If you’re shopping around for a new air conditioner, the last thing you want is an obnoxiously loud AC system.
But... how do you choose a quiet one?
The short answer is, you need to find an AC system with a low decibel rating. The lower the decibel rating, the quieter the air conditioner is.
Don’t know what a decibel rating is or how to determine what decibel rating an AC has? No worries.
In this blog, we’ll cover:
How AC sound level is measured
Air conditioner sound levels are measured in decibels (dB). As we mentioned above, the lower the decibel rating, the quieter the air conditioner.
The quietest AC’s fall into the 50–60 dB range—but what does noise in the 50–60 dB range actually sound like?
Here are some common scenarios that fall into the 50-60 decibel range:
- The sound of rainfall- 50 decibels
- The sound of coffee percolating- 55 decibels
- The sound of an electric toothbrush- 50–60 decibels
- The sound of a normal conversation- 60 decibels
- The sound of a sewing machine running- 60 decibels
While you may notice some of these sounds if you’re actively listening for them (like rainfall), this noise level is pretty low, and if you’re used to it, you probably won’t notice it in your day-to-day life. For example, when you brew coffee in the morning, is the noise loud enough to bother you, or does it fade into the background? Probably the latter.
The point we’re making here is an AC system that runs at this decibel rating will probably be quiet enough that it won’t affect your daily life.
The quietest AC units
When manufacturers list decibel ratings, they’re referring to the noise level of the indoor AC unit. Below, we’ll compare the decibel ratings of a few leading air conditioner brands and models:
- Carrier Infinity® 26 Air Conditioner with Greenspeed intelligence: As low as 51 db
- YXV 21 SEER Variable Capacity Air Conditioner: As low as 53 db
- Trane XV18 TruComfort™ Variable Speed: As low as 57 db
- Lennox XC25 Variable-Capacity Air Conditioner: As low as 59 db
The dB levels listed indicate the noise level of the indoor unit when these ACs are running in optimal conditions. So, the range usually fluctuates to up to 10+ db higher than the advertised decibel level.
Most manufacturers will list the units dB level on their sites, typically under the unit specifications (see below).
Other AC features that help reduce the noise of an AC system include:
- Variable-speed blower fans: The indoor component of your AC unit has a blower fan that circulates the air in your home. The quietest AC units have variable-speed blowers, which operate at different speeds (so it’s not running full blast 100% all the time). This feature not only reduces noise but also improves comfort and cuts energy costs.
- Noise-reducing fan blades: The design and shape of the fan blades reduce the noise, which makes your overall system sound quieter.
- Compressor insulation and mounts: The compressor is the loudest part of an AC unit, so a well-insulated compressor traps noise so it doesn’t reach your home. There are also compressor mounting materials that will limit noise when your air conditioner is running.
Note: The AC unit’s size (measured in tons) also affects the sound. Bigger air conditioners are inherently louder.
Unfortunately, you really don’t have control over what size AC you need. That said, if you have a larger home and need a larger AC system, you may want to invest in some of these noise dampening features.
Other factors to consider when choosing an AC
Sometimes homeowners get too caught up on minor aspects like noise levels or the AC brand when choosing a central AC.
Our suggestion is to focus less on noise or brand and more on ensuring:
- Your AC is correctly sized for your home
Your AC cools your home by removing heat from it, and your AC needs to be the right size to be able to remove enough heat to properly cool your home. If it’s not the right size, your AC could end up costing you a lot in monthly energy bills, not cooling your home properly, and ultimately, wearing out before its “time.”
So how do you know what size air conditioner you need for your home? You’ll need a professional to perform a Manual J Load Calculation. This calculation takes into account many factors like the size, shape, insulation and local climate of your home to find the right air conditioner size for you.
Learn more about AC sizing and Manual J calculations: What Size Central Air Conditioner Do I Need?
- You pick a high-quality contractor to install the AC
You can do a lot of research and pick the quietest possible AC system, but it could be all for naught if you choose a low-quality, inexperienced contractor. If your AC is installed carelessly or the job is rushed, it can make even the quietest AC loud. To ensure a quality installation, our suggestion would be to find an experienced company or contractor that you can count on to install your AC correctly. You can do this by looking at the companies reviews, guarantees and years of experience in your area.
Need help finding a quiet AC? Contact George Brazil
If you’re ready to install your new AC but aren’t sure where to start, contact us! Our experts can help size your AC unit and find a quiet solution for your home.