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Appliances-sones to decibels & subjective ratings

Posted by carossel (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 20, 12 at 13:33

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

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.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Appliances-sones to decibels & subjective ratings

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

RE: Appliances-sones to decibels & subjective ratings

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

RE: Appliances-sones to decibels & subjective ratings

@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

RE: Appliances-sones to decibels & subjective ratings

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

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