October 14, 2013 | Written by: Jeff Fullerton and Gladys Unger

Acoustics of Energy Efficient Hand Dryers: Is This Progress?

Recently there have been innovations in the technology of toilet room hand dryers with a particular focus on energy efficiency. The results have included some rather interesting methods for drying wet hands in different ways than previous generations of hand dryer models. The focus of this study was to measure the sound levels from these different energy efficient models and from models that have been used for years. The overall sound level will be compared to the rated efficiency of each unit.

For years, hand dryers have been considered a cost efficient choice for drying hands in public toilet rooms. Their primary benefit is attributed to the lower costs associated with not having to stock new paper towels and cleaning up and disposing of used paper towels. Within the last decade, new hand dryers have been designed to provide improved hand drying while using significantly less energy. These hand dryers are also being promoted on the premise that they are a more hygienic and environmentally sensible choice for toilet room users than paper towels and the older hand dryers.

From an acoustical perspective, many people have noted that these new hand dryers are significantly louder than the older, less efficient models. These loud hand dryers have even been mocked on television and in cartoons. From a very practical perspective, their noise frightens infants, interferes with conversations within toilet rooms and in some cases adversely impacts other adjacent spaces near the toilet rooms.

This survey was intended to assess the sound levels from several different models of installed hand dryers. Comparisons between the older and newer models and between different energy efficient models were sought.

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