Appliances-sones to decibels & subjective ratings

carosselOctober 20, 2012

I was researching the "quietness" of various kitchen range hoods and found this great reference:

dBA = 33.2 * LOG10(Sones) + 28

It also gives you an idea of subjectively how loud things are. For example, 30 dB = a theater, no talking; 40 dB = residential area at night; 50 dB = quiet restaurant inside; 70 dB = busy traffic at 16 ft.; etc.

So the Electrolux island hood I was looking at is rated at 73.8 dB, which makes it pretty noisy in my mind, compared to the Futuro Futuro brand many hoods of which are rated at 0.5 - 3.5 sones (up to about 45 dB. Of course correct installation is everything and I wonder if the Futuro rates theirs including their "silent kit". But at least it's more information that makes it easier to compare.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the info. I always found it odd that vents were rated in sones, not decibels and I never knew how that translated

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

To me - 8 sones sounds like a jet engine in the kitchen. That's what our last house had and it was horrible.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

@carossel: you're right, correct installation IS everything. All it takes is one unsealed joint, one run of flexible duct where rigid should have been, one incorrectly aligned mounting bracket, and you've got a range hood that sounds like a Boeing 747 at takeoff.

The Futuro sound ratings are for the hoods "as-is", without the silencer. When they're properly installed, they're very quiet. You can also use self-adhesive silicone foam sheets to line the chimney cover, that makes it another 10-20% quieter, for only a few bucks more.

@Barryv: the reason hoods are rated in sones is because sones are a *subjective* unit, i.e. this is how loud it will seem *to the human ear*, while decibels are a relative unit without any biological reference.

Plus, sones are linear, so you can compare "apples to apples" - 2 sones is exactly twice as loud as 1 sone; meanwhile, with decibels, 60 dB SPL is normal talking volume, 90 dB is a rock concert, and 120 dB = permanent hearing damage. Doesn't seem like a convenient scale to me.

That's why sones and decibels don't, strictly speaking, translate. They measure 2 completely different things.

Below this post is a link to an in-depth guide to sones, phons, decibels, and much more. Converter utilities too, so you can play around with the units.

@racmrc: absolutely. I would not recommend any range hood that produces over 6 sones. Doesn't matter what the power or features are - if you can't stand it being turned on, who cares how many CFM it produces?

Here is a link that might be useful: Sones-Phons-Decibels explanation & converters

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Robert, thanks for the answer. That's the clearest explanation of what makes sones different that I've gotten out of any forum.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 5:02PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Who makes Counter Depth fridge less than 36" wide
Hi, who makes a counter depth fridge that is only say...
Brad Goodyear
24" refrigerator. Liebherr, Fagor, LG, etc?
We live in Boston. We are in the market for 24"....
Need advice on combining induction and gas
This is my first post. Please forgive the length or...
Seeking Bosch Benchmark Feedback
I know there have been a few posts regarding the new...
Lights on my Jenn-Air dishwasher
I have a two year-old Jenn-Air Trifecta dishwasher...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™