How Loud is a 74db Generator?

When evaluating commercial or industrial portable generators, it’s important to consider their noise levels, as many cities have local noise ordinances in place with which construction equipment must comply.

 Power generators can be very loud, even when operating at 25% load, bigger 10,000W+ generators can produce more than 75 dB of noise.

Today we are going to find out how loud a 74 db generator is and what these terms mean, so read along.

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Decibels

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dBA or db), a metric commonly listed on generator specification sheets.

Noise levels can vary significantly based on generator size and the manufacturer, ranging anywhere between mid-50 and mid-80 dBA. 

Decibel Levels

Below we have a decibel scale to compare dBA levels to common sounds, giving you context to portable generator labels. As you’ll see, the lower the dBA; the quieter the noise is.

Decibel/Noise Level (db/dBA)Common Sound
0 dba / dbHearing Threshold
10 Normal Breathing
20Watch Ticking
60Moderate Rainfall
70Hair Dryer
75Portable Generator
90Lawn Mower
110Chainsaw
150Fireworks
180Rocket Launch

For every 10 decibels that are generated, it creates a noise level that is ten times louder.

In other words, 74 decibels is ten times louder than 64 decibels which helps give you an idea of how decibels are measured.

Plus, the decibels are measured from about 7 meters or 7 yards away from the unit itself.

How Loud is a 74db Generator?

A 74 db generator falls between the moderate and very loud range in terms of the decibels that are generated.

74 decibels is about as loud as sitting 8 to 10 feet away from stereo speakers. 74 decibels is almost the same as the sound of a washing machine; it is just 1 decibel higher. 

Sounds of less than 75 decibels, even after a lengthy exposure, are unlikely to cause hearing loss.

However, extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (approximately the level of a vacuum cleaner) can cause hearing loss.

Decibel Restrictions

  • Some cities and homeowner’s associations (HOA) have a policy that you should keep your home generator below 75 decibels. Anything above that can result in a fine, especially if you’re running a generator for prolonged periods of time.
  • A general rule for camping sites is that a generator should not produce noise levels in excess of 65 dB. The best generators for camping and the quiet ones.

How to Measure Quietness/Loudness Of Generators?

If you look at the specs sheet of any generator, you will see something like this:

Noise levels: 68-74 dB.

The first-decibel level (lower sound limit) refers to the amount of noise a generator makes when operating at 1/4 (25%) load.

In this case, a 3,000W generator would be producing 750W of power. A big 10,000W would be producing a 2,500W load.

Usually, you operate a generator at above 1/4 or quarter load.

The second-decibel level (higher sound limit) refers to the amount of noise the generator is making when operating at full load (100% output) or at maximum level.

For example, that’s when a 2,500W is actually generating a full 2,500W of power output.

A generator with 74 dB maximum noise level output will produce 74 dB only when it’s 23 feet (or 7 meters) away.

If you stand right next to a 74 dB generator, your ears will likely suffer from 80+ dB noise.

Sound Level / Range: Generators

Loud GeneratorAbove 90 db
Louder-than-average Generators80-90 db
Average Noise Generators70-80 db
Quieter-than-average Generators60-70 db
Quiet Generator50-60 db
Quietest GeneratorsBelow 50 db
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Ways to Lessen Generator Noise

  1. Move it Far Away

The most common way to deal with a noisy generator is by moving it as far away as possible.

Use long extension cords and when you double the distance, you reduce the decibel level by six.

  1. Enclosure

By putting an enclosure around the generator, you can reduce the noise output by up to ten decibels.

However, the enclosure must be large enough to provide proper ventilation and exhaust. Otherwise, you’ll overheat the generator itself.

  1. Positioning

It helps to position the generator on a flat surface with the exhaust pointed away from where people are standing.

Not mounting it correctly means more noise and vibrations are generated which makes for an unpleasantly louder sound.

  1. Inverter Technology

Another option is to invest in an inverter generator. These are more expensive, but they tend to be far quieter as they can produce electrical current more efficiently.

Add to this a body casing that also reduces the noise and you have a generator that is far quieter than 74 decibels.

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Tips when Choosing Portable Generators

  1. Noise Ordinance

Start by searching for your city’s noise ordinance or code. Look for a website that offers a list of city ordinances for some of the largest cities in the country.

You may also try contacting your city hall directly.

  1. db/dBA Ratings

Keep in mind that dBA is a variable metric based on distance from the source. Many generator manufacturers measure from approximately 23 feet (7 meters).

For an apples-to-apples comparison, make sure the dBA ratings of all the generators you’re comparing are measured from similar distances.

  1. Noise Levels

Compare the noise levels of generators with similar power capacities (measured in either watts or amps) for the most accurate assessment.

This ensures that you get the quietest generator at the power output you require

When comparing labels, you may also see the sound pressure level (LwA) reported. This is a European standard for noise. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is 76 dB loud for a generator?

It is generally accepted that 6-10dB is “twice” as loud. So a generator at 60 dB is “twice as loud” as one with a reading of 50dB.

Also, decibels are not additive. Portable generators range from 47 dB from a small 1000 watt inverter to 76 dB for a 15 HP 10,000 watt standard generator.

Is 70 dB dangerous?

Hearing or listening to noise above 70 dB over a prolonged period of time may be dangerous and may start to damage your hearing.

Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.

What generators are best for power outages?

In the event of a power outage or for camping, you will need an adequately sized backup generator.

For power outages, whole-house generators with 10,000W+ running wattages are used.

For camping and RVs, you need about 2,000-3,000W running wattage quiet generators.

Conclusion

Well, we all know nobody likes loud generators. A quiet home generator won’t disturb your sleep or your neighbors. A quiet generator for camping or RV is preferred to loud units.

Generally, generators that produce more than 80 dB of noise are considered to be ‘loud’. Generators that produce less than 60 dB noise levels are considered to be ‘quiet generators’.

Therefore, a 74 db generator falls between the moderate and very loud range in terms of the decibels that are generated.

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