Measure Noise for Compliance and Community Relations

datacenter environmental noise monitoring

Data centers are an essential part of our economy and infrastructure. As data centers are being built throughout the world, noise complaints related to the facilities are increasing. The need to comply with local noise ordinances and maintain positive community relationships can be challenging for those running these facilities. Noise Monitoring Systems with simple yet customizable set up and automated alert and alarm notifications make it easier to track noise in real-time. Read on to learn more about the nature of data center noise, why it sometimes seems more bothersome that other types of noise, and what you can do about it.

Types of Data Center Noise


Exterior noise at data centers or crypto mining operations are most often caused by exhaust vents in cooling equipment (chiller fans) or on-site power generation.

The noise can be thought of as having two components

  1. Mid- and high-frequency broadband noise - The mid-and high-frequency broadband noise generated by cooling fans is often directional. Abatement by traditional acoustic barriers is possible. Traditional measurement techniques and A-frequency weightings adequately describe the problem.
  2. Low-frequency tones or hum - Low-frequency tones from data centers (fan hum) are often particularly bothersome because they are not reflected well in A-weighted measurements (a common frequency weighting applied to noise measurements that attenuates low-frequency noise). low frequency humming doesn’t contribute much to A-weighted noise levels but is often the source of complaints


Employees inside data centers are subject to continuous noise that could be hazardous to hearing health. Personal noise exposure levels for data center workers should be considered. Noise levels can be measured in various places inside a facility and marked on a map to create a plant sound survey. Alternatively, personal noise exposure can be measured with a personal noise dosimeter, which is worn by an employee and measures noise throughout their work shift to ensure that operations do not exceed established workplace noise limits.

The Role of Noise Monitoring at Data Centers

  • Assess baseline levels before construction
  • Assess data center noise levels before and after noise abatement steps
  • Perform a sound survey and create a noise map to locate problem areas for indoor noise levels
  • Determine employee personal noise exposure or personal noise dose

Tools for Data Center Noise Monitoring

Larson Davis offers a range of solutions for Data Center Noise Monitoring. Key benefits of our solutions include

  1. Real-Time Monitoring: Continuously track noise levels in real-time, allowing you to identify potential issues promptly. Instant alerts can be set up to notify you of any breaches in pre-defined noise thresholds.
  2. Comprehensive Data Analysis: Collect and analyze noise data over time to identify patterns, trends, and potential areas of improvement. Our Sound Level Meters and noise dosimeters provide detailed reports and visualizations for better decision-making.
  3. Analysis of the Frequency Content of the Noise: Using C- or Z- weightings together with Octave Band or FFT Analysis helps you better understand the annoying low-frequency tones associated with cooling fans. We offer Class 1 Sound Level Meters for the most accurate measurements across all audible frequencies.
  4. Compliance Monitoring: Ensure adherence to local regulations and industry standards. Our Sound Level Meters help you demonstrate compliance with noise level requirements, avoiding potential penalties and legal issues.
  5. Remote Accessibility: Access noise data and monitoring reports remotely, enabling you to stay connected and informed even when you are away from the data center.
  6. User-Friendly Interface: Our Sound Level Meters feature intuitive interfaces and easy-to-use controls, making it simple for both technical and non-technical personnel to operate and interpret the data.
  7. Customization: Tailor the settings and parameters of the Sound Level Meter to meet your specific monitoring needs.
  8. Expert Support and Training: Benefit from our dedicated customer support team, ready to assist you with any inquiries or technical issues.

Why is Data Center Noise in Communities So Frustrating?

Most community noise regulations offer noise limits in the 50 dB to 60 dB range. However, these regulations were not written with constant, low-frequency noise in mind. Data center noise occurs 24 hours a day, including overnight when ambient noise levels tend to be lower. A 50 dB noise during the daytime may not be annoying, whereas it would be noticeable at nighttime. In addition, many regulations were written to measure with A-weighted noise levels, so the lower frequency noise is not captured as well in the measurement.

Data Center Noise Abatement Methods

Noise from fans can be reduced with traditional acoustic barriers or acoustical shrouds; however, these shrouds can reduce fan efficiency. An alternative is utilizing larger fans or fans with high efficiency so that fan speed can be lowered. Because of the relationship between air speed and noise, decreasing fan speed a small amount can decrease noise significantly.

Getting Started Measuring Data Center Noise

Proactively monitor and manage noise levels around your data center. Enhance operational efficiency, maintain regulatory compliance, and foster a harmonious relationship with your surrounding community.

For short-term use, Sound Level Meters and systems are available to rent.  Your local Larson Davis representative will be glad to help determine what products best fit your measurement requirements. To learn more, please fill out the Contact an Expert form, and member of our team will be in touch.