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Quietest AC Available?

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[OP]
Sr. Member
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Aug 7, 2013
903 posts
248 upvotes
GTA

Quietest AC Available?

We have a patio sitting area in the corner of our backyard that is about 15 feet away from the air conditioner but when that AC comes on, it buzzes loudly like crazy. It's 15 years old and we are contemplating replacing it with a new one. Are there any manufacturers out there known for super quiet AC units? We would like to enjoy our backyard without having to shut off the AC every time. I even thought about perhaps moving the A/C closer to the front of the house on the side.

Any suggestions?
9 replies
Jr. Member
Nov 2, 2015
180 posts
138 upvotes
Oakville
JagStyles wrote: We have a patio sitting area in the corner of our backyard that is about 15 feet away from the air conditioner but when that AC comes on, it buzzes loudly like crazy. It's 15 years old and we are contemplating replacing it with a new one. Are there any manufacturers out there known for super quiet AC units? We would like to enjoy our backyard without having to shut off the AC every time. I even thought about perhaps moving the A/C closer to the front of the house on the side.

Any suggestions?
Hi Jagstyles,

Well you're in luck, no matter what air conditioner you purchase will be quieter than your existing unit. This is because SEER rating efficiencies have gone up and the minimum you can install per building code is 13 SEER. In my opinion the quietest air conditioners you can currently buy on the market are Lennox air conditioners, but they can be pretty pricey. I would suggest your best move is to try and get it to the side of the home assuming you wont compromise any property line boundaries. This way you won't break the bank on an expensive air conditioner that will barely provide any more savings than a 13 or 16 SEER air conditioner.

The quiet air conditioners from Lennox for reference are these models :

XC25 (Modulating variable)
XC21 (2 stage)
XC20 (modulating variable)
SL18XC1 (single stage)

You can see the corresponding dB rating for each unit. But again. Expensive.
[OP]
Sr. Member
User avatar
Aug 7, 2013
903 posts
248 upvotes
GTA
JivesHVAC wrote: Hi Jagstyles,

Well you're in luck, no matter what air conditioner you purchase will be quieter than your existing unit. This is because SEER rating efficiencies have gone up and the minimum you can install per building code is 13 SEER. In my opinion the quietest air conditioners you can currently buy on the market are Lennox air conditioners, but they can be pretty pricey. I would suggest your best move is to try and get it to the side of the home assuming you wont compromise any property line boundaries. This way you won't break the bank on an expensive air conditioner that will barely provide any more savings than a 13 or 16 SEER air conditioner.

The quiet air conditioners from Lennox for reference are these models :

XC25 (Modulating variable)
XC21 (2 stage)
XC20 (modulating variable)
SL18XC1 (single stage)

You can see the corresponding dB rating for each unit. But again. Expensive.
Thanks for the feedback, that's helpful. My AC is already on the side of the home but more towards the back 1/3 of the side of my house as opposed to being closer to the front. What's the difference between a single stage, 2 stage and modulating variable AC?
Jr. Member
Nov 2, 2015
180 posts
138 upvotes
Oakville
JagStyles wrote: Thanks for the feedback, that's helpful. My AC is already on the side of the home but more towards the back 1/3 of the side of my house as opposed to being closer to the front. What's the difference between a single stage, 2 stage and modulating variable AC?
This is getting into a whole heap of potentially unnecessary air conditioner chat but I'm happy to elaborate. Air conditioners have two ratings to go by. The SEER rating (efficiency) and tonnage (cooling capabilities). There are multiple SEER ratings (13 SEER, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 25) and multiple tonnages (1.5 ton, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 4.0 5.0) You can choose really between any units . Example. I can put a 21 SEER 4 ton air conditioner in my home. This would be for a fairly large home around 3800-4200 square feet. The tonnage will ensure my home is cooled adequately throughout the square footage, and the 21 SEER rating is how efficiently it cools.

Much like a furnace a single stage air conditioner operates with one stage. Lets now say I have a 2.5 ton 16 SEER air conditioner in my home. Single stage. Every time that unit comes on it's operating and distributing 2.5 tonnes of cooling throughout my home on any given day (Extreme heat or to take the edge off). This is the most practical way air conditioners are looked at here in Ontario, as we use the air conditioner MAYBE 3 months of the full year. For people who use their air conditioner from May all the way to September who set their temperature fairly low (18 celsius, 68 fahrenheit approx) essentially all Summer long will want something more efficient as it will be running very often. These are the people who would even consider buying a 2 stage.

2 stage air conditioner - Much like the 2 stage furnace, the 2 stage air conditioner has you guessed it.. two stages of cooling. On moderate days where you want to take the edge off of the home it will operate on it's first stage. Lets say the first stage of a 2.5 ton air conditioner is 1.5 tons. When it gets extremely hot out (25 - 40 celsius) the air conditioner will likely jump into second stage to add more cooling to the home to compensate for how hot it is outside.

Variable speed compressor air conditioners (modulating) have capabilities to increase by 1% increments between 35% to 100% (essentially meaning 65 stages of cooling). More typically found on the heating side with modulating furnaces, the variable speed unit can ramp up or down like a gas pedal for precise cooling added to the home. Mind you you do need a particular furnace and thermostat installed for these to operate to their full potential.

Now believe it or not, even though these all sound fancy seem like they would save a ton on electricity, that's kind of a fallacy. For example a XC25 air conditioner is roughly in the area of $10,000... even if you lived in the home for the next 50 years it's unlikely you'd see any kind of payback. Anyone that installs these guys are techies that just "want the best", or if they're really REALLY serious about how noisy their air conditioner is they'll put one of these beasts in.

Getting into something a little more practical - Your current air conditioner is 15 years old, that would likely make it a 10 SEER unit. Like I said before, regardless of air conditioner you put in it will be quieter and more efficient. 13 SEER air conditioners usually operate between the 72-76 dB mark. If you install a 13 SEER unit expect approximately $150 in electrical savings over a period of 5 years (woohoo).

For noise I typically direct people to a 16 SEER unit. Built larger, quieter, some of these units operate at 68dB - 70dB .. and for reference an increase of 2 dB points is doubling the sound output. So 68 dB - 70 dB would be double the sound. 16 SEER units are practical as the price can be very decent on them, they're quieter, more efficient, and if you're planning on living in the home for a long period of time they will give you payback from the 13 SEER. Expect in 5 years to save around $255 over your existing 10 SEER.

Now we're breaking the threshold of what I think is unnecessary. Moving up to the 18 SEER. The 18 SEER don't get me wrong are great units and a lot of people do install them here in Ontario, but here is where they begin to get expensive and your payback is effectively non-existent. I would say something like a 2 ton 18 SEER would be installed for around $5000 by any Lennox dealers in the area, maybe more. The noise levels on these guys are as low as 65 dB.

I know Trane has some quiet units as well but I believe they are variable speed. A quick google search tells me 55 dB on their best unit


So, based on what you're looking for.... My suggestion would be to attempt to move the air conditioner further to the front side of the home and install a 16 SEER unit. You would also need to be wary of installing between houses if they're too close you may get an echoing effect. Every brand I believe carries 13 and 16 SEER so you can explore your options with your favorite or recommended brands!


Hope that helps
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2013
542 posts
323 upvotes
Ottawa
You can get side discharge unit
Much more quieter than conventional ones and much cheaper than variable speed ones.
Sr. Member
May 21, 2015
910 posts
443 upvotes
Sarnia, ON
Two years ago my neighbors put in a new Carrier,, a very big one at that, and it's very quiet while running. It's about 15 feet from my side veggie garden and I have to purposly listen to actually hear it. We have a Mitsubishi mini split unit and it is virtually silent.. You could sit beside it,, use it as a table for your drinks and never know it was running.. but then that's not the type you're looking for.
Newbie
Jun 29, 2016
39 posts
12 upvotes
Beneful1 wrote: Two years ago my neighbors put in a new Carrier,, a very big one at that, and it's very quiet while running. It's about 15 feet from my side veggie garden and I have to purposly listen to actually hear it. We have a Mitsubishi mini split unit and it is virtually silent.. You could sit beside it,, use it as a table for your drinks and never know it was running.. but then that's not the type you're looking for.
+1 on the physical dimensions between seer rating. My unit is 2 times larger in physical size than my neighbor's because I purchased 1 level above his >.<.
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Oct 26, 2002
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BC
Mrlurk wrote: +1 on the physical dimensions between seer rating. My unit is 2 times larger in physical size than my neighbor's because I purchased 1 level above his >.<.
Interesting. Ours is much larger than the neighbours, they are both at the side of the house and I can hear theirs running much louder than ours.
That's my 2cents worth

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