Based on the location, features, and size of your heating and cooling system, the noise it produces can adversely affect your quality of life at home. Of course, you want your house to be comfortable – but peaceful and quiet too. Your HVAC system shouldn’t drown out your activities, or keep you awake at night. If you’re researching a new unit for your home, here’s how to select a nice, quiet HVAC system that’s right for you.
Understand the system’s decibel rating
The information sheet on each HVAC system displays its decibel (dB) rating that indicates its intensity of sound. The lower the system’s decibel rating, the quieter it is.
As you’re researching and comparing units, pay particular attention to the decibel ratings of different brands and models. Most people perceive a sound to be roughly twice as loud as another when the sounds are about 10 dB apart. Here’s a quick guide to provide a frame of reference:
• 50 dB is equal to a quiet conversation at home.
• 60 dB is like a conversation in a public place.
• 70 dB is considered to be annoyingly loud, like the noise from a vacuum cleaner.
• 80 dB is like the ruckus created by running a garbage disposal.
Understanding these examples, most homeowners prefer a quiet HVAC system that produces sound below 60 dB. The quietest systems range from 50 to 60 dB.
Look for sound-reducing features
Why is an HVAC system so noisy in the first place, anyway? Your heating and cooling system is a sophisticated set of machines with many moving parts that produce sound from the vibrations when it’s running. These noises, typically from the starting and stopping of the fan, are the main culprit of HVAC noise pollution.
When the weather outside is extreme, your unit will be the loudest, since it’s working overtime to keep your home comfortable. Other sounds are created by outdoor elements, like leaves or twigs falling into your air conditioner’s condenser unit.
While you’re keeping an eye out for a system with a low decibel rating, you should also look for these features, which also help to minimize the sound it produces:
• Variable-speed fans
• Noise-reducing fan blades
• Compressor insulation mounts
• An insulated base pan
Preventative maintenance helps
As with any appliance, routine maintenance is essential for maintaining efficiency and lengthening lifespan. Have your HVAC unit checked regularly by a professional to prevent potential problems caused by worn parts, loose bolts and screws, refrigerant leaks, and accumulated debris.
Select the right-sized system for your home
The size and capacity of your HVAC unit play an important role in noise production. If you choose a system that’s not large enough to adequately heat and cool your home, its decibel number won’t likely matter, as it’ll be running and making noise constantly. We recommend meeting with one of our expert Comfort Consultants to best address your home’s needs. Aside from the square footage of your home, we’ll also consider factors like the height of your ceilings, as well as what type of insulation your home has.
Be aware that a bigger unit may not solve a noise problem. While a high-capacity unit will cool your home quickly, it’ll also shut off before completing its entire cooling cycle. As a result, your HVAC unit will have to click back on again and repeat the same process. This constant on-off cycle uses extra energy and can increase your electric bill, in addition to the wear and tear it causes.
It’s important to research quiet HVAC systems to find the best option for you. Understanding what makes a unit noisy – and the features that can minimize those sounds – empowers you to make a great choice for your home… and your sanity!