Being lightweight and producing minimal noise, inverter generators are designed to reduce shaking and operate with minimal movement. Maintaining an engine speed of 3600 RPM and having optimial design technology, answers the question as to why are inverter generators so quiet.
But how can inverters be much quieter than their traditional counterparts, especially if they both run on fuel?
In this guide, we are going to find all about it, so keep reading.
Difference Between Sound and Noise
Before we get to the question, let us identify some differences that separate sound from noise.
A sound is a form of energy that you perceive, traveling in the form of sound waves. When sound originates from something, it creates vibrations within the air which affects the air molecules.
These sound waves that enter your ears sound different based on pressure, speed, and overall velocity.
For instance, when playing drums, it vibrates and sends sound outward when you beat on a single drum. When you beat on it harder with more pressure and force, it will create a louder sound.
Sound is measured in decibels and determined by its intensity. With higher decibel, the sound is going to be louder. But that is not the case. For instance, zero decibel does not mean an absence of sound. It just signifies that it is the lowest sound that a human ear can hear.
Noise is an unwanted sound of any kind. A room with a high amount of chatter is noisy. A song with numerous unnecessary beats is noisy. And a noisy generator unit produces too much sound than anyone in the vicinity of that unit can handle.
Most traditional generators come with 65 to 75 dB, and most jackhammers and chainsaws are rated for the same noise level rating. Now, if you are camping out in the woods to have a relaxing time, a unit with this noise level rating can be pretty disturbing.
Why Do Generators Make Noise?
To understand why inverters are quieter than their counterparts, we must understand why generators make noise in the first place.
Generators are noisy due to how their engine runs. The internal fuel combustion engine causes the noise that comes out of a unit. This engine is making noise inside the casing of a generator unit. And it is constantly struggling to maintain a speed of 3600 RPM.
On the other hand, inverters are designed to cut out both these design factors that are causing the noise. They are designed to keep those shaking or rattling components tightly together and keep the actual running at a constant speed of 3600 RPM. Consequently, inverters can run much quieter compared to their traditional counterparts.
How are Inverters Quieter?
The primary reason inverters are quieter than traditional generators is how they produce alternate current and design features. Traditional generators and inverter generators might run on fuel-powered engines, but they both work quite differently. As a result, there is a significant difference in noise that each of these generators produces.
Mechanical noise reduction aspects of inverters
We all know that inverters can be pretty darn quiet. And all the credit goes to the technology they are running to produce safer and cleaner energy for running your sensitive electronics.
Apart from that, manufacturers also add other noise reduction features to reduce its overall noise level rating further. An inverter produces electricity in a three-phase process. It first produces a high-frequency alternate current and then converts it into a direct current. After that, it inverts it back into a stable alternate current.
The direct current here will always be a flat in, with a constant noise level. Besides that, the sine wave of the final alternate current will nearly be perfect. So, here in this stage, the inverter is again controlling the noise level and reducing it.
This princess provides more control to the machine to handle the power, frequency, and voltage. It is precisely why an inverter unit can constantly run at 3600 RPM and adjust its power according to the demand.
Manufacturers use engines in the inverters that are already quieter compared to traditional or portable generators. Apart from that, inverter generators are much smaller, and they have a smaller output capacity. Smaller capacity and engine size are other factors that contribute to a reduced noise level.
Design aspects on inverter Generators
The big advantage of these inverter units is that they are quieter. So, manufacturers try to enhance this plus point and introduce some design features to make them less noisy than traditional units.
Though inverter generators are quiet, manufacturers add mufflers to the design for further noise reduction. A muffler can significantly reduce noise from 10 to 12 decibels (dB) based on the material type.
These mufflers are also present in those conventional generators, but they might not come standard with the design or model. Some people who own generators might build their mufflers to reduce noise, but this is not recommended because there are various safety and health hazards associated with faulty mufflers.
Besides the mufflers, the casing of inverters is also created in a way to reduce noise. The materials used in constructing this casing have a massive impact on how engine noise comes out of the unit.
Inverter units are specialized in noise insulation. Their casings are more enclosed as compared to their conventional counterparts. The compact casing also reduces the overall spread of sound waves. Ultimately, much less noise comes out when an inverter is running.
Quiet Inverter Use Cases
Based on where you are looking to use your generators, having a quieter one can be a prerequisite or convenience. Accepted noise levels differ per nature reserve, campsite, national park, housing area, and state.
You will have to check with your local authorities what these acceptable noise levels are. However, residential areas tend to accept a higher noise level rating as compared to outdoor sites. And not all traditional units can meet these requirements.
As residential areas can accept higher noise levels, you will have to choose whether to go with greater power or consider the noise level ratings. Outdoors have stricter rules when it comes to noise control.
It is because you can disturb the wildlife in that particular area. Apart from that, sound waves tend to travel farther because there are no buildings in the area.
If you do camping frequently or prefer to stay more in RV parks, go for inverter generators. Such a unit will provide you with the electricity that you need. The unit will also be light enough to carry, and it will not make much noise either.
Traditional Unit into Inverter Unit Conversion: Is It Possible?
As of yet, it is not possible to convert a traditional portable generator into an inverter unit. You cannot make a unit quieter, no matter what you do. It is due to the difference in mechanics of both these generators.
Even with noise reduction design features such as enclosed casing and mufflers, a traditional unit will procure much more noise than an inverter unit. You also have to keep in mind that portable or traditional generators should not be covered while working.
So, you cannot make portable or standby generators and cover them to reduce noise. It is why it is not recommended to cover portable generators with mufflers to reduce noise. It is because they are not designed in the same way as inverters.
What noise reduction features do inverter generators come with?
Inverters come with engines that are much quieter than traditional units. Furthermore, they have mufflers in their design to dampen further any sound that the engine produces during its operation.
Plus, the enclosed casing holds the engine in place during the operation and does not allow sound waves to travel from the engine to the outside of the unit. As a result, an inverse is much quieter than a traditional unit. Traditional units also have bigger engines in them which makes them louder than inverters with smaller engines.
Besides all that, inverters convert AC into DC and then invert it back into AC while producing currents at a steady rate with fewer sound waves. Manufacturers design these units to operate their engines with a constant speed of 3600 RPM. At a consistent speed, these units produce a steady current without any vibrations or sound waves.
Can I use mufflers to make my traditional generator into a quieter inverter generator?
First of all, you cannot convert your traditional unit into an inverter, no matter what you do. It is not physically possible.
Secondly, it is not recommended to cover your conventional unit with anything, even to reduce noise.
If you are looking to reduce noise, you will have to go for an inverter unit. You do not have another choice. Traditional units have large combustion engines in them, and they release emissions. Covering them will result in something catastrophic so, do not even think about doing such a thing.
What can I do to make my inverter generator quieter?
If you already own a unit and it makes a lot of noise, here are some ways that you can reduce it.
- Make the exhaust face away from you.
- Place the generator further away from your location.
- You can also place your unit on a softer surface.
- Use sound deflectors to make your generator feel quieter.
- You can also create a baffle box or an acoustic enclosure for your unit.
- If your unit comes with a muffler, consider replacing it.
- You can even use water as your generator muffler if you want.
- You can even put an automobile muffler or silencer on your generator.
How are mufflers so effective in these inverter generators to make them quieter?
Inverters not only have mufflers in them to make them quiet. Manufacturers make them quieter by making them compact to reduce empty spaces in the body and prevent any travel of sound waves.
These engines are much smaller, and they produce cleaner energy by reducing any rattling components and keeping the engine working at 3600 RPM consistently. All these features continue to make an inverter much quieter than traditional units.
Are Honda inverters the quietest?
They might not be the quietest, but they are certainly on the list of the quietest on the market. Honda inverters come equipped with Eco-Throttle to reduce the noise level. The engine is not running at its peak power, so it will not make much noise.
Inverter generators not only have quieter engines but also have design aspects that ensure noise reduction. They have a compact design without any empty spaces inside. It prevents the sound waves from traveling and coming out.
The engine is present inside an enclosed casing while mufflers further absorb any sound coming out of the engine. The engine itself is not as big as any of those used in traditional units. All these factors make inverters much quieter than throw traditional counterparts.