RV generators are not known for being quiet. But they are essential for boondocking and can be useful on long drives in between campgrounds. But many campgrounds don’t allow them to run overnight. So are RV generators loud?
Here’s what I know from using my generator:
Most RV generators produce noise of 48-65 decibels at a distance of 50 feet. By comparison, a vacuum cleaner will be 70 dB. But built-in generators will be quieter than portable ones that sit outside the RV.
Most RV parks will have quiet hours. But depending on the type of generator you have, where it’s housed, and how close your neighbors are, it may be OK to run it all night.
But that’s not all there is to know about RV generators.
So in this article, we’ll explore just how loud they really are. But we’ll also look at whether built-in ones are quieter than portable ones, and is there a way to make them quieter?
Just keep reading!
Is it OK to run an RV generator all night?
It is OK to run a motorhome RV generator all night. At most, they will use 1-2 gallons of gas and draw gas from the very large gas tank. A portable generator can run approximately 6 hours before running out of gas. In both cases, simply keep all windows and doors to the RV closed to avoid the fumes.
So it’s OK (as long as it’s not violating campground rules).
But if you’re in a fifth wheel or travel trailer, it won’t be able to run as long. This is because they aren’t connected to a motorhome gas tank which is huge. So they have much smaller gas tanks.
Typically, they can run for about 6 hours.
They don’t hold as much gas and are not as fuel-efficient as built-in ones. They use approximately 1 gallon of gas every 1.5 hours.
Your generator can run as long as it has fuel in the tank. The more electricity you use, the more fuel it uses. So, if you’re running the air conditioner, expect your generator to run out of fuel faster.
But in my Class A Newmar Bay Star, I’ve run the generator all night many times and never used more than 2 gallons. And that’s with the AC or heat on and maybe a TV or 2 on before bedtime.
But how can you make your generator and power usage the most fuel-efficient?
I’ve written this recent article that talks extensively about how long you can run a generator. There I address questions like how much fuel you can expect to use, how stand-alone generators differ from built-in ones, and whether you should get a carbon monoxide detector.
Just click the link to read it on my site.
WHY do these people drag these giant RV park models out here into NPS campgrounds? nothing inside works without 120 volt power, so they have to run a noisy generator day and night. there’s a 20 foot size limit on trailers here for a reason. go back to the KOA where you came from. pic.twitter.com/y97PvvFKVa
— campskunk (@campskunk) October 13, 2020
How can I make my RV generator quieter?
Quiet an RV generator with a noise reduction box on portable generators, use a muffler on the exhaust pipe of any type of generator, or soundproof the built-in generator compartment with fiberglass panels that can be cut to size.
In short, anything that reduces vibration will help.
The key to soundproofing an RV generator is to locate all of the sources of noise. Fans, exhaust and inlet noise, engine noise, and mount noise all contribute to the overall noise produced by the generator.
RVs contain electrical power generators that are installed into the body of the vehicle. Some enclosures are completely enclosed in sheet metal. Others are open to the road below, with the generator enclosure supported on a frame.
If you want to run your generator all night, you want to make sure that you are in compliance with the RV park’s rules.
Every campground and RV park will have quiet hours.
Typically, they are between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. But courtesy doesn’t end when quiet hours do, so you want your generator to be as quiet as possible.
— Gwinnett Sheriff’s Office (@GwinnettSO) August 26, 2018
Are RV generators supposed to be loud?
RV generators are supposed to be reasonably loud. They are essentially small motors similar to what would be found in a lawnmower. But if a generator exceeds 70 decibels, something may be loose, worn, or it may be time to replace the generator.
If you don’t already have one, buy a decibel reader or just download an app on your phone. Decibel readers show noise levels.
Newer generators typically run anywhere from 50 to 60 decibels. If you have an older generator, you can expect it to emit close to 80 decibels of noise.
You can reduce the noise by building a fiberglass box lined with noise reduction foam. You can install a muffler or upgrade and soundproof your onboard generator box.
But even a well-insulated and soundproofed generator is not on par with current RV generator technology.
While they can be expensive, a new generator can make sense, especially if your generator is particularly old. If you don’t have time to build a soundproof box, install a muffler, or track down and insulate all of the noises, a new, quiet generator can solve all of those problems.
It’s also a great fix. If you buy a new generator, you won’t have to make any repairs for a long time. Camping and maintenance get easier!
Finally, new RV generators are very quiet compared to old models. And you don’t have to do any modifications to get it as quiet as you need it to be.
— PRDistribution.com (@_prdistribution) September 17, 2019
Can you add insulation to an RV generator compartment?
Insulated fiberglass panels can be cut to fit inside an RV generator compartment to help reduce noise. Just make sure to leave enough space for adequate airflow and to not block any vents.
The best materials for soundproofing are materials with loosely packed fibers. Fiberglass board and noise reduction foam are also very effective.
Before adding any extra insulation to your generator compartment, check with the manufacturer for the recommended air space around the generator.
Generators need a certain amount of space for cooling and air circulation.
If you have the space, acoustical foams can be used to line hard sound-reflecting surfaces to reduce noise levels.
Ridged dampening materials can be effective in controlling vibrations and noise radiation. These materials reduce the amount of vibration and sound energy transmitted from one surface to another.
Additionally, duct liner is high temperature and fire-resistant.
Even a 1-inch thick soundproof insulation can make a big difference. It can make a relatively quiet generator quiet enough that you can stand next to your RV and wonder if the generator is even running.
If you use a portable or RV generator, do not plug the generator into your circuit box. Portable generators can “backfeed” electricity up the line and risk the lives of repair workers and the public. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully. pic.twitter.com/uA5pQpZ4Pe
— SWEPCO (@SWEPCoNews) August 27, 2020
Do they make a muffler for an RV generator?
Mufflers are available for RV generators. Just ensure the muffler is designed, or at least the appropriate size for the exhaust pipe on the specific model of generator.
Mufflers are designed to reduce engine noise and vibrations. They help the generator run smoothly without a lot of noise.
If your generator is loud, your current muffler isn’t effective at noise reduction. It may be time to upgrade to a better sound muffler.
Generator mufflers are designed to work with most exhaust systems.
They are easy to install and are specifically designed for generators. They are constructed without moving parts, making them further reduce sound emissions. The main purpose is to reduce generator noise and fumes.
Generator mufflers should vent the air as well.
Venting above the roofline will improve the quality of air around the RV by getting rid of carbon monoxide. This will ensure you are breathing fresh, healthy air.
Automotive mufflers, if installed correctly, can achieve a 10-15 decibel noise reduction. Installation, however, is not as straightforward as installing a specialized generator muffler.
Installing an automotive muffler on a generator means welding, bending, and mounting the correct piping and adapters for a leak-free exhaust.
It requires a significant amount of skill.
It’s also possible to achieve noise reduction by simply bolting the muffler on with some clamps and flex tubing. However, it’s not as effective as doing it properly.
Whether you install a generator muffler or an automotive muffler, make sure to choose a muffler that will be compatible with your generator. You may need some technical skills to change it out.
Installing a generator muffler won’t require as much skill as installing an automotive muffler.
Did I answer everything you wanted to know about whether RV generators are loud?
Older RV generators are pretty loud, but newer models are significantly quieter.
If you find that your generator is excessively loud, you have several options to make it quieter. If it’s still loud, even after you’ve made modifications, it may be time to invest in a new generator.
It takes time and effort to soundproof your generator, but it takes money to replace it. Will you replace your generator or soundproof it?