Monday, March 14, 2016

What in the world is a Sone – how loud is my exhaust fan?

If you have looked into any type of ventilation products (exhaust fans, range hoods, etc.) then you have probably come across the term Sone(s). The Home  Ventilating  Institute (HVI) defines a sones this way: “In technical terms, a sone is equal in loudness to a pure 1,000 Hertz per second tone at 40 decibels above the listener's threshold of hearing. In layman's terms, one sone is equivalent to the sound of a quiet refrigerator in a quiet kitchen (source HVI).” –

The thing to consider with sones is that 2 sones is twice as loud as 1 sone, 4 sones is twice as loud as 2 sones and so forth. In exhaust fans choosing a fan with a sound rating at or below 1 sone will be very quiet. 1 to 2 sones will be heard and anything over 2.5 sones will be noticeable. Generally the sound level of the exhaust fan will be a major contributor of the cost. The quieter the fan the more expensive it will be.

The number one reason people do not use their exhaust fan is because of sound. If it is too loud it will not be turned on. If the exhaust fan isn’t being utilized, it can lead to bigger issues like mold, mildew and decreased indoor air quality. Quiet operating fans are available in all price ranges and spending a little more for a fan that will be properly used will be a wise investment. 

The sound measurement in range hoods is the same as in exhaust fans. The main difference is that range hoods typically have 2 or more speeds. You will see manufacturer’s advertising the “normal operating speed”. This is the speed setting that the hood will generally be used at. For instance, if you are using one pan on a medium setting on your cook top, you probably do not need to have the range hood set to the highest speed setting. The “normal operating speed” will probably be sufficient to properly ventilate the area. With that being said, you should pay close attention to all the sound levels of the range hood. While the high speed might be 5 or 6 sones – which would be considered high, the normal operating speed sound level might be around 1 sone, which would be considered quiet. To learn more about low sone products from Air King visit

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