Paper shredders are necessary pieces of office equipment. They help ensure the security of sensitive documents. For example, materials like bills, financial statements, employee information, and marketing plans.
With the increase of identity theft cases, all it takes is a document with your address and other information for a criminal to assume your identity.
While paper shredders are effective at shredding paper, they do so in a manner that can be disruptive to your work environment and home. Let's take a look at shredders that can perform, albeit quietly.
The Quiet Paper Shredders
1. Fellowes Powershred 79Ci
Fellowes is one of the most popular brands when it comes to paper shredders. They've engineered a number of features that other brands have yet to even consider adding.
This shredder features a security rating of level P-4. This results in cross-cut particles ranging in size from 5/32 x 1-1/2". This makes it perfect for sensitive documents as well as junkmail. It's also capable of shredding CD/DVDs, credit cards, paper clips, and staples with ease.
The shredders capacity is 16 sheets per pass with a duty cycle of 20 minutes run time and 30 minutes cool down.
As we mentioned before, this shredders has features other brands have yet to consider: SafeSense and SilentShred.
SafeSense allows the shredder to detect when someone touches the paper opening. When you do, it automatically shuts-off, helping to protect more than your identity.
Fellowes notes that SilentShred is engineered to help with people in shared workspaces. This technology allows for minimal noise output at 54 dB.
Other notable features of this shredder include:
- 6 gallon transparent bin
- 100% jam proof
- Energy saving system
2. Bonsaii Heavy Duty Paper Shredder
The Bonasaii Evershred Pro 3S16 is a heavy-duty shredder capable of handling documents en masse.
This is a high-security, level P-4 paper shredder that uses a cross-cut to turn paper into small particles ranging in size from 5/31 by 1-19/50 inches.
The shredder's capacity is 12 sheets and the duty cycle is a 60 minute run-time before a cool down is required. Aside from paper, the shredder is also capable of handling credit cards, CD/DVDs, clips, staples, etc.
The Bonsaii is capable of the impressive duty cycle at P-4 security while only operating at 58 dB. That's roughly the volume of a regular conversation. For a shredder at that level of security, it's very quiet.
A few other notable features include:
- 4.2 Gallon transparent wastebasket and a separate 0.37 gallon wastebasket for CDs/DVDs and credit cards
- Jam protection system
- Backed by 3 year warranty
3. Aurora Professional Grade Paper Shredder
This Aurora paper shredder is a large capacity shredder. It's a level P-4 cross-cut shredder that results in 5/32 by 1-1/2" particles.
The shredder has an impressive 22 sheet capacity and features an 8.5 gallon pullout bin with an LED indicator lights for bin-full. There are additional lights for standby, overheat, overload, and door open.
The shredder's duty cycle is 30 minute continuous run-time before requiring a 50 minute cool-down. This unit is capable of shredding paper, CDs, DVDs, and credit cards. Aurora notes that the shredder does so at "ultra-quiet operation," however they don't offer a specific dB rating.
Other notable features include:
- Anti-jam, auto-reverse to clear paper jams
- Auto-power off after 5 minutes of idle to help save energy
4. Bonsaii EverShred C149-C Paper Shredder
This is another shredder by Bonsaii. Unlike the EverShred Pro 3S16 above, this unit is more so equipped for an office setting. It features an 18 sheet capacity with a cross-cut that turns paper into 1/5 x 1-23/50 inches or security level P-3.
It's able to shred paper, old financial records, CDs/DVDs, credit cards, and staples.
Where it really performs is its duty cycle. It's capable of 60 minutes of continuous run-time before a cool-down period of 10 minutes. This short cool-down is a result of Bonsaii's advanced cooling system and patented cutting technology.
The additional shredding capacity results in a 62 dB noise level, which is still quiet in terms of office shredders. The quiet motor helps to dampen the grinding and shredding noise.
Other notable features include:
- Jam detection system automatically reverses paper
- 6 gallon pull-out wastebasket
- Overheating and overloading protection technology
5. AmazonBasics Home Office Paper Shredder
This shredder is a more budget friendly option for home-owners. However, being that it's budget friendly, it definitely has some compromises in terms of performance.
This unit has a 12 sheet capacity that's capable of creating cross section strips measuring7/32 by 1-9/16 inches. They don't mention anything in regards to security rating, however those dimensions are roughly security level P-2.
While not the best in terms of security, it's best suited for ATM receipts, credit-card bills, pay stubs, and junk mail. It's also capable of shredding old credit cards.
The duty cycle is somewhat underwhelming, at 7 minutes continuous run-time and 30 minute cool-down. However, as mentioned, this is perfect for light shredding for a single user.
Other notable features include:
- 4.8 gallon bin
- Thermal protection with auto shut-off
- Auto-start and anti-jam auto-reverse
What to Look for in a Quiet Paper Shredder
Using a paper shredder to protect yourself from opportunistic thieves is a worthwhile investment. Identity theft and credit card fraud occur on a daily basis and a paper shredder makes it that much harder for someone to steal your personal information.
Not all paper shredders are created equal either. Your options will boil down to shred options like cut style, speed of shred, security level, and sheets per pass. All of these options will affect noise output.
There are three standard shred types or cuts that are made: micro, cross, and strip cut. These shreds also go by a variety of names.
A micro-cut shredder cuts in a similar manner to that of a wood chipper. It cuts the paper into small chips for the highest level of security.
- Highest level of security: DIN P-5 or higher
- Cuts diagonally
- For shredding highly sensitive documents
A cross-cut shredder cuts the paper into small rectangular pieces.
- Medium level of security: DIN P-3, DIN P-4
- Cuts diagonally
- For shredding sensitive documents
A strip cut shredder works by shredding documents into long narrow strips.
- Lowest level of security: DIN P-1, DIN P-2
- Only cuts vertically
- For shredding non-sensitive documents
We recommend using either cross-cut or micro-cut shredders for sensitive documents. This is security level DIN P-3 or higher.Clayton Dillon
These types of cuts then lead to security level.
Security Level or DIN Levels
Security of your information is one of the main reasons you buy a paper shredder.
The DIN P-level is the official DIN 66399 standard which is the international standard for secure shredding of media. It was developed by Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) or the German Institute for Standardization.
The DIN 66399 Standard classifies security levels for six types of media such as hard drives (H), optical media (O), and paper-based (P).
For paper, there are 7 security levels noted as DIN P-1 to DIN P-7. These levels are then sorted into 3 protection classes. Depending on cutter type, these specific DIN levels can also be classified into various protection classes.
For most shredding requirements we recommend shredders in classification 2 with a DIN level of P-3, P-4, or P-5 with a cross or micro-cutter. This suits most home owner and office needs.Clayton Dillon
A level 1 machine offers the lowest level of security. It is best suited for destroying junk mail and any documents that don't offer criminals a lot of sensitive information. These machines produce strips of paper 3/8" wide.
Level 2 and 3
The machines at this level produce shreds 1/8" or 1/3" across. Level 2 and 3 shredders are best suited for documents with slightly more sensitive information like bills, social security numbers, and birth certificates.
These machines feature cross-cuts and produce shreds measuring roughly 1/16" x 5/8". These machines are best suited for sensitive information like your financial records.
Level 5 and 6
A level 5 or 6 shredder are at the forefront of document security.
Often times these machines are compliant with federal privacy laws like HIPPA or the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA). Some of these devices even have accreditation and approval from the National Security Agency (NSA) so they can be used by Government officials for shredding documents of national security.
Noise Level Considerations
No matter how you slice it, a paper shredder is an inherently loud piece of office equipment.
On average you can expect most options to be in the 60 - 70 dB range of noise output. However, you can keep the following in mind in terms of what's considered "quiet" or "silent" in operation.
- Quiet: 60 dB
- Average: 61 - 70 dB
- Loud: 71+ dB
Paper shredders are categorized and filtered based on use. For instance nomenclature like personal, home-office, commercial, industrial, etc are all based on specific metrics:
- Duty cycle: run-time and cool-down
- Sheet capacity
- Bin capacity
These three factors help to place them in specific categories for use.
A shredder that's for a single user will feature a duty cycle of 1-10 minutes and a cool-down time of 20-30 minutes.
Capacity will range from 1-10 sheets per pass.
Bin capacity will typically fall in the range of 1-10 gallons.
A multi-user shredder will be labeled for home/small-offices. They feature duty-cycles of 10-30 minute run-times with a 30-60 minute cool-down.
The capacity will range from 10-30 sheets per pass.
Bin capacity will typically fall in the range of 10-20 gallons.
An industrial shredder will be labeled for commercial or large offices and are made for 5 or more users. They feature a duty cycle of 60+ minutes with cool-down times that range from 10-60 minutes.
The capacity is typically 20+ sheets per pass.
Bin capacity is 30 or more gallons.
Speed of the Shredder
Speed of shred is an important factor to consider when it comes to overall noise output. As a dB rating tells us the amount of noise output, where-as speed of shred could tell us how long the shredder outputs a specific noise level.
The following formula is provided by Fellowes. First let's define these terms:
- Sheet Capacity - Amount of paper that a shredder can handle in a single pass
- Feet per Minute or FPM - Metric detailing how quickly the shredder can shred paper
- Duty Cycle or Run Time - The time the shredder can operate continuously before requiring a cool-down
Sheet capacity x FPM x Run Time = Shredder ScoreFellowes
We'll use Fellowes 79Ci shredder detailed above and aforementioned metrics:
- Sheet capacity: 16
- FPM: 11
- Run time: 20 minutes
- Shredder Score: 3,520
When picking shredders you can use this scoring to determine overall efficiency of the machine. As we can see, the Fellowes 79Ci is highly efficient.
There are a number of other factors to consider when picking a paper shredder.
For instance, energy saving capabilities, jam prevention, safety features, manual or automatic feed, etc. However, these features have minimal effect on noise output.
With that said, they're still important for overall function and are worth considering before making a purchasing decision.