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Choosing a Quiet Air Conditioner

Last modified: 2022-07-25 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Whether it be because you are working from home or trying to enjoy the summer months without the constant hum from your air conditioner, a quiet air conditioner may be what you are looking for to keep you cool all summer. What should you know before purchasing a quiet air conditioner? Well, that is exactly what we will consider today in order to help you make the right choice!

What is a quiet air conditioner?

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Quiet air conditioner models to consider

There was a time when central air and wall-mounted units were the go-to choices when looking to purchase a low-cost, quiet air conditioner. Now, most manufacturers offer at least one quieter option in their product line. 

However, it goes without saying, a powerful air conditioner is more likely to emit a louder hum. Furthermore, the noise level is relative depending on your proximity to the air conditioner—even a quiet air conditioner can make a noise that is slightly too loud for your liking if you are too close.

Before you even think about a specific model, consider the following details: desired location of the air conditioning unit and the required power level. In North America, the cooling capacity of an air conditioner is calculated in BTUs: 10,000 BTUs can adequately cool a 400 to 450 square foot space.

Although you will find BTU calculators that only require square footage of the space to provide you with a BTU measurement, there are several factors that will influence the power demand of your air conditioner. Essentially, any factor affecting the temperature of a particular space will likely require more power.

Having an air conditioner is an investment, but maintenance is a must for possible long-term use! Check out this article to find out more about air conditioner maintenance:

Are the room(s) subject to long periods of sun exposure throughout the day? On a daily basis, how many people occupy the room? Is the insulation adequate? All of these factors play a role in determining the appropriate power required for the air conditioner to function properly. Once you have determined the square footage and the desired location of the air conditioner, you can go ahead of select a model. 

Are you shopping around and looking for a cost estimate on an air conditioner? Check out our article The Cost of Air Conditioning Systems.

At what level is an air conditioner considered quiet?

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Air conditioner manufacturers are aware that potential loud noise generated by an air conditioner is a key factor in deciding whether or not to purchase, and that is why it is always indicated in the unit’s specifications. The noise level is measured in decibels (dB). For reference, see the chart below with various examples of noise levels in decibels:

Similar noise level Example of noise
30 decibels quiet conversation
40 decibels refrigerator, low-traffic street
50 decibels light rain
60 decibels normal conversation
70 decibels busy street, vacuum


For a bedroom, anything over 50 decibels can be considered disruptive; during the day, anything over 70 decibels can be labelled as such. 

Air conditioners will display the noise level in one of two ways: by giving an estimate between two-decibel measurements (for example, between 50 and 60 dB) or maximum output (up to 60 dB), as the noise generated will also depend on its setting. An air conditioner running at full power is bound to generate more noise. Also, to ensure that you get the best unit for your comfort, remember that a unit operating at a noise level higher than 50 decibels can keep you awake at night, especially if you are a light sleeper. 

Portable or window air conditioners are going to be the least suitable for low noise emission since all the cooling and air redistribution work is done in one relatively compact unit. However, that does not mean the unit will be very loud, but pay special attention to the specifications of these models. 

Should you have the opportunity to install a wall-mounted or a central air conditioner to your ventilation system, know that it is a worthwhile investment as it provides consistent temperature control and requires less power in the long run. Moreover, the noise hindrance will no longer be in the apartment or house, but rather outside of it. If you want to enjoy peace and quiet inside your home, an outdoor air conditioning unit is your best bet.

Nevertheless, remain wary that the unit you choose does not generate too much noise, as this may inconvenience your neighbours, who may file a complaint with the city. A wall-mounted air conditioner must respect a minimum distance between the unit and the fence line of your property. Consider this requirement when choosing a location for your unit.

For more information on how to use your air conditioner, check out this article:

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Quiet air conditioners in a nutshell: meet your needs and requirements

It is hard to pick and chose a model or a configuration that is optimal for everyone, especially given that preferences vary depending on any given home. You might only want to air condition one floor or a particular room. You might also cherish peace and quiet while working remotely.

Regardless of your needs and requirements, take them into account prior to purchasing your air conditioner, as well as your need for a low-noise unit. Should you choose an air conditioner that is quiet but weak, it will be equally ineffective during a heatwave rendering sleep unlikely!

Looking for additional information on what you should consider when buying your air conditioner? Check out our article How to Choose Your Air Conditioning System.

Source: Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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