To reduce noise, NYC officials close to regulations to boost contractor use of electric jackhammers over pneumatic models

NYC officials are considering regulations that would encourage contractors to switch from pneumatic pavement breakers to electric models like the TE 3000-AVR from Hilti.NYC officials are considering regulations that would encourage contractors to switch from pneumatic pavement breakers to electric models like the TE 3000-AVR from Hilti.

With construction booming again in the concrete jungle of New York City, the sound of jackhammers is a distinct voice among the city’s cacophonous urban symphony. For some, it’s a little too distinct.

Especially those that know that since 2011, Hilti has offered an electric pavement breaker—the TE 3000-AVR—that the company says is not only just as powerful as pneumatic models but also much quieter. With that in mind, city officials are “close,” to putting in place regulations that would “encourage” contractors to use electric models at night, according to a report from the New York Times.

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection called the possible regulations “a result of an outcry from the public.”

Curious to see just how much quieter electric models are from their pneumatic counterparts, the Times enlisted the help of a noise expert and visited a construction site to test the two side by side. As you can see in the video below, the expert found the electric model to be 15 decibels quieter, a significant reduction. He told the paper that a reduction of just 10 decibels typically means cutting the sound level of an object in half.

In addition to encouraging contractors to switch, the city is looking into “additional technologies” to mitigate the sound of the tools even further, especially between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 a.m.

However, this is all working under the opinion that electric jackhammers are just as effective as pneumatic ones, a stance the General Contractors Association of New York strongly disagrees with. The association told the Times that it found Hilti’s electric breaker “not suitable for breaking the densest concrete.”

What do you think? Are electric jackhammers powerful enough on the job to justify such regulations? You can check out the difference in noise in the Times video below. We’ve also included two more videos above the Times video, the first a pneumatic breaker on concrete and the second, a TE 3000-AVR at work so you can get a sense of the comparison in the open air in unmonitored conditions. The difference in sound is pretty noticeable when you take away all that compressor noise.