What Makes Some Vacuums Quieter Than Others?

What Makes Some Vacuums Quieter Than Others?

Like most people, I HATE noise. I like my home to be a quiet haven of contemplation (kind of).

So one thing I really hate is a loud vacuum. In fact, when I buy a new vacuum, the first thing I check is its decibel rating. Anything higher than 85dB and its a definite no-no.

This has caused endless arguments with my partner, who assumes that the louder a motor the better the suction…

I was intrigued though – what makes one vacuum louder than another. And does a vacuum being quiet mean it’ll be less powerful? Here’s what I found.

The Recommended Noise Level for a Vacuum is 70dB

There are guidelines for how loud a vacuum should be in order to maintain comfortable noise levels, and it turns out that the recommended level is just 70dB.

This surprised me, as most vacuums are considerably noisier than this. Dysons, for example, are known to be as loud as 90dB when used in high-power mode! And from looking at other brands, I would say that the average is around 80-85dB, which is a LOT louder.

But this recommendation is real, at least in the US, as it helps to reduce noise pollution. So why are so many vacuums so noisy in comparison?

My opinion is that most are just plain lazy. They know that most people won’t even consider the noise of a vacuum before they buy, so they cut corners and produce inefficient models.

Come on vacuum manufacturers – get your act together!

The Noise of a Vacuum Depends on How It’s Been Designed

This is obvious, so I’ll be more specific.

Most vacuums have a high speed fan, which creates a suction force at the centre and expulsion of air at the edges. There are variations on how different brands build their vacuums, but this is the basic idea.

For cyclonic vacuums, such as Dysons, the dust is remove from air by centrifugal force. This requires that air is pushed rapidly, which creates additional noise. It’s my suspicion that this is why Dysons are ALWAYS so loud – they are all cyclonic.

Of course, the motor also plays a big role in how loud a vacuum is – but it’s not uncommon to find that shifting between low and high power modes doesn’t change the noise output (although it usually does).

Girl shouting through megaphone

It sometimes feels vacuum manufacturers don’t care about noise levels.

Quiet Vacuums Aren’t Always Less Powerful

It’s a common misconception that a louder vacuum must have more suction. It seems to make sense, right?

But it’s not true. A vacuum can be built to be highly efficient, quiet and STILL have incredible suction. And a model so loud it bursts your ear drums can be poorly designed and have terrible suction.

The bad news is that the quiet models are hard to find. I’ve found this list of the best silent vacuums though, and there looks to be some great models on there. You can also try searching Amazon, although there doesn’t seem to be a way to filter by noise level.

(If you’re listening, Amazon, please add this feature!)

Who Needs a Quiet Vacuum?

Now, you might be wondering whether it really matters if your vacuum is loud…

For most people, it’s true that it doesn’t really matter how noisy your vacuum is. You probably only turn it on for an hour or so each week, so it’s not the end of the world if it’s overly noisy.

But there are some people who REALLY need quieter appliances. I’m talking about people living in flats (you don’t want to annoy your neighbours), people who work anti-social hours so can only clean at night, people with children who wake easily, or people with a crazy dog (like me) who wants to kill anything that makes more than 70dB noise.

If any of these sounds like you, I would seriously recommend looking at the noise level of your next vacuum. It’s such a relief when you can switch on a model and still have a conversation over the noise, compared to the ear blast you get from Dysons.


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