Are Generators Loud? (Chart Included)

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No, generators are not always loud. There are many portable inverter generators and standby generators that are as quiet as a regular conversation but still produce nice amounts of power.

At the same time, portable generators tend to have noise levels of around 50 dBA to 80 dBA at 25% load and 23 feet away.

That means big, open-frame generators can be very loud to the point of an uncomfortable experience and noise complaints.

To keep noise levels down you can choose one of the quietest generators in your desired category and/or make the machine quieter in other ways.

How loud is the average generator?

The average 4500 peak watt inverter generator is around 58 to 61 dBA loud at 25% load and from 23 feet away. This number of decibels is similar to the noise levels from a regular conversation.

Standby generators are typically around 65 dBA during regular operation. This is about as loud as someone laughing.

Portable gas generators tend to get louder when they get bigger and run at higher % loads. Similarly, standby generator noise levels are influenced by the installation quality.

For both generator types, you want to keep in mind that details like the environment, wind, and temperature influence your experience of the noise levels too.

Additionally, there are ways to make a generator quieter.

Are generators supposed to be loud?

No, not all generators are supposed to be loud. Small to medium inverter generators and standby generators should typically be quiet.

Large portable generators and non-inverter generators are supposed to be somewhat loud. This is the limit of this type of backup power technology.

Generator noise level chart

A generator noise level chart for different power levels and similar noises is listed below. The empty sections come from a low number of generator options or noise levels that vary a lot.

Inverter Generator
Noise Levels
Noise Similar ToStandard
Regular Generator
Noise Levels
Noise Similar To
2000 Peak Watts55 to 58 dBAQuiet home environment
4500 Peak Watts58 to 61 dBARegular conversation69 to 72 dBVacuum cleaner, office noise
6500 Peak Watts68 to 70 dBAVacuum cleaner, office noise
7000 Peak WattsAround 74 dBACar traffic
3500 Peak WattsAround 58 dBARegular conversation
50 Amp Outlet65 to 69 dBAVacuum cleaner, office noise72 to 74 dBACar traffic
4000 Peak Watts59 dBARegular conversation68 to 70 dBAVacuum cleaner, office noise
5500 Peak Watts61 dBARegular conversation69 dBAVacuum cleaner, office noise
5000 Peak WattsAround 68 dBAVacuum cleaner, office noise
8000 Peak Watts76 dBACar traffic
10000 Peak Watts72 to 74 dBACar traffic
9000 Peak Watts72 to 75 dBACar traffic
12000 Peak Watts74 dBACar traffic
Generator noise level chart

Is a generator room noisy?

Yes, a generator room is typically noisy due to the high power engines running inside of it.

How far away can you hear a generator?

You can typically hear the mentioned noise ratings of the generator from 23 feet away at 25% load.

How far the noise completely dies out will depend on details like the generator size, the environment, temperatures, wind, etc.

There are even cases where people mention hearing a generator running from 2 miles away.

Can you get noise complaints from generators?

Yes, it is possible that you get noise complaints from big portable generators. This will typically apply to portable home backup generators in smaller neighborhoods.

At the same time, there are many small to medium generators that make less noise than a regular conversation. It is less likely that you will get noise complaints from these machines.

Additionally, there are ways to make your generators quieter. This reduces the risk of getting noise complaints from these machines.

When in doubt, you want to check the noise regulations in your location and look at the decibel ratings of the generators you are considering.

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Mats is the founder and head editor of Generator Decision. With a combination of critical thinking, tireless research, and a healthy interest in electronics he helps people find the right generators and how to use these. At this point in the journey, Mats has done research on hundreds of portable generators.