As the air conditioners available on the market have become more technologically advanced, our demands of our air conditioning have increased at the same rate. Of course, the efficiency of your air conditioner is still a primary concern, but the noise level is important to consider. Different units emit different noise levels and can become noisier as they age, so it’s a good idea to have a general idea of how loud you can expect your air conditioner to be.

The Decibel Measurement

The intensity of the noise emitted from air conditioning units is measured in decibels (‘dB’). The decibel scale starts at a measurement of 0 dB for the smallest audible sound and increases in multiples of 10 dB. For example, a sound ten times more powerful than 0 dB is 10 dB and a sound 100 times more powerful than near total silence is 20 dB. Since it is very important that the noise levels for a home air conditioner do not interfere with daily life, where your air conditioner falls on this scale can be extremely important.

Too get an idea of the relative measurement of noise in decibels to see where your AC will fall, let’s look at a few average measurements. Normal breathing can emit around 10 decibels, while talking will fall between 40 and 60 decibels. On the other hand, extremely loud noises such as gunshots can emit up to 140 decibels. In comparison, air conditioning units emit between 37 and 82 decibels depending on their age and model type.

Measuring Your AC in Decibels

Air conditioner noise is unavoidable, but investing in a new unit or noise-absorbing equipment can play a big part in minimizing your unit’s noise output. The absolute quietest air conditioners on the market will emit between 37 and 46 decibels which is less than the average desk fan. The smallest air conditioners emit less noise than a TV (60 decibels) with larger air conditioning units emitting up to 70 decibels, about same amount of sound as occurs in an office space. Measurement of your unit’s sound emission is usually taken from about 3 feet away from the source, so using that measurement you can get a good idea of how noisy the surrounding area will be.

Reducing Sound Emission 

If the sound coming from your AC unit is bothersome, it could be that your unit needs to be replaced. Noise absorbing equipment, however, can minimize the noise coming from your unit such as the use of an insulator, rubber and other noise-absorbing materials. If you are hearing higher levels of noise inside the house from the indoor unit, the noise is likely coming from the blower (fan) which can accumulate dirt and other blocking materials over time. For this reason, it is always good practice to clean the air filters regularly. The internal parts that are not easily accessible should be cleaned by a qualified technician, as parts like the bearings of the fan motor may need to be adjusted.

If you are purchasing a new air conditioning unit, the decibel noise level is usually printed on the product specifications of the unit. Both indoor and outdoor units will have these specifications listed, so take this into account when determining the placement of your unit. If the decibel level is not listed on your unit, you can request that the installer provide you with the measurements.

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