by Laura L Thornton

Takoma Park Patch

July 19, 2012

With generators humming away during power outages, and occasionally making just a little bit too much noise for neighbors, Patch contacted Robert N. Andres, technical adviser of Noise Free America, for some advice in quieting noisy generators.

“The simplest type of noise control for generators or other gas or propane-powered engines in a residential setting is a simple composite noise barrier curtain on a framework, constructed of materials similar to those [pictured with this post]. This type of barrier of sufficient size and height, with an open top, will usually reduce the sound by about [12 to 15 decibels] at a reasonable cost,” Andres wrote in an email to Patch.

“It is important that the enclosure be designed to allow adequate air flow for cooling. This is done through the use of special vent panels,” explained Andres, who is also a principal for Environmental and Safety Associates LLC in Naples, FL, and Syracuse, NY.

“If a barrier with an open top doesn’t provide enough reduction, closing the top will increase the loss by at least [5 decibels]. If more reduction than that is needed, a solid panel enclosure with passive or forced ventilation may be required,” Andres added.

Montgomery County and Chevy Chase Village police are available to take decibel readings of generators.

In Montgomery County, the sound emanating from an electricity generator in a residential neighborhood must be no more than 55 decibels when measured from the nearest property line, according to the county website.

Residents may call the police station if they suspect that a nearby generator is in violation of the county noise ordinance. If an officer finds that the generator is louder than 55 decibels when measured at the property boundary, the property owner can be fined $500, Patch reported earlier this month.

A second offense is $750, and every day counts as a separate violation, Chevy Chase Village Police Chief John Fitzgerald explained at a recent meeting of the Chevy Chase Village Board of Managers.