It’s All Noise: What Do Different Decibel Levels Mean?


From the growling engine of a motorcycle to the buzzing fan in your laptop modern life is noisy.


The unit of measurement used to gauge the power and intensity of a sound is the decibel (expressed as dB). Basically, the louder something is, the higher its decibel level. To complicate things a bit, the decibel scale is logarithmic. To put it simply, this means that an increase of 10 decibels means the sound is ten times louder. So a noise measurement of 80 dB is ten times louder than a sound measured at 70 dB!


As a frame of reference, here are the decibel levels of sounds you may encounter in your everyday life.



0-30 dB, Very Faint. Most human adults cannot hear sounds below 0 decibels. Most sound in this range is almost inaudible. Sounds that create decibel levels between 0 and 30 include whispers and the ticking of a watch.


31-45 dB, Faint. This is the decibel level of quiet sounds. In this range, sounds are audible but you may have trouble distinguishing them from other sounds if you are somewhere noisy. Soft conversation (like what you might hear in a library) falls into the 30-45 decibel range.


46-65 dB, Average. If you are walking down the street in a small town, this is about the decibel level of the sound you would hear. Regular conversation, the sound of a bubbling stream, and the meow of your cat might generate sound that falls in the 45-65 decibel range.


66-90 dB, Moderate. Many of your favorite handheld gadgets, from electric beard trimmers to blenders, fall in the 70 to 90 range. This is also the level that many electric lawnmowers (including the EGO POWER+ Mower) fall in, making them much quieter than many other outdoor tools.


91-100 dB, Very Loud. This is about the level where you’ll want to put in some earplugs. Cars with no muffler and gas-powered lawnmowers sit comfortably in the 90 to 100 decibel range. Anything at this level might get you a noise complaint from your neighbors.


101-125 dB Extremely Loud. 110 decibels and over is the level at which other sounds can’t really be heard. Aircraft takeoff, trains, and very loud concerts would fall into the 110+ decibel level.


126+ dB, Painful.125 decibels is where noise actually starts to get painful. At this point, you’re essentially talking about weaponized sound. This is the sound level of a rocket ship taking off.


When shopping for power tools, it is essential good idea to keep decibel levels in mind. Now that you know a little more about the decibel levels of different tools, you can make a more informed decision at the hardware store.