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Noise reduction technology

Ear-splitting engines are getting a makeover

Our family loves to go camping and enjoy the peace and quiet – until someone else in the campground fires up a loud, tooth-rattling generator. A completely silent generator may not be possible yet, but Briggs and Stratton is working on bringing down those decibel levels.

Earlier this year, the company opened a new Noise, Vibration and Harshness Lab to test noise and vibration levels in simulated real-world conditions.

Brett Birschbach is the lab’s engineering manager. He says they’re testing everything from small pressure washers, to lawn mowers, to standby generators.

"Using engineering-grade microphones, we measure the sound pressure that’s coming from that product. Using that information, we’re able to make comparisons, so if on an engine we’re developing a muffler, we can make comparisons to different muffler designs," says Birschbach. "So, it’s a way of kind of understanding whether a muffler design is good or bad, and people will talk about it in terms of so-many decibels. And that’s really what we’re measuring."

Maybe your neighbor’s lawn mower isn’t that loud but the sound still grates on you. Birschback says the engine sound quality matters, too. The tone should be pleasing to the ear.

To get at the heart of a noise issue, the technicians break apart the engine components and find the dominant sources of discord.

"Say, if it’s exhaust noise, we would then go through a development process through computer simulation modeling what’s going on in the exhaust. That modeling allows us to make changes on a computer, allowing us to then make those changes and then retest the design," says Birschbach. "And really, it gives us the advantage of being able to do it up-front before we even have prototypes."  

After changes are made, technicians repeat the tests to ensure the engine will perform optimally for its intended application.

Learn more about Briggs and Stratton's engine testing lab

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