There is a rule of thumb when it comes to electric hand dryers: The faster the motor, the faster the hands get dry and the more noise is involved.
This has been generally true in the past. However, with the new designs of variable speed motors in newer models, the range of noise and dry time have been altered considerably. The issue of noise is a subjective one. Most people don’t notice a hand dryer’s operating sounds as long as they do not have to stand in front of the machine for very long. Some people are impressed with the massive air blast and accompanying noise. However, other who are in an environment that requires concentration or lack of interruption such as a school, university, professional setting or otherwise; the issue of sound matters.
If sound matters, consider the data to suit your needs. If noise does not matter, then go with the fastest dryer. The stronger motors will make more noise, but gets the job done much more quickly. The faster motors are generally less energy efficient as well. Many models new models have adjustable speeds, which helps a consumer make energy/time/noise decisions. These are generally offered in a three-speed option.
Here is a list of hand dryers by brand and cost and decibels. (The decibel ratings for the Dyson, Xlerator, and Model A are from the Acoustical Society of America report. Others are provided by the specifically listed hand dryer manufacturers.
Hand Dryer Noise Levels
Customers generally love the high speed, louder hand dryers such as the Dyson Airblade and Excel Xlerator models. They offer a very powerful and fast drying experience, and make a lot of noise. They cost more than slower, quieter models such as the Fast Dry and Electric-Aire, but are better constructed and more durable.
Another rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for. Time equals money. A faster dryer will cost more and use more energy, but they will last longer and hold up to common wear and tear in a public washroom better.