Bathroom exhaust fans are an essential accessory for your bathroom. While other equipment, except the classic tub and sink combo, might be classified as optional, an exhaust fan is certainly something worth investing in. Its main job is to promote air circulation in one of the most humid areas in your house – the bathroom. As you probably know, the bathroom is very prone to humidity-related problems, such as mold formation, lime scale, mildew and other unpleasant smells, paint and even wall cracking. All of these can lead to more or less serious health hazards. Inhaling mold spores can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma, while those always damp towels might be the source of many skin, scalp and hair conditions. Besides those, even the construction of your bathroom can be affected without proper ventilation. If you don’t have tiles all over the walls, the paint or even the wall itself may start cracking, and flaking off if exposed to constant moisture. Marks will also start forming, especially on the ceiling, ruining the aspect of the room. Mirrors will also grow foggy over a very short time, demanding constant changing. The hardware will also be affected if it’s not made out of stainless steel, as it will be prone to corrosion and tarnish. These being said, it’s compulsory that you invest in an exhaust fan if you don’t already have one. But first, let’s take a look at what a bathroom exhaust fan really is.
These being said, it’s pretty compulsory that you get your own exhaust fan if you don’t already have one. To help you out a bit, we’ve put together a top-6 of the best bathroom fans on the market, which should help you find the perfect one for your household. The list is organized by price, from low to high so that you can check out an option for every budget.
Top Rated Bathroom Exhaust Fans
Broan 164 2-Bulb Ventilation Heater Bath Fan
The Broan 164 2-Bulb Ventilation Heater Bath Fan is a great all-in-one product available at a very low price. For only around $50, not only do you get your bathroom ventilated but also have an additional light source and a small heat emitter that can help keep your bathroom at a comfortable temperature all the time.
This fan operates at 70 CFM, which should be enough for a small or medium sized bathroom (around 60 square feet). Its ducts measure 4 inches in diameter, making it a great combo regarding power. Size-wise, this unit measures 8,3/8 x 14,1/4 x 6,3/8 inches and is made of polymeric material. The Broan 164 2-Bulb Ventilation Heater Bath Fan is a ceiling-mounting unit and has the duct pipe opening oriented horizontally. This comes naturally since the infrared light bulbs on it are meant to act as an independent light source. You can also choose between a one-bulb model and a two-bulb one, depending on how much light and extra heat you need. However, the bulbs themselves are not included, so you’ll have to purchase them separately. The heat and ventilation functions work separately, so you can run one while turning the other one off. The controller for this model is also sold separately.
The unit is also a great choice in terms of noise reduction and energy efficiency. When it comes to energy, this exhaust fan is HVI Certified, and it runs at 3.5 sones, which will make it as quiet as a purring cat.
Overall, this product is great quality for its price, but you’ll still have to purchase several parts separately. If that does not bother you, the Broan 164 is definitely a great starting choice. Check the latest price on Amazon:
2. Delta Breez VFB25AEH Signature Bathroom Exhaust Fan
A slightly more expensive alternative, the Delta Breez VFB25AEH is a very versatile model, which offers upgraded versions of all the features of the Broan 164.
First of all, the fan measures 12.36 x 12.36 inches, being much bigger than the previous unit. The duct opening is 4 inches in diameter as well, and it does have a more powerful motor. The Delta Breez VFB25AEH can sweep up 70 CFM, 110 CFM, and 130CFM, depending on your choice. There are different models from the same line, but with different power outlets, so you’re not limited by the size of your bathroom if you want to go for this product. The noise level of the Delta Breez is also much lower than the one on Broan 164, being only 1.3 sones.
This product is certified by Energy Star as being efficient for cost-saving operation and conforms to all existing safety standards in the US. It is also made out of stainless steel, which will ensure a long lifespan of the product, and will facilitate its cleaning. The unit is meant to be mounted on the ceiling.
One of the most spectacular features of this product is the humidity sensor. Grace to it, this unit turns on automatically when it senses that the air in the room has reached a certain humidity level. This way, there’s no need for controls, switches, or any other extra appliances. A small LED light will indicate the fact that the fan is in use, so you can always know when it’s running, even if you don’t hear it. Nonetheless, this ca be a disadvantage as well, as many customers have complained about it running on continuously, even after they’ve left the bathroom for a long time, and there was clearly no steam anymore. Another pro about it is the DC brushless motor technology, which is known for its reliability and extended lifespan.
The product comes with a 3-year warranty on limited parts, which is always a good thing to have on hand, just in case the product lets you down or arrives faulty. Check out the latest price here:
Panasonic FV-15VQ5 WhisperCeiling
Another ceiling-mounted unit, the Panasonic FV-15VQ5 is even more advanced than the Delta Breeze. It measures 14.9 x 15.8 x 13 inches, and the duct has a diameter of 6 inches, being much wider than the previous units’. In addition, it also runs at a much higher power rate, cleaning up 150 CFM. This unit is best suited for bigger bathrooms, and even business use, as its power and duct diameter combo, can easily ventilate up to 150 square feet of space.
The unit is also the quietest you’ll find on the market, being absolutely inaudible – it runs at less than 0.3 sones. The WhisperCeiling line features a double noise reducing mechanism, both the totally enclosed motor and the double-tapered blower wheel. Despite its power output, it is very energy savvy, being certified by a lot of state codes and national standards, such as ASHRAE, Energy Star, LEED for homes, and HVI. It is also made out of steel, which makes it humidity-proof and ensures a longer lifespan. Nevertheless, it has a very simple and elegant aspect, with a white double grid, which will ensure it does not stand out in an unpleasant way.
A manufacturer’s warranty can be requested from the seller. This product might be the right choice for you if you need a very powerful exhaust fan; however, it’s probably not the best choice if you have a really small bathroom, as it is more on the pricey side, and will add up to your bills more than you’d expect. However, for a bigger room or a business, this fan is a very energy efficient unit and comes at a great price as well. Shop for it here:
Panasonic FV-08WQ1 WhisperWall Bathroom Exhaust Fan
As you might have guessed from the name, the Panasonic WhisperWall series is a very similar product to the WhisperCeiling, but it’s meant to be mounted on the wall instead of the ceiling. This one is probably the greatest choice for apartments, or for those who prefer to have a horizontal drain pipe, as its duct is also oriented horizontally.
This unit is pretty big, measuring 11.1 x 23.2 x 12.1 inches, and has an 8-inch duct opening. This has to be the widest duct diameter in our top, yet the power output of this unit is only 70 CFM. Despite its size, this exhaust fan will work for small to medium bathrooms only, as it will have quite a bit of trouble ventilating a room bigger than 60 square feet. The 8-inches duct opening is also a challenge for the installation process, as you’ll have to drill an equally wide hole into the wall in order to mount it safely.
In terms of quality, you will enjoy the time-tested Panasonic quality, which means a galvanized steel corpus and parts, a silent motor that runs at less than 1.1 sones, and an exterior hood with a back-draft damper, which will prevent cold air from getting into your bathroom. The blower wheel on it is designed to draw air into both sides, allowing more air to enter the unit. This makes up for the rather low CFM index, yet does not improve the speed of the process significantly.
As far as aspect goes, this bathroom fan has a very discreet, white grid design, which will keep it from standing out in any bathroom. Besides that, this unit comes with the same 3-year warranty on all parts, and a 6-year warranty on the motor so that you can shop with peace of mind – if this lets you down anytime during 6 years, you’ll get a free replacement. Check out the latest price for this product here:
Broan Model QTXE110FLT Bathroom Exhaust Fan
If you want a small, yet powerful fan for your bathroom, and would also not say no to some extra illumination or a night light function, the Broan Model QTXE110FLT is definitely an option worth considering. This unit is great not only grace to its extra illumination features but also thanks to its great quality parts – the fan is entirely made of heavy-duty polymeric material, which will make it lightweight and resistant to humidity damage. In addition, it will put less pressure on your ceiling than a steel unit.
This fan measures 10.5 x 11.4 x 7.6 inches, and the duct diameter on it is 6 inches. It will easily clean up the steam in a medium to large-sized bathroom, as it runs to 110 CFM. It is also nearly silent, producing noise lower than 0.7 sones.
In addition to that, the Broan Model QTXE110FLT comes with two energy-saving 18-watt light bulbs, which make an independent light source in your bathroom. If your room is small enough, this might even be sufficient for illuminating it by itself; however, if you have a separate light source, you can still use the illumination feature for a discreet night light. A 4-watt bulb is not included but can be purchased separately and screwed in the ceiling fan. This will be a great feature for families with kids and/or elderly members, as it will create a comfortable glow for those late night visits to the bathroom.
The unit is Energy Star certified and comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. Shop for this product here:
Broan QTX110HL Ultra Silent Series Bath Fan with Heater
Broan is a very versatile manufacturer, as it produces both inexpensive and high-end equipment. If you want to enjoy the same elegant design as the Broan 164, but want to go a step further regarding power and quality, the Broan QTX110HL is definitely the right choice for you.
This unit is a ceiling-mounted bathroom fan and measures 17.6 x 11.4 x 7.6 inches and has a duct opening of 6 inches in diameter. This is accompanied by an 110 CFM power outlet, which makes a pretty efficient exhaust fan for medium to large bathrooms. Despite the quite high power, this unit is also fairly economical, being certified by HVI as so. Made of polymeric material, it will also ensure that no great pressure is put on your ceiling, making the installation process a tad bit easier. Noise should also not be an issue with this model, as it is nearly silent, running at just under 0.9 sones.
Much like the previous model, the Broan QTX110HL has an illumination feature to it. A bit brighter than the Broan Model QTXE110FLT, this one comes with two 60-watt light bulbs included in the package and has a night light feature as well. You have to purchase a 7-watt light bulb separately if you want to use it. In addition to those, this fan also comes with a heating function, which can be really convenient if you don’t want to heat up the whole house, but your bathroom feels a little bit chilly. For this kind of situation, you can turn on the heater on your ceiling fan, and it only heats up a small bathroom or the area around it. The motor is continuously lubricated, ensuring a longer lifespan for this product.
This product comes with a 1-year limited warranty, as well as an installation manual that can help you put it together yourself. Check the latest price for this product here:
Exhaust Choosing Guide
A bathroom exhaust fan is a ventilation system connected to a horizontal or vertical pipe that fans the moisture out of the house. They come in numerous shapes and sizes, but most of them are around 10 x 20 x 10 inches, being the perfect size to mount on the wall without it being too noticeable. The material also differs, but they tend to be made of steel or polymeric, both of which are resistant to moisture damage. The ventilation technology varies from one manufacturer to another as well, and there’s no right or wrong with this one – they all work just as fine. Another feature you should be looking for is the capacity of the unit in relation to the size of your bathroom. Last but not least, bathroom fans can be pretty noisy, so you might want to go for a product that has a quiet motor. Let’s break it down into the main features you should be looking for:
- CFM vs size of the bathroom.
All the products you’ll find online or offline will have the CFM specified. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, and it equals the amount of air the fan can handle over said period. The size of your bathroom will influence your choice of CFM, as the bigger your room is, the higher the CPM should be. Naturally, if you have an unusually big bathroom, you’re running a business, like a public bath, gym, or whatnot, you might need two or more fans, depending on the size of the space you’re planning to ventilate.
We recommend that you measure your bathroom before going shopping for the perfect exhaust fan. However, if you don’t want to go through the trouble, and you have a pretty standard-sized bathroom, you can go for a fan that runs between 70 and 150 CFM. The time in which it will clean the steam will fluctuate depending on the CFM as well.
This feature can be broken down into two separate categories: the size of the unit itself and the size of the duct diameter. The latter will influence the overall size of the unit, and again, the speed of the ventilation process. Generally, you should look for a unit with a 4 to 8-inch duct, as anything smaller than that would be insufficient to clean up the steam in real time. When it comes to the size of the fan itself, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. The CFM index depends more on the power of the motor rather than on the size of the duct, so a bigger fan will not always equal a better choice. Look for a good balance between motor power (CFM) and size of the duct – but again, you don’t want to go below 4 inches in diameter.
As a matter of fact, the capacity of the fan will not always be specified in CFM. You can also find L/s (liters per second) m3/h (cubic meters per hour). If you stumble upon a product that has any of these different specifications, the minimum you should be looking for is 15L/s and 90 m3/h.
- Energy consumption
Naturally, the first thing we think about when we invest in a new electrical appliance is how much is it going to influence the electricity bill. Luckily enough, bathroom exhaustion fans are not very energy-consuming, and also have a couple of features that will help you save energy in the long run. Some fans come with an indicator light; that will remind you to turn it off in case you forget. As recent models can be absolutely silent, this is a very useful addition, especially if you want to avoid surprises at the end of the month. There are also fans that can run at a specified speed, so you can set it on the lowest setting in case you want to save some energy. This could be a great option if there is an alternative source of fresh air in the room, such as a window. The steam can still linger in the corners, so it would be a good idea to have a fan running on the lowest setting as well.
A rule of thumb to look for is the bigger the fan, the more energy it consumes. Plus, if it has extra features, such as speakers or more powerful lights, that will also make it less energy efficient.
Bathroom exhaustion fans are known for being pretty noisy. While not necessarily producing a loud noise, the continuous humming can give you headaches in the long run, especially if you have to have it on for the whole time you spend in the bath. In any case, it’s better to opt for a unit that has a noise-reduction system, or a quieter motor. However, we would not recommend going for an entirely silent bathroom fan, although they are becoming increasingly available nowadays. The reason for that is that you can’t really be sure whether it’s working properly or not if you don’t hear it at all. Noise can also indicate which part exactly is at fault for a certain shortcoming – thus easing up the fixing process.
Bathroom exhaust fans come in different configurations. If you live in a house and have some kind of attic above your bathroom, you will most likely have to drill the brickwork vertically, letting the steam out through the roof, in a vertical line. However, if your bathroom is not on the top floor of the house, or you live in an apartment, you’ll have to drill a horizontal canal through the wall, which will ventilate the humid air right out of the wall. Respectively, you’ll have to choose between mounting your exhaust fan on the ceiling or on one of the bathroom walls. As far as the exact location of the fan goes, it’s really up to you. Some say it’s better to place it right above your tub or shower cabin, and some say it’s more effective when placed between the toilet and the bathtub or shower. In reality, it all depends on the configuration of your bathroom, and on how you plan to ventilate it. Some prefer turning on the ventilation the moment they get into the shower or bath, so the mirror does not get foggy, and the steam doesn’t even manage to fill up the room. In that case, it’s a good idea to place it as close to the source of the steam as possible, above the bathtub or shower. On the other hand, if you have, say, a steam generator, and you want to enjoy its beneficial effects while you take a bath, it’s indeed recommendable to place it somewhere in the middle of the room. The steam will spread out evenly and will be absorbed much easier through a hole in the center than one in the corner.
The installation of a bathroom exhaust fan is no easy task. You have to have several tools on hand, such as a power drill, screwdriver, a jigsaw, and pliers, as well as some extra materials for isolating, such as caulk, plus a length of duct pipe, and a cap for the vent. If your house doesn’t already have a pre-drilled ventilation hole, you might want to hire a professional to do the drilling for you. The rest can be done by oneself if one has all the necessary tools and knowledge, but the drilling part can be a bit tricky.
As more and more people want to have a perfectly matching set of hardware in their bathroom, even exhaustion fans have started to come in different colors and finishes. You don’t have to worry about a cheap looking fan anymore, as you can now find units in about any color you like. They can also somehow represent the style you’re going for in your bathroom, as you can go for an edgier and modernist appearance, or for a classic, more delicate one.
- Extra features.
Any kind of furniture or equipment for your bathroom will have some extra features you can opt for. As far as exhaustion fans go, you can go for one which has built-in lights. If you’re wondering as to why would you need a fan with lights, manufacturers claim it can solve the problem of poorly lit bathroom corners (if you place it in the corner, that is), but it can also serve as a low-maintenance night light. Kids and elderly people will appreciate that a lot, as you can never be too sure of what’s lurking in the dark when you want to go to the toilet in the middle of the night. However, if you feel like leaving it on for a whole night will bother your sleep, you should go for a silent operation fan. As mentioned before, these are becoming increasingly popular, and those loud, screeching units are left in the past. Besides these, some fans even come with built-in speakers, so you don’t even have to purchase them separately. Grace to these multifunctional devices, you can now keep your devices away from the humidity, while still enjoying your favorite music or radio broadcast.
Bathroom exhaust fans are no expensive products either. You will probably end up spending more on the installation and labor (mainly the drilling) than on the unit itself. On the market, you will find fans ranging from $50 to $200.
These would be all the features you should look for when shopping for a bathroom exhaust fan. Whether you plan to get a new one to replace your old unit in the bathroom, or you’re just planning to made a brand-new installation, you’ll enjoy a number of benefits, such as:
- Preventing mold formation. Mold can be pretty threatening to one’s health, as well as to the construction of the room – it can cause the paint or wallpaper to come off, and ugly marks to form on the ceiling. With an exhaust fan, the humidity in the room will be reduced to the minimum, keeping away respiratory problems and preserving a nice aspect in the bathroom.
- Preventing mildew or other foul smells. Nothing can be worse than grabbing a towel or a bathrobe that is still damp from yesterday’s bath that has that specific mildew smell to it. Sometimes it can get so bad that you can’t even take it off by laundering the cloth, which leaves you no alternative but to throw them away. A fan will ensure you always have dry and pleasant smelling towels, rugs, bathrobes, and any other textiles you may need in the bathroom.
- Prevents the mirrors from fogging. Mirrors in the bathroom can become foggy very quickly if exposed to humidity. Due to the difference in temperature between the mirror’s surface and the room, condensation forms easily on it, building up a microscopic mineral layer after every bath or shower. These can be very tricky to remove, and normal window cleaner solution will not do the trick anymore. To prevent that, again, a powerful exhaust fan is a great saving solution.
- Prevents the floor from getting slippery. While it might not do much about the water splashes, it can help get rid of the extra steam that will make the tiles on the floor become slippery and unpleasantly wet. No more wet socks in the morning!
We hope this little guide helped you find the perfect bathroom exhaust fan for your house and family. Before purchasing one, don’t forget to take some rough measurements of your bathroom so that you can choose the appropriate CFM rate. Also, don’t forget to look for a proper balance between the duct diameter and the CFM, in order to maximize the efficiency of your product. If you have kids, it’s best to invest in a bathroom fan that comes with a night light function as well. Moreover, if your bathroom is really small, some of these units can provide enough light to illuminate the room by themselves. A silent operation is always a plus with fan, so make sure you go for a unit that runs at less than 1.5 sones. Last but not least, make sure you opt for a product from a reputable company, which offers some kind of warranty, and uses high-quality materials for their bathroom fans. Nothing can be worse than spending money on a bathroom fan, bothering with the drilling and installation and having it break down after a short while. Regarding the price, these units are rather cheap, but you can still find one for every budget within the $50 – $200 range. Good luck shopping!