When the warm rays of sunshine usher in the season of lush green lawns and blooming gardens, homeowners across the country gear up for a timeless ritual – mowing the lawn. It’s a chore that’s both satisfying and necessary for maintaining the beauty of our outdoor spaces. Yet, hidden beneath the soothing hum of a well-tuned lawn mower lies a topic often overlooked but with significant implications – the noise it generates.
In pursuing pristine lawns and picturesque gardens, we often underestimate the impact of the decibels emanating from our trusty mowers. The truth is that mowers can produce noise levels that disturb the peace of your neighborhood and pose potential risks to your health.
In this article, we shall explore the number of decibels a lawn mower produces and give a verdict on the quietest lawn mower type you should have.
How Is Sound Measured?
A decibel (dB) is a unit of measurement used to quantify the relative intensity or level of sound. It measures the logarithmic ratio between two values, typically comparing a measured value to a reference value. In sound, a decibel measures the intensity or loudness of a sound wave relative to a standard reference level.
Here are some critical points about decibels and what they measure:
- Relative Measurement: Decibels are a relative measurement scale. They express how much larger or smaller one value is compared to another. In the case of sound, decibels quantify how much louder or quieter a sound is compared to a reference sound.
- Reference Level: A reference level is needed to use decibels for sound measurement. The reference level is typically the threshold of human hearing, the quietest sound the average human ear can detect. This reference good level is set at 0 decibels (dB).
- Logarithmic Scale: The decibel scale is logarithmic, which means that each increase of 10 dB corresponds to a tenfold increase in intensity. For example, a sound 10 dB louder is 10 times more intense, and a sound 20 dB louder is 100 times more intense than the reference sound.
- A-Weighting (dBA): In many cases, sound measurements are adjusted using the A-weighting scale (dBA), which considers the human ear’s varying sensitivity to different frequencies. It provides a more accurate representation of how humans perceive the loudness of sounds.
Lawnmower Decibels Levels
|Sound Level Range||Description|
|0 dB to 140 dB||The human ear’s detectable range of sound.|
|Above 85 dB||It can cause permanent hearing damage.|
|At or below 70 dB||Generally considered safe for prolonged exposure.|
|85 dB to 120 dB||Can cause temporary discomfort and potential harm.|
|Above 120 dB||Can cause pain, physical damage, and immediate harm.|
How Many Decibels Is a Lawnmower?
The noise level produced by a lawn mower can vary depending on the type and brand of the mower, its age, and the specific model.
Gas-powered riding lawnmowers tend to have an average noise rating of around 90 decibels (dB). In contrast, push lawnmowers typically produce a range of noise levels, falling mostly in the high 70s to low 80s dB range, which is quite close to the acceptable noise threshold of 85 dB.
If you opt for an electric lawn mower, you’ll experience quieter operation. Some battery-powered electric push mowers can even boast decibel ratings as low as 56 dB. However, the title of the quietest mower goes to the manual push reel lawn mower, with an average noise rating of approximately 55 dB.
Several tools are at your disposal to gauge the noise level of your specific lawn mower. These include sound level gauges, octave band analyzers, and noise dosimeters. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also offers a handy noise-measuring app for iOS-based devices, making it convenient to measure noise levels accurately.
|Lawnmower Type||Noise Level Range|
|Robot Mowers||55 dB – 60 dB|
|Reel Mowers||60 dB – 70 dB|
|Compact Electric Mowers||75 dB – 85 dB|
|Self-Riding Electric Mowers||80 dB – 90 dB|
|Compact Gas Lawnmowers||85 dB – 95 dB|
|Self-Riding Gas Lawnmowers||85 dB – 100 dB|
|Large Gas Ride Lawnmowers||85 dB – 105 dB|
Quietest Lawnmower Types
- Robot Mowers (55– 60 dB): Robot mowers are unquestionably the quietest among the options listed. They are designed for minimal noise disturbance, with noise levels ranging from 55 to 60 decibels. They are excellent for those seeking a peaceful lawn care experience without disrupting neighbors.
- Reel Mowers (60– 70 dB): Reel mowers are the next quietest option, with noise levels between 60 and 70 decibels. They are manually operated and generally produce less noise than motorized mowers. While not as silent as robot mowers, they are a relatively quiet choice for smaller lawns.
Loudest Lawnmower Types
- Large Gas Ride Lawnmowers (85– 105 dB): Large gas ride lawnmowers are the loudest among the options, with noise levels ranging from 85 to 105 decibels. These machines are typically used for extensive lawn care tasks, but their noise output can be disruptive. Hearing protection is highly recommended when using these mowers.
- Self-Riding Gas Lawnmowers (85 dB – 100 dB): Self-riding gas lawnmowers also fall into the louder category, with noise levels ranging from 85 to 100 decibels. They offer convenience but can generate considerable noise, making it important to consider noise reduction measures.
How Loud Is an Electric Lawn Mower?
Electric lawnmowers and other electric lawn equipment typically operate at a noise level of around 75 decibels (dB). To put this into context sounds at or below 75 dB are generally considered unlikely to cause any harm to your hearing.
To help you visualize this, picture yourself standing next to a motorcycle as it revs up and drives away – it’s pretty loud. Now, contrast that with the noise of vacuuming your house or being near a running washing machine – not as loud as the motorcycle, but still somewhat noisy. Motorcycles often produce around 85 dB of noise, and it’s recommended that you limit exposure to this level to less than 2 hours at a time to protect your hearing. Interestingly, this is the same noise level as many gas-powered lawnmowers.
On the other hand, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, including electric lawn mowers, operate at around 75 dB, which is considered safe for extended exposure without any adverse impact on your hearing. So, if you’re looking to be a considerate neighbor and reduce noise pollution (and potential annoyance), opting for an electric lawn mower can significantly reduce the noise levels by 50-75%.
If you’re in the market for a new electric lawn mower, keep these noise considerations in mind, as they benefit your hearing and promote a quieter and more peaceful outdoor environment for your community.
Electric Vs. Gas-Powered Lawnmowers Noise Levels
Gas-powered lawnmowers use gasoline as their fuel source, while electric lawnmowers run on electricity. These two technologies have distinct characteristics, but they both serve as effective solutions for lawn care.
Electric lawnmowers are gaining popularity for several reasons. They are often more cost-effective because they don’t require gasoline and typically involve less maintenance. Additionally, they are considered more environmentally friendly due to their reduced emissions and lower environmental impact.
One significant difference between the two lawnmower types is the noise level they generate. Electric lawnmowers are generally much quieter than their gas-powered counterparts. In terms of sound levels, electric lawnmowers consistently outperform gas-powered ones. Electric models typically produce noise levels starting at around 75 decibels (dB) and up, whereas gas-powered lawnmowers can reach 85 dB and beyond noise levels.
The amount of noise a gas-powered lawnmower produces can also be influenced by its condition and age. A poorly maintained gas mower tends to be louder, whereas the impact of maintenance on electric mowers is less pronounced. Furthermore, the age of the lawnmower plays a role in its noise level.
Over time, as gas-powered lawnmowers experience wear and tear, they can become slightly louder. For instance, a new gas-powered lawnmower in ideal condition may produce around 85 dB of noise. However, this noise level can increase to approximately 90 dB after several years of use and inadequate maintenance.
While a 5 dB difference may not seem significant, it is essential to note that sound intensity follows a logarithmic scale, meaning that a 10 dB increase corresponds to a doubling of loudness. Therefore, even a tiny dB increase can result in a significantly louder lawnmower.
Steps You Can Take to Make Your Lawn Mower Quieter?
You can take several steps to make your lawn mower quieter and reduce noise pollution in your yard and neighborhood. Here are some tips to help you achieve a quieter lawn mowing experience:
- Choose an Electric Lawn Mower: If noise reduction is a top priority, consider switching to an electric lawn mower. Electric mowers are quieter than gas-powered ones because they use electric motors instead of internal combustion engines.
- Regular Maintenance: Proper maintenance is crucial to keeping your lawn mower as quiet as possible. Some key maintenance tasks include:
- Keep Blades Sharp: Dull blades can create more noise as they struggle to cut grass. Sharpen or replace blades as needed.
- Check and Tighten Fasteners: Loose nuts, bolts, and fasteners can create rattling and contribute to noise. Regularly inspect and tighten these components.
- Inspect and Maintain the Exhaust System: Ensure the muffler and exhaust pipe are in good condition. Replace any damaged parts to reduce noise.
- Use Noise-Reducing Accessories: Consider using noise-reducing accessories, such as a noise-reducing blade or a quieter muffler, if available for your mower model.
- Keep the Deck Clean: Grass clippings and debris under the mower deck can create additional noise. Regularly clean the underside of the deck to prevent buildup.
- Check for Foreign Objects: Before each use, inspect the cutting area for any foreign objects, such as sticks, stones, or toys, that could be caught in the blades and create loud noises.
In conclusion, the noise level of a lawn mower is something that many of us may not pay much attention to until we’re faced with the cacophony of its engine roaring to life on a peaceful morning. As we’ve explored in this blog post, lawn mower noise can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of mower, its age, and the specific model.
While some modern lawnmowers come equipped with noise-reduction features, it’s essential to be aware of the potential impact of loud lawnmowers on our environment and well-being. Excessive noise pollution can disrupt the tranquility of our neighborhoods, disturb wildlife, and even harm our hearing over time if we don’t take precautions.
To mitigate the noise your lawn mower produces, consider investing in quieter models or exploring electric alternatives, which tend to be less noisy. Additionally, adhering to a regular maintenance schedule to keep your mower in top condition can help reduce noise levels.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.