Air compressors aren’t exactly what you’d call whisper quiet. Every air compressor produces noise, but some produce more than others.
The noise levels produced by reciprocating air compressors (that is, the type of air compressor you’ll come across most frequently and the one that will probably be in your fridge at home and your HVAC system at work) are tightly controlled.
In the UK, the HSE sets the lower limit at which protective equipment must be provided at 80dB average daily or weekly exposure and 135dB peak, with an absolute upper limit of 87dB average and 140dB peak.
As the standard reciprocating air compressor will produce noise levels of 40-90dB, there’s a small but very real chance that larger or aging air compressors may breach upper limits.
Globally, limits are becoming even tighter. In the US, portable air compressors must not produce noise levels that exceed 76dB.
For air compressor suppliers, the ever more exacting standards mean increased ingenuity is required in insulating and installing the compressor. For some air compressor manufacturers, that may also mean increased costs as they work to develop air compressors that meet the new noise level requirements. And yet, according to Global Market Insights, the reciprocating air compressor market is only set to grow.
In particular, the report suggests home applications for air compressors will increase by up to 70% as the compressor escapes its one prime use in the fridge and becomes a garage staple that feeds jet washers, tyre inflators, fence-paint sprayers and more.
It’s worth noting that the UK legislation regarding noise does not relate to personal use of air compressors – it applies to the workspace only, but it’s not likely that air compressor manufacturers will develop noise reducing technology for the industrial compressed air equipment sector alone. So at home or work, the next decade is likely to see more, quieter air compressors in use.