Although emergency electrical power losses do occur, some areas restrict the use of generators as back up or as primary electrical power sources by issuing noise level restrictions. RV (recreational vehichle) campgrounds, both private or public, can also effectively limit the use of generators by regulating the noise level output.
Noise levels are measured in decibels (dBA’s). A reference as to what dBA levels represent in real life noise, 0 dBA is the threshold of hearing, a whisper measures about 30 dBA, a normal conversation about 50 dBA, a rock concert is about 120 dBA and a nearby jet is about 150 dBA. As a general rule OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), says that exposure to 85 dB and higher – prolonged exposure will result in hearing loss.
Most open type generators, those without sound reduction covers, have dBA levels close to 80 and higher while silent type, those with sound reduction covers, are generally 68 dBA or less.
In addition to the thought of being neighborly and of being considerate of your neighbors or fellow campers, many municipalities and residential subdivisons have noise restrictions regarding electrical generators. Some will not allow the use of any with noise levels above 65 dBA’s. As of 2002, National Parks have restrictions on noise levels of 60 decibels or less measured on the A-weighted scale at 50 feet from the generator (36CFR2.12).
So before buying a generator for back up power or as the primary electicity source for camping purposes, be sure to consider the noise level, or dBA, output and check to see if your area or destinations may have niose level restrictions.