Hand Dryers are one of the most important tools in any restroom. They save paper towel usage and help to keep the environment clean. Even though hand dryers play an important role in our daily lives, they can be quite noisy. But why are hand dryers so loud?
Hand dryers are so loud because they work by using a high-powered motor to force air through a small opening. This airflow creates turbulence which amplifies the sound of the hand dryer. In addition, hand dryers are often located in areas with hard surfaces such as tile which can further amplify the sound. Finally, many people use hand dryers when they are already in a hurry which can increase their perception of the noise.
What is a Safe Noise Level?
A safe noise level is a sound level that is not harmful to human health or hearing when experienced for a specific duration. Noise levels are typically measured in decibels (dB), and safe noise levels can vary depending on the duration of exposure and individual sensitivity. Here are some general guidelines for safe noise levels:
- Normal Conversation: A normal conversation typically occurs at around 60-70 dB. This is considered a safe and comfortable noise level for extended periods of time.
- Background Noise: Background noise in a quiet office or home environment is usually around 40-50 dB. This is generally not harmful.
- City Traffic: City traffic noise can range from 70-85 dB. While short exposure to these levels is unlikely to cause hearing damage, prolonged exposure can be harmful.
- Loud Music at Concerts: Music concerts and events can generate noise levels exceeding 100 dB, and sometimes even up to 120 dB or higher. Exposure to such loud music for extended periods can damage hearing if not adequately protected.
- Industrial Machinery: Noise levels in industrial settings can vary greatly, but they often exceed safe levels. Workers in these environments are typically required to wear hearing protection.
Safe exposure times to different noise levels can vary. Here are some general guidelines from organizations like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):
- 85 dB: Prolonged exposure to noise levels at or above 85 dB can lead to hearing damage. In such cases, it is recommended to limit exposure to 8 hours or less per day.
- 90 dB: Exposure to noise levels at or above 90 dB should be limited to no more than 2 hours per day.
- 100 dB: Exposure to noise levels at or above 100 dB should not exceed 15 minutes per day.
It’s important to note that individual susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss can vary, and some people may be more sensitive to noise than others. In addition, exposure to very high noise levels, such as gunshots or explosions, can cause immediate hearing damage even with very brief exposure.
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How Loud are Hand Dryers?
You might be surprised to learn that hand dryers are actually quite loud. In fact, they can reach up to 85 decibels, which is about as loud as a blender or a vacuum cleaner.
Of course, not all hand dryers are this loud, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a quiet option. According to tests the average hand dryer is around 80 decibels, which is about as loud as a blender. Some hand dryers can be even louder than that, reaching up to 100 decibels.
It’s important to note that noise above 100 decibels can cause noise induced hearing loss even when exposed for less than 15 minutes daily.
That’s about as loud as a chainsaw. Thankfully, most hand dryers have an automatic shut-off feature so they don’t run for too long and damage your hearing. So why are hand dryers so loud? It’s because of the way they work. Hand dryers use a powerful stream of air to quickly dry your hands.
This high-speed airflow makes a lot of noise as it exits the dryer. Some hand dryers are louder than others because of the type of motor they use.
Brushless motors tend to be quieter than standard motors, so if you’re looking for a quiet hand dryer, make sure to check for this feature. If you’re not a fan of loud noises, you may want to avoid using hand dryers altogether. You can always opt for paper towels instead.
Or, if you’re at a public restroom that only has hand dryers, try covering your ears with your hands while the dryer is running. Either way, it’s important to be aware of how loud hand dryers can be so you can protect your hearing.
Can Electric Hand Dryers Hurt Your Hearing?
A study conducted by 13-year-old Nora Keegan and published in the journal Paediatrics & Child Health in 2019 has highlighted that the noise levels generated by numerous hand dryer models exceed 85 A-weighted decibels (dBA). A-weighted decibels are a measure of how loud a sound is perceived by the human ear. It’s important to note that sounds at or above 85 dBA have the potential to cause gradual hearing damage over time. Nora’s research also brings attention to the fact that children, due to their lower height in comparison to adults, are in closer proximity to the source of sound, potentially exposing them to even louder noise levels emanating from electric hand dryers.
Safeguarding the hearing of children is of paramount importance since noise-induced hearing loss is permanent and can have adverse effects on their educational performance. It’s worth noting that Nora conducted her study in Canada, where there are legal regulations stipulating that children’s, toys should not produce noise louder than 100 dBA. This led Nora to question whether other common sounds in the daily lives of children, such as electric hand dryers, might exceed these established safe-listening levels for toys.
Nora carried out an extensive investigation, taking measurements from 44 different hand dryers situated across Alberta, Canada. She assessed the decibel levels emitted by each hand dryer at two distances from the wall and at various heights, including the dryer’s output height, her own height, as well as the average heights of a 3-year-old child, an adult female, and an adult male.
While a considerable number of hand dryers produced noise levels below 85 dBA, approximately one-third of the models Nora examined had an average noise level exceeding 100 dBA. It’s crucial to note that sounds at 100 dBA have the potential to cause hearing damage in less than 15 minutes of daily exposure. One specific hand dryer model even reached a staggering 121 dBA, which is as loud as an ambulance siren.
Nora discovered that some of the older models of hand dryers, while potentially taking a bit more time to dry one’s hands, generally operated with less noise. In her observations, she mentioned, “It appears that hand dryers have become louder as they’ve evolved to become more efficient at the drying process.”
Certain hand dryer manufacturers provide information about the decibel levels of their products in their owner’s manuals. Nora’s findings, however, indicated that many dryers were operating at significantly louder levels than what their manufacturers had claimed. It’s worth noting that at least one manufacturer offered a sound reduction nozzle as an option at no extra cost, although Nora didn’t observe this nozzle being used in any of the locations she examined.
The next time you use an electric hand dryer, it’s wise to take Nora’s study into consideration. While it’s important to remember that this is just one study, and occasional exposure to the elevated noise levels of these hand dryers is unlikely to cause immediate harm to your hearing, repeated or prolonged exposure to loud noises generated by devices like hand dryers could potentially result in hearing loss. To safeguard your hearing, it’s advisable to maintain a reasonable distance from sources of loud noise and restrict the duration of exposure to such sounds.
Quietest Hand Dryers on the Market Today
1. WBHome Ultra-Thin hand dryer
|Decibel Levels||72 dB|
|Power||AC 110 V 50/60Hz (Rated power: 950W)|
|Air temperature||95 °F to 145 °F|
|Drying time||10-15 sec|
The WBHome Ultra-Thin hand dryer is a powerful, yet compact hand dryer that is perfect for any small space.
With its sleek design and ultra-thin profile, the hand dryer is ideal for use in tight spaces such as under countertops or in small bathrooms.
Additionally, this hand dryer comes with a built-in overheat protection system that keeps your hands safe and comfortable while using it.
This hand dryer features a powerful motor that dries hands quickly and completely, while its compact size makes it easy to store when not in use.
This is also one of the most affordable hand dryers on the market, making it a great value for your money.
2. VALENS Hand Dryer
|Air temperature||104 °F|
|Max airspeed||222 mph|
|Decibel Levels||72 dB|
|Power Rating||1500 Watts, 120V/60HZ|
|Drying time||10-12 sec|
The VALENS hand dryer has a sleek, modern design that will complement any bathroom décor. It features a powerful motor that provides high-speed, energy-efficient drying.
The unit comes with a built-in sensor that automatically turns the dryer on when hands are placed under the nozzle. TheVALENS hand dryer is backed by a 5-year warranty.
- Sleek, modern design
- Powerful motor for high-speed, energy-efficient drying
- Built-in sensor turns dryer on automatically
- Backed by a 5-year warrant
3. Awoco Commercial Hand Dryer
|Noise output||70 dB|
|Power||1350W- 1450W, 12A|
|Drying time||7 to 15 sec|
The Awoco commercial hand dryer is a top-quality product that offers high speed drying and low energy consumption.
It is perfect for use in any business or public restroom. The sleek design and powerful motor make it one of the most popular hand dryers on the market.
It features a built-in sensor that automatically turns the unit on when hands are placed under the spout. The unit will then begin to blow warm air, quickly drying hands in just seconds.
There are three adjustable settings to choose from, so you can customize the drying time to fit your needs.
The Awoco hand dryer also features a HEPA filter that helps to remove bacteria and other contaminants from the air. This makes it a great choice for use in healthcare facilities. The unit is also ETL listed and comes with a five-year warranty.
If you are looking for a top quality, high-speed hand dryer, the Awoco commercial hand dryer is a great option to consider.
It is perfect for use in any business or public restroom and comes with a variety of features that make it one of the most popular hand dryers on the market.
4. Valens Hand dryer with HEPA filter
Valens Hand dryer with HEPA filter is a wall-mounted, energy-efficient hand dryer that quickly dries hands without the use of paper towels.
It features an activated carbon filter that removes odors and a HEPA filter that captures 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns or larger, making it ideal for high-traffic bathrooms in healthcare facilities, offices, schools, and other public spaces.
The sleek design is ADA compliant and features a built-in LED nightlight for easy location in low-light conditions. With a powerful motor that operates at just 8500 RPM, the Valens hand dryer is one of the fastest on the market, drying hands in as little as 10 seconds.
For added safety, the unit includes an automatic shut-off feature that activates when hands are no longer present in the drying area.
What To Consider When Choosing a Quiet Hand Dryer
When choosing a hand dryer, there are several factors you need to consider to ensure you select the best possible option for your needs. Here are four key considerations:
Drying Time: The drying time of a hand dryer is an important consideration, especially if you have a large number of people using the device on a regular basis. Some hand dryers can take up to 30 seconds to completely dry your hands, while others may only take 10-15 seconds.
Noise Level: Another important consideration is the noise level of the hand dryer. Some models can be quite loud, which may not be ideal if you are using the device in a public space such as a office or store.
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.