Noisy Air Conditioner Solutions to Stop the Noise

Hello,

I think I found my solution in your web site. Apparently there are many other that can’t stand neighbors noisy air-conditioning units like me. My neighbors unit is right next to a concrete wall and direct line of site to my porch. Also it gets a lot of sunlight.
I would be doing the work around their air-conditioner.
Can you recommend a product?
Cost?
Should also line the concrete wall?
How much space should I leave between the barrier and the air-condition for air flow?

Adam

Adam,

I do get quite a few inquiries about noisy AC units. I am happy to make product recommendations as well as do my best to walk you through the important factors and locations for everything, but pricing the thing for you isn’t quite so easy without measurements.

As far as the distance between the AC unit and the wall that you are going to need to build, I would contact the manufacturer of the unit as well as possibly a local contractor who would service the unit if it were needed. It is extremely important to leave enough room around the condenser to allow it to breather and function properly. That is one question that I will not be able to help with and is definitely site specific.

Regarding the design, you are going to need to build some kind of structure or wall system to which the acoustical panels will attach. People commonly construct a small privacy fence or exterior plywood style three-wall enclosure around the unit and leave enough room between the unit and the house to allow for access or put one wall on hinges. There are a few very important things to keep in mind when designing the layout. The first is to eliminate the line of sight path from a listening position and the ac unit. A good rule of thumb is to make the walls one-and-one-half as high as the height of the noise source. So, if you noise source is 4′ tall, your walls need to be at least 6′ tall.

Regarding putting some kind of product on the walls of the house behind the condenser, ABSOLUTELY! Great call. That is the one thing that a LOT of people don’t think about and can significantly reduce the noise level at the listening location. A lot of times the concrete wall acts like a trampoline for the noise and without treatment, the decibel level at the listeners ear can be louder than the sound of the machine! How is this possible? I like to use the example of driving your car in the summer on the highway. You’re driving happily along with your windows down and when you drive into a tunnel or along a cement barrier, it is SIGNIFICANTLY louder than it was when there was nothing around you but farm land. What’s happening here is exactly what is happening with the concrete wall and AC unit. The sound coming out of the back of the unit (the side that faces your neighbor’s house) reflects off of the concrete and heads your way. So, you’re not only hearing the noise coming out of the front of the machine and traveling to your ear, you’re hearing the noises coming out of the front as well as the back of the machine.

As far as products go, there are really only two options and I would strongly suggest one over the other. The first is the Sound Silencer panels which come as a 1″ or 2″ panel in a 2′ x 4′ size. These panels will block a minimal amount of sound and work best when they are adhered or screwed to a solid substrate, like a piece of plywood or a concrete board. They will block some sound as well as absorb some echo, but if they are exposed to a significant amount of UV light (sunlight) the foam will start to break down. The other product is much better both in terms of performance as well as longevity. The EXT-BBC-TR-2, is a custom made sound “blanket” made out of an exterior grade Mass Loaded Vinyl noise barrier as well as a fiberglass absorptive panel that is quilted to the noise-source side. We install grommets across the top and bottom of the panels and use an exterior rated Velcro along the vertical seam to attach one panel to the one next to it. This can be easily attached to a privacy-fence or even a chain link fence with standard fasteners. For the wall behind the unit, we can supply only the exterior faced fiberglass panel as you don’t need the noise barrier there, just the absorptive surface. Call me about pricing as the size of the job will be a factor here.

Here are the links to the products:
Sound Silencer panels

Exterior Barrier Backed Curtain 2″ fiberglass face

Exterior Quilted Fiberglass Absorber


6 Comments

    • Diane

      I live on Long Island in NY Nassau county. Where can I find your materials or someone to come out??

      • Ted W

        Unfortunately we are based in Minnesota and do not have outside reps. I would try doing a Google Search for “acoustical consultant” and your zip code or city name.

        Thanks,
        Ted

  1. jayne espinoza

    My neighbor has not 1 but 2 central air conditioning on the side of the house tgey are clicking on and off 12 hrs a day it sounds like a plane hovering over are house. They are placed by are kitchen window and upstairs bedroom it drives me nuts ant solutions

    • Kyle Berg

      Hi Jayne,

      There are a couple options that will help quiet down the air conditioners at your neighbor’s house. The first option, would be for his side. We have an exterior curtain that is UV-protected, water resistant, and also have an optional fence frame that will make installation easy if there is nothing around these units to mount the curtains on. These are our Echo Barrier Curtains. You would mount these around the A/C units, with room for ventilation, mounted on all sides as well as over the unit. These will both absorb and block a lot of noise being created by these units.

      The second option would be for your side. Our Climate Seal Acoustical Window Inserts are mounted on the inside of the windows facing the units. These are installed by mounting a trim piece on the inside of the jamb, then the insert attaches to the trim magnetically. This way you can insert and remove this when needed.

      If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know.

      Cheers!
      Kyle

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