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Mastering Sones: A Crucial Factor in Selecting Your Ideal Range Hood

September 21, 2023 9 min read

Understanding Sones: The Key to Choosing the Right Range Hood

Do you ever feel like you need earplugs when you turn on your range hood? While these appliances are essential for keeping your kitchen free of smoke and other pollutants, they can also be a major source of noise pollution. That's where sones come in - these units of measurement can help you choose a range hood that works effectively and operates at a reasonable noise level.

In this article, we'll take a comprehensive look at sones in the context of range hoods. We'll cover everything from what sones are to how they're measured and why they matter when selecting the right range hood for your kitchen. Whether you're remodeling your kitchen or simply looking to upgrade your range hood, this guide will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. So, let's dive in and explore the world of sones!

What are Sones?

Sones are a unit of measurement used to quantify the loudness or perceived loudness of sound. They are commonly used to evaluate the noise level of ventilation systems, such as range hoods, bathroom fans, and air conditioning units.

This unit was developed by the American engineer and acoustician Harvey Fletcher in the 1930s to provide a more accurate measurement of the perceived loudness of a sound than the decibel (dB).

Sones are based on the perception of loudness by the human ear, with one sone being defined as the loudness of a 1000 Hz tone at 40 dB SPL (sound pressure level)as perceived by an average listener.

Sones provide a more accurate measurement of the perceived loudness of a sound than decibels since they consider the specific characteristics of the human ear that affect the perception of loudness. For example, a sound with a high-pitched frequency may have a higher dB SPL than a low-pitched sound but may be perceived as quieter by the human ear.

It is important to note that the sone scale is not linear, meaning that an increase of one sone does not correspond to a consistent increase in loudness. For example, an increase from 2 to 3 sones represents a doubling of loudness, while from 3 to 4 sones represents a tripling of loudness.


How are Sones Measured?

The measurement of sones is a subjective process based on human perception. To measure sones, researchers use a technique known as magnitude estimation. In magnitude estimation, listeners are asked to rate the loudness of a particular sound relative to a standard sound of general loudness. The standard sound is usually a pure tone at 1,000 Hz and a sound pressure level of 40 decibels (dB).

One has to note that the actual perceived loudness of a hood sound level can vary depending on factors such as the specific frequency of the sound, the distance from the source of the sound, and individual differences in hearing sensitivity.

Here's a graded scale of sones from 1 to 10 based on familiar everyday sounds:

  • 1 Sone - The sound of a ticking clock or a refrigerator running
  • 2 Sones - The sound of a quiet office or a library
  • 3 Sones - The sound of a TV at a comfortable volume or a person speaking softly
  • 4 Sones - The sound of everyday conversational speech or a household dishwasher
  • 5 Sones - The sound of a crowded restaurant or a busy shopping mall
  • 6 Sones - The sound of a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer
  • 7 Sones - The sound of a lawnmower or a busy street with light traffic
  • 8 Sones - The sound of a blender or a truck passing by on the road
  • 9 Sones - The sound of a jackhammer or a motorcycle passing by
  • 10 Sones - The sound of a rock concert or a jet engine at takeoff

Factors Affecting Sones in Range Hoods

Several factors can affect the sones a range hood produces, including:

  • Size and Power of the Hood’s Motor

It's important to choose a range hood with the appropriate motor size and power for the size of the cooking area. Generally, range hoods with larger and more powerful motors are noisier than those with smaller motors. This is because the larger motor requires more power to operate and produces more airflow, which can create more noise.

  • Vent Hood Design

The design of the vent hood can significantly affect the sones produced by a range hood. A hood with a straighter path for the exhaust can produce less noise than a hood with a more convoluted exhaust path. This is because a straighter path creates less turbulence and allows the air to flow more smoothly, reducing the amount of noise generated. Also, a larger hood with a curved or angled shape can create more turbulence and generate more noise than a smaller one with a flattened shape.

  • Ductwork

Ductwork is an important factor that can impact the noise level produced by a range hood. The design and material of the ductwork can affect how much noise the range hood makes. Ductwork refers to the pipes or channels that carry air from the range hood to the outside of the house.

A smooth, straight ductwork path with minimal turns and bends can reduce airflow resistance and noise. Sharp turns or bends can cause air turbulence, increasing the noise produced by the range hood.

The material of the ductwork can also affect the noise level. Metal ducts are generally preferred over plastic or flexible ducts, as they are more rigid and less prone to vibration and noise. Insulated ductwork can also help to reduce noise by dampening the sound waves.

The length of the ductwork can also play a role in the noise level produced by the range hood. Longer ductwork runs can increase the noise generated as the air travels further and encounters more resistance.

  • Type of filters

Range hoods typically use one of two types of filters: baffle filters or mesh filters. Baffle filters are more effective at capturing grease and are generally easier to clean and maintain than mesh filters. They also tend to produce less noise than mesh filters, as their zigzag pattern helps to dissipate noise, while metal mesh can vibrate and generate noise as air passes through.

Choosing the Right Range Hood Based on Sones

When selecting a new range hood, it's essential to consider the sone rating as it measures the noise level produced by the hood. Different range hood types have varying sone ratings, so choosing the one that fits your kitchen setup and cooking style is important.

The ideal sone range for a range hood depends on the type of cooking being done and the setup of the kitchen. For example, a range hood with a sone rating of 1-3 is suitable for light cooking, while a range hood with a sone rating of 4-6 is ideal for regular cooking. A range hood with a sone rating of 7-9 is recommended for heavy-duty cooking.

It is also important to consider the size and layout of the kitchen when selecting a range hood with the appropriate sone rating. A larger kitchen with an open floor plan may require a higher sone rating hood to remove smoke and odors effectively. To avoid excessive noise, a smaller kitchen with limited ventilation can make do with a lower sone rating hood.

The CFM (cubic feet per meter) rating of the range hood can influence the sones of the hood in a few different ways.

When a range hood is designed to move a large volume of air at a high rate, it can create more noise as the air moves through the system. This is because the air movement creates turbulence and vibration that can be heard as sound. So, a range hood with a higher CFM rating may also have a higher sone rating.

However, it's important to note that a higher CFM rating does not necessarily mean the range hood will be louder. Some range hood manufacturers have designed their products to move air rapidly while minimizing noise. These hoods may have a high CFM rating but a low sone rating.

What are Sones

Different Sone Ratings for Different Range Hood Types

The sone rating for range hoods can vary based on the type of range hood. Lower sone ratings indicate quieter operation in a high-quality range hood, while higher sone ratings indicate louder operation. Here are some common types of range hoods and their corresponding sone ratings:

Under-Cabinet Range Hoods

The sone rating for under cabinet hoods can vary depending on the model and size but generally falls within the range of 3 to 7 sones. Some high-end models may have a sone rating as low as 1 or 2, while budget-friendly options may have a sone rating as high as 8 or 9.

Wall-Mounted Range Hoods

These range hoods are mounted on the wall above the cooktop. The sone rating for wall-mounted range hoods can range from 2 to 10 stones depending on the brand and if it is a ducted or recirculating range hood.

Island Range Hoods

Island hoods are installed above a cooktop on an island in the kitchen. Because they are typically larger and more powerful than other types of range hoods, they may have higher sone ratings. Island range hoods can have sone ratings between 4 and 10.

Downdraft Range Hoods

These hoods are installed behind or alongside the cooktop and draw smoke and steam downwards rather than upwards like other hoods. They tend to be quieter than other types of hoods and can have sone rating between 1 and 4.

Insert Range Hoods

Insert range hoods are designed to be installed within a custom hood or cabinetry, and they typically have a lower profile than other types of range hoods. The sone rating for insert range hoods generally falls within the 2 to 6. 

It's important to note that the sone rating is a subjective measurement of perceived loudness, so it's always a good idea to listen to a range hood in person before purchasing it to ensure that the noise level is acceptable for your needs.

The Impact of Sones on Range Hood Performance and Efficiency

The sone rating of a range hood significantly impacts its ability to remove smoke, steam, and odors from the kitchen. Higher sone ratings mean louder operation, but they also indicate greater air movement and more efficient removal of airborne contaminants. This means that a range hood with a higher sone rating will typically be more effective at removing smoke, steam, and odors from the kitchen.

However, it's important to note that its sone rating does not solely determine a range hood's performance and efficiency. The hood's motor size and power, ductwork design, and type of filters used also play a crucial role in its ability to remove contaminants.

A range hood with a good sone rating may have a powerful motor and effective filtration system. However, if the ductwork is poorly designed or the filters are not cleaned regularly, its performance and efficiency will still be compromised.

In summary, the sone rating is important when selecting a range hood, as it indicates its air movement and efficiency. However, it should be considered with other factors such as motor size, ductwork design, and filter type to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.

How to Reduce Sones in a Range Hood

Reducing sones in a range hood is essential because it can help minimize noise and improve your kitchen's overall comfort and functionality. Here are some techniques for reducing noise in a range hood:

  1. Choose a range hood with a lower sone rating:The sone rating indicates how loud a range hood is. Opting for a range hood with a lower sone rating can reduce noise.
  2. Choose a range hood with variable speed control:A range hood with variable speed control allows you to adjust the blower speed to a lower setting, which can reduce noise.
  3. Install the range hood with an inline blower:An inline blower can be installed outside your home and connected to your range hood via ductwork. This can help reduce noise in the kitchen since the fan noise is outside.
  4. Install sound insulation: Adding sound insulation to the range hood or the surrounding cabinetry can help absorb noise and reduce sones.
  5. Choose a range hood with a quieter motor: Some range hoods have motors that are designed to be quieter. These range hoods may be more expensive, but they can help reduce noise in the kitchen.

When choosing the right noise reduction technique for your range hood, consider your budget and the level of noise reduction you're looking for. For example, opt for an inline blower or a range hood with a quieter motor if you want a significant noise reduction. If you're on a tighter budget, adding sound insulation may be a more affordable option.

Other tips for reducing sones in your range hood include regularly cleaning or replacing the range hood filter, ensuring that the ductwork is properly sized and installed, and avoiding using the highest fan speed setting unless necessary. Additionally, choosing a range hood that is the right size for your cooktop can also help reduce noise, as a range hood that is too small may need to work harder to ventilate your kitchen, resulting in louder operation.

Final Words

Sones are important in choosing the right range hood for your kitchen. A range hood with a lower sone rating can help reduce noise and create a more comfortable and functional kitchen environment.

It's important to consider the different types of range hoods and their corresponding sone ratings when choosing the right range hood for your kitchen. We recommend carefully considering your options and selecting a range hood that fits your needs and budget. Doing so can create a more comfortable and functional kitchen environment for yourself and your family.