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Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise 

Author:  | Massachusetts, Noise, Technology

The human response to sounds measured in decibels has the following characteristics:

  • Except under laboratory conditions, a change in sound level of 1 dB cannot be perceived.
  • Doubling the energy of a sound source corresponds to a 3 dB increase.
  • Outside of the laboratory, a 3 dB change in sound level is considered a barely discernible difference.
  • A change in sound level of 5 dB will typically result in a noticeable community response.
  • A 6 dB increase is equivalent to moving half the distance towards a sound source.
  • A 10 dB increase is subjectively heard as an approximate doubling in loudness.

For the determination of the human ear’s response to changes in sound, sound level meters are generally equipped with filters that give less weight to the lower frequencies …

  • A-Weighting: This is the most common scale for assessing environmental and occupational noise. It approximates the response of the human ear to sounds of medium intensity.
  • B-Weighting: this weighting is not commonly used. It approximates the ear for medium-loud sounds, around 70 dB.
  • C-Weighting: Approximates response of human ear to loud sounds. It can be used for low-frequency sound.
  • G-Weighting: Designed for infrasound.

Once the A-weighted sound pressure is measured over a period of time, it is possible to determine a number of statistical descriptions of time-varying sound and to account for the greater community sensitivity to nighttime sound levels. Terms commonly used in describing environmental sound include:

  • L10, L50, and L90: The A-weighted sound levels that are exceeded 10%, 50%, and 90% of the time, respectively. During the measurement period L90 is generally taken as the background sound level.
  • Leq: Equivalent Sound Level: The average A-weighted sound pressure level which gives the same total energy as the varying sound level during the measurement period of time. Also referred to as LA eq.
  • Ldn: Day-Night Level: The average A-weighted sound level during a 24 hour day, obtained after addition of 10 dB to levels measured in the night between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. …

If a wind turbine is proposed within a distance equivalent to three times the blade-tip height of residences or other noise-sensitive receptors, a noise study should be performed and publicized.

Download original document: “Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise

This material is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this material resides with the author(s). As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Queries e-mail.

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