How Loud is a Lawn Mower?

Do you find your lawn mower to be too loud and are wondering if this is just a part of the machine’s normal functioning? Do you find the sound to be irritating?

Lawn mowers normally make some noise with the level of noise depending on the model you have. The noise levels may also increase due to certain mechanical and maintenance issues. Either way, a lawnmower that feels too loud isn’t good for your hearing safety and should be cause for concern.

How do I tell if the lawnmower is too loud?

You can tell that your lawnmower is too loud if it’s noisier than it usually is. A Self-propelled or push lawn mower making excessive noise is usually an indicator of a problem. It could be that the blade assembly is loose, the muffler is worn-out or faulty, the engine oil needs changing, or there’s a buildup of grass and debris underneath the deck.

Whatever the cause of mower sputtering noise, you need to take urgent measures to fix it, as loud noises can be detrimental to your auditory health. Studies by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have proven that noise levels of 85 dB and above can cause gradual hearing loss if the exposure period exceeds 2 hours. Even worse, louder noises exceeding 100 dB can trigger sudden deafness.  

Note: Sound is usually measured in decibels (dB). Decibels are determined using the logarithmic measuring scale. As such, 20 dB is about 10 times louder than 10 dB. Meanwhile, a mower producing 60 dB is four times quieter than one generating 80 dB of noise.

How loud is a Lawn Mower?

Here’s a table summary of different types of mowers and their average noise levels in dB:

Type of LawnmowerNoise level (dB)
Gas-powered ride-on/tractor mower90- 102 dB
Electric ride-on mower75 dB
Gas-powered push-along lawn mower80 dB
Battery-powered, electric push-along lawn mower56 dB
Manual reel mower55 dB

Gas-powered, ride-on lawn mowers can generate noise levels reaching 102 dB, while push lawn mowers can create noise levels of up to 80 dB. By comparison, normal human conversations usually peak at an average of 60 dB.

Note: Ride-on mowers creating 102 dB of noise can cause hearing loss within 4-9 minutes, while those producing 90dB are only safe for your ears for up to 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, electric riding lawn mowers create less noise on average (75 dB) compared to gas-powered riding mowers. While this noise level is annoying and might cause the user to be irritable, it’s unlikely to cause any auditory problems, unless you keep the mower running for a very long time.

An electric push lawn mower is even quieter, with some cordless/ battery-powered models producing as low as 56 dB of sound. Manual reel mowers produce the least noise at 55 dB, as they lack a motor/engine.

Note that some lawn mower brands voluntarily include noise level information as part of their product information labels. However, if yours lacks a dB rating label, you can use the average ratings discussed above as a guideline.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), when sound levels exceed a daily average of 85 dB, you should wear some form of ear protection. Gas-powered push mowers and electric riding mowers fall just a few decibels short of this threshold.

Nevertheless, you should still wear ear protection gear when using either of these types of mowers. This is because the actual noise level may exceed the indicated rating. For instance, a push mower rated at 75 dB may generate as much as 85 dB of sound if it has a damaged muffler or if the blade assembly is loose.

Read More: What Type of Gas Do Lawn Mowers Use?

How to protect your hearing when mowing?

Even when a mower has no faulty or loose parts, it’ll still generate loud noise to some degree, and there’s not much one can do about that. This noise can be attributed to the machine’s mowing efficiency. For the mower blades to effectively lift and trim grass, they must spin at a high speed, which in turn generates a buffeting sound against the air.

Thus, in the case of normal noise from your mower, the only way to keep yourself safe is to wear some form of ear protection gear. There are different types of ear protection you can opt for when mowing.

Different types of ear protection gear have different Noise Reduction Rates (NRR), which are measured in DB from 0 to 35. The higher the NRR rating, the better the degree of protection you’ll receive. For instance, to safely use a ride-on lawn mower that creates 90 dB of noise, you need to wear ear protection equipment with an NRR rating of 12 or above.

Here are a few types of ear protection gear that you can use to effectively protect your hearing while cutting grass using a loud mower:

  1. Foam earplugs– these are usually designed to be rolled down into a cylindrical shape and be inserted into the ear canal. Foam earplugs are cheap and easy to use but can be inconvenient as they might fall off as you’re mowing.
  2. Earmuffs-

How loud is too loud for a lawn mower?

Your lawn mower can be said to be too loud if:

  1. You have to considerably increase your voice to be heard by someone else that’s just a couple of feet away.
  2. After using the lawn mower, you feel a ringing or whooshing sound that comes and disappears sporadically.
  3. If you have to turn down the volume of your audio or TV system after mowing; while you were using it comfortably at the same volume before mowing.

References

  1. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service: Mowing and Trimming Safety For the Landscaping and Horticultural Services Industry
  2. University of Florida (UFL): Noise Levels for Common Equipment

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