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Are Air Compressors Loud? (How Loud Are They?)

Air compressors are a common tool used in many industries and by hobbyists alike. If you are considering getting an air compressor and hose for your garage or workshop you might wonder if air compressors are extremely loud.

Air compressors are quite loud no matter which type or size of air compressor you purchase. The larger the air compressor is the louder it will be however even the smallest compressors will put out a lot of noise.

Different brands of air compressors will have different amounts of air compressor noise levels but in general, you can expect to have the following decibel levels from the below air compressor sizes and types:

  • Tire Inflators (for airing up bike and small car tires): 50-60 decibels
  • Pancake air compressor: 80 decibels
  • Hot dog air compressor: 80 decibels
  • Vertical air compressor (30 gallons): 80 decibels
  • Vertical air compressor (80 gallons): 80 decibels

Exactly how loud an air compressor is will be determined by its size, the environment it’s used in, and the type of compressor being used.

In this article, we’ll discuss why air compressors are loud, how to reduce noise levels associated with them, and what decibel ratings should be expected when using an air compressor.

Why Are Air Compressors Loud?


An air compressor is a mechanical device used to convert electrical or gas-powered energy into pressurized air. Since these air compressor motors need enough horsepower (HP) to intake the air and put it out quickly they will be relatively loud machines.

The purpose of the air compressor’s motor (and the air compressor in general) is to power various tools and machines that require pressurized air for their operation, such as spray guns, nail guns, jackhammers, and even air-powered drills and wrenches.

Air compressors are usually loud due to the process of compression, which requires a lot of energy. When an air compressor operates, it brings in air from its surrounding environment via the air intake and then passes it through an air filter.

This helps keep any unwanted particles out of the final compressed air.

After the intake filter, the air is then passed through a piston or a rotary screw (with rotary screw air compressors) where it is compressed at high pressure. During this process, there is a tremendous amount of friction between the moving parts in the compressor motor which leads to vibrations and noise.

Additionally, the release of the air pressure (when you use the air tools) during the operation also creates a loud noise as well. This is especially true if you are using impact tools as often the impact noise will be louder than the actual compressor is.

Another thing that contributes to the loudness of air compressors is their size. Smaller compressors (like a pancake compressor) generally have less internal volume than large ones; this means that they have to work harder in order to create the same level of pressure as a larger one would.

This increased effort can lead to higher levels of vibration and noise emission.

Additionally, some types of compressors like reciprocating compressors tend to be louder than others due to their design.

Air compressors are loud because they use forced air to power tools or other machinery. This means that the motor must run at high speeds in order to generate enough pressure to do the job.

As the motor runs, it creates vibrations that travel through the frame of the compressor and can create an audible noise. Additionally, some compressors employ noisy cooling fans that further contribute to the noise level.

How Can Noise Levels Be Reduced?

Air compressors are a vital piece of machinery used across many industries for a variety of tasks, but their use also comes with the potential for high levels of noise pollution. Noise pollution can be disruptive to both working and living environments, so it is important that noise levels from air compressors are reduced wherever possible.

let’s take a quick look at some of the possible options you can use for sound insulation

One way to reduce the noise level of an air compressor is by using a soundproof box or enclosure. A soundproof enclosure effectively absorbs the sound waves generated by the compressor and dissipates them throughout the room, thus reducing the sound emitted by the compressor significantly.

Additionally, these sound dampening enclosures can be fitted with ventilation systems that allow heated air to escape without compromising their sound-dampening properties.

You can even create your own DIY sound-dampening enclosure to help keep your air compressor quieter by using sound blankets as well. A rubber mat on the concrete floor will help to reduce vibrations and then a sound blanket (or blankets) attached to the enclosure will reduce the sound that escapes into the garage or shop.

Another way to reduce noise levels from air compressors is through careful maintenance and upkeep of the unit itself. Regular cleaning and lubrication of moving parts will help to reduce the friction between components and improve performance, leading to quieter operation.

You should also be sure to regularly inspect components such as seals, gaskets, rubber grommets, and filters as doing so can help identify any areas where sound might be leaking out and lead to a further reduction in noise levels.

In addition to implementing physical solutions, adjusting how you use the compressor can also have a positive effect on noise levels. For instance, setting compressors at lower RPMs when they are not being used can help reduce overall sound output.

You can also try running multiple machines at lower power settings instead of one powerful machine can result in significant noise reduction. You can also purchase high-quality components such as well-made motors or mufflers when purchasing or replacing an air compressor. This can help reduce its overall noise output as well.

One of the best ways to minimize noise is to purchase a compressor with sound-dampening technology that is already built-in. These models feature acoustic insulation around their motors and cooling fans as well as rubber gaskets between parts which help absorb vibrations.

Many compressor companies also advertise their different compressors as “quiet air compressor” so be sure and check the decibel levels for each compressor that you are considering if noise is a big factor for you. Even if two compressors are advertised as “quiet” you will likely find quieter compressors from certain brands than others.

I have found that the quietest compressors are those from name brands while generics or off-brand compressors are typically louder even if advertised as quiet.

What Decibel Ratings Should Be Expected?

The exact decibel rating of an air compressor will vary depending on its size and specifications, but most quieter models produce around 50-60 decibels (dB). For reference, a typical conversation between two people is rated at 60 dB while a vacuum cleaner produces between 70-80 dB. As such, while air compressors can certainly be loud, they tend not to be as intrusive as other types of machinery commonly found in workshops or factories.

Below is a table giving the approximate decibel ratings that you will find with different styles of air compressors. However, each brand will be slightly different so be sure and read the product information before buying any compressor.

Even compressors that are the same size and style can vary greatly. A cheaper air compressor will typically have less sound-deadening technology so it will in turn be louder than an air compressor that is produced by a better and more expensive brand.

Air Compressor TypeAir Compressor Decibel Levels
Tire Inflators (for airing up bike and small car tires)50-60 decibels
Pancake air compressor80 decibels
Hot dog air compressor80 decibels
Vertical air compressor (30 gallons)80 decibels
Vertical air compressor (80 gallons)80 decibels

Final Thoughts

Air compressors can be quite loud depending on their size and type. However, certain models come equipped with sound-dampening technology which helps reduce noise levels associated with them.

Additionally, proper installation techniques such as enclosing your compressor in an insulated area can also help muffle any potential noise created by it. Generally speaking, you should expect around 60-70 dB when running a quieter model of air compressor while larger models will be 80-90 decibels.