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Understanding Decibel Ratings: How Loud are Your Appliances?

by Ann Ferguson

Most, if not all, of appliances will make a noise of some sort. The hum of a motor, the click as it cycles on, the sound of water being let in, or a very audible beep or buzz telling you it is done with what you want it to do. These noises can be loud or soft and can be rated on a scale.

A decibel (or dBA) is the unit of measurement that measures volume or sound; just as inches, feet, miles, or yards can measure distance. Just to give you an idea of what a decibel scale could be, absolute silence would be zero decibels. A whisper is about 15 dBA, and a normal conversation would be around 60 dBA. The engine of a jet goes all the way up to 120 dBA.

young girl push her hands on her ears trying to not to hear the loud noise from appliance

Since a normal conversation is around 60 dBA, the last thing you want or need is an appliance that runs louder than 60 dBA because you would not be able to hold a conversation around the appliance. The only exception might be an outdoor air conditioning unit, unless it is near an area you would do outdoor entertaining in.

Why You Should Care About Appliance Decibel Ratings

  • If you have people over often, appliances that are too loud can limit gathering areas.
  • If you have a baby, loud appliances can wake the baby when they cycle on.
  • Loud noises can often scare pets.
  • Long-term exposure to high decibels can hurt your eardrums and hearing.

What is the Average Decibel Rating for Appliances?

Most home appliances range between 40 to 60 dBA. Loud outdoor appliances would be generators and air conditioners, which are assessed between 70 to 80 dBA. Low-noise operation is often considered a premium amenity across mass-premium and luxury brands.

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