Time is up for Ear-Blasting Technology, Peaceful Washrooms are Back!

Quiet Mark reveals Britain’s quietest hand dryers

Drying your hands almost instantly in a public toilet is a welcome benefit of the latest technology in electric hand dryers. But there’s a price to pay. Some super-fast hand dryers have the same impact on the human ear as a subway train, causing discomfort to all, and unnecessary stress to those with hypersensitivity to noise, hearing problems or conditions such as dementia and autism.

However, from today, Quiet Mark is providing a simple guide to the quietest options on the market with the launch of its hand dryer category.

Quiet Mark tested a broad range of hand dryers and only the quietest, high-performance machines achieved a Quiet Mark award. This universal symbol makes it easier for those in charge of restaurants, bars, leisure centres, shops, libraries, hospitals and public conveniences to consider sound levels when assessing hand dryers for their venues.

Until now, the sound levels of hand dryers in real-life situations have often been underestimated. This is because they are commonly tested in ultra-absorbent acoustic laboratories, rather than in highly reverberant washrooms and toilets, where their loud motor noise can be uncomfortably amplified. They may also be tested without human hands in the airflow, which can add up to 10dB in some cases. The combination of these factors means that the machine can be twice as loud as some test results might show.

Real-life testing environment for accurate results

Quiet Mark’s acoustic testing, however, sets machines up in an environment that replicates real-world conditions, with tiled wall surfaces and hard flooring – both of which reflect sound, and can make a product seem noisier to the user. Measurements are taken at adult head height, as if standing next to the dryer, and with hands in the airflow as they would be in real use. All this ensures that the Quiet Mark is only awarded to hand dryers that are the quietest in real washrooms.

Quiet Mark’s rigorous testing process

Quiet Mark’s testing partner Sonic Oasis, part of Anderson Acoustics, carried out a decibel noise analysis for a selection of 22 hand dryers in a real washroom set-up at Quiet Mark’s facilities. Testing was carried out using a dB1 Duo Class 1 sound level meter.

The hand dryers were divided into three categories: Hands-under samples using hot air; hands-under samples using high-speed (cold) air; and hands-in (U-shaped) samples using high-speed air. Noise levels were recorded for each model when operating with no hands, still hands and moving hands in the airflow.

The results

Hands-under hot-air dryers were found to be the quietest when in use. Of those tested in this category, the Airdri Quest, Quazar, Quartz and Quad; and Intelligent Dryflow Elite MK II were awarded.

The Dyson Airblade V, Handy Dryers Dillo, Intelligent Eco Force and American Dryer eXtremeAir GXT / CPC (with dial fixed at acoustic pass level) were awarded in the hands-under high-speed dryers category.

Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel, Handy Dryers Gorilla Ultra and Intelligent Jet Force and Stealthforce PLUS were awarded among the hands-in high-speed dryers.

Inspiring acoustic design

Poppy Szkiler, founder and managing director of Quiet Mark, comments: “We’re thrilled to be launching a hand dryer category at Quiet Mark. There are lots of people who find hand dryer noise uncomfortable – to the point where it puts them off visiting a public bathroom, or drying their hands thoroughly. Drying is a vital part of hand hygiene, so it is imperative that people don’t leave with wet hands just because a dryer is too loud.

“Our testing in a real environment helps build an accurate understanding of hand dryer noise, and enables buyers to identify the quietest models. We hope that more venues will now buy quiet to help those who are fed up of being blasted by noise. We’d like this to be the start of more emphasis on acoustic interior design of public bathrooms. Quiet hand dryers could be complemented with well-designed cubicles, as has recently been done at Gatwick South Terminal, to produce a more comfortable aural environment.”

Trudi Osborne, Group Head of Dryer Sales and Marketing Projects, The AIRDRI Group, comments: “Quiet operation stands alongside fast drying as a leading requirement in Airdri’s hand dryer development. We recognised the importance of noise level reduction back in 2012 and that year became the first hand dryer manufacturer to be awarded the Quiet Mark by the UK Noise Abatement Society for one of our fast-dry models. Going forward, we will always develop hand dryers that achieve low noise levels to help those susceptible to acoustic distress such as the young, the elderly, those who are hard of hearing or those who are on the autistic spectrum.”

Sam Bernard, Global Category Director at Dyson Professional, comments: “At Dyson we don’t just pay attention to how our products perform – we also obsess about how they sound. The latest Dyson Airblade V hand dryer is 35% quieter than its predecessor, while maintaining a fast and hygienic dry time of 12 seconds. As health and wellbeing in commercial environments comes under increasing scrutiny, Quiet Mark recognises the importance of controlling excessive noise.”

Andy Cameron, Sales Director of Intelligent Hand Dryers, says: “We have campaigned for an industry standard for acoustic and noise levels in the hand dryer market for some time. It’s vitally important to make hand dryers inclusive for all, with smooth and tolerable noise levels for all users.”

Stephen Levy, Managing Director of Handy Dryers, says: “Handy Dryers are proud to work with Quiet Mark. Our focus is constantly on improving the washroom experience. Our hand dryers not only offer cutting edge design and performance, they are now also recognised as some of the quietest in their class.”

Fawn Litchfield, Jet Towel Business Development Manager at Mitsubishi Electric, comments: “Facilities, designers and managers are increasingly concerned with minimising background noise in their premises. A busy washroom can have hand dryers in almost constant use, and noisy ones may be heard many metres away from the washroom. The Quiet Mark represents instant confirmation that the Mitsubishi Jet Towel range is a good choice for creating a calm atmosphere in washrooms and out into wider public spaces.”

For more information see here: www.quietmark.com