How Loud Are Whole House Generators (Can You Hear it Inside?)

At the start of 2021, Texas had an energy crisis that saw millions of homes lose power. State-wide blackouts during one of the year’s coldest months would have lasting effects on businesses and lives. Moments such as these are the kind you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Also, it’s why people buy whole house generators

Whole house generators typically emit between 60 and 80 dBA of noise. Generators are loudest at 100% load. In most cases, you can hear your whole house generator from inside your home, but it largely depends on its distance from the house, the terrain, and any noise dampening steps that you’ve taken.

Whole house generators are becoming extremely handy due to the growing need for power grid expansions. We’ll cover tips on making your standby generator quieter and the brands you need to check out if you prioritize quiet operation. 

The Pros and Cons of Whole House Ge...
The Pros and Cons of Whole House Generators (Worth It?) – Pick Generators

Can You Hear a Whole House Generator From Inside?

Whether or not you can hear your whole house generator from inside your home largely depends on the model, its placement, and the measures that you’ve taken to dampen the noise.

It is good practice to install a whole house generator at least 20 feet away from any structures in most situations. While this is the minimum in most cases, installing it further away can help lessen the amount of noise you hear inside your home.

Most generators emit between 60 and 80 dBA, which is relatively loud and audible within most houses. But then again, how loud you hear a whole house generator from within your home largely depends on how loud your particular model is, the terrain, wind direction, any noise dampening measures that you’ve taken, and a million other factors.

In most cases, all you’ll hear from your whole house generator within your home is a light background humming noise. It is slightly louder than a washing machine or central air conditioning system.

Which Whole House Generator Is the Quietest?

Generator Brand and ModelGenerator Noise (dBA)
Honda EU7000iS52-58
Generac 6462 Guardian Series58
Champion Power Equipment 10029463
Kohler 20RESCL64-69
Cummins Quiet Connect Series65
Briggs & Stratton 076175 Standby Generator66

1. Honda EU7000iS (52-58 dBA)

We start light with the Honda EU7000iS. It’s one of Honda’s bestsellers, which is a bit of a surprise given its pricing and output. It has a 5000 running watts capacity, but it will jump to 7000 starting watts for about 10 seconds. 

Though it’s hefty for its compact size, it is one of the quietest generators you can find at that power capacity. It might not see you through for many days if you have a major blackout, but it will power most of your large draw appliances, such as the fridge. 

The Honda EU7000iS is set on rubber stands to soak up vibrational impact between the ground and the generator. And like many of Honda’s inverter generators, the design and build material contribute to the machine’s 52-58dB noise level. 

2. Generac 6462 Guardian Series (58 dBA)

The Generac 6462 might be a tricky find. Though Generac isn’t manufacturing the unit anymore, you can find it from 3rd party vendors. 

It has a 992cc OHVI G-Force Engine specifically suited for generators. The engine is built for silence since it’s pressure-lubricated and features WhisperCheck Self-Test Mode. These features focus on engine and fuel efficiency in the quietest setting. The WhisperCheck test mode is a setting that allows the generator to run for a 21-minute test period at a lower RPM. 

Also, it has durable all-aluminum enclosures to stave away friction and keep the noise to a minimum. With all these features, its discontinuation is unfortunate. However, you can upgrade to the Generac 7228. 

The Generac 7228 comes with a more powerful 816cc G-Force twin-cylinder engine with a 3600 RPM. At such speeds, you can expect about 65dB at normal load from 23 feet away and about 55dB with Quiet Test Low Speed from 23 feet. 

3. Champion Power Equipment 100294 (63 dBA)

You can’t mention powerful whole house generators without Champion on the list. The Champion 100294 model churns out 14 kilowatts on propane and 12.5 kilowatts non-stop on gas. It comes with a 4-stroke V-Twin that only uses 2.6 gallons of fuel per hour on full load and 1.6 gallons per hour at 50% load. 

The Champion 100294 stands out during harsh winters. It won’t need a warming kit to start. It’s also suitable for harsh summers where heat can slow down performance.

There are two levels of appliances: vital and managed. The Champion 100294 generator can run 8 of your vital appliances. If and when there is a risk of overload, it cuts out the managed appliances. However, it’ll power up the managed appliances once demand steadies. 

With noise levels of only 63 dB and the potential to go lower, the Champion 100294 is a safe buy for a homeowner looking to make some budget cuts on fuel. 

4. Kohler 20RESCL (64-69 dBA)

Kohler manufactures high-capacity standby generators ranging from 6kW to 100kW. The Kohler 20RESAL is a 20kW whole house generator that’ll power your entire home, including heavy appliances such as a 60,000  BTU air conditioner, washing machines, and dishwashers. It takes about 10 seconds to activate fully after a blackout. 

It comes with Kohler’s CH1000 engine that operates at 3600 RPM. Despite its power, you’ll still get 69dB at full operation. 

One of its most standout features is its PowerBoost technology. PowerBoost enables the generator to power up huge loads without drawing power from other appliances. Additionally, it comes with an RXT 100-amp automatic transfer switch. 

Since bad weather and blackouts typically keep you indoors, the generator comes with Kohler’s OnCue Plus monitoring systems. You can also monitor the systems wirelessly using OnCue Plus Wireless. 

5. Cummins Quiet Connect Series (65 dBA)

Cummins is an American company with a large generator and power system portfolio of offerings. Their product range covers home generators, industrial level generators, and nearly everything in between. The Quiet Connect Series is one of the priciest generator lines on this list, but the benefits justify the costs. 

Take, for instance, the Cummins RS25. It comes with a QSJ2.4 engine inside a sound-attenuated aluminum enclosure. The enclosure design and superior material make it so quiet that you can have the 25-kilowatt machine as close as 18 inches from your home. The engine registers 1800 RPM to further cement Cummins’ reputation as a quiet whole house generator. 

The generators have Exercise modes where the unit runs diagnostics to assess any functionality issue. Also, it can run diagnostics on Crank Only mode that preserves the engine and lengthens the machine’s durability. 

The RS25 has an Intelligent Load Management System that studies your usage and keeps the statistics to disburse power to critical equipment. Finally, the machine can withstand extreme weather – from harsh winter to brutal winds. 

With such power, 65dB of noise sounds suitable for any homeowner. 

6. Briggs & Stratton 076175 Standby Generator (66 dBA)

Briggs and Stratton’s 076175 generator is one tonne of power that’ll light up your home through harsh weather and lengthy emergency blackouts. 

Structurally, it’s built using automotive-grade galvanized steel. The enclosure keeps rust and corrosion at bay. Once you install this generator in your home, you have 25 Kilowatts when using both propane and natural gas. It powers your home while producing only 66dB from 21 feet away. 

The 076175 generator comes with a load of features that keep your generator safe from overloading. The Symphony® II Power Management distributes power to priority appliances. 

Also, it comes with InfoHub Wireless Monitoring which lets you keep track of your generator’s vitals and schedule maintenance

If you’re looking for a quiet whole house generator for a large home, the Briggs & Stratton 076175 is right up your alley. 

How Can You Make Your Whole House Generator Quieter?

Generator companies make whole house generators as quiet as possible. However, some places might have strict noise ordinances — or neighbors that REALLY don’t like generator noise.  You might need to knock down the generator noise a couple of decibels.  

Unfortunately, you can’t do it within the generators. Still, you can get creative and make your Whole House generator quieter

1. Add a sound-absorbing enclosure.

A sound-absorbing enclosure is an aftermarket solution that can reduce your generator’s noise levels. Most sound-absorbing enclosures are made from absorbent material that absorbs sound vibrations and minimizes the sound’s intensity and movement. 

You can get ready-made enclosures or build custom ones that fit your generator’s specifications. 

2. Add Acoustic Barriers

Acoustic barriers are a simple concept that obstructs the direct straight-line travel of sound. They also deflect sound waves such that the sound waves lose intensity. 

There are several types of acoustic barriers. 

  • Capped barriers
  • Absorbing barriers
  • Angled and dispersive barriers

You can also install freestanding, moveable, or permanent acoustic barriers. 

Acoustic barriers can chop off up to 3-7 dB of noise from your generator. 

3. Install Isolation Mounts

Isolation mounts are devices you place under vibration-heavy equipment to reduce vibration. They are typically rubber. Placing your generator on isolation mounts reduces the vibration with the ground to reduce noise and keep internal components intact. 

Pro tip: Leave enough ventilation space between the generator and the sound deadening material to avoid heat build-up. Also, angle any panels towards a softer, more absorbent area to avoid continuous sound reflection.

4. Using Temporary Solutions

Look for wooden panels slightly larger than the dimensions of your generator. These are the best options for sound-deadening wood. 

  • Cork
  • Acoustic Plywood
  • Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)
  • Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

Angle them such that they form a temporary well-aired structure around the generator. Make sure the base is wider so that the sound bounces from the wood and into the ground. You can remove the panels at your convenience. 

5. Fixing Any Loose Parts

Loose parts vibrate inside the generator. Tighten any loose screws and secure loose parts to reduce friction and noise. It’ll also improve your generator’s lifespan. 

It might not matter in the event of a huge storm, but make sure your soundproofing method can withstand harsh weather. 

How Loud Are Generac Whole House Generators?

Generac whole house generators are big units. However, the manufacturers have factored in shared residences. As such, the most popular Generac whole house Generators are relatively quiet. They register noise levels of about 66dB at 23 feet. The 23-feet range is enough for you not to bother your neighbors if you live in a well-spaced area. 

Consider other smaller appliances. 

Air conditioners register  68dB from 20 feet. Blenders go as high as 88dB. A standard vacuum cleaner registers 70dB, which coincidentally is almost as loud as a passenger car going 65 MPH from 25 feet away (77dB). 

Music systems at average volumes in a living room register about 76dB. Do you see that annoying garbage disposal? That’s about 80dB. 

To understand how important a quiet standby generator is in a shared residential area, remember a rock concert records noise levels of up to 110dB. Prolonged exposure to such noise has some severe effects on your hearing. 

Other standby generators are also within that 60dB-70dB range. Briggs & Stratton whole house generators register 64dB, while Kohler standby generators register 69dB from 23 feet away. 

Generac generators are some of the top-rated generators in backup power. Generac produces high-quality, affordable generators for short-term and prolonged use. The entire Generac generator line — from the portable ones to the standby ones — is constructed with technology and material meant to suppress noise. 

Take, for instance, Generac’s darling portable generator, the Generac 6866 IQ2000. It goes head to head against other quiet brands such as  Honda EU2200i and EF2000iSv2. The Generac 6866 iQ2000 produces only 53dB. Its competitor, Honda  EU2200i, produces 57 decibels. Only the Yamaha is less quiet than the General at 52dB. 

Generac’s noise levels range from 51dB to 70dB. However, a generator has to be powerful to register such noise levels. We’re talking about an 8000-watt generator like the Generac GP8000 producing 70 dB. 

65dB is an octave too high for comfort for some people. To others, it’s a typical conversation between two people. 

Generac’s stroke of genius is making whole house generators that operate at less speed to produce current. 

Quick tip: Faster RPM means more noise. Generac’s standby generators operate at a constant 2700 RPM. The speed reduces the noise of most Generac generators to no more than a hum if the generator is enclosed in a proper noise suppressing housing unit. 

Do You Need a Whole House Generator?

Usually, you wouldn’t need a whole house generator for more than a few hours. However, sometimes weather extremes knock out power systems for days. These system shutdowns force you into survival mode, and that’s when you need a standby generator. 

Whole-house generators are also known as standby generators. Contrary to portable generators, these stationary generators power your entire house. Also, they connect to a fuel source, which makes them automatic. 

Most of these generators use natural gas or propane. They are convenient as long as you connect yours to a stable fuel source and choose one that can sustain your home’s electrical needs. 

Portable generators might keep your smaller appliances powered up. You’ll need more power if you plan on running appliances that are more taxing on your power systems, such as water pumps, air conditioners, and heat pumps – all at the same time. 

Whole-house generators are an invaluable asset to absentee homeowners. See, the generators remain hooked up to the fuel source. The generator kicks in whenever the power goes out in a home when no one’s around. Think about how remote sites maintain efficiency despite grid downtimes. 

Conclusion

Once in a while, you will be thrust into a disaster that knocks out the power grid. You need a powerful system to keep you warm through the darkness and cold. A whole house generator might take a few thousand bucks out of your pocket, but it will be worth it when your home has power through a crisis. 

Make sure you keep the peace with the authorities and your neighbors by making your generator as silent as you can. Talk to a professional and find out the best approach to a minimal noise whole house generator. 

Sources

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections since 2002. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and an FHA 203k Consultant. I started PickGenerators.com to help people better understand whole-house and portable generators.

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