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Have Window ACs gotten louder?

I have two ~5kbtu Fridgidaire window units. They are 10 years old and I clean and store them carefully at the end of each season to make sure they last.

These 10 year old units make noise of course, that's the nature of them, but they are a dull homogeneous rumble when the compressor kicks on and not loud enough to disrupt conversation or distract from a phone call or TV while sitting right next to them.

This season we wanted to get another unit to use our our "home office" since we're working from home all summer now.

The first one I got at BJ's on sale. It was a Fridigidaire, my trusted brand. Installed it, turned it on and found the the running compressor had a very distinct and prominent metallic rattle or clicking to it. The sound is distinctly different than a rattle that comes from a loose piece of the housing rattling around - it's a deeper, but still metallic sounding tone. out side, I could hear it run everywhere in the yard ( the same cannot be said for the 10 year old ACs) I returned it.

I assumed that maybe it was a cheaper model that was made for BJ's and it just didn't have the QC on it that it needed. So I bought a different more expensive model Frigidaire from Grainger. Same sound. I returned it.

I bought a Toshiba. same sound, I returned it.

I bought an LG. Same sound...I realized that I'm apparently the problem and just told myself that I need to learn to live with it, noise and all.

Am I crazy or has something changed to make these newer ones so much more annoying?
New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch

Comments

  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,060
    The quality of them is a big thing that drove me into installing central air. I started with a 1980 GE Carry Cool then had a few others, by far the best being a late 90s Quasar that was super beefy and very quiet. After that it seemed downhill. The last ones I had the wings on the sides by nature stuck out from the window stools so you had to jam foam in the gaps etc. Every single one I ever had needed a hole drilled to let condensate drain outside or they would clog and cause serious issues. Except the Quasar.

    The Quasar had a plug you could remove to let it drain freely. It's was sleeved and had supports under it even though it was only 6000 btuh.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Member Posts: 3,412
    I haven't seen one in operation in years. Is there any effort to isolate the condenser and compressor from the fan section? Is there an insulated barrier between? Mini sound blanket maybe?
  • unclejohnunclejohn Member Posts: 1,571
    I got a Comfort Air it had a 5 year sealed system warranty. Very pricey compared to BJ home Depot but I didn't think all that noisy.
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 13,500
    I've been shopping for a super quiet window unit, came across this comparison.
    Seems the really quiet ones, under 50 db, are $$, and seem to be hard to find online, many are out of stock.

    https://airconditionerlab.com/quietest-window-air-conditioners/
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Member Posts: 6,971
    edited July 12
    There is a new advancement in AC......"Taking the Nation By Storm"....it is well advertised with the gloss and glitz of the Money saving Amish electric heaters.
    About the size of a cube heater.

    Introductory price of about $89.00.
    As suspected, it is a mini "swamp cooler" with sophisticated controls. Water pads that slide into a slot.
    Possibly going to be a lot of disappointed customers.
    But I can imagine it is very quiet.

    Might be good in Phoenix and other dry places.

    20 years ago during a hot summer, I stopped to visit Grandma, she had a little humidifier blowing on her chair. She said it put out cool air and she felt better. Well ahead of her time! ;)
    mattmia2
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 156
    @HVACNUT I haven't opened it up yet to see how well isolated it is, I plan to do that the end of the season, though. I suspect there's nothing extra in there to help dampen the noise.

    @hot_rod two of the ones I tried out had the dB listed on the box. I forget exactly what they listed, but I do recall that it came up on a couple "how loud is X dB?" charts between "quiet office" and "normal conversation" which I thought was better than could be expected! After turning them on, though, my take away was that the FAN running clocked in at that volume but NOT the compressor.
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • motoguy128motoguy128 Member Posts: 115
    Seems that mufflers on most AC units are a special luxury apparently.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,060
    edited July 12
    I understand money doesn't grow on trees, especially right now.

    But I'd highly recommend considering a decent minisplit. I installed an LG from supplyhouse.com in the office at my job and I couldn't be happier.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    HVACNUT
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 156
    @ChrisJ we've been setting aside some cash for a heat/cool mini-split in our family room and may also consider a cool only unit here for this "office area" (read: dinging room and parlor) too. Read so many horror stories of incompetent installers though so it has me hesitating! If you trust anyone north of Boston send them my way!

    @motoguy128 I mean, it's obviously going to be loud. But I just didn't expect that newer stuff would be lower quality? or maybe it's not lower quality, but something else has changed across the board that makes them, say, more efficient but with a louder twangier noise?
    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • CanuckerCanucker Member Posts: 613
    This is a timely discussion for me. I'm looking for the same, quiet air conditioning. I've been leaning towards @ChrisJ suggestion and going with a minisplit next year. I'll probably have a bunch of questions on the best installation route over the winter because I'm not sure if I should go ducted or ductless.
    You can have it good, fast or cheap. Pick two
  • jumperjumper Member Posts: 1,464
    Cold air mister charged with ice cold demineralized water?
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,428
    Find one from the 80's. They were made much better then. Now the window ac market is mostly only people who won't pay for something good.
  • Zipper13Zipper13 Member Posts: 156
    mattmia2 said:

    Find one from the 80's. They were made much better then. Now the window ac market is mostly only people who won't pay for something good.

    Thats about what I figured. It's a shame, though. In older parts of the country like the northeast especially, homes don;t necessarily have duct work to tie into for central air and many don't want a big honking mini split unit installed year round for 2 month hot season.

    New owner of a 1920s home with steam heat north of Boston.
    Just trying to learn what I can do myself and what I just shouldn't touch
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Member Posts: 614
    edited July 21
    I had a 14K Panasonic unit that was so quiet you could barley hear it and it cooled really well for almost 20 years. I can't find anything that quiet now, Even my 6K units make a lot more noise. What I did find and like is an LG portable 14K unit that has a dual inverter compressor. I can barely tell if the compressor is on, I can hear the TV over it and have a conversation at normal levels. I couldn't do that with my Honeywell portable. I prefer the portables as I am afraid the weight of a 14K unit will damage my new windows and like to have fresh air when I don't need the AC.

    The LG unit also has wifi so if I know it's going to be hot I can hook the tube up to the window before I leave for work, turn it on 45 minutes before I come home via my phone and I come home to a nice comfortable place.
    Zipper13
  • mattmia2mattmia2 Member Posts: 1,428
    It looks like friedrich might have some commercial units that are a little better made, but i had one of their dehumidifiers and the evaporator leaked.
  • gfrbrooklinegfrbrookline Member Posts: 614
    Here is the review of my portable ac

    I don't find it to be loud at all, I turn it to high until the room has cooled off then either set it to low or off. Low maintains the temp on really hot days but I can usually go a few hours without running it again on a 80's humid normal day.
  • DollrDollr Member Posts: 24
    Anyone familiar with these? Supposed to be quiet. Just curious. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08677DCKN/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza
  • motoguy128motoguy128 Member Posts: 115
    Race to the bottom. Look at the price of a window unit now and factor in inflation and you’ll seethe price has dropped a lot. R410a compressors may be louder as well since it usually operates with more lift that R22.

    Would be nice if there was a small minisplit system that installed through a window, so no holes, preconnected lineset. Have a floor unit with a steel frame that slides over the window sill. Window would only need to be open about 1”. 6, 9 and 12k versions that still use a 120V outlet. 12, 15, 18k versions with 240v.
  • motoguy128motoguy128 Member Posts: 115
    This LG model is close. Inverter compressor that claims 44db in “sleep mode”. Probably on par with average Ducted system install, but still louder than a very good one which would be <30db, nearly silent.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,060

    Race to the bottom. Look at the price of a window unit now and factor in inflation and you’ll seethe price has dropped a lot. R410a compressors may be louder as well since it usually operates with more lift that R22.

    Would be nice if there was a small minisplit system that installed through a window, so no holes, preconnected lineset. Have a floor unit with a steel frame that slides over the window sill. Window would only need to be open about 1”. 6, 9 and 12k versions that still use a 120V outlet. 12, 15, 18k versions with 240v.

    Well,

    The GE Carry Cool that I mention a lot because it used all aluminum tubing and spine fin back in the 70s-80s and never leaked, was the equivalent to $600+ today. It was all lexan so didn't rust but they weren't exactly quiet.

    But, they did their job well and lasted a long time. They also fit in the window nicely and the side accordion curtains that pulled out fit good.

    But $600 for 5000 btu/h............
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJChrisJ Member Posts: 11,060


    Here's the outside section of the GE Carry Cool I mentioned above. Around $200 in 1981 dollars, about $600 today equivalent.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
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