The last thing you want is an obnoxiously loud AC unit.
But how do you choose a quiet one?
We’ll help you know what to look for. In this article, we’ll discuss:
- How AC sound level is measured
- The quietest 2017 AC units
- Picking the right AC size for your home
Let’s start by looking at how sound level is measured:
Decibels: How AC sound level is measured
Air conditioner sound levels are measured in decibels (db). The lower the decibel rating, the quieter the air conditioner.
The quietest AC’s fall into the 50–60 db range—but what does that actually sound like?
Here are some common sounds in that decibel range:
- 50 decibels = the sound of rainfall
- 50 decibels = the ambient sounds of a large office
- 60 decibels = the sound of a normal conversation
- 50–60 decibels = the sound of an electric toothbrush
For more sound comparisons, check out the Center for Hearing and Communication’s article about common environmental noise levels.
The quietest 2017 AC units
Decibel comparisons at a glance
Let’s compare the decibel ratings of few leading air conditioner brands and models:
- York Affinity™ YXV Variable Capacity Air Conditioner: As low as 53 db
- Trane XV20i TruComfort™ Variable Speed: As low as 57 db
- Carrier Infinity® 19 Variable Speed: As low as 56 db
- Lennox XC25 Variable Speed Air Conditioner: As low as 59 db
Note: These ACs are running in optimal conditions, so usually the range fluctuates to up to 10+ db higher than the advertised decibel level.
A word on AC brands: Sometimes homeowners worry about choosing the best brand. In our experience, all of the major air conditioner manufacturers (like York, Trane, Carrier, Lennox, and Rheem) make quality products. Instead of focusing on the brand, focus on who you choose to install your air conditioner. A bad AC contractor and ruin the best AC brand via a poor installation
Look for these noise-dampening features
As you shop around for an AC unit, look for these features that point to a quiet AC unit:
- 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 the fan at different speeds (so it’s not running full blast 100% all the time). This feature not only reduces noise, it improves comfort and cuts energy costs.
- Noise-reducing fan blades: New technologies reduce the noise caused by fan blades, 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.
But, before you run out a buy an AC unit with all those features, you should know that size affects sound…
Know that size affects sound
The AC unit’s size (measured in tons) also affects the sound. Bigger air conditioners are inherently louder, so keep that in mind as you compare brands and models. If you have a big home, you’ll likely need a larger AC unit to sufficiently cool your living space.
Find the right AC size for your home
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.
Learn more about AC sizing and Manual J calculations: What Size Central Air Conditioner Do I Need?
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