Hand Dryers and Noise Levels – What You Need to Consider

Hand dryers noise level

We all know what it’s like to have a conversation or thought interrupted by an unpleasantly loud hand dryer in a bathroom setting, but you might be surprised to hear that in some settings hand dryers can be so loud they can rival the loudness of a jet engine. So let’s take a closer look at the noise factors you’ll want to consider before installing an electric hand dryer.

How loud can hand dryers really get?

There are two factors to consider when it comes to the operating volume of hand dryers. The first is the hand dryer model itself, and the second is the environment that it’s situated in. Conventional hand dryers are generally quieter, but also take longer to dry hands. Many of the new hand dryer models operate at around 90 decibels, which is about the same as a lawn mower or a motorbike passing by. Install that model in a reflective bathroom, though, and researchers have found that it could generate up to eleven times the volume of acoustic lab-tested levels.

What’s the problem with loud hand dryers?

Apart from making the bathroom experience less pleasant, a number of people can be particularly affected by loud hand dryer noises. These include:

  • Those on the autism spectrum, who can have sensitivities to loud or sudden noises. In fact, one Oregon senator introduced a bill in 2015 to legally limit the loudness of hand dryers, in consideration of his son’s sensitivities.
  • Those with dementia, who can become confused and disoriented by loud noises.
  • People who wear hearing aids, who can experience the sound of the hand dryer with added amplification. Some will even turn off their devices while using a restroom to avoid this effect.
  • Blind or vision-impaired people, who can rely on sound to navigate their way around.

Prolonged exposure to loud noise also degrades hearing, so with all of these effects it’s well worth considering the loudness of hand dryers in your bathroom facilities.

How can I minimise noise in the amenities that I manage?

There are some easy ways to minimise the sound from hand dryers in your public, commercial or workplace bathrooms. The first and probably the most important is to choose the right hand dryer model in the first place. Our Mediclinics Speedflow Plus line has an operating noise level of 57-65 decibels at 2 metres, which is around half the volume of other high speed dryers. The motor can also be adjusted for power and noise level to suit the bathroom facilities.

The other aspect you can control to minimise sound levels is the acoustics within the bathroom. Irregular shapes and textures can help to diffuse and absorb sound energy, so measures could include dedicated soundproofing panels or installing hand dryers where sound won’t reflect straight off smooth surfaces.

While there’s no such thing (yet) as a completely silent hand dryer, there are quiet hand dryers available in the market that can improve the bathroom experience and protect people against harm, confusion and distress. As always, the Davidson Washroom team is here to help point you in the right direction.