Last week while driving around in my (loaner) Ford F-150 Hybrid truck, I stopped by a dry camping area just to see what was happening. I was astonished to hear not just one, but TWO noisy contractor generators churning away. No, I didn’t have my calibrated SPL (sound pressure level) meter with me, but I know when something is loud (I’m a rock musician and engineer, remember…). This was just plain obnoxious.
Why all the noise about the noise?
Well, when I go out to camp, and especially when boondocking, I go for the peace and quiet. I don’t want to listen to a bunch of noisy generators running all day long. If I did, I would just sign up to work a rock festival for a weekend and my need for noise would be fulfilled. Nope, I’m there for the calm solitude of the woods. The loudest thing I want to hear is a babbling brook and the call of the wildlife.
I’ve written about noisy generators many times before
I don’t have to reinvent the wheel to tell you about this since I’ve published so much on this topic already. But if you’re a new reader, then this will help you understand why some generators are so noisy and some are barely audible. Here’s a very short list of reading that will help educate you on generator noise.
What about that F-150 truck generator?
I just finished road testing the Ford F-150 PowerBoost truck with the built-in generator. I have to admit that it’s quieter than a Honda inverter generator measuring around 51 dB SPL at 23 feet. Plus, at low-wattage loads, the 3.5L gasoline engine doesn’t run at all for minutes at a time.
But when the 1.5 kWh battery runs down, the gasoline engine starts up for a few minutes to recharge the traction battery, which then powers the inverter generator for a few more minutes. It’s a thing of beauty. Here’s how I tested the built-in generator while driving. Yes, that’s essentially a big electric heater that can be set to various wattages.
And, yes, the F-150 PowerBoost can also tow a travel trailer
While I didn’t have the proper breakaway cables to power the RV itself while driving, I did strap down my 10kW load bank in the bed of the truck and did a few towing experiments at 3,000 and 7,000 watts of load, as you can see in the previous picture. And yes, it has enough power to run your air conditioner in the trailer while towing, and even power two separate travel trailers at the same time while boondocking. But more on that in a future article.
Are there alternatives to an expensive Honda inverter generator?
Yes, there are. While I haven’t personally tested one yet, the Predator generators from Harbor Freight are listed as very quiet, and seem to be getting good reviews from actual users. And they’re priced less than 1/2 of a Honda generator. Still, I personally have four Honda generators in my garage simply because I never want to have to buy any more generators, so I think these will last for my lifetime. The jury is still out on the longevity of the Predator generators, but I think if properly maintained they should give you years of dependable service. But we shall see…
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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