What Is The Loudest Room Air Filter
December 7, 2022 11:15 AM   Subscribe

My wife needs mechanical white noise to sleep, a lot of it. The typical setup used to be a 12,000 BTU window air + two Marpac mechanical white noise machines. This was barely enough but did the job. Our new bedroom has central air so the window air is gone, it also has hardwood floors and tends to be a bit dustier. I'd like to find the loudest air filter possible, my search results keep turning up the Honeywell HPA200 and the HPA300 but I'd like to know if there is something louder.
posted by jmsta to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have no experience with air filters, but if you can't find an appropriately noisy one, we use this model of LectroFan electronic noisemaker for my son. That sucker gets quite loud, and has a lot of different settings. Even at part volume you can hear it halfway across the house.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There are some louder HEPA air cleaners (shown as red dots) at Portable Air Cleaner comparison graph (from Clean Air Crew). Also, the DIY CR Box is known to be loud.

However noise is more of an unwanted side effect for air filters, and I think you'd be better off with a different white noise machine.
posted by meowzilla at 11:29 AM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

DIY air filters (basically a fan with a filter stuck in front) would be louder than purpose-built ones.

However, white noise machine, or even a PC running a noise loop, should be louder, and you can choose the exact volume and sound.

Why not go on Youtube and look for various huge long noise loops, from crackling fire to Enterprise warp core "whoom", to TARDIS whoosh sounds, and see what works better?

And have you tried giving her like headband speakers or "sleep headphones" which may work better than something that's placed many feet away?
posted by kschang at 11:34 AM on December 7, 2022

Would a white noise machine not help? I use an Alexa Echo device (around £20 on sale), and every night I ask it to play 'Rain Sounds', and it does, very well.

There's many other options including white noise, brown noise, pink noise, ocean, heartbeat, lake, thunderstorm, washing machine sounds, waterfall, fan sounds, etc etc. I even use Binaural Beats for concentration in the day time.

I know concerns about privacy and Alexa's not really profitable so may be discontinued, but it really works for me.
posted by moiraine at 11:35 AM on December 7, 2022

Response by poster: Needs to be mechanically generated white noise, electronic white noise does not get the job done.
posted by jmsta at 11:59 AM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have the Conway Airmega recommended by the Wirecutter - it works really well, and I never have reason to run it on high, but on high it sounds like a jet engine. Medium actually makes for nice soft white noise for me sleeping, but ymmv.
posted by General Malaise at 12:22 PM on December 7, 2022

I have an Austin Air Allergy Machine. It has three speeds. Low is very quiet, medium sounds like a decent room fan on high (we leave ours on medium), and on high it's too loud for sleeping (which sounds like what you want). They sell the same mechanism with different filter cartridges, so if you live in a place with wildfire smoke you may want to look into the Healthmate Plus model, which apparently does a nice job removing those particulates.
posted by fedward at 12:45 PM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

We use the DIY box fan air filter as a combination air filter and white noise machine. We keep it on the lowest fan setting and it's as loud as a window AC in my opinion.
posted by muddgirl at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2022

I have a Yogasleep Dohm purchased for home use after using it in a busy medical clinic setting. It’s mechanical with varying speeds.
posted by Ardnamurchan at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

If a cheap mp3 player hooked up to speakers loaded with a rip of a mechanical noise video from YouTube will not work then I suggest skipping the air purifier route completely and getting a low cost box fan from a big box store or thrift store and strapping an AC filter to it. It won't do a great job of air purification but it'll make plenty of noise.
It's wasteful of electricity but authenticity is key
posted by kzin602 at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2022

Some white noise machines are mechanical. Like the yoga dome.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2022

Just in case you (or someone else coming to this thread) wants to explore further, I found "myNoise" to be great. It has a variety of types of noise and you can actually customize it to your liking. I created one that I listen to while working (busy cafe) and I was able to pick just the right level of kitchen noise, people's voices, chairs scratching, etc. Then you pay for some credits and use the credits to buy your custom noise. Purely for future reference.
posted by forthright at 2:58 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Coway filter we have is quite quiet on its lowest two settings and very loud on its highest setting. I don’t have a way to quantify it, but it is certainly loud enough to drown out the significant street noise generated in Downtown LA. It’s so loud I find it uncomfortable if I am awake, but I love it when I need to sleep in our street-facing office room (as I learned during a Covid isolation).
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 4:09 PM on December 7, 2022

+1 to the Dohm. We have one and our kids like it. Not sure where it fits on the loudness scale, but it's the mechanical noise generator Wirecutter recommends.
posted by caek at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2022

That Wirecutter article also mentions that the Snooz has a physical fan and is louder than the Dohm, up to 75 decibels (edit: the Snooz website says 87). It isn't their top choice because they think the price is silly, but if you really care about loud then maybe it's better for you.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:04 PM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Worth bearing in mind that 87 dB is getting up into the ballpark where sustained exposure can cause hearing damage. Be careful.
posted by caek at 11:10 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

We have an older Oreck "truman cell" air purifier similar to this, which... sort of works? as an air purifier, but works very well as a white noise generator. I'm such a light sleeper, if a mouse farts in the garage, I'll hear it and wake up. But on "medium", this air filter provides enough white noise to cancel out most background sounds. On "high", it is almost too much.

Something about the way it's built, I only hear the "whoosh" of the rushing air, but not the propeller-noise of the fan, which is exactly what I want. Maybe because it's a squirrel cage fan?
posted by xedrik at 1:16 PM on December 8, 2022

Come to think of it, I have one of those little Hamilton Beach True Air filters. It could be set to maximum, and it'd be quite loud, and if you put it on your night stand, it'd may be enough. If you set it on minimum" it'd be quiet.
posted by kschang at 10:49 AM on December 9, 2022

I have three HEPA filters in my house (one for each level) and this big bastard is so loud we can't run it on the highest setting if we're in the basement with it, highly recommend for loud air filter:

Honeywell 50250-S True HEPA Air Purifier, 390 sq. ft, White

posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 4:11 AM on December 12, 2022

Lasko makes a version of the box fan filter with a stronger motor to support the increased resistance from the filter, which apparently can cause regular motors to burn out. I have both that and a regular Lasko box fan and can confirm that the air purifier model is significantly louder.
posted by Comet Bug at 11:20 AM on December 12, 2022

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