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How much noise should my ventilation box make?

How much noise should my ventilation box make?
Posted on 27-1-2022 by Rachelle Broeren

Mechanical ventilation does make noise, but what causes that noise? A frequently asked question is: "How much sound is produced by mechanical ventilation?". To describe sound we use decibels, but what is this compared to? And how much noise should a ventilation system make? You can read it here.

What is sound?

The definition of sound is "that what you can hear," but what is that exactly? Sound is created by changes in air pressure, which cause vibrations. These sound waves are picked up by the eardrum and interpreted as sound by our brain. The intensity of sound is indicated by decibels as a measurement unit, shortened to dB. How many decibels are associated with noise? What is described as noise for one person may not be perceived that way for another. For example, you may not be bothered by the bathroom fan, a mechanical ventilation system or WTW, while your partner complains about the noise.

It is difficult to imagine how loud a certain sound is in decibels. The dB table below therefore shows what corresponds to a certain noise level. Sounds up to about 50 dB are still perceived as pleasant to our hearing. Decibels are a logarithmic unit, for example two equally loud sound sources only produce 3 dB more sound, this change is also barely noticeable by our ear. An increase of 5 dB is just perceptible and a decrease of 10 dB we hear half as strong.

Decibel Sound Situation overview
10 Almost unhearable Breathing, a leaf falling
20 Barely noticable Tree leaves in the wind
30 Very quiet Soft whispers
40 Quiet Birds at sunrise, soft chatter in the classroom
50 Little sound Refrigerator, rain, car driving by
55 Limited sound Coffee machine brewingt
60 Audible / Hearable A conversation, washing machine
70 Irritating Busy office, loud TV
75 Loud sound Electric mixer, busy restaurant
80 Annoying Alarm clock, doorbell
85 Loud Handsaw
90 Very annoying Busy city traffic, child screaming
95 Noise Elektric drill
100 Very loud Machine in factory
110 Extremely loud Rock concert, leaf blower
120 Extremely loud Ambulance siren
130  Extremely loud Thunderstorm
140 Pain limit Jet plane at 300 m
150 Hearing damage Fireworks, jet plane taking off
160 Hearing damage Gunshot, fireworks at 1.5m
170 Hearing damage Avalanche arrow
180 Irreversible hearing damage Rocket launching platform
190 Irreversible hearing damage Saturn rocket

What causes noise in a ventilation system?

A ventilation system transfers air. This is accompanied by vibrations in the air and therefore naturally by noise. A mechanical ventilation system is equipped with a motor that also makes noise during ventilation. Noise can occur between rooms via the air ducts, also called crosstalk. Crosstalk occurs because air ducts of a ventilation system acoustically connect different rooms. This is reduced by placing special inno sound silencers behind the ventilation valve.

The connection of-or maintenance on-the ventilation system also has a contribution to the noise level. Resistance in your ventilation system creates sound. This is the amount of effort a system has to put in to get the air through the ducts. If your ventilation system has a lot of bends or air ducts, this will cause more resistance and therefore produce more sound. This is also the case when there is dirt in the ducts or motor, this creates resistance and therefore sound.

How much noise does a ventilation system make?

The answer to this question, is not easy to express in decibels. Noise in your ventilation system has several possible causes. The noise level also differs per ventilation box and the setting on which the ventilation is placed. There are ventilation systems with 2 or 3 settings. With a ventilation system with 3 settings, you use the lowest setting when you are not at home, setting 2 when you are at home and setting 3 when you are cooking, showering, or having visitors. With 2 settings you use the first setting when you are at home or away and the second setting when you are cooking, showering, or having visitors.

The lowest setting of a mechanical ventilator has a sound level of about 40 dB, which is whisper quiet. The noise level can rise to 60dB in the highest setting, which is comparable to an air conditioner or conversation. Does your ventilation system make a lot of noise in the lowest setting? Then there may be something wrong. Find out how to reduce the noise in your mechanical ventilation system.

Silent ventilation

There is no such thing as a silent ventilation system, but these days most ventilation units are much more silent. Do you still have an old system in your home? Then you can benefit by replacing it with a newer model. As an added advantage, the new ventilation unit will also be more energy efficient, saving you money.

Do not just look for the quietest model, but also pay attention to proper placement, installation, and ductwork. These factors all contribute to the noise level of your mechanical ventilation system. Also, do not forget to clean and maintain your ventilation system regularly, as dirt can be a major culprit for noise pollution. Learn how to maintain your mechanical ventilation system here.

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