Generac iQ: Quietest Portable/RV Generator EVER!!

It wasn’t that long ago that I ran our RV Generator Sound Off.  The results of that test were fresh in my mind as Stef and I checked out vendors at this year’s Outdoor Retailer show.  When we saw these guys – running multiple generators in their display yet still speaking at a normal volume – you know I had to stop.  I made sure to come back the next day with my sound level meter to check them out.  I wasn’t disappointed in what I found.  Check out the video:


The sound on the video review actually doesn’t do justice to how quiet the Generac iQ2000 generator was.  Let’s just say it was freakishly quiet.  Probably the most telling thing about this video is that, unlike in my Onan RV Generator video – you won’t hear anyone yelling to be heard over the generator.  It just wasn’t necessary.  And when we compared the Generac to the the Honda model that everyone thinks is so darn quiet – the Generac was quieter than that one too.

But to cut to the chase, here are some numbers:

  • The ambient noise level at the Outdoor Retailer show was about 60dB (a trade show in downtown Salt Lake city).
  • The ambient noise level for my Onan RV Generator Sound Off was 50dB or less (a deserted country road).
  • In “Standard” mode the no-load noise level for the Generac iQ2000 was 75dB at 2 feet, as I measured it that day
  • The Generac’s “Eco” mode was so quiet, it was unfair.
  • The no-load noise level for the Onan units ranged between 80 and 87dB at 2 feet.
  • At 50% load, the Generac got up to 78-80 dB.  Still as quiet or less than the Onan units with no load at all.

So, a point about decibel measurements before you go adding or subtracting.  Decibels are on a logarithmic scale, so you can’t just add or subtract them.  If you wanted to factor out the ambient noise, you’d have to take antilogs, subtract, then re-log to decibels.  If you do the math, the ambient noise didn’t affect the Onan results in my previous tests at all.  But you can knock off a tenth of a dB or so from the Generac to get “corrected” values.

The other thing about decibels is their relationship to perceived loudness.  You’ll hear people say that a 3dB increase means a doubling of acoustic energy.  That’s true.  But a doubling of acoustic energy is not what the typical human ear and brain perceives as twice as loud.  That’s about 10dB (though I’m sure someone will want to argue this).  At any rate – by ANY measure – the Generac iQ was less than half as loud as the Onan gas or propane units, and still significantly quieter than the Onan diesel unit.  And remember – those Onan generators were mounted in RVs.  The Generac iQ was just sitting on a pedestal.

Numbers aside though, the Generac iQ generators were stunningly quiet.  Any RV enthusiast would have noticed the low noise level, and would have been excited to have one on their RV.

The OTHER thing RV enthusiasts would be excited about was the price they’re going to be asking for these.


That’s it.  That’s less than the Honda.  I want one.

Now, there are still a few things they need to do before this becomes the ideal motorhome generator.  First, they’re already working on some larger models.  Then, they need to come up with a mounting system to get it mounted to RVs (they’re already thinking about this, too).  And finally, they need to move the monitoring and start/stop functions to a remote control panel.  If they get those things done – you’ll find my Onan on Craig’s List the next day.  I would have bought one at the show to have at the house, or to take along on RV trips, but sadly, they weren’t selling them (or giving away samples…)

You can learn more about the Generac iQ 2000 on the Generac iQ website.


James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he's also an IT consultant.

    29 thoughts on “Generac iQ: Quietest Portable/RV Generator EVER!!

    1. wes

      I noticed that the honda didn’t really ramp up at all in fact if anything it seem more like a hicup. When the honda is in eco mode the rpm of the motor increases. So I would guess that it wasn’t in eco mode because there is no rpm change. The honda would be quieter on eco mode. But at a almost a 1/3 the price it’s definitely the value choice.

    2. Lewis

      I’ll try to keep this short. Reliability! I just started my travel trailer camping about five years ago. And struggled with my generator decision. The answer was in my garage my grandfather had given me a old 650 Honda about 20 years ago or so. I had used it off and on over time and never really serviced i just drained the fuel after use. And it always fired up on one or two pulls. I now own two honda generators and a mower and guess what they always start easily. So in twenty years will see how these generacs are doing then I’ll decide. For now I’d rather pay a few more bucks then let a generator spoil my day.

    3. Mark

      Thought I might mention that the Honda is approximately 25% larger displacement (79cc vs 98cc) without being heavier and in our experience uses less fuel. The larger engine will almost always last longer than the smaller one.

    4. Peter Collins

      Is disappointing to see a company like Generac telling they have done 2 years of research on something they don’t manufacture, this unit has no R&D except for the electronic gauges,This is nothing but a Champion 2000 notice how Nick caches himself before telling everyone that the unit is not made but assembled in the USA. There is a video that show the inside engine and is the same Chinese 79cc engine used on the Champion 2000. Don’t get me wrong I have a Champion which i paid $499 and is an awesome unit, quiet but not as quiet as the Honda under load, on eco mode is about the same. “Tell the truth” and everyone will respect you for it, Champion does tell you that the motor is Chinese. Come on Generac you have money hire good engineers and come up with something you will be really proud of, something that will have Honda and Yamaha thinking they are not the only ones that can make a great product.

      1. James - Post author

        I searched for the video you mention for about 30 minutes just now, and was unable to find it. Do you have a link, or some other source for your information?

        Even if what you’re saying is true (and maybe it is, but I don’t have a way to verify that right now), I guess my next question is – does it matter?
        If you have the Champion, and it’s awesome, then why is sharing components with it a bad thing? When purchasing a generator, you buy the whole package – the engine, the electronics (a significant part, in a generator), the housing, mufflers, baffles, etc. It seems entirely possible to spend quite a bit of design time on those elements. And these days, you’d have a very difficult time finding ANY product where some component or another was not made in China.

        Regardless, it’s still a very quiet generator. After it’s been out a year or so, it will be interesting to see information start to come in on reliability. That would be more important to me than where the parts are made. Thanks for commenting!

        1. John O'Donovan

          Just the hype of a few decibels alone would turn me off buying a generic.Bad move , the sales guy was like a child and not a pro. Honda motors last.

      2. Loren

        Their yourtube comparison to Honda is VERY misleading they take readings on the honda at full out the Honda idols down you can barely hear it even the mic from the camera shows the Generac is louder LOL !Plus ill take Japanese made over China any day.. If you can afford it BUY HONDA if not then this Generac may be a good choice..

        1. James - Post author

          Are you talking about OUR video? Or some other one? As we were standing right there with the two generators (and you were not), I can assure you that the Honda generator was louder throughout the range of settings and load conditions than the Generac was at similar settings. Period. Sorry if that doesn’t match your expectations.

          We did NOT gather any information on country-of-origin, or part-sourcing, so I don’t have anything to add there.

          To be transparent, we have nothing against Honda. They make a fine range of products. I have one of their lawnmowers, and it’s great. We also have NO relationship to Generac, and received no compensation whatsoever for making this video. We own neither model of generator, nor do we have any plans to purchase one.

          Thanks for reading.

    5. JD

      I run a Honda 2000 in a marine environment when I have my boat decorated with lights for a 15 day Christmas lights parade. Most of the other boaters use generators as well, rather than rely on onboard inverters (notoriously fussy in the marine setting). The Honda is the unit of choice for most of us — either as a first, out of the blocks choice, or after failures and frustrations with other brands. The Generac would be a very attractive unit, especially with the onboard electronics giving so much info about remaining gas, etc. But the other important factor is reliability and serviceability. Over time, nothing else to date seems to be able to keep up with Honda on that score. If the Generac keeps up with Honda in those respects, it would be a coup. But some time-testing is needed to know if it meets or exceeds the Honda in areas beyond decibels. Thanks for the review, though. I’ll be watching it with interest as it proves itself over time.

      1. James - Post author

        Good point, and I think we’d all agree.
        Noise level is only part of the equation – the reliability has to be there as well.
        Since these are not even available yet (for another month anyway), we’ll have to wait and see how they hold up under real world use.
        Personally, I’m hoping they prove rock solid. I’d love to see a shake-up in the motorhome generator market.

      2. Peter

        I noted two things from the video that I found interesting. 1. We saw the Honda start on one pull but not the iQ2000. 2. After the iQ2000 was started, there was a comment about “stabilized” before the sound test. Was it hard to start or run poorly? Time will tell.

        1. James - Post author

          Interesting observations. Being there in person, I didn’t notice any real difference in starting between the two. They both seemed about as easy to start.
          The “stabilize” comment didn’t strike me as anything out of the ordinary either. Our own (Onan) generator runs for a while before it produces any power, and even after that, our Energy Management System waits another three minutes or so before it allows the power onto the system. I think all generators need some time to “hit their stride” before they’re at their best.
          But like you said – time will tell!

    6. Tom Boles

      Hi James!

      We can do the 3dB Vs 10dB thing later…:)

      Any hint on what the magic or “secret sauce” is that makes it so quiet?
      Engine speed?
      Exhaust muffling?
      Noise & vibration control through damping material?

      The pictures make it look “fatter” than their earlier machines and that makes me think they have done more with insulation and damping materials.

      I did not see a teardown yet-that would be something to see!

      Thanks for the write up…It’s always hard to convey technical information and “perception experience” to a wide range of folks!

      1. James - Post author

        Hey Tom.
        In talking with Nick from Generac, he basically said that they started with a clean slate – so everything was on the table. They tuned the exhaust note. I definitely saw sound dampening quilting inside parts of the unit when we were looking at it. Vibration control was a consideration throughout. They even looked at how the air would flow to and through the unit to reduce that noise. The impression I got was that they achieved that level of quiet by going after multiple smaller hits, rather than just one home run.

        1. Tom Boles

          Hi James-

          That’s the way engineering often works…break it down and improve the things you can control.

          Airflow can be a huge contributor all by itself, so I am not surprised they went there too!

          When will the long-term demo appear with the RV socket already installed!!!

    7. Terry Lee

      I’m a bit surprised you didn’t explain WHY these generators are so quiet compared to a conventional RV generator (unless I missed it). These are inverter generators which generate 12 volts and convert electronically to 120volts. Although they are expensive (per unit of energy produced), I expect they will take over the RV industry when they get large enough to supply at least 30 amps and can run on LP or diesel. Thanks for more good info.

      1. James - Post author

        Well, I wasn’t sure I wanted to get into that whole “generator vs. inverter generator” thing, but since you brought it up… Yes, you’re right.
        Eventually, once these kinds of generators scale up, I believe they will eventually take over the market.
        And the world will be a quieter place for it…
        Lots of info out there: Google “Generator vs Inverter Generator” and you’ll find what Terry is referring to.
        They had a larger Generac sitting there. I tried to get them to fire it up, but no dice…

      2. Tom Boles

        Terry, from what I see, it’s not quite as you describe. Honda themselves say:

        “First, the generator’s alternator produces high voltage multiphase AC power. The AC power is then converted to DC. Finally the DC power is converted back to AC by the inverter. The inverter also smoothes and cleans the power to make it high quality. A special microprocessor controls the entire process, as well as the speed of the engine.”

        So, they make AC, convert to DC and then develop sine-wave AC at the appropriate voltage and frequency. A small difference, but there is no 12 VDC involved.

        1. Joe Blow

          Is this a TRUE SINE WAVE inverter ? Many inverters put out a square wave AC, or very dirty sine wave, which i have heard can be very hard on some electronics, and devices with electric AC motors.

          This may be a big deal for someone using generators for sensitive electronics, radio equipment or high power audio equipment etc…

          If your device uses a power transformer and rectifies to DC, square wave AC may be hard on the filter caps etc

          I am certainly excited about this IQ2000, from a manufacturer in the business- not just some cheap Chinese MLM. “as seen on tv” crap…

          I just hope it has lots of good EMI filtering to prevent radio interference from the inverter..

        2. James - Post author

          It’s apparently a modified sine wave. I found this over on the Generac website:

          “This unit delivers modified sine wave output. The iQ2000 features inverter technology, which helps to provide clean and stable power, safe for computers and other sensitive electronic devices. The total harmonic distortion for the iQ Series units is less than 5%.”

          So maybe I wouldn’t try to run an EKG on it, but I think it would power my laptop (buffered by its battery).

      1. James - Post author

        Yeah, I had added that resonator to our last RV, and I may yet add it to this one. It helps, but it’s not magic.
        I thought about some sort of soundproofing too, but our generator sits pretty low already, and I worry about restricting airflow to it – since it’s just air cooled.

    8. Drew


      I hate to rain on your parade but it’s actually $799.00 X 2. You’d need that for any real world rv applications, plus the interconnecting module to link them. I wonder how loud both would be together? For my use, I’d rather just buy a 4 or 5kw unit and be done with it….most of them already have a 30a receptacle. Just saying. Thanks for the video!


      1. James - Post author

        Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of “real world RV application”. 2000 watts isn’t going to power multiple AC units or supply your whole class A or 5th wheel. If that’s what you need then the smart choice is to go with a larger unit. The Generac folks actually had a prototype larger iQ genset on display, but they weren’t running it. I think it was a 3400 or 3600 watt unit. That may be more what you need. They also had some ideas on a mounting plate for that larger one that would make it RV-friendly. But it wasn’t as close to launch. It should be out within a year I’d guess.

        BUT as far as this unit – there are entire legions of people who bring a single Honda generator in their RV and do just fine! This Generac has similar specifications.
        And speaking for ourselves, it would likely work just fine for us. We rarely run the generator anyway, but when we do, it’s usually to run the AC or microwave. Our last RV had only a 2500 watt propane generator.
        The microwave should be no problem for the Generac iQ. And our current AC is rather efficient and settles out running at just 12 amps (measured) so the Generac could handle that. (I don’t know if the Generac would handle the transient on startup, but I give it a fighting chance.)

        Anyway, I hear you on the larger generator, and they’re working on it.
        Oh – and they had multiple generators running in their booth. Two of them together wasn’t much louder than just one. Didn’t get that on film though. You’ll just have to trust us!

    9. Roger

      James, the frequency distribution of the generator noise may play a role in the perceived loudness. On the video (given the limitations of the recording and playback), the Honda seemed less irritating because of the apparent predominance of low frequencies (kind of like a 4 stroke engine vs a 2 stroke). Was this actually the case, or was the Generac still perceived as quieter?

      1. Stefany

        Hey Roger, Stef here, I’ve got to jump in. I was with James at the Generac booth, and saw how insanely quiet it was. When James showed me the final video, I was pretty shocked how the sound didn’t portray accurately. There was a HUGE difference between the two generators, not even close. I blame our sound system for not accurately portraying this.


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