running appliances off of your generator and are unwilling to sacrifice the ability to use them, you’ll need a larger generator. Generators come with a great range of outputs, and small appliances call for 2,000 to 5,000-watt generators. 

Positioning the Exhaust Pipes

Now that you’ve purchased a generator that is the right size for your needs, you’re ready to take it to your favorite camping spot. One important thing to remember about generators is that the sound is often directed wherever the exhaust pipes are pointing. 

So, if the exhaust pipes are pointing towards your motorhome or tent, the sound will travel towards you. Not to mention that the fumes will also pollute your camping spot and could create a dangerous position for you. 

Before you power the generator up, make sure that the exhausts are either pointed upwards or away from you. The sound will be carried in the opposite direction of you and appear quieter. One thing to remember is that if you have other campers next to you, you might get complaints if the fumes and noise is traveling towards them. 

This is one of the reasons why upward exhausts are so popular among campers. However, if your generator’s exhausts do not point upwards, make sure that they are facing away from you and any other campers around you. 

Give Your Generator a Timeout

Another method of making your generator appear quieter is to position it further away from your camping spot. You’ll need some extension leads to ensure that you can get power from the generator to your shelter, but you’ll be able to enjoy a more relaxing experience without all of the noise. 

This is another method of ensuring that both you and everyone else around you are happy with the limited noise that your generator is making. Sure, the sound hasn’t actually gotten quieter, but that’s not your problem if it’s polluting another area of the campsite!

All jokes aside, keeping your generator away from your camping set up will improve your time drastically. Positioning it around 20 feet away from you will significantly reduce the noise that you can hear. Just make sure that you purchase waterproof extension leads that are long enough and that can be used outside. 

Make the Generator Comfortable

There is a saying that preaches treating others with kindness! Look after your belongings, and your belongings will look after you. This is no different for your generator.

We bet that you’d have something to say if you were placed on cold and damp ground and expected to remain there for days on end. 

Okay, so your generator doesn’t actually feel things like humans do, but it is true that you should look after it to prevent it from making too much noise. The surface that you place it on will greatly affect this.

As a general rule, hard surfaces are off-limits. Concrete, stone, and wood will cause the generator to vibrate loudly, amplifying the noise rather than quelling it. 

No matter how far away your generator is placed, a hard surface will cause the noise to appear louder throughout the entire campsite. Instead, we suggest that you keep it on dirt or grass. These will prevent the vibrations from making any more noise.

Alternatively, you could opt for an anti-vibration mat that will absorb the shock from the generator’s vibrations. 

Get Deflecting! 

Sound deflectors will allow the sound to move no further than where you place them. These deflators will allow the sound of the generator to remain in one isolated area so that only a fraction of the noise is heard outside of the chosen area. 

The good news is that you don’t need to spend too much time or money creating your sound deflectors. All you need is four sheets of plywood and a piece of drywall or another material that is non-flammable. Make sure that these sheets are around 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. 

Place your generator away from the tent and on a soft patch of ground. Now prop the four pieces of plywood up on the generator around its edges, making sure that the top is uncovered. To leave the top uncovered will mean that the wood is positioned at an angle. 

The drywall should be used on the side where the exhausts are pointing out. Prop the drywall up as you would for the other three sides of the generator before using the fourth piece of plywood to cover it on the outside. 

The drywall will protect the deflectors from catching fire as plywood is flammable. The angle at which the deflectors point down means that the sound coming from the generator is redirected down into the earth. 

If your generator is positioned 20 feet away from you, you shouldn’t be disturbed by this at all. Bear in mind that you always run the risk when covering a generator with flammable materials.

The drywall will prevent this to an extent, but you should still always keep an eye out for the covered generator. 

We’re Baffled by this Box

A baffle box is a wooden box that encloses your generator on all sides but one.

The generator gives off sound waves which can only get as far as the interior of the baffle box before stopping them in their tracks. A baffle box will reduce the amount of noise drastically so that you don’t have to worry about annoying others around you. 

Baffle boxes are available to buy and are much easier to carry around than five pieces of wood that you’d need to create deflectors.

Alternatively, you can make your own baffle box with a few sheets of plywood, L-brackets, quiet boards, and foam sealer. Make sure you drill some holes into the baffle box to avoid damaging your generator.

You will also need to cut out holes for the fumes from the exhaust to escape. Creating or buying a baffle box will cost more than creating deflectors and take more of your time, but the box can be more convenient when traveling.  

Get to know your muffler

A muffler is used to muffle the sounds coming from the generator’s exhaust pipes. The muffler is made from perforated tubes that deflect the sound waves from the inside out. If your muffler isn’t as effective as it should be, the sound coming from the exhaust is bound to be louder than it should be. 

If the muffler inside of your portable generator isn’t working as well as it should, you can expect to see an increase in sound up to 12 decibels. While this doesn’t sound like much, we can promise you that you’ll be cursing yourself for not replacing your muffler when you’re camping! 

So, make sure that you replace your muffler if it’s wearing thin. Another thing to consider is that the muffler might not be the correct size for your generator. There are so many generators on the market that it can be difficult to find a muffler that fits your model perfectly. 

To have the best chance of getting a muffler to fit your generator properly, you should speak to a professional mechanic with experience in the subject. They should be able to point you in the right direction to ensure that the muffler isn’t too small for your generator. 

Your generator might require a customized muffler. This might cost you a little more money to get your hands on, but we think that the reduced sound is more than worth the additional bucks. Speak to the mechanic or a repairman to see how you’d go about getting your hands on a customized muffler. 

Make Your Own Muffler

So, if you’re dead set against purchasing a customized muffler due to the extra cost, that’s fine. You might be able to mimic the effects of a muffler by using water instead. However, this might take you more effort than ordering a custom muffler would require. 

You will also need a bucket that can fit 5 gallons of water, a clamp, and a hosepipe. Connect the hosepipe to the exhaust on your generator using the clamp, ensuring that it is tightly fixed to the generator. Make sure that the bucket is full of water. 

What happens once the generator is turned on is that the water will muffle the sounds and vibrations and prevent you from being able to hear as much of the noise.

An important thing to remember; however, is that the generator must be placed higher than the bucket of water to avoid the water from flowing into the generator. 

This has the potential to break your generator beyond repair. The issue with this is that you might not be able to leave the generator on a soft patch of ground as it has to be elevated. A way to get around this problem is to use an anti-vibration mat on a stool or crate. 

The generator will be lifted higher than the bucket without the vibrations from creating more noise. You can also poke holes into the hosepipe to prevent any water from jumping up the pipe and into the generator. 

Using water as a muffler can be quite effective if you set up everything correctly. You can expect the noise levels to be decreased around 5 to 7 decibels by using water as a muffler. 

Why is Your Generator Making So Much Noise?

Location, location, location!

As we’ve already mentioned, where you place your generator is very important when it comes to the noise it makes. Place it further away from you and invest in some extension cords that can be used outside. The vibrations can be quieted by the use of soft ground, an anti-vibration mat, or rubber legs. 

You can attach rubber legs to the generator so that the vibrations travel down them and all of the shocks get absorbed before it reaches the ground. This will avoid the generator from moving at all and the ground won’t be that affected either. 

How old are you?

Old age is a common cause of a loud generator. The newer the technology that your model is made from, the less noise it’s likely to make. If your generator is relatively new and is still making a lot of noise, it might be an indicator that there is something wrong with how it's operating. 

With new technological advancements happening every day, it’s no surprise that the newer generators are bound to be quieter than the traditional ones. With the main drawback of portable generators being the sound they omit, it makes sense that manufacturers are always trying to reduce it. 

Newer generators have features such as eco-friendly modes that use less energy overall, reducing noise pollution. Some also have more effective mufflers to compress the sound as much as possible. 


We hope that you’ve found out tips on how to make your portable generator quieter.

For the best results, you should combine our tips to lower the noise as much as possible. Move the generator further away from your camping spot, keep it on soft ground, and point the exhausts away from you. 

Smaller generators are best for less noise, so stick to only what you need.

Make sure that your muffler is working properly, or make your own one from a bucket of water! Deflectors or a baffle box can be very beneficial when you want to reduce noise, and you can make your own of both.

Take our advice and enjoy your holiday - relax instead of cursing out your generator! 

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    I'm an environment and energy blogger who teaches outdoor and energy enthusiasts how to be better informed when it comes to purchasing or maintaining a generator, solar panel system, or anything else related to your energy needs.