What are decibels?

Decibels Explained

Loudness and Decibels

When you’re choosing a portable or split unit air conditioner, then one factor you’ll want to understand is the noise that the unit makes when it’s operating.

But there are many aspects to sound. 

Decibels

 The Decibel (dB) is a troublesome unit of measurement: not only is it widely used to describe sound levels, but it’s also used to measure other applications of electronics and sound engineering.

dB(A) is a measurement of how loud or forceful a sound is (this is the amplitude of the sound wave’s form).

 

How much is too much?

Sounds that are 85 dB(A) or above can permanently damage hearing when exposure is eight hours or longer. However, a sound of 100 dB(A) could cause permanent damage after less than an hour of exposure.

Take a look at how loud these sounds are in decibels:  

  • A leaf falling: 10 dB(A)
  • Whispering conversation: 30 dB(A)
  • Refrigerator whirring: 50 dB(A)
  • Hairdryer: 70 dB(A)
  • Lawnmower: 90 dB(A)
  • Crowded bar: 75 dB(A)
  • Car horn: 110 dB(A)
  • Fighter jet flying above 120 dB(A)

Volume is a very personal measurement of sound and dependant on your level of tolerance. The information here is purely advisory. 

Types of sound

However, it’s not just the loudness of the noise that counts, but the type of noise. Noisy, “clackety” units are one of the chief reasons that people return air conditioners and is - regretfully- often a characteristics of cheap, white label air conditioning imports.

Humans are more likely to tolerate a continuous whirring sound in a machine, than an an irregular bump or clatter. That's one of the reasons that our customers love De'Longhi's Real Feel portable air conditioners: rather than turning on and off, they work continually at a low level to optimise air comfort.

We are also happy to “trade-off” sound - for example, an air conditioner fan that whirrs loudly to rapidly cool a sweltering room may be an appropriate sound. Whereas, an air conditioner that operates at this level over night will be unacceptable.

 

The Quietest Air Conditioner on Air Con Hut

The Pinguino AN 112 Silent is a powerful (11,000 BTU) air conditioner that can operate at just 47 dB(A). A quick survey of Amazon or ebay, couldn’t find another 11,000 BTU air conditioner with less than a rating of 56 dB(A).

  

The Loudest Air Conditioner on Air Con Hut

The KFR-63IW/X1c 18,000 BTU Wall Split System Air Conditioning Unit has an outdoor noise rating of 69 dB(A) - but since it’s a huge unit designed to be used in the largest homes or commercial spaces such as bards and restaurants - this seems appropriate!