AC Noise Ratings Explained & How It Impacts Life at Home

Noise is all around us– cars honk, birds chirp, people talk, and air conditioners hum. If you’ve ever looked at the specs of an AC unit, you’ve likely come across a noise rating. But what does it mean? And how do noise levels affect your life at home?

In this article, we’re going to delve into everything you need to know about noise, AC noise ratings, and the impact it has on home life.

Noise Explained

First, let’s take a look at noise in general. Noise is defined as a sound that’s either A) loud, B) unpleasant, or C) causes a disturbance. However, what’s loud and unpleasant for one person could be acceptable or even unnoticed by another. It’s really all subjective and depends highly on the particular situation.

But most people can agree on some sounds that are quite intrusive– car honks in the middle of the night, construction work with drills and bangs happening close by, or your dog barking at every passerby it sees out the window. Depending on your level of focus, you might never notice them. On the other hand, it might take all of your attention and make it difficult to do things such as sleep or work.

When looking at sound, it’s measured in decibels (dB). But we use a weighted scale called dBA when measuring noise levels because the human ear is more sensitive to varying sound frequencies compared to others.

The scale goes from 0 dBA to 140 dBA. 0 dBA noise levels are at the minimum threshold of what a person can hear. On the other end, 140 dBA is the extreme where noise levels can cause physical pain or hearing loss after just a single exposure. Typically, anything 85 dBA and over is enough to cause hearing damage if it lasts too long.

Let’s take a look at different noises and their dBA levels so you can have a clear understanding of what these numbers mean in your day-to-day life.


Leaves Rustling

10 – 20 dBA


30 dBA

A Quiet Library

40 dBA

Moderate Rainfall

50 dBA

A Normal Conversation

60 dBA


70 dBA

An Alarm Clock

80 dBA


90 dBA

Music Player with Headphones at Full Volume

100 dBA

Car Horn

110 dBA

Jet Plane Taking Off

120 dBA

Ambulance Siren

130 dBA


140 dBA

What are AC Noise Ratings?

Air conditioners are like any other type of machinery that has moving parts, so they will produce some level of noise. There are motors, fans, compressors, and other components that help keep you cool, but that means there will be sound.

When the AC is too loud, it can negatively impact your home life– making you want to forgo the cooling aspect in favour of some peace and quiet. It can interrupt conversations or make it difficult to watch TV. Or it can also disrupt your sleep when it kicks on in the middle of the night.

However, modern machines have technology and modes to make it as minimal as possible. On average, AC units today average around 35 dBA, with some machines even going as low as 22 dBA. Take the Serene Series 2 Wall Hung split system, for example. When its “Silent” mode is activated, the dBA levels go down to 24 dBA– barely louder than the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.

When choosing your AC unit, you can find the noise rating under the product’s specifications. You’ll find one for the inside unit and another rating for the outside unit. For ActronAir models, all of the technical information is available in the downloadable brochure located on the product page. 

How to Prevent Your AC from Being Too Loud

There are some measures you can take to reduce the amount of sound your AC will produce. Typically, normal wear and tear will cause your AC to get louder because it needs to do more work to keep your home cool. This is especially true for older models. When dealing with a noisy AC, here are some steps you can take to remedy the situation:

  •     Routine Maintenance: Getting your AC unit serviced once or twice a year helps keep it in tiptop shape so it runs more efficiently and quieter. It also has the bonus benefit of extending the machine’s lifespan and reducing the chances you’ll need to spend on costly repairs in the future.
  •     Lower the Fan’s Speed: One of the loudest parts of the AC unit is the fan. If the “whirring” is excessive, try turning down the fan speed to reduce the sound.
  •     Make Sure It’s Mounted Properly: If the AC unit is poorly mounted, it can cause loud vibrations to reverberate throughout the house. Not only is this annoying, but it can also cause further damage to the machine.

AC Noises to Look Out For

A dull hum in the background is completely normal. But there are some sounds that will tell you something is wrong with your unit and it needs to be looked at by a professional. If you hear any strange or weird noises, don’t ignore them! Here are some common noises and what they could possibly mean.

  •     Buzzing: This could be a sign that your unit’s fan blades are loose or unbalanced. However, it could also mean there are dirty condenser coils, a malfunctioning fan motor, or another loose component inside the outdoor unit.
  •     Clicking: Hearing a “click” at the beginning or end of a cooling cycle. However, hearing a continuous “click” throughout the cycle is a problem. Typically, it means there’s something up with your thermostat.
  •     Hissing: If you hear “hissing,” it could be a sign there’s a leak in the ductwork or the refrigerant. It’s recommended to call a professional immediately if you hear this.
  •     Rattling: Rattling could simply mean there are stray sticks and other debris in your outdoor unit, and it needs to be cleaned out. However, if you clean it and still hear rattling, it could be a sign of something more serious.

You might also hear bangs, shrieking, or any other strange noises. When you do, the best course of action is to call your AC technician so they can come and inspect the unit.

ActronAir: Premium AC Units Made for Australia

At ActronAir, we’re a proudly Australian-owned company that produces state-of-the-art AC units with the latest features and technology. Reach out to us today to learn more about our products and services.

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