The deafening noise from an air compressor can be a real nuisance. Whether it’s a small pancake compressor in your garage or a large industrial rotary screw compressor, that loud pneumatic pounding is impossible to ignore.
But you don’t have to put up with the racket. With the right sound-deadening materials and noise-reduction methods, you can dramatically reduce the noise coming from your air compressor.
In this article, we’ll explore 10 practical tips to make an air compressor quieter. From adding sound-absorbing materials to the enclosure to moving the air intake location, we’ll cover simple and inexpensive ways to cut down on noise from your compressor.
By implementing just a few of these quiet compressor ideas, you can easily reduce sound levels by 20 decibels or more. That can take the noise from an ear-piercing 100+ dB down to a much more reasonable 60-80 dB range.
Follow these straightforward guides to transform a loud air compressor into a quiet air compressor for your home or workshop. With a little time and effort, you’ll be able to use your pneumatic tools and compressed air accessories without all the racket.
Let’s dive in and silence that noisy beast!
Yes, You can make an air compressor quieter by:
- Wrapping the motor
- Covering the intake with a muffler
- Encapsulating or blocking off the compressor
- Moving the intake
- Using rubber grommets around the motor
- Using sound blankets
- Placing the compressor in a closed room or behind a sound-dampening wall
- Using a filter silencer
- Using rubber mats to reduce vibrations from the floor
- Using a heavy-duty air hose combined with a muffler
How To Make A Air Compressor Quiet: 10 Practical Tips
If you’ve ever used an air compressor, you know just how loud that pneumatic pounding can be. The noise levels from an air compressor can easily exceed 100 decibels, which is as loud as a rock concert or motorcycle. Prolonged exposure to noise above 85 dB can cause permanent hearing damage.
While the deafening noise is just an annoyance for some, it can make using an air compressor prohibitive for others. Thankfully, with some simple tips, you can dramatically reduce the amount of noise coming from your compressor.
Let’s explore 10 great ways to reduce noise from your air compressor and make it much quieter.
1. Choose a Quiet Air Compressor
The first step in having a quiet air compressor is selecting one designed to operate at lower noise levels.
When shopping for a new air compressor, look for models advertised as “quiet” or “silent”. Compressors designed for quiet operation often include sound-dampening features like acoustic enclosures and vibration isolators. The enclosure contains noise while vibration pads prevent motion from transferring noise.
Also, consider the decibel rating. Rotary screw compressors tend to be quieter, with ratings of 60-80 dB. Small pancake compressors often exceed 90 dB. Larger piston compressors can be louder than 100 dB. Select the quietest compressor suitable for your tools and air demands.
2. Install a Compressor Muffler
Adding a muffler to the compressor intake and exhaust ports can reduce noise dramatically. A proper muffler can decrease noise by 10-15 decibels.
For oil-free compressors, install an exhaust muffler on the cylinder head. On lubricated piston compressors, attach both intake and exhaust mufflers. Make sure the mufflers are rated for your compressor’s CFM to avoid restricting airflow.
Pro tip: Combining mufflers with flexible exhaust hoses rather than rigid piping further dampens noise.
3. Insulate the Compressor Body
Applying sound-absorbing insulation to the exterior of the compressor body can contain noise. Use self-adhesive acoustic foam, rubber vibration-damping sheets, or mass-loaded vinyl.
Covering just the cylinder head and nearby piping yields the greatest noise reduction. Insulating the entire body also helps prevent noise transmission but is more labour-intensive.
Even a partial insulation upgrade can mean a noticeable difference in sound levels.
4. Place the Compressor in a Soundproof Enclosure
For major noise reduction, contain the air compressor in a soundproof enclosure. High-density acoustic foam lining the walls effectively dampens noise.
You can purchase a pre-made acoustic compressor enclosure, or build your own with plywood and insulation material. Include ventilation to prevent overheating. Allow enough clearance for service access. Door gaskets and latches provide a tight seal to contain noise.
A soundproofed enclosure provides the most dramatic drop in decibel levels for maximum compressor quieting.
5. Keep the Compressor Well-Maintained
A compressor with worn parts and overdue maintenance will operate louder than one that is well cared for.
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for regular maintenance. Replace air filters and oil as recommended. Inspect and fix any loose hardware or leaky gaskets.
A properly maintained compressor runs more efficiently with less mechanical noise. Don’t neglect periodic maintenance for quieter performance.
6. Use Proper Operating Procedures
How you operate the compressor also impacts noise levels:
- Don’t exceed the recommended duty cycle. Overloading causes strain.
- Allow proper cool down before restarting.
- Close off unused airlines to minimize leaks.
- Drain moisture after every use to reduce tank corrosion.
- Listen for rattling or rubbing noises and fix issues promptly.
Following good operating practices keeps your compressor in top shape for quieter operation.
7. Wear Noise Canceling Headphones
If you only run the noisy compressor briefly, noise-cancelling headphones provide relief without modifying the compressor. These speciality headphones use active electronics to counteract outside noise.
High-end models can achieve nearly 30 dB of noise reduction. That takes the roar of a 110 dB compressor down to a more comfortable 80-90 dB range. Noise-cancelling headphones are an easy and affordable way to protect your hearing when using loud pneumatic equipment.
8. Install Soundproofing Panels
Adding sound-absorbing panels to the walls and ceiling of the room containing the air compressor can minimize noise transmission to other areas.
Look for acoustic panels made from rigid fibreglass or foam materials. The panels absorb and diffuse noise to reduce echoes and reverberation in the room. While this won’t make the compressor quieter, it prevents the noise from penetrating other work areas.
9. Use Vibration Dampening Pads
Vibration dampeners placed under the compressor tank help isolate noise-causing vibrations from transmitting to the floor and surrounding environment.
Coupling the compressor to the floor with vibration pads reduces structure-borne noise. Installing the compressor on a foam pad or vibration isolator is an easy way to block noise transfer through mechanical isolation.
10. Consider Renting an Air Compressor
If you only require an air compressor for temporary projects, renting a quiet compressor is an option.
Many equipment rental companies offer sound-attenuated compressor units for rent. For short-term use, a rented quiet compressor may be more affordable than purchasing one.
Renting also avoids the hassles of maintenance, repairs, and storage when the compressor is not needed. For occasional use, rental could be the simplest route to a quiet air compressor.
What is the quietest air compressor?
The quietest air compressors are typically rotary screw compressors, which use a positive displacement compression system that is much quieter than the reciprocating compressors that are more common. Oil-free compressors are also quieter than oil-lubricated compressors, as the oil can contribute to noise.
Can I make my own soundproof enclosure for my air compressor?
Yes, you can make your own soundproof enclosure for your air compressor. There are many DIY tutorials available online. However, it is important to make sure that the enclosure is properly sealed and insulated in order to be effective.
What are the best soundproofing materials for air compressors?
The best soundproofing materials for air compressors are those that are dense and absorbent. Some good options include:
Mass loaded vinyl
The most impactful tips are adding a soundproof enclosure, using vibration-damping pads, and relocating the compressor away from occupied spaces. Combining multiple noise-reduction methods will lead to the best results.
With some simple DIY soundproofing techniques, you can likely achieve a noise decrease of 10-20 decibels or more. For optimal quiet operation under 60 dB, investing in a premium quiet compressor is recommended.
The ability to work without obtrusive compressor noise will make your shop time more enjoyable and productive. Let me know if you have any other questions about implementing these noise-reduction tips for your air compressor setup! I’m happy to provide more specific recommendations.