Several bathroom exhaust fan models now feature additional lighting systems and heaters. This way, the units function as both ventilation fans and supplemental heaters.
If you’re looking for this type of vent fans, read on to find the best bathroom exhaust fan with light.
The heating is typically accomplished via a wire heating element or infrared lamp(s). Where the heat source is a resistance wire, the unit will heat through convection. Infrared lamp heaters, meanwhile, heat through radiation.
Either way, the heating rarely hampers the fan action. Indeed, in most cases, the two functions (fanning and heating) can be run independently.
It gets better; in addition to the heating action, some of these fans also function as lights. They feature built-in incandescent or CFL bulbs that light up the bathroom as a standard light fixture would. As with the heating, the lights (in many cases) can also be controlled independently.
The question is – should you go for these fan + heater + light combos for your bathroom? And, if so, what considerations should you make when shopping for one? This guide answers these and many other bathroom fans + heater + light combo questions.
What’s a Bathroom Exhaust Fan + Light + Heater Combo?
A bathroom exhaust fan + light + heater has three parts the fan, light, and heater that works independently (though they can work simultaneously).
The main component, an exhaust fan, works by pulling odors, fumes, and moisture from the bathroom and venting outdoors. It uses a motor to turn its blades, which help to pull air out of the space. The stale air is propelled through the vents within the fan and deposited outside the building.
Exhaust fans use electricity and typically include a thermostat that signals the heat to come when a specific temperature is reached. The exhaust fan can vent outdoors directly or indirectly.
- Direct venting: Most wall and ceiling-installed bathroom units vent directly through dedicated ductwork.
- Indirect venting: A small category of exhaust fans known as inline fans don’t vent directly. Instead, they connect to the home’s main ductwork and expel air through the home’s central ventilation.
Heating is typically accomplished using a heating element or infrared lamp, with standard heating elements being the most common. As electric current passes through the heating element and the resistance results in heat production. Other differences between the two are as follows;
- Heating element heaters: Where an electric heating element is used, there’s usually a fan system to help blow and circulate the warm air throughout the bathroom. This fan system is separate from the vent system used to remove stale air from the room. The heating elements are typically rated between 1,000 and 1,500 watts.
- Infrared heaters: Units that use infrared heaters, meanwhile, don’t need blower systems. Instead, the infrared red rays exiting the unit directly heat objects on its path. The infrared heaters are usually rated between 200 and 300 watts.
Finally, the light in the combo often comes from an LED bulb. You can wire the system such that the light automatically comes when the fan (and heater) are on or individually so that you can control each function independently.
The most crucial factor here, however, is the quality of light. Bathroom lighting comes in many forms. The following are two essential factors to consider;
- Decorative or not? Decorative lights look like a standard bathroom light fixture. People won’t even notice that there’s a fan and heater somewhere behind the light until the two are turned on.
- Recessed or mounted? Recessed simply means that the unit goes into the wall/ceiling while mounted options hang onto the wall/ceiling (like an artwork). Recessed units look better aesthetically but are also slightly more challenging to install.
Benefits of a Bathroom Exhaust Fan + Heater + Light Combo
In many homes, all three, i.e., fan operation, heating, and lighting, are needed to make the bathroom comfortable and practical. A fan + heater + light combo gives you all three at a go. There are endless benefits of such an arrangement, including;
- Remove stale air: Bathrooms tend to have all kinds of odors, which can be caused by several issues, including but not limited to, clogged drainages. Exhaust fans are excellent at removing stale air. They effortlessly suck up the air and dispose of it outdoors.
- Remove excess humidity: The bathroom is the most humid place in the home. This excess moisture can manifest in foggy mirrors but usually has more severe consequences, including creating a breeding ground for mold and mildew. The fan and heater can work in unison to rid your bathroom of excess humidity.
- Improve indoor air quality: Aside from the odors, other factors that can affect bathroom air quality include allergens, microorganisms (such as mold), dust, and dirt particles. The exhaust fans help to get rid of these particles quickly.
- Enjoy your morning baths/showers more: It’s not uncommon for people to avoid the morning bath or shower because of the cold conditions. The heating component of the fan + heater + light combo eliminates this problem. Some units are even programmable such that you can turn on the heating a few minutes before stepping into the bathroom.
- Improve mood in the bathroom: Finally, the bath/shower time should be enjoyed, just like the rest of the day. It shouldn’t be something you loath and only do because you have to. A combination of heating and lighting can help improve the mood in your bathroom so you can enjoy your baths more.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Bathroom Fan with Heating and Lighting
Do you Need the Combo?
Before anything else, ask yourself whether getting the three functions in a combo would be the best idea. For instance, if you recently invested in a powerful bathroom heating system, you may not benefit much from the combo’s heating component. Ideally, you should only invest in the unit if you need to supplement all three areas – air conditioning, heating, and lighting.
The bathroom size will determine how much fan action you need, the amount of heating required, and the ideal lighting type. Since the primary need here is the fan system, we recommend that you begin by ensuring that the fan is strong enough (but not too strong) for your bathroom size. Typically, you need 1 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) per square foot. Therefore, for a 50 sq. Ft. bathroom, you need a 50 CFM fan.
Fan Strength in CFM
The strength of a bathroom fan is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM), which refers to the amount of air the fan can remove the bathroom in a single minute. A 50 CFM fan moves 50 cubic feet of air per minute.
Bathroom combos are typically rated in the 50 CFM to 110 CFM range. Anything above 70 CFM is good, but consider this factor alongside the size of your bathroom.
The Wall Switch System
First off, bathroom combos allow you to control the heating, fan system, and lighting together or individually. We’d recommend that you find a model that will enable individual feature control to guarantee greater convenience.
Secondly, consider whether the wall control switch is included. Ideally, you want the switch included since third-party switches can be problematic.
Where does it Vent?
The best bathroom exhaust fans vent outside the house. If the unit vents into a wall cavity or the attic, a few problems could arise. The moisture can be trapped, for instance, leading to mold and decay up there.
A noisy bathroom fan combo negates all the benefits of having one in the first place. You won’t have peace in the bathroom. You’ll likely want to hurry your baths/showers so you can quickly get out of the bathroom.
Fortunately, most bathroom fan/heater/light combos are rather silent. The majority are rated below 4 sones, which is the industry standard. If you can get below 2 sones, that would be excellent.
10 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans With Light
1. Panasonic FV-11VHL2 WhisperWarm 110 CFM Ceiling Mounted Fan/Heat/Light
A member of the WhisperWarm Series bathroom combos from Panasonic, the FV-11VHL2 is a 110 CFM fan equipped with a heater to add a little warmth when the temperature starts to drop as well as a light, so you don’t need additional lighting in your bathroom.
The blower wheel is designed to draw in air from both sides, allowing the unit to serve a larger area. At just 0.7 sones, the fan is so quiet you may not even notice it is working.
Something else you’ll love about the fan is the continuous, trouble-free operation. The high-quality components ensure that the blower wheel runs for years without any trouble. The motor is permanently lubricated and has a condenser that allows it to operate at a lower temperature for extended life.
The heat comes from a tabular, stainless-steel-sheathed heating element that features nickel-chromium wire. Magnesium oxide inside the tube ensures optimal heat transfer and electrical insulation even at high temperatures. The overhead lighting, meanwhile, comes from two 18-watt fluorescent lamps and 4-watt night light.
- Durable, galvanized steel casing
- Extremely quiet at 0.7 sones
- Permanently lubricated motor
- Easy to install
- Energy Star Certified
- 3-year limited warranty
- A tad expensive (at over $300)
- Installation isn’t straightforward
2. Broan-NuTone 9093WH Exhaust Fan, Heater, and Light Combo
If the above Panasonic unit doesn’t impress you, for about $100 less, you can get the Broan 9093WH. Another stunning combo, this model is slightly less powerful at 70 CFM, making it ideal for bathrooms in the region of 65 Sq. Ft. to 70 Sq. Ft. Nevertheless, it’s very easy to use, with a four-function wall switch included to control all the functions out of the box.
The resistance wire generates 1,500 watts of heating power, with automatic thermal-reset protection guaranteeing heating safety.
The lighting, meanwhile, comes from a bright 100-watt incandescent bulb that provides clean, even lighting. It’s a decorative light designed to beautify the surrounding. An additional 7-watt bulb provides a soft glow during night visits.
The white enamel grille should seamlessly match your décor. It’s also worth noting that the 8-inch glass lens recesses into the ceiling such that only around 3 inches of it extend from the ceiling.
The NuTone isn’t the quietest of exhaust fan combos but still ranks well at 3.5 sones. It comes in a white or cream finish.
- Comes in a galvanized steel housing
- Four-function wall switch included
- Strong 1,500-watt heating performance
- Bright, 100-watt incandescent lighting
- Elegant, white enamel grille suits many decors
- Has a few plastic parts
- Light bulbs sold separately
3. Broan-Nutone QTX110HL Very Quiet Ceiling Heater, Fan, and Light Combo
This Broan NuTone QTX Series model is another excellent exhaust fan + light + heater combo. The metal blower wheel moves air at 110 CF with minimal noise (0.9 sones). The fast air movement quickly eliminates fogged mirrors and those moist walls. This unit is best suited to bathrooms between 100 and 110 square feet.
The heater, meanwhile, is rated at 1,500 watts. It delivers powerful yet gentle heat. The heat is felt within seconds. This combo implements a unique PowerHeat technology where the heating element is placed very close to the force air grill to protect the internal components from overheating.
Lighting comes from two 60-watt incandescent bulbs (not included) and a 7-watt nightlight bulb (also not included).
Other standout features of the QTX110HL include the rugged, galvanized steel housing, resilient anti-vibration mounting brackets, a free-breathing 6-inch duct connector, and a permanently lubricated motor. The unit is HVI Certified and comes with a one-year warranty.
- Easy to install
- 1500-watt heating
- Silent 0.9 sones operation
- Modern-looking white polymeric grill
- One-year warranty
- Light bulbs not included
- Requires 230V wiring
- Multi-function wall switch sold separately
4. Broan-NuTone QTXN110HL Ceiling Heater, Fan, and Light Combo
If you’re not impressed with the QTX110HL, a near-similar model, the XTXN110HL (note the N is the model number), is a worthy alternative. This combo is pretty much a copy-paste of the QTX110HL except for the more rounded edges.
It’s a 110 CFM exhaust fan + light + heater combo that operates at 0.9 sones. The 0.9-sones operation is so quiet you won’t even notice that there’s a fan on the ceiling. A 6-inch ducting allows the unit to dispose of stale air with ease.
You’ll love the bright, 120-watt incandescent lighting, though the two incandescent bulbs (60 watts each) are sold separately. A 7-watt nightlight is also supported (sold separately) for night use. A 1500-watt heating element in the unit rounds up the list of features, assuring you of instant warmth whenever you need it.
This combo comes with a white polymeric grille that blends seamlessly in most decors. It requires a 2 x 8-inch construction space and installs fairly easily. The unit is UL Listed and rated as suitable for use in insulated ceilings.
- Powerful 110 CFM fan
- 120-watt light system
- 1500-watt heating
- Independent wall switch available
- Quiet, 0.9 sones operation
- HVI certified and UL Listed
- Light bulbs sold separately
- Not as easy to install as the manufacturer says
5. Delta BreezRadiance RAD80L 80 CFM Exhaust Bath Fan with Light and Heater
The RAD80L from Delta is an ever-present item in most top bathroom exhaust fan reviews, and for a good reason – it’s one of the most versatile combos.
Rated at 80 CFM, it isn’t the most powerful bathroom exhaust fan. At 1.5 sones, it’s also a little louder than most of the appliances on this list (though 1.5 sones is still impressively quiet operation). However, it comes with a few vital features that not many combos have.
For instance, it’s just one of a few exhaust fan combos that features a built-in thermostat to regulate bathroom temperature. It means that you can adjust bathroom warmth to the level you desire.
Many exhaust fan combos only give heating range without offering thermostat control. Additionally, The RAD80L is one of just a few units with an auto shut-off feature, a thermal cut-off that automatically springs into action in case of overheating.
Other features of the RAD80L include the energy-saving DC motor technology, a 1300-watt UL-evaluated heater, and a GU24 26-watt CFL lamp (included). The combo features a corrosion-resistant stainless steel build and uses a detachable 4-inch plastic duct adapter.
- Thermal cut-off protection
- Metal guard protection
- Built-in thermostat
- CFL lamp included
- HVI Certified and UL Listed
- Installation is a bit challenging
- The wiring diagram is inadequate
6. Broan-Nutone 665RP Heater, Fan, and Light Combo
The NuTone 655RP is another perfect combo from Broan. It features two blower wheels, each powered by its own permanently lubricated plug-in motor. It’s ideal for bathrooms in the 60 to 70 square feet range and moves air at 70 CFM. The blowing is relatively quiet at 4 sones.
The heating originates from a 1,300-watt heating element, while lighting is provided by a 100-watt incandescent bulb (sold separately). You’ll need wiring for a 20-amp circuit, which often necessitates a certified electrician. Beyond that, the unit is fairly easy to install.
The lamp snaps on and off for easy replacement. The combo itself comes with hanger bars, adjustable from 16-inch to 24-inch, that easily lock into position after securing the unit to rafters. It requires a 2-inch by 6-inch ceiling construction.
Other features of the 665RP include a quiet polypropylene duct adapter with a silent, Snap-On backdraft damper, a durable, cold-rolled galvanized steel housing, and night lights. The unit recesses into the ceiling such that only the light and white grille is visible.
- Inexpensive (at just over $100)
- Durable, cold-rolled steel housing
- 100-watt incandescent light
- 1300-watt heater
- HVI Certified, UL Listed
- 1-year warranty
- 4 sones is a bit loud
- 20-amp circuit required
- Multi-function switch not included
7. Broan-NuTone 100HL Directionally-Adjustable Bathroom Heater, Fan, and Light Combo
If you’re looking for a slightly quieter Broan NuTone, the 2-sone 100HL would be a fantastic acquisition. It features a different build than the other Broan NuTone products and even looks a bit sturdier. But, the qualities don’t stop at the looks. The 100HL is also slightly more powerful at 100 CFM, making it effective in bathrooms up to 100 square feet.
It also offers stronger heating at 1500 watts. But, there’s more – the heating is 360-degrees directionally-adjustable, meaning that you can adjust the unit to focus the heat in a particular direction. A single 100-watt, 19A bulb provides lighting.
You’ll also appreciate that the 100HL isn’t very difficult to install. The package includes a 24-inch adjustable hanger bar system and a 4-inch duct connector. Moreover, it fits into 2-inch by 6-inch ceiling constructions and can be used with a multi-function wall switch.
The unit requires a 20-amp circuit (professional installation recommended). It is UL Listed and HVI Certified.
- Bright incandescent lighting
- 1500-watt heater
- Decorative, polymeric grilles
- Quiet, 2-sone operation
- HVI Certified, UL listed
- Multi-function switch sold separately
- Requires 20-amp electrical wiring
8. Broan-NuTone 655 Bath Fan and Light with Heater
Be careful not to confuse this model with the 655RP. Fortunately, you’ll easily spot design variations in the looks of these two units. The 655 is also a 70CFM bathroom exhaust fan combo that operates at 4 sones. It’s ideal for bathrooms up to 65 square feet.
Similar to other Broan combos, it features polymeric grilles (white) that complement most decors. The system recesses into the ceiling such that only the light and grille is visible when you’re inside the bathroom.
For installation, you require a 2-inch by 6-inch ceiling construction. The adjustable mounting brackets span up to 24 inches for effortless installation. The unit also features a polymeric damper/duct connector and no metallic clatter.
A 1300-watt heating system, with a metal blower wheel, ensures efficient heating throughout the bathroom. A snap-in, 100-watt bulb, meanwhile, provides the lighting. All these components are boxed in a 23 gauge steel housing finished in an electrically bonded epoxy paint.
- Decorative fan, light, heater combo
- Independent or individual function control
- Durable, 23-gauge steel housing
- Adjustable mounting brackets
- Snap-in light bulb
- Unit cleanly recesses into ceiling
- Inexpensive (at under $100)
- Light bulbs sold separately
- No night lights
- Not the most-quiet combo
9. Aero Pure A716R W Quiet Bathroom Fan with Heat and Light
So far, the products we’ve looked at have warranties ranging between one and three years. While that’s not too bad, a few shoppers are usually looking for something better. The Aero Pure A716R comes with one of the longest warranties for a bathroom exhaust fan combo – 48 months (4 years).
Even better, the combo runs at just 1 sone, with maximum sound at around 1.5 sones. This is as quiet as it gets.
You’ll notice that the heating bulbs are rated at just 270 watts. However, what you need to keep in mind is that these are infrared heaters. Infrared heaters are some of the most efficient. They warm you directly, and very little heat is lost in the process. Additionally, this unit comes with four such bulbs. All the bulbs are anti-blast.
This combo moves air at 90 CFM and is both UL and CUL Listed. It’s used with GFCI branch circuit (don’t install it directly over the tub or shower enclosure).
- Gentle infrared heating
- Quiet, 1-sone operation
- Multi-function switch included
- UL and CUL Listed
- Impressive, 4-year warranty
- A little pricy
10. Air King AK965 Deluxe Combination Heater with Exhaust Fan, Light, and Night Light
Finally, the Air-King AK965 is another great exhaust fan, light, heater combo. It’s inexpensive (priced at just over $100) and goes about its job diligently. The frosted moonstone glass lens is particularly appealing. It diffuses light throughout the bathroom beautifully. We also love that the lens doesn’t yellow or become brittle over time the way plastic lenses do.
However, there are a few sticking points you need to be aware of. First, this combo isn’t the quietest. Sometimes the noise can get a bit loud. Secondly, you need 20-amp wiring, which is the case for most bathroom combo systems. What’s not right, though, is the manufacturer failing to mention it in the instructions and user guide.
Beyond those two issues, though, you’ll enjoy the Air-King. The 1,500-watt heater provides up to 5,000 BTU of gentle warmth, and both the 100-watt incandescent and 7-watt nightlights are a majestic work of art.
The 70 CFM unit is rated at 3.5 sones and specified for bathrooms in the 70 square-foot range. It is HVI 2100 certified and comes with the necessary switches and wall plates.
- Inexpensive (at just over $100)
- Comes in a durable, galvanized steel housing
- Beautiful, frosted moonstone glass lens
- Adjustable hanging brackets included
- HVI 2100 Certified
- A bit loud (though rated 3.5 sones)
- Requires 20-amp electrical wiring
The right bathroom exhaust fan + heater + light combo can be just what you need to transform your bathroom completely. These 3-in-1 units save you from buying the fan, heater, and light separately, by providing the necessary heating, ventilation, and lighting. You’re also guaranteed significant cost savings.
The trick is to get the right one. Identify what you need in the bathroom; how much ventilation, heating, and lighting. Then, find a unit that meets most if not all of these needs.