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Here’s something that should surprise no one: Riding around in a noisy vehicle is miserable. And since, as RVers, we spend plenty of time riding around in vehicles, it just makes sense to try to make our vehicle as quiet as possible. In this video, which is the first in a two part project, I dive down the rabbit hole of automotive sound deadening, and come up with an approach to use on our Ford Transit based motorhome, a Winnebago EKKO. Then, I try out my approach on a small scale to see how well it works. Warning: This video contains material that some viewers may find… educational.
First, for those of you who will inevitably say “just turn the radio up and it’s not a problem…” Science and I disagree. For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends the following exposure limits for noise. Exposures at or above these levels are considered hazardous.
|Time to reach 100% noise dose||Exposure level per NIOSH|
|8 hours||85 dBA|
|4 hours||88 dBA|
|2 hours||91 dBA|
|1 hour||94 dBA|
|30 minutes||97 dBA|
|15 minutes||100 dBA|
It’s worth noting that we were able to achieve something greater than 85 dBA with nothing more than Stef’s cell phone. So “turning it up” isn’t a great option, particularly not for long driving days. And besides that, RVing should be fun! Not “just barely below the level that will cause you harm.” Right? So, in my opinion, this is a project very much worth pursuing.
We spent weeks developing this video, and I don’t want to repeat everything that was said, so I’ll just hit the highlights here and give you links to the products I used.
Types of Noise
I broke down the noises we hear while driving our motorhome into 5 categories.
- Engine and Mechanical Noise
- Wind Noise
- Stuff In The Back Noise
- Road Noise
- Ed Sheeran
Of those, we’ll only be addressing Engine and Mechanical Noise, and Road Noise with this project. The rest of them will have to wait. And even for road noise, much of that comes down to your tires, and we won’t be doing a tire comparison in this series.
Approaches and Products
There are three different ways I’m going to try to deal with the noise in our RV, and I’ll use a different product for each.
Sound Dampening: For this, I chose a Constrained Layer Damping product called Damplifier, from Second Skin Audio. For the cab floor, wheel wells, and front doors in our Ford Transit, I ordered 40 square feet.
Sound Blocking: For this, I used a Mass Loaded Vinyl product, that’s bonded with a foam layer for decoupling. The product is Luxury Liner Pro, also from Second Skin Audio. For the cab floor and wheel wells in our Ford Transit, I ordered 3 sheets of 9 square feet each.
Sound Absorbing: These products are typically foam, and I used a hydrophobic foam from Second Skin Audio that they call Mega Zorbe. For this project, I ordered a total of 16 square feet of the peel and stick variety.
The Proof of Concept
This was a resounding success! I was able to achieve a 20dB reduction in transmitted sound by applying just two of the materials, the Damplifier, and the Luxury Liner Pro. If I am able to get the Mega Zorbe into the mix as well, it looks like that’s good for another 7dB or so.
But honestly, I don’t think I will be able to achieve that in the vehicle. The box I used in my proof of concept was a rectangular cube with flat faces, and it was easy to seal up all the sides perfectly. Things won’t be quite so neat in the real world, where I have curves, windows, and moving parts to work around. But that’s OK. The proof of concept did let me know that the ideas do work, and the materials do work – which is good enough for me to move forward.
In the next video, we’ll see how much of the 20 or more dB of sound reduction I’m able to get in the real van.
Questions and comments down below!