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Noise in HVAC System; What, Where and How Noise comes from?

One of the things that becomes an unpredictable issue of a building, especially with a centralized air conditioning system, is the noise it creates. Calculating noise from every part of the HVAC system is needed to avoid unwanted noises in adjacent rooms.

What do we need to know to avoid noise from the HVAC system?

Are there simple steps to avoid it?

In this article, we will discuss about the noise that occurs in the HVAC system and how to avoid it.

Every sound that is heard can usually be identified through its frequency range. In relation to frequency range, noise that occurs related to the HVAC system is divided into 3 categories within the frequency range:

  • Low Frequency

Fan Noise, it generally produces sound from 125 Hz to 500 Hz octave frequency bands. Variable Air Volume (VAV) boxes noise is usually from 125 Hz to 500 Hz octave frequency bands.

  • Mid Frequency

Airflow Noise and turbulence-generated noise in a duct range from 31.5 Hz to 1000 Hz.

  • High Frequency

Damper and Diffusers Noises, they usually contribute to the overall noise in the range of 1000 Hz until 4000 Hz octave bands.

All the noise above can be avoided if we know how to design HVAC system acoustically and each of these issues must be addressed:

HVAC System Acoustically – Geonoise Instruments
  • Duct-borne Noise

The sound generated by the fan will travel along with the ductwork both upstream and downstream easily because the velocity of sound is much greater than the velocity of air in ducts.

  • Radiated Equipment Noise

Radiated equipment noise transmits through the wall or floor into the adjacent space or in the case of rooftop equipment to the environment. It is generated by vibration of the fan casing and motor.

  • Duct Break-in Noise

Noise inside ceiling plenums or from air conditioning equipment, plant room, etc, can break into the duct and then be carried into rooms or spaces downstream. So, where possible, avoid ducts passing through noisy areas as this can significantly increase noise through the air conditioning system, avoid lightweight ducts as well, replace them with heavier ducting such as sheet steel.

  • Duct Break-out Noise

Along with the ductwork, however, transmits through the wall of the duct, thus impacting the adjacent space. Generally, it happens from noise passing through the duct, aerodynamics noise from obstructions fitting in the duct, and turbulent airflow causing duct walls to vibrate and rumble radiating low-frequency airborne noise.

  • Terminal Noise

The final links in the distribution chain are the terminal air devices. These are Grilles, Diffusers, Registers, and Vent Cover that go over the duct opening in the room. Streaming air noise from diffusers and from transitions can cause additional noise in the receiving room. So that for this issue, we need to concern choosing the proper specs of supply and return air devices. We need to try to find out the NC (Noise Criteria) rating for them from their respective manufacturers.

By knowing those 5 ways of how noise occurs, it makes easier for us to categorize noise that will produce in our HVAC system design and help us in choosing what material, enclosure, duct shape and everything we need to reduce noise.

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