In the world of portable generators, soundproofing is a relatively new exercise. Sure, we hear about soundproofing music studios and auditoriums, but what about generators?
One of the most irritating flaws in portable generator design is their noisiness. Yet, soundproof generator boxes are surprisingly effective in minimizing the noise that large and small generators produce. But not every generator works the same way. Nor do they all work well.
This article will get you going with ideas about soundproofing generators. Weâ€™ll talk about why they work (and why they sometimes donâ€™t work so well.) A few recommendations will follow.
The Bottom Line: Do Soundproof Generator Boxes Work?
If youâ€™ve ever been annoyed by a loud generator, you know why soundproofing is a must. So, if you see a soundproof generator box for sale in your neighborhood, should you pick it up?
Simply put, soundproof generator boxes are remarkably effective noise dampeners.
Soundproofing technology has come a long way from its humble origins in the 19th century and the age of noise pollution.
Most high-quality soundproofing boxes (also called â€œquiet boxesâ€) can reduce generator noise by half or more. Keep in mind that optimal soundproofing depends on a lot of things, including:
- on proper installation of the box
- upkeep of the generator
- maintaining an airtight seal
- Measuring your optimal box size accurately
- Many more factors
To reiterate: a soundproof generator box can lower noise volume by 50%, up to 70-75% at the high end. So, if you see a soundproof generator box for sale, you should go for it.
Soundproof Generator Boxes in a Nutshell
How does a soundproof generator box work, exactly? Weâ€™ll briefly break down the main reasons why they work (hopefully without getting too technical!)
Soundproof boxes trap sound waves that the generator releases at a high frequency. The box has specialized interior walls (at least most do) that trap sound at certain pitches while releasing others. 100% soundproofing is therefore not possible at the moment.
The soundproof walls are foam mats or mass-loaded vinyl. These materials are the best at sealing the box from the outside, capturing noise inside, and allowing ventilation.
The last element of quiet boxes that make them work is ventilation. Generators, whether portable or permanent, need an air supply to work. The box canâ€™t seal out the generator from fresh air. So each box needs an exhaust and a good seal.
What To Look For In A Generator Box
Not all soundproof generator boxes are cut from the same cloth. Here are a few things you should look for before buying that new or used quiet box:
- Airtight seals, especially at the air inlets and outlets
- Easy assembly
- Made with durable but lightweight materials (unless itâ€™s a premade!)
- Passes safety standards for carbon monoxide and other fume containment
- Waterproof and weatherproof exterior
- Easy to clean and move
In the last five years, a few brand names have established themselves as top-notch quiet box makers. IGAN, GenTent, Microfab, ZombieBox, and Outdoor Home Design are perhaps the leading manufacturers currently. Below, we took a look at the last three models on the list.
This outdoor box is versatile, weatherproof, and it looks good in almost any backyard.
This model is technically a storage shed, but the reviews tell us that thousands of people select it as a soundproof generator box. You can store bird seed and gardening shears in it when youâ€™re not using the generator. It has a multi-use design perfect for people who like options.
This box has picked up a reputation as the â€œworldâ€™s first patented noise control product.â€ For a good reason. The company promises noise reduction of up to 70%, a figure thatâ€™s hard to match in the market without a permit.
Assembly is a breeze with the ZombieBox. Measure your generatorâ€™s dimensions and set the box around it. Its sizing is pretty standard and should fit most domestic generators. But some people have criticized its low performance in soundproofing smaller generators.
Looking at the Soundproof Generator Box from Microfab, you notice the attention to detail and quality metal frame. It has a pleasing minimalistic design that fades into the background of your home and garden with ease.
Ventilation is Microfabâ€™s priority with this model. Vents surround the entire frame, plus exhaust ports made for direct airflow in and out of the generator. It is a more expensive investment than many quiet boxes, but it will outlast 90% of competitors.
Building Your Own Generator Box
The price of many soundproof boxes can be excessive for lots of people. Itâ€™s true: a four-figure box is about average on the market today. But did you know you can make your own generator box? Itâ€™s relatively easy.
Below, we introduce the basic steps:
- Purchase high-quality foam sound panels.
- Pick a building material, either MDF, plywood, or concrete
- Measure the generator dimensions, adding 3â€ all around
- Find your materials and layout where the vents and exhausts will be
- Layout the cut material before assembly
- Run a bead of caulk around the edges of each side
- Glue on the sound panels, screw on the vents
- Connect the exhaust pipes
- Add extra layers of vinyl wrapping to the exterior for more soundproofing. Done!
Other Ways To Reduce Generator Noise
The shiny new soundproof boxes at your local hardware store are undoubtedly enticing when youâ€™ve got an extra loud generator. But before you take out your wallet to buy a new model, wait a second.
There are dozens of easy, often free, methods to reduce that grating claptrap machine in your backyard. People on a budget might pick up a few good ideas!
- Add a muffler to the generator if youâ€™re skilled with mechanics and welds
- Run the exhaust through a flex tube hose thatâ€™s submerged in a water bucket (water absorbs sound much more than the air!
- Prop a generator thatâ€™s on a hard surface like concrete up onto rubber matting.
- Lift the generator onto a layer of cheap plywood
- Turn the exhaust pipe away from the home or campsite, not towards it
Simple and Effective
Now we see all the ways that a Soundproof Generator Box works. Itâ€™s a simple design (walls, panels, vents, exhaust) that brings more peace and quiet to your life. And peace and quiet are priceless.
Premade quiet boxes are readily available in big box stores and hardware outlets nationwide. But you can build one yourself with a few pieces of lumber, paneling, and vinyl wrapping. Who knew it could be so easy!