How to Use a Decibel Meter to Measure Decibel Levels

Decibel Meter

Presently, the use of decibel meters is proving to have a vast importance in various sectors. The construction industry in particular has mostly benefited from it. The decibel meters, also referred to as sound level meters are tools for measuring sound levels. As we all know, industrial activities generate sound. At times, the sound levels exceed the limit and irritate not only the workers but the surroundings.

Consequently, it affects the environment too. After the introduction of various rules and regulations related to sound levels, the use of a decibel meter has become mandatory. So, let us figure out the way the aforementioned tool is used appropriately. You can also take a look at the Noise Monitor from Osterman which works exceptionally well in this aspect.  

An overview of decibels

Before proceeding further, it is essential to understand the decibels (dB), and the reasons they are used for measuring sound levels. To put it in simple words, decibels are the unit of measurement that calculates the intensity of sound. Generally, the decibel scale begins at the quietest sound our ears can detect. As the intensity increases the sound gets clearer to our ears. Whenever the levels reach higher such as 120 decibels, it can cause significant hearing damage. The functionality of decibel meters works on calculating the above-mentioned algorithm. 

Finding the right decibel meter

Since the demand for decibel meters is on the rise, these tools are now available in varied models and prices. You can install decibel meters in your smartphone as an app and alternatively, you can also opt for the more professional ones. Ideally, the one you choose should depend on the requirements and accuracy of the measurements. Of course, the ones used in construction industries are bigger and better and offer precision feedback. These are naturally more expensive, but serve the purpose of their client well. 

Therefore, before selecting a decibel meter, you should take into account its range of measurement, accuracy levels, and if it offers any additional features. As the ones necessary in businesses need to meet the specific industry standards and regulations, you would do better selecting a tool that meets the above criteria. Before finalizing the purchase, you should not forget to read the manufacturer’s documentation to understand, that you have got the right tool for fulfilling your requirements. 

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Steps of using a decibel meter

Here we discuss the basic steps of using a decibel meter. First, you must turn the device on. Check if the batteries are fully charged. Bear in mind, that some decibel meters may require adjustments before commencing the operation; therefore you must read the instructions accurately. 

  • The next step would be to choose the measurement mode. Usually, you will notice, decibel meters have varied measurement modes, like dBA, dBC, and dBD. Your focus should be on selecting the mode that fits your specific measurement needs. Each of these modes mentioned above is designated for measuring different frequency ranges. The first one i.e. dBA, is the most commonly used method for measuring sounds, as it offers feedback on how sound levels can react after reaching the human ear. 
  • Positioning of the decibel meter is equally crucial. Thus, the task of placing it should always be done by an expert. After placing the microphone should face the source of the sound. You should also make sure there aren’t any obstructions that may affect the sound measurements. 
  • Once ready with the above steps, you can start recording the sound by pressing the “record” button. The device will now start capturing sound. Let the decibel meter record the sound for some time so that you get accurate data. You can then switch it off after using it for a couple of minutes. For small-scale operations, using it for a few seconds would also be enough. 
  • The measurement is now taken, and you can now read and store the result. Decibel meters will reveal the sound levels in decibels on their respective screens depending on the type of tool you are using. You can store the available information along with any other relevant information like date, time, and location for future reference and comparison. 
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Assessing the results

It is now time to evaluate the results. As mentioned before, the intensity of sound would vary depending on its location. Ideally, your concern should be for readings that exceed the 85dB mark. Such sound intensities can be detrimental to human health. Prolonged exposure to such noise levels can lead to significant damage to the ears and other parts of the body.  

Some advanced features of decibel meters

The operations described above are the functions you can expect from general decibel meters. Manufacturers have been quick to dish out decibel meters that have additional features and can be very useful for the context of various businesses. Here, let us take a sneak peek.

  • Data logging: Modern decibel meters used in construction industries let you create detailed noise profiles. Since construction activities have to pay attention to environmental monitoring, and compliance reporting, the aforesaid feature can be very useful. 
  • Weighting: Apart from measuring the standard decibels, some decibel meters let you perform A and C weighting. To make it clear, A-weighting refers to sound levels that resemble human understanding, whereas C-weighting is significant for assessing industrial noise. 
  • Peak hold: The feature instantaneously displays the maximum sound levels reached when it is taking measurements. The feature can add a lot of value for locating temporary loud sounds in an environment that usually is quiet. 
  • Integration:  Then again, decibel meters of the modern age, let you select varied integration times. Therefore, you can measure them based on slow, fast, and impulse. It can offer help as it lets you determine how the tool measures to varying sound levels. 
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So, as you can see, decibel meters offer a wide range of benefits to various sectors. With the steps mentioned here, you can select and make use of the best decibel meter for your individual use or industrial purposes.