Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Simple Survival Tips - Reducing Portable Generator Noise

Portable generators used to maintain your electrical power during a crisis or a disaster can be a really handy piece of equipment to have around. They can also become a nuisance to everyone in your immediate area, including yourself. Portable generators will also attract a lot of attention due to the noise levels that are generated along with the emergency power being created. If furnishing the entire neighborhood with emergency power may not be what you had in mind, you need to consider the different ways the noise levels generated by a portable generator can be reduced.

Like any problem you may encounter, you need to make sure you’re aware of the basic nature of the problem before you can find a workable solution. Noise is basically sound at a level that makes people uncomfortable. In a survival situation where you may need emergency power, the last thing you need to be doing is making your neighbors even more uncomfortable than they already are with a portable generator that is creating a lot of noise. In addition, it’s important to remember that the sounds we hear are in the form of vibrations and most any type of portable generator is going to produce a lot of vibrations (aka, lots of noise). Additionally, it’s important to remember that sound waves like to travel in a straight line.

Many generators have built-in features that help reduce their vibrations during operation and help them to run quieter. Some of these are also quite expensive and may not be practical for someone on a tight budget. Even the noise levels of budget priced portable generators can be reduced by taking a few additional extra steps when using your generator.

Here are some simple things you can do to reduce the noise output from your generator.

1.) Make sure to place your portable generator on as level a surface as possible. This will help to reduce the vibrations and thereby reduce the noise levels.

2.) Make sure to insulate your generator from hard surfaces by using thick carpeting with a rubber backing or a thick rubber mat of some sort to further reduce the vibrations.

3.) Make sure that all the bolts and connections on your generator are tight and that all rubber mounts are in good shape. Loose bolts and worn out rubber mounts will cause additional noise.

4.) Make sure your engine is properly maintained. A well maintained engine will run smother and create less vibrations. It will also use less fuel and give you longer running times during a power outage.

5.) Consider adapting your generator to use a larger muffler or replace the existing one with a better muffler, if available. Many portable generator mufflers are not very efficient at reducing engine noise levels.

6.) Take advantage of any type of natural sound barriers you may have available. Simple things like dense shrubbery can effectively block sound waves and help reduce noise levels. Remember not to restrict the area around your portable generator so that fresh air intake or exhaust is not hampered in any way.

Although you won’t be able to entirely eliminate the noise from your portable generator, you can make the noise levels a lot more tolerable and less disturbing to your neighbors.

Got bad vibes?

Staying above the water line!

Riverwalker

5 comments:

Someone You Know said...

Riverwalker,

The United States military has a slightly more labor intensive method. They dig a hole a little deeper then the generator then place the generator in the hole. The dirt that's taken out of the hole is used to fill sandbags then the sandbags are placed around the sides of the hole, building a wall about three high.

This setup 'pushes' all the sound straight up.

If you're going to be there for the rainy season, I suggest putting a pallet under the generator to keep it out of the water.

Lastly, it can be a pain to refill the generator and check other fluids, so make sure to dig the hole big enough so you can at least stand in the hole to do any checking and filling.

PS.
Great idea about replacing the OEM muffler with a larger one.

riverwalker said...

To: Someone You Know

I've also seen extensions added to the existing muffler and then routed into a hole in the ground made with a set of post hole diggers. This channels the exhaust straight down and helps to reduce the exhaust noise levels.

Thanks.

RW

Milissa E. said...

During the last huricanne in my area, we were our of power for weeks. Most people ran out of gasoline to run their generators.

I have always wondered about solar power generators. Is there such a thing?

Thanks

Someone You Know said...

Riverwalker,

Good ideas.

I'd like to add one

The US military uses a slightly more labor intensive method of reducing a generator's noise level; they dig a hole.

The hole is a little bigger and deeper than the generator. As the hole is dug, the removed soil is placed in sandbags. Once the generator is placed in the hole, the sandbags are used to build a wall around the hole. This causes the sound produced by the running generator to be projected up.

If you are going to use this method during the rainy season, you want to put a pallet or some sandbags under the generator to lift it up off the bottom of the hole.

Be warned: it is a pain to refuel and top off the other fluids when the generator is in the hole.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that, when all of the electricity is out, your generator maybe the -only- noise which can place you in danger.

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