Facebook

Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans of 2021

Updated
Keep odors and moisture in check with a bathroom exhaust fan.

We’ve all taken a shower or bath and filled the bathroom full of steam. Unless you have a window that you can open, the inside of your bathroom becomes extremely damp. Moisture is terrible on so many levels because it breeds mold spores and unsightly mildew.

The best bathroom exhaust fans stop this from occurring by sucking away the moisture and funneling it outside. Let’s take a look at your options.

Our Top Picks

Sensible Digs earns a commission through the following independently chosen links at no additional cost to you.
Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Panasonic FV-0510VSL1 WhisperValue DC Ventilation Fan with Light, 50-80-100 CFM
Best Quiet Fan
Panasonic WhisperValue Fan
  • Slimline profile
  • 10W LED strip panel
  • 1W night light function
Product Image of the Delta Electronics (Americas) Ltd. VFB25AEH BreezSignature Humidity Sensor Fan, 130 CFM, White
Best With Humidity Sensor
Delta BreezSignature Exhaust Fan
  • Humidity sensor
  • Fan spped of 130 CFM
  • Energy star rated
Product Image of the Broan-NuTone 765H80LB Bathroom Exhaust Heater and Light, 80 CFM, 2.0 Sones Bath Fan, White
Best With Heater
Broan NuTone Exhaust Fan
  • Integrated 1,300-W heater
  • Has LED night light
  • Mas speed of 80 CFM
Product Image of the Broan-NuTone AER110RGBL ChromaComfort 110 CFM Ventilation Fan with 24 Color Selectable LED, 1.5 Sones, ENERGY STAR Certified, White
Best With LED Light
Broan NuTone ChromaComfort deeFan
  • 24 light color choices
  • Bluetooth enabled
  • Sealed system reduces air leakage
Product Image of the Air King BFQ 110 BFQ110 Exhaust Fan, 100-CFM
Best Budget Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Air King BFQ 110 Exhaust Fan
  • Coverage of 100 square feet
  • Snap-in connectors
  • HVI certified
Product Image of the VIVOSUN 6 Inch 390 CFM Inline Duct Fan with Variable Speed Controller HVAC Blower for Ventilation
Best Inline Bathroom Exhaust Fan
VIVOSUN 390 Inline Duct Fan
  • Variable speed selector
  • 2,550 RPM fan speed
  • Airflow of 390 cfm
Product Image of the Broan-Nutone 682 Duct-Free Ventilation Fan, White Square Ceiling or Wall Exhaust Fan with Plastic Grille
Best Ductless Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Broan NuTone Duct-Free Vent Fan
  • Has a charcoal filter
  • Zero-rated CFM model
  • Low installation costs

Do Bathroom Exhaust Fans Really Work?

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) states that each bathroom must have a mechanical means of extracting moisture if no window opens to provide ventilation.

So, if you want to extract moist air from inside your home, a bathroom exhaust fan is a crucial tool to achieve this. It works by a fan drawing air into the ducting located in the ceiling and pushing it to an outside vent.

There are many benefits of an exhaust fan. It stops damp penetrating the inside of your home. It prevents mold growth and mildew, as well as improving the air quality inside your bathroom.

How To Choose the Best Bathroom Exhaust Fan

So, what should you look for when you shop for a bathroom exhaust fan? Let’s consider some of the necessities.

Airflow Performance

Airflow is the single biggest consideration when shopping for that new bathroom exhaust fan. Airflow determines how potent your fan is, and is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

The exhaust fan must have a minimum of 50 CFM for intermittent operation and 20 CFM for continuous use. While model codes do not cover the configuration and direction of the vent system, they do publish guidelines that require the vents to exhaust to the outside.

If you have a larger bathroom, you might need to scale up the fan size. Something closer to 100 CFM would be a better option to handle all the extra capacity.

Also, airflow determines the size of the fan relative to the room dimensions. An undersized fan will struggle in a large bathroom, impeding its performance and leaving you at the mercy of moist air.

Noise Levels

Not all bathroom exhaust fans are the same. You can buy standard fans that operate between 3.0 and 4.0 sones, which is the same volume as a conversation or radio playing at a moderate level.

Super-quiet models should be less than 1.0 sone. To give you a point of reference, 0.5 sones is the equivalent of leaves rustling.

What Fittings Do You Have?

The size of your bathroom fan not only correlates to room size, but also relates to what fittings you have in the room. If you have a shower, toilet, and a washbasin, you will likely create a lot less moisture than someone with an additional bathtub in the room.

And if you own a Jacuzzi bath, go for an oversized exhaust fan.

Location of the Bathroom Fan

Your bathroom has zones based on the moisture content in the room. A shower enclosure or bath might be the most water-laden areas of the room, so locating the fan closest to the epicenter of the dampness gives a better extraction performance.

Likewise, if you have recesses or awkward angles and corners in the bathroom, these all affect the way your fan works.

Wall or Ceiling

Where you locate your fan is crucial for the ease of installation. Wall fans are less complicated because all you need is a hole in the wall to insert the fan.

Ceiling fans vent to the exterior, either through a gable wall or the roof, which presents further complications. You need ducting and connectors, as well as a waterproof and wildlife-proof vent cover.

If you opt to vent through the roof, consider getting a professional to do the work.

Safety and Energy Performance

Make sure your chosen fan is certified by the Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) to ensure it is fit for purpose. These fans are tested for suitability and efficiency, and because the HVI is independent, you can trust the results.


The Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans of 2021

With so many bathroom exhaust fans to choose from, it can be very confusing working out which one is the best for your space.

Here are the 7 best bathroom exhaust fans to take the confusion out of the process.

Panasonic FV-0510VSL1 WhisperValue Ventilation Fan

This Panasonic exhaust fan has a low profile, so it sits as flush to the wall as possible to blend into the surroundings. It is our quiet choice, and you cannot get better than 0.3 sones. That’s a lower volume than rustling leaves.

It has a CFM range of 50, 80, and 100, so you can scale up and down the potency of the fan to cater to different moisture and odor levels. This exhaust fan also comes with a 10W LED strip panel and a 1W night light function.

Panasonic exhaust fans are Energy Star rated, so they are efficient, slimline, and quiet, and they also come with a 6-year warranty to give you peace of mind.

Pros

  • Slimline profile.
  • Super-quiet.
  • Speed selector.
  • LED light.

Cons

  • Not a budget option.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 7.94
Dimensions (inches) 13 x 13 x 3.38
Sones 0.3
CFM 50, 80, 100
Speed selector Yes
Energy Star rated Yes
Price $$$
Warranty 6-year

Delta BreezSignature VFB25AEH Exhaust Fan

This Delta BreezSignature exhaust fan has the latest in brushless motor technology. It improves the efficiency of the engine while extending the life and runtime of the fan. It is louder than the Panasonic, coming in at a volume of 2.0 sones.

You can set it to humidity sensing mode at the wall switch. This detects when the humidity rises, and the unit switches on to start the extraction process. You can also disconnect the sensor so you can control the fan manually.

Thanks to the motor and the auto-humidity sensor, you can achieve a 74 percent saving in energy costs compared to other exhaust fans. It also has an impressive 130 CFM, meaning it will suit larger bathrooms.

Pros

  • Humidity sensor.
  • 130 CFM.
  • Energy Star rated.
  • Brushless motor.

Cons

  • Louder than some models.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 9.81
Dimensions (inches) 9.7 x 9.7 x 8
Sones 2.0
CFM 80 to 130
Speed selector Yes
Energy Star rated Yes
Price $$$
Warranty 3-year limited

Broan NuTone 765H80LB Exhaust Fan with Heater and Light

Best Bathroom Exhaust Fan With Heater

This bathroom exhaust fan offers just about everything. Not only does it have an LED light, but it also has an integrated 1,300-watt heater to keep you warm while you are in the bathroom. It also means you can combat moisture by maintaining a steady temperature to help dry the air.

This model has a maximum CFM of 80, so you might want to install it in small bathrooms, and you only get one speed, which forces you to run it at the maximum speed no matter what level of moisture and odor you have.

This Broan-NuTone has an operating volume of 2.0 sones, so it matches the Delta but is nowhere near as quiet as the Panasonic.

Pros

  • Integrated heater.
  • LED night light.
  • 80 CFM.
  • Ideal for small bathrooms.

Cons

  • Louder than some models.
  • Single-speed.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 13
Dimensions (inches) 14.25 x 9.88 x 7.5
Sones 2.0
CFM 80 (single speed)
Speed selector No
Energy Star rated No
Price $$
Warranty 1-year

Broan NuTone AER110RGBL ChromaComfort Exhaust Fan

Best Bathroom Exhaust Fan With LED Light

This Broan NuTone exhaust fan takes lighting to a new level. It’s like having your own disco in the bathroom. You can choose between 24 selectable colors via the wall control or millions of variations using the Bluetooth setting.

You can also dim the light between 10 and 100 percent to set the right mood when you are soaking in the bath.

It operates at 110 CFM, so it is suitable for medium-size bathrooms, and it runs at 1.5 sones, so while it isn’t the quietest, it is still a comfortable volume. This vent also utilizes DampSeal technology to reduce air leakage and backdraft by up to 50 percent.

You can also locate this fan over the dampest sections of the bathroom as long as you use the correct ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). It means you can capture the steam more efficiently, reducing moisture spread inside the bathroom.

Pros

  • 24 color choices.
  • Bluetooth enabled.
  • 1.5 sones.
  • Sealed system reduces air leakage.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Single-speed.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 11.2
Dimensions (inches) 13.25 x 13.25 x 5.75
Sones 1.5
CFM 110
Speed selector No
Energy Star rated Yes
Price $$$$
Warranty 3-years

Air King BFQ 110 Exhaust Fan

Best Budget Bathroom Exhaust Fan

If you are looking for a budget exhaust fan, this might be the best choice. It costs a fraction of the price of the most expensive models, making it incredible value for money. So, how good is it?

It’s HVI certified, has a special snap-in connection system for easier ceiling installation. It also has an operating volume of 3.5 sones, so while it isn’t the quietest ceiling fan, it still has an airflow of 100 CFM, making it ideal for bathrooms at about 100 square feet.

Like the previous model, you can install this fan directly over bathtubs and shower cubicles as long as you use the correct GFCI circuits. It doesn’t have speed selectors or LED lighting, but for a budget exhaust fan, it does what it says on the packaging.

Pros

  • Amazing price.
  • 100 CFM
  • Snap-in connectors.
  • HVI certified.

Cons

  • Limited features.
  • 3.5 sones.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 4.6
Dimensions (inches) 4.75 x 9.13 x 4.75
Sones 3.5
CFM 100
Speed selector No
Energy Star rated No
Price $
Warranty 1-year

VIVOSUN 6-Inch 390 Inline Duct Fan

Best Inline Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Inline exhaust fans differ from bathroom varieties in the way they get used. These types of fans are better suited to more industrial applications, which is why they have a higher CFM value. This model has an airflow of 390 CFM, making it almost 4 times more potent.

It also has a fan speed of 2,550 RPM, which means you can move air throughout your space more effectively. It also has an operating volume of 37 decibels and a variable speed selector to scale up and down depending on the application.

If you want a powerful vent fan, this model is suitable for household, industrial and horticultural purposes. It is easy to install, is fluted at both ends to attach to ducting, and energy-efficient.

Pros

  • Easy installation.
  • 2,550 RPM fan speed.
  • Ideal for industrial, household, and horticultural use.
  • 390 CFM.

Cons

  • 37 dB (2.0 sones).

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 6.73
Dimensions (inches) 12.44 x 10.16 x 10.08
Sones 2.0 (37 dB)
CFM 390
Speed selector Yes
Energy Star rated No
Price $$
Warranty 1-year

Broan NuTone 682 Duct-Free Ventilation Fan

Best Ductless Bathroom Exhaust Fan

If you are on the lookout for a convenient exhaust fan, this could be the one. It has a charcoal filter, so it doesn’t need any ducting, making it a breeze to install. The best thing about charcoal filters is they also remove odors better than ducted systems.

You can fit this fan into the ceiling as well as the wall, giving you plenty of options. It even has plastic housing that is paintable to blend in with your color scheme.

You might find that this fan is only suitable for smaller spaces or as an additional fan in a larger bathroom to help with capacity. It is a zero-rated CFM model as it has no ductwork to channel the moisture outside.

The best thing about this exhaust fan is it is cheaper to install as it needs no ductwork.

Pros

  • Easy installation.
  • No ducting.
  • Ideal for small spaces.
  • Lower installation costs.

Cons

  • Limited power.
  • Zero-rated CFM.

Additional Specs

Weight (pounds) 3.4
Dimensions (inches) 7.5 x 7.13 x 3.75
Sones N/A
CFM N/A
Speed selector No
Energy Star rated No
Price $
Warranty Not listed

Bathroom Exhaust Fan Comparison Chart

Product Best Weight Dimensions Sones CFM Speed selector Energy Star rated Warranty
Panasonic WhisperValue Fan Quiet Fan 8 lbs 13 x 13 x 3.38″ 0 50, 80, 100 Yes Yes 6-year
Delta BreezSignature Exhaust Fan Humidity Sensor 10 lbs 9.7 x 9.7 x 8″ 2 80 to 130 Yes Yes 3-year limited
Broan NuTone Exhaust Fan With Heater 13 lbs 14.25 x 9.88 x 7.5″ 2 80 No No 1-year
Broan NuTone ChromaComfort Fan With LED Light 11.2 lbs 13.25 x 13.25 x 5.75″ 1.5 110 No Yes 3-years
Air King BFQ 110 Exhaust Fan Budget Pick 4.6 lbs 4.75 x 9.13 x 4.75″ 4 100 No No 1-year
VIVOSUN 390 Inline Duct Fan Inline 6.73 lbs 12.44 x 10.16 x 10.08″ 2.0 (37 dB) 390 Yes No 1-year
Broan NuTone Duct-Free Vent Fan Ductless 3 lbs 7.5 x 7.13 x 3.75″ N/A N/A No No N/A

Bathroom Exhaust Fan FAQs

How Many CFM Do I Need for My Bathroom Fan?

Your exhaust fan must have a minimum of 50 CFM for intermittent use and 20 CFM for continuous use. This is the bare standard set in law.

Does a Bathroom Exhaust Fan Help With Smell?

The primary purpose of a bathroom exhaust fan is to remove damp air from inside your home to the outside, but they also remove odors during that process. Odors linger in the atmosphere, so when you circulate the air in the room, it freshens the smells.

Is It Bad To Oversize a Bathroom Exhaust Fan?

It depends on what you mean by oversize? It is always a great idea to slightly scale up the CFM values to compensate for increased moisture and upgrades to bathroom fittings. If it calls for 50 CFM, choose an exhaust fan with at least 60 CFM.

However, don’t go too mad when sizing the fan. If you choose something with too much power, you risk increasing your energy costs and drawing all the heat and conditioned air from your home. It also increases the noise levels.

Which Exhaust Fan Is Better: Plastic or Metal?

Plastic exhaust fans are molded with rounded edges. They are lighter and cheaper. Metal fans are heavier and have sharp edges that could cause an injury if they fall or come off the roof.

Metal is also more susceptible to moisture damage and corrosion.

Can I Install a Bathroom Fan in the Wall?

As long as the wall is an external surface, you can install the exhaust fan in a sidewall. In some cases, it might be easier than opting to vent through a ceiling to the outside because it involves less work.


Banish Moisture and Odors

If you need to install a bathroom exhaust fan and are looking for options, this guide could be what you need. Exhaust fans are the best tools for extracting moisture and odors from the smallest room in your house.

The best fans protect against mold, mildew, and unsightly discoloration inside your bathroom.

Headshot of Mark Weir

About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.