Which central A/C is quietest? A Kansas City tech answers!

All central air conditioners have an audible ambient hum, but some models are inherently louder than others.

And nobody wants to be stuck with an AC that’s obnoxiously loud.

So, which air conditioner is quietest?

Well, any AC with a decibel range of 50 to 60 decibels (dB) is considered quiet.

In this article, we’ll cover the following info:

  • What are decibels?
  • AC systems that fall into the 50–60 dB range
  • A note about decibel ratings


Want a professional to help you choose a quiet AC?


What are decibels?

Decibels (dB) measure the loudness of a particular sound.

The human ear can hear sounds as low as 0 dB, and sounds around 140 dB start to create painful ear damage (although, any prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB can start to cause ear damage).

Like we mentioned above, the quietest air conditioners fall within the 50–60 dB range.

To give some context, see the chart below to see what sounds correspond to certain dB levels:

AC systems that fall into the 50–60 db range

Some current quiet ACs on the market include:

Note: You can find an air conditioner’s decibel level by looking at the marketing materials or technical specifications.

So, what makes one air conditioner quieter than another?

The quietest air conditioners come with noise-reduction technology, which includes:

  • Compressor insulation/mounts
  • Insulated base pan
  • Noise-reducing fan blades
  • Variable-speed motors

You can verify if an air conditioner has noise-reduction technology by looking at brochures or online marketing materials (see screenshot below):

Screenshot of noise-reducing AC features for American Standard AccuComfort™ Variable Speed Platinum 20 AC. Image taken from: www.americanstandardair.com

A note about decibel ratings…

When you see a decibel rating for an air conditioner, you need to know 2 things:

  1. Bigger air conditioners are louder. Bigger air conditioners (measured in “tons”) are louder than smaller AC’s by nature. So just be aware if you get a bigger AC, it will probably be louder than the dB level you see advertised.
  1. Be aware that the advertised decibel rating is only true if the AC is running in optimal conditions. The advertised decibel rating is calculated while the AC is running in moderate weather and at the lowest motor speed, so the actual dB rating can fluctuate up to 10 dB.

Want a Kansas City pro to help you choose a quiet AC?

We’ll help you pick a quiet air conditioner, and we can give other recommendations for your new air conditioner.