Bathroom fan noise can prevent you from getting the relaxing and refreshing experience you want. When selecting a new bathroom fan, you can refer to the sones rating for each model to find a quiet fan that meets all your other needs.
Just like you have ratings for energy efficiency and power (the CFM rating tells you how much air the fan moves, measured in cubic feet per minute) you can also look for quiet models with low sones ratings.
The short answer: fans rated at 1.5 or fewer sones are the quieter models, while 4.0 sones is common for loud fans. For the softest bathroom fan noise, focus on models with 0.5 or fewer sones.
Sones: The Rating System for Bathroom Fan Noise
Bathroom fan noise gets measured in the unit of sones to provide an idea of how loud the sound will actually feel. Why not measure in decibels? Decibels are an objective measure of a sound’s intensity — and a certain number of decibels can actually feel different to different people. Sones measure the subjective loudness. When you just need to know how loud your bathroom fan noise will seem, sones provide a better indication.
Bathroom fans produce sones ranging from about 0.3 to 4.0. For comparison, a quietly running refrigerator produces 1.0 sone of noise.
Shopping for Bathroom Fans with Low Noise
When selecting a bathroom fan, check the sone ratings with these guidelines in mind:
- The quietest fans have sones of 1.0 or less
- Fans rated 1.0 to 2.0 are also very quiet
- Fans rated 2.0 to 4.0 are often more affordable and slightly more noisy
- Fans rated at 4.0 or above would not be described as quiet
Another important consideration: you also can reduce bathroom fan noise by selecting a model with ample CFM throughput. If the fan is too small, you will have to run it longer to change the bathroom air.
Making Your Choice to Eliminate Bathroom Fan Noise
If bathroom fan noise is your main concern, you should definitely start your search with sones ratings. For nearly imperceptible noise, you want 0.3 or less. For a quiet fan that slightly muffles noise, you will probably be happy with up to 1.5 sones.
At a particular sone level, you can find bathroom fans with various CFM ratings, energy consumption ratings, and price points. You also need to verify that the dimensions of the fan unit will fit properly in the open space above your ceiling.
Just remember, lower is better when it comes to sones and bathroom fan noise.