Noise control and measurement of standby power plants in data centre applications

28th November 2023

Author: Wakefield Acoustics – Noise Control Specialists | Last Updated: November 2023

Noise control for standby power is a critical aspect, especially when the main drivers (usually diesel engines in the case of UK data centres) generate very high levels of noise.

Interpretation of noise regulations and specifications

Requirements for the noise emissions from standby power plants differ from project to project, guided by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations, noise impact assessments in line with BS4142, and regional project planning advice and guidelines. Whilst standby diesel generators operate only in an emergency, their intermittent operation still needs to ensure the health and safety of nearby workers and ensure minimal impacts to neighbouring properties.

Every element of Design and Layout

Planning at the outset of a project is essential, and every avenue to reduce environmental noise impacts should be considered:

  • Can the noise source be relocated?
  • Are there any natural physical barriers between the source and receiver?
  • Specification for noise control measures to be incorporated into the design at the earliest opportunity
  • Are there multiple noise sources and noise paths?

Acoustic Testing

Whilst the calculations and design may prove intent to comply with project requirements, the proof of concept is determined at the point of a FAT (factory acceptance test), or SAT (site acceptance test).

The procedure for acoustic testing of large power plants needs to be carefully planned and recorded. Quite often, additional noise sources are present at the point of testing, and therefore detailed background measurements are equally as important as measurements with equipment in operation.

Singular point measurements rarely provide the required level of detail for such large installations, and a series of readings is usually required, with a detailed calculation to determine overall averaged results, background corrected.

Troubleshooting and on-site ‘snagging’

Whilst 99% of installations go without noise problems when correctly designed, some acoustic weak points can be introduced to projects during installation. If you have noise problems at site on a standby power project, problem areas can be around:

  • Acoustic sealing: ensure all apertures are fully closed off and insulated to the same specification as the engine housing
  • Background noise: is background noise contributing to the levels being measured with equipment in operation?
  • Structure-borne noise and vibration: with the best acoustic designs to reduce airborne noise, poor selection of antivibration mounts, and little consideration of hard-fixing pipework and cable trays to an acoustic container can compromise the acoustic integrity

Wakefield Acoustics have over 40 years of experience in the field of noise control product design, installation and testing.

If you have any questions or would like more information on our products and services, please contact Wakefield Acoustics at +44 (0) 1924 418 940 or email via

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