How can super fast hand dryers be quietened?

Hand dryers as loud as road drills

John Drever‘s research into the noise from powerful hand dryers has hit the news on World Listening Day, e.g. Super fast hand dryers ‘as loud as a road drill’.

HandsThe news stories have rightly complained about how loud these devices are inside the washrooms. But I have another gripe to add to that. In offices, pubs and restaurants, the unpleasant howling noise of the hand dryer has become an unpleasant signature sound as I try to work or enjoy a meal with friends. The horrible noise escapes from the washrooms and pollutes the rest of the building.

How can we reduce the noise from hand dryers?

It isn’t easy. One solution might be to change the frequency at which these dryers create noise. Years ago in offices the noise of people typing on mechanical typewriters was unbearable. This was solved by making the typewriters create noise at a lower frequency where our ears are less sensitive. This made the clattering sound of the typewriters appear to be quieter and less disruptive to speech.

However good the design of the hand dryers, they will still make noise. A complete solution has to consider my area of research, Architectural Acoustics. To stop so much noise leaking out of the washroom, architects should consider the layout of the room so that when someone open the doors, there is no direct line of sight from the dryers to the room immediately outside. Forcing sound to bend around corners will quieten it. For this to be effective, however, acoustic absorption needs to be added to the walls and ceiling of the washroom, to stop sound rattling around and building up to a louder noise Most acoustic absorption is fluffy stuff which is fine for the ceiling, but it gets damaged by water and isn’t hygienic for washroom walls. However there are washable absorbents, such as coustone, which was developed many decades ago at the Acoustics Research Centre at Salford University.

Of course there is another way of not causing the noise pollution, ignore the dryers and just wipe your hands on your jeans.

 

4 responses to “How can super fast hand dryers be quietened?

  1. Pingback: Noisy Hand Dryers in Bathrooms | Acoustically Delicious

  2. Great article! As we can agree, many hand dryers do produce much sound, we’d like to suggest you killing two birds with one stone!…..avoid wiping your hands on your jeans and check out an actual quiet hand dryer! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this article!
    Cameron

  3. I became a victim of one such hand dryer today. i now have hearing loss and a constant ringing in my ears. heading to my doctor tomorrow. does anyone know if a successful lawsuit?

  4. Interesting article – although some outdated hand dryers do produce a lot of noise, fortunately newer models such as the Mitsubishi Jet Towel feature significantly lower noise operation, making them an ideal choice for environments such as schools, museums, libraries and offices that desire a quieter space. Innovative wave shaped nozzles help to reduce the amount of noise generated by the airflow dispensed from the jets. Coupled with an original fluid-control technology, extremely efficient low-noise operation is achieved! You no longer have to worry about noisy hand dryers and can experience a thorough, hygienic hand dry without having to cover your ears.

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