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

September 21, 2023 7 min read

Ever felt the need for earplugs when you switch on your kitchen hood? They’re great for clearing smoke from your kitchen space, but they can be one of the noisiest kitchen appliances. That’s where sones come in. These units of sound help you pick a quiet kitchen hood.

In this piece, we’ll explore sones and kitchen hoods. We’ll cover what sones are and explain how they’re measured. We’ll discuss why they’re important when choosing a kitchen hood. So if you’re redoing your kitchen or swapping your old hood, this guide has the info you need on choosing a pretty silent hood. So, let’s get to know sones better!

What are Sones?

Sones is a measure of how loud or quiet a sound seems to the average human ear. We use them to grade the noise output from loud appliances like kitchen hoods, bathroom fans, and air conditioners. They were developed to measure loudness at a much better scale than decibels (dB). One sone is as loud as a 1000 Hz tone at 40 dB to an average person. It is based on the quirks of human ears when measuring the loudness of sound. 

How are Sones Measured?

Measuring how loud something sounds with sones isn't as simple as measuring its perceived intensity. Instead, it's all about how the human ear would perceive it. That's why "sones" differ as it is a measuring unit based on human perception rather than just decibels.

Scientists use special methods, like asking people to compare sounds to a reference tone, to figure out how many sones something emits. But even then, your personal experience with that sound can vary. How high-pitched it is, how close you are, and even your own hearing ability can all play a role.

And here's another twist the sone scale isn't a simple increasing number line. Adding one sone doesn't always mean the same increase in loudness. So, a jump from 2 sones to 3 sounds twice as loud, but to get three times the loudness, you'd need to go from 3 sones to 4. It's a bit like a volume knob that gets more sensitive the higher you turn it!

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

Picking the right kitchen hood motor is crucial because it affects both noise and performance. Bigger, more powerful motors typically mean louder hoods. This is because they guzzle more electricity and push more air, both of which contribute to noise.

  • Vent Hood Design

The way your vent hood is designed can significantly impact its noise level. Think of it like this: the smoother the exhaust air flows, the quieter the hood will be. That's why hoods with straight vent paths, where the air takes a direct route out, tend to be quieter than those with lots of bends and turns. These twists and turns create turbulence, which makes the air bump and swirl, generating more noise.

  • Ductwork

Range hood noise isn't just about the fan as ductwork design matters too. Smoother, straighter duct paths with fewer bends reduce air turbulence and noise. Range hoods with metal ducts are quieter than those with plastic because metal is stiffer. Longer runs, however, can amplify the noise as air travels further. Remember, even insulation in your ductwork can muffle the sound waves for a quieter kitchen experience.

  • Type of filters

Range hoods come with either baffle or mesh filters which can influence the loudness of the hood. Baffle filters run quieter due to their zigzag pattern as air can flow over the baffles smoother. Mesh filters have holes and can vibrate and generate louder noise as air passes through them.

Choosing the Right Range Hood Based on Sones

When selecting a new range hood based on the sone rating, choose one that fits your kitchen setup. The right noise level for your kitchen hood heavily depends on your cooking style. If you’re into light cooking, a range hood with a 1-3 sone noise level will be enough. 

Consider the size and layout of the kitchen when selecting a range hood. A larger kitchen may require a higher sone rating range hood for it to remove smoke and odors effectively. A smaller kitchen can make do with a lower sone rating hood which will avoid excessive noise.

The CFM (cubic feet per meter) rating of the range hood can influence the sones. A kitchen hood that shifts a lot of air with its high CFM can get noisy. As the air whizzes through the system, it stirs things up and this causes a bit of a ruckus that we hear as sound. However, some range hood manufacturers have designed their products to move air rapidly while minimizing noise. These hoods often have a high CFM rating but a low sone rating

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 may differ based on the model and size. They typically range from 3 to 7 sones. But some premium models can have sone ratings as low as 1 or 3.

Wall-Mounted Range Hoods

The sone rating of wall-mounted hoods can range from 2 to 10 stones depending on the brand. Factors like if it is a ducted or recirculating range hood can also affect the sone rating.

Island Range Hoods

Island hoods are typically larger and more powerful than other types of range hoods, they may have higher sone ratings. They can have sone ratings between 4 and 10.

Downdraft Range Hoods

These hoods draw smoke and steam downwards rather than upwards. They are quieter than other types of hoods and can have a rating between 1 and 4.

Insert Range Hoods

Insert range hoods are designed to be installed within a custom hood. They are meant to be discrete and have sone rating that generally falls within the 2 to 6.

Since sone rating is a subjective measurement, it is always a good idea to listen to a range hood at maximum speed and in person before purchasing it. This will ensure that the noise level is acceptable for your needs.

The Impact of Sones on Range Hood Performance and Efficiency

The sone rating is a reflection of a range hood’s performance. Higher sone ratings mean louder operation which means greater air movement. A range hood with a higher sone rating is typically more effective as it shows more efficient removal of airborne contaminants.

However, the sone rating does not solely determine a range hood’s performance. The hood’s motor size and power are important. The ductwork design and the type of filters used also play a crucial role. These factors all contribute to the eventual sone rating of a range hood and its ability to quietly remove contaminants.

A range hood may have a good sone rating even if it has a powerful motor and an effective filtration system. But if the ductwork is poorly designed or other parts have defects the range hood will end up operating much louder.

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. Select a range hood with variable speed control. This feature will allow you to adjust the blower speed to a lower setting which will help in decreasing noise.
  2.  Installing an inline blower outside your home is another way of reducing noise. By connecting the inline blower to your hood it shifts the fan noise outdoors, reducing kitchen noise.
  3.  Adding sound insulation to the range hood is another way to reduce noise. By or the surrounding cabinetry can help absorb noise and reduce sones.
  4. Some range hoods are designed with efficient motors that run silently. They are often more expensive but they come with the added bonus of more quieter operations.

Other tips can also help reduce the sones of your range hood. This includes regularly cleaning or replacing the range hood filter. Ensure the ductwork is properly sized and is properly installed. Also, avoid using the highest fan speed setting unless necessary.

Final Words

Selecting the right range hood for your kitchen requires careful consideration of its sone rating. This crucial factor determines how much noise it generates, impacting the overall peace and comfort in your cooking space.

Quieter hoods boast lower sone ratings, creating a serene atmosphere while efficiently removing smoke and odors. Explore the available range hood types and their sone ratings to find the perfect fit for your needs and budget. 

Remember, a peaceful kitchen is a happy kitchen! So, prioritize sone ratings when choosing your range hood and enjoy a more enjoyable cooking experience.