What is The Quietest Generator For Camping?

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Many people who enjoy camping have the question: What is the best camping generator? Today I’ll share some tips that I’ve learned over the years about this topic. Since we’ve used a generator every single day for over eight years, I think I’m pretty qualified to answer this question.

If you’re considering buying a portable generator for camping, there are some things that are worth considering before you plop down a wad of dough on a genset that you won’t be happy with. Most people who go camping are looking for a bit of piece and quiet which means that taking the time to learn about extra quiet generators could really pay off for you.

After using a really loud generator at our off the grid cabin for several months, I asked my husband, “is there a quiet generator that we could use instead of this monster that we have been using?” This started us off on a quest to find the best portable quiet generators that were on the market. We looked at several models but ultimately ended up buying a Honda EU2000i super quiet generator that cost us right around $1,050.

What is a Good Generator For Camping?

The first thing I would look for in a gas generator for camping is portability. No one wants to be packing a 500 pound monster from their truck to their campsite. The second thing I would look for is how quiet the generator is. The third thing to consider is how fuel efficient it is. If it’s not fuel efficient, it’s not very portable because you’ll end up having to pack a bunch of extra gas with you.

Why Should Campers Buy A Super Quiet Generator?

There are a couple of reasons why quiet gas generators are better than any old genset that you find sitting on the floor of your local home improvement center. The first is that running a loud generator in your campsite is likely to ruin the fun for everyone. The second is that it’s just plain rude to fire up your 5000 watt unit and blast your camping neighbors out of their tents. The people camping in the nearby campsites don’t go out into the mountains to hear that kind of noise. If they wanted to have their senses flooded with noise, they would have stayed in the city.

What Makes Honda Generators So Quiet?

Honda has a line of super quiet portable generators called the EU series. They come in 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, and 6,500 watt versions. The EU1000i and EU2000i are small portable quiet generators that are rated at 53 to 59 dB(A). The EU3000i is rated at 57 to 65 dB(A) and the EU3000iS is rated at 49 to 58 dB(A). Lastly, the EU6500iS is rated at 52 – 60 dB(A). By the way, if you don’t already know, db(A) is short for “decibels” which the term used to describe how loud something is. The lower the rating, the quieter the generator will be.

There are two things that Honda does to make camping generators that are quiet. The first is their Eco-Throttle feature. This is basically a system that automatically adjusts the engine speed to match the load that is on it. When you only have light loads like a radio plugged into these units the engine runs really slowly. Then when you plug in a larger load like your RV the engine will run faster.

The other answer to the question, “why are Honda generators so quiet?” is that they have a two-tiered noise dampening system. I haven’t found a good explanation from Honda on what this “two-tiered” system is but from working on these generators, my husband believes that one tier is the rubber mounts that hold the engine in place and the other is the shroud that fully encases the genset. He’s only speculating though.

Regardless of exactly how Honda is able to make these little babies so quiet, one thing I can fully attest to is that they are MUCH quieter than most of the portable generators we have either owned or heard running.

What Size Generator For Camping?

Not long ago, a good friend of ours bought a camping trailer and called us up to ask, “What size generator do I need for camping?” The answer to this question really depends on what your needs are. If you just need something small to recharge your cell phones or other batteries, you could get by fine with the EU1000i or EU2000i models. If, on the other hand, you need to power a large motorhome, you’ll probably want to buy either the EU3000i or the EU6500i.

Although I haven’t actually owned any Yamaha generators, they do make some quiet generators for camping. The product line that you might want to look at is their EF line. Their EF1000iS is rated at 47 – 57 dBA, their EF2000iS is rated at 51.5 – 61 dBA, their EF2800i is rated at 64 – 67 dBA, their EF3000iSE/B is rated at 53 – 60 dBA, their EF4500iSE is rated at 58 – 60 dBA, and their EF6300iSDE is rated at 58 – 64 dBA.

I really hope that this article has provided you with some useful information about quiet generators for camping. If you liked it, please do me a favor and use either the Facebook Like or Tweet button to tell your friends about BooneyLiving.com. I would really appreciate it and I think they would as well.

If you’re interested in quite generators, I think you’ll also be interested in this article: How to Quiet a Generator to Tolerable Sound Levels.

11 Responses to “What is The Quietest Generator For Camping?”

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  1. Gilbert says:

    Im looking for the quitest electric start generator for my rv, please help. Thank you….

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Gilbert,

      Both Honda and Yamaha make generators that are specially designed to run very quietly. I listed the decibel ratings in this article. The lower the number, the quieter the generator will be. I don’t have any experience with the Yamaha generator’s but I’ve used a Honda EU2000i for many years and I’ve been very happy with it. We’ve often gotten comments from people who hear it running about how surprised they are that it’s actually as quite as it is.

      • Phil S. says:

        Do your research. There are several invertor generators that are just as or quieter than the Honda and Yamaha brands for half the price. And if you read others reviews on those generators, you’ll see they’re just as reliable.

        • John M. Henry says:

          Very interesting, but can you give a brand or make?

  2. Kim Van Drisse says:

    I have a small living quarter trailer, I am looking into a generator for backup purposes. One that will run a fan, cpap machine, perhaps a space heater. My trailer has 2 deep cell batteries and 2 propane tanks as well as 30 amp power. I won’t always be able to plug into electric but will need to run a cpap machine at night, charge cell phones, perhaps run a radio or a fan or even a heater. I can’t see needing to run the entire trailer on a generator, just small appliances if I run out of battery.

    Any advice? Quiet is a requirement, I’m somewhat limited on price and don’t want to buy a generator that is over kill for my needs.

    Thanks for your comments, Kim

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Kim,

      My personal choice would be to save your money for either a Honda EU1000i or EU2000i. I can recommend them because I’ve personally used them. They aren’t cheap but in my experience, they have been reliable, they are quiet, and they don’t use much gas. I’ve purchased several inexpensive generators over the years and some of them worked okay for a while but they either broke quite soon or they were just too loud. I feel like I just wasted my money buying several inexpensive generators instead of just saving my money for a nice one.

    • Dave says:

      I’m kind of late to the party, but here’s a thought: you really need to look at your power requirements for these devices. You maybe able to run such small things overnight with battery power, and recharge during the day with either solar or generator.

      There are rv power calculators out there (just do a google search) that can help you determine how much power you really need. A typical cell phone will draw practically nothing,while the cpap would draw more, though potentially not a lot. WHat are the power specs on the label (either wattage or voltage and amps)?

  3. Travis says:

    Kim, the real energy hog would be the heater as most are 1500 watts on the high setting. The 2000 watt honda or yamaha only produce 1600 watts with the ability to hit 2000 for short periods for start up loads, that and they are only slightly more than the 1000 watt versions.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Good point Travis. I somehow missed that she wanted to run a space heater with the generator. She would definitely need a larger generator for that.

  4. Jim says:

    Inverters can be much quieter than regular generators because they can run at slower engine speeds, as much as 25% slower, in my experience. They may also have better mufflers. But moving parts inside the engine make a lot of noise too, so enclosing the engine and alternator/generator can help. I have a Yamaha YF2800i open frame inverter and a Cummins/Onan EP4300ie (actually a re branded Robin Subaru) that is fully enclosed.

    The EP4300ie is quieter than the YF2800i, particularly in lowering the high frequency mechanical rattling sounds, even though it produces nearly 50% more power. A lot of effort went into making this generator quiet. The side panels are an inch thick, not hollow, and have rubber gaskets around them that look like they make a nearly air-tight seal when they are in place. Additional sound-absorbing or deadening materials can be seen inside the unit. I think that Subaru has included more effort and material into making their generators quieter than Yamaha or Honda. But on the other hand, with a weight of 163 pounds, the EP300ie is nearly 100 pounds heavier than the YF2800i. Yamaha advertised that the YF2800i was 40% lighter than other generators of it’s capacity, so it may not be typical. It weighs only 64 pounds and is rated for 2.5kw continuous load. The equivalent model today is EF2800i.

    I have a sound level meter and I know that so many factors can influence what it says that I don’t put much trust in published specs about sound levels. My inverters generally measure much higher than their published specs. But I know from personal experience that they are much quieter than any conventional generator that I’ve heard. But they are not so quiet that I would run one on a camping trip at night if there were other campers within 300 feet of my inverter. The lowest published spec that I’ve seen is the Yamaha EF2400iSHC at 54.5-61 dB (A). It’s an enclosed inverter, but not as well designed or built as my EP4300ie. Yamaha’s spec for the open framed YF2800i/EF2800i is 67 dB (A). I have not seen Subaru publish specs for their inverters, but mine is quieter than my Yamaha at any load.

    Yamaha uses pushrod engines, while Honda and Subaru are OHC. Honda uses synthetic timing belts where Subaru uses hardened steel ones. For these reasons alone, I would rate durability as Subaru, Yamaha, and Honda, in order of most durable to least. Yamaha has advertised that their generators last twice as long as Honda, but I think this is based on emission compliance standards rather than actual engine life.

    Sizing may be important. A larger capacity inverter running at low load could be much less annoying than a smaller unit running at maximum load. But I don’t like to run generators at more than 50% load anyway. Some Yamahas are designed with “boost” technology to assist high start-up loads. Some draw current from a battery. The EF2800i has a high rush feature but no battery. It could use a capacitor or something to assist.

    I think that the Subaru 3200 and 4300 are the best engineered, quietest, and most durable inverters that I’ve seen in those capacities, if you can deal with the 130 and 163 pounds they weigh and don’t mind their premium prices ($2,300 and $3,100). They are sold under several brand names and I’ve seen them advertised with or without electric start under a brand other than Robin Subaru.

    • Patty Hahne says:

      Hi Jim,

      Thank you for your insight and comments relating to your experience with other quiet generators. I don’t personally have any experience with Yamaha or Cummins/Onan generators but as mentioned, I’ve owned two Honda inverter style generators and I’ve been quite happy with them.

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