Bathrooms are inherently moist and wet places, which is why you need the best ceiling fan for bathroom. They are also one of the coldest rooms in the home, resulting in condensation.
Both moistness and condensation often manifest in wet walls, foggy mirrors, and dripping water along multiple surfaces.
No one wants foggy mirrors or water dripping from the edges of the ceiling, but that’s usually just the start. If left unchecked, the wet conditions can cause severe damage.
For one, wet or moist walls and ceilings are a breeding ground for mold and mildew, both of which are health hazards. Mold spores can cause a runny nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes.
Mildew, a thin, black (or sometimes white) growth, meanwhile, is known to trigger allergic reactions.
Bathroom fans are one of the best tools for guarding your bathroom against damage from moisture and condensation.
This guide should help you select the right fan for your needs. For those short on time and unable to shop extensively, the following are a few quick models to consider;
How Do Bathroom Exhaust Fans Work?
Bathroom fans are exhaust fans. You’ll be able to differentiate exhaust from ceiling fans by the absence of large blades.
The way the two work is, therefore, also slightly different. Ceiling fans use blade rotation to make the room feel cooler. The blade design and air circulation mechanism are such that warm air is lifted towards the ceiling, leaving the people feeling cool.
Exhaust fans don’t have blades. Instead, they are connected to a metal duct that leads outside, allowing the fans to expel moisture and odors while drawing cool, fresh air onto the room.
The fan must be installed appropriately to ensure that the bad air is expelled outside the house. Otherwise, the air may just end up in the attic, causing unwanted mold growth.
Are Bathroom Fans Worth It?
Let’s begin with why you would need a bathroom fan. What are the benefits of investing in a fan specifically designed for the bathroom?
Improved Air Quality
Air quality is a measure of how healthy the air in your home is compared to natural atmospheric conditions. Unfortunately, too much humidity isn’t good for air quality, as it can serve as a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms.
Bathroom fans help dry up the air to return it to a healthy humidity, consequently eradicating airborne microorganisms.
Say Bye to Mold and Mildew
Two of the most common microorganisms associated with moist places are mold and mildew. Mold is usually tiny white or grey spores that can fly around without anyone noticing. Mildew is also white or sometimes black spores. Both microorganisms can cause health issues.
Fans don’t kill mold or mildew directly. Instead, they help to dry out the moisture that these microorganisms depend on for survival. When you maintain the recommended level of humidity, the microbes quickly die out.
Reduce Moisture Damage
Steam, humidity, and moisture are all agents of destruction in the house. If left unchecked, these three can destroy your walls, ceiling, wallpaper, furniture, books, and fixtures. They can also cause rusting of iron surfaces.
A reliable bathroom is the first step in preventing such damage, though you’ll need to invest in fans for other areas of the home to kick out excess moisture from home completely.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Best Ceiling Fan for Bathroom
There are more than a dozen factors to consider when shopping for a bathroom heater. The following a few you should prioritize;
The size of a bathroom fan is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM), mainly refers to the volume of air (in cubic feet) that the unit can move per minute.
The standard bathroom fan is rated at around 80 CFM, but the majority operate at between 50 and 110 CFM. What you must remember is that you need approximately 1CFM per square foot. Therefore, for a 100-Sq. Ft. bathroom, you need about 100 CFM.
Noise Level (in Sones)
Unlike in other situations where sound (noise) is measured in decibels, the bathroom fan’s noise level is measured in sones. One sone is about the sound produced by the quietest fridge.
The standard bathroom fan is rated at 4 sones, though you’ll come across many different values ranging from 2.0 to 7.0 or more sones. Anything under 4.0 is good, but if you can find a quieter model, that would be better.
First off, some bathroom ceiling fans are also wall-installable. You may want to consider this if you’re not fully decided on where to install your fan.
Secondly, ease of installation is also an important consideration. While some fans recess into the ceiling, others mount. Recessed fans are a little more challenging to install, whereas mounted options install in just a few minutes.
All exhaust bathroom fans are electric fans. They draw current from your home’s electricity supply. Often, you don’t have to worry about power consumption. However, some exhaust fans tend to consume a lot of power, which can push your power bills up.
One way to know that you’re getting an energy-efficient fan is to check the power rating. Additionally, check if the product is Energy-Star rated.
Design and Aesthetic Qualities
The right ceiling fan can add a lot of style to your bathroom. From the color to shape to lights and so on, it could be what makes the difference.
Besides, consider the build material, including the material of the grille. Most bathroom heaters are made from steel, stainless steel, or aluminum. But, others are also made from plastic. Just remember that metals components are more durable.
Two common extras are regular and night lights. Regular lights are similar to those in the rest of your home, while night lights give the bathroom a soft glow. Some night lights are motion activated.
Another extra to consider is heating. Some bathroom fans double up as heaters thus can help with heat during the cold weather.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It’s possible that you still have a few questions about bathroom ceiling fans. The following answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) should help;
- What is the best place to install a bathroom fan?
The bathroom ceiling fan can be installed anywhere on the bathroom ceiling to significant effect. However, the fans work best under the shower or bathtub.
- Do I need a dedicated circuit for the fan?
Not necessarily. If you’re buying an ordinary bathroom ceiling fan, it can plug directly into the existing circuit. The only time you need a dedicated circuit is if you’re buying a fan + heater combo.
- How long should I leave the fan on after a bath?
Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer to this question. The standard practice is to leave it on for at least 20 minutes after walking out of the bathroom. However, factors such as the power of the fan and the bathroom size are essential. Therefore, the best way out is to monitor the bathroom and only turn off the fan when the humidity is gone.
- Can I leave the fan on overnight?
No, that isn’t a good idea for two reasons. First, leaving the fan on till morning will make your indoor air dry. You need a degree of moisture in your indoor air for health reasons. Secondly, the fan consumes electricity. Leaving it on overnight can, therefore, result in a massive power bill. In most cases, the fan doesn’t need to be on for more than 45 minutes.
- How often should I clean the fan?
Ideally, you should clean your bathroom fans every two to three months. However, depending on the conditions in your home and the time of the year, more regular cleaning might be helpful.
Best Ceiling Fans for Bathroom
1. Broan-NuTone 9093WH Exhaust Fan
One thing you’ll notice from this list of products is that some fans also double up as heaters. This Broan NuTone is one such fan + heater combo.
It’s a four-way unit that also functions as a bathroom light and provides a nigh light option. A four-function wall switch allows you to control the functions right out of the box independently.
The NuTone moves air at 70 CFM, which is about industry standard. What’s more impressive is that the unit generates just 3.5 sones of noise (the industry standard is 4 Sones). It means that NuTone is quieter than the average bathroom fan.
This bath fan is easy to install, with all installation materials included in the package. It’s UL certified and comes in a white or cream finish.
- Straightforward installation
- Easy to operate
- Safe and efficient
- Galvanized steel housing
- Decorative and effective
- 3.5 sones is a bit loud
2. Panasonic FV-11VHL2 WhisperWarm 110 CFM Ceiling Mounted Fan/Heat/Light
Another fan-heater combo, the WhisperWarm FV-11VHL2 from Panasonic, moves a larger volume of air per minute (110 CFM) compared to the NuTone above.
What’s unique about the fan, though, is the enclosed condenser motor feature and double-tapered, dolphin-shaped bladed blower wheel. These components combine to move air quietly but powerfully.
Since the wheels move slower, the lubricated motors also wear out slower. The fan has a built-in damper to prevent backdraft (outside air coming into the room).
This unit, which also works as a heater and has both regular and night lights, installs easily in 4-inch ducts. It’s Energy-Star Certified, ASHRAE compliant, and has a 3-year limited manufacturer warranty for all parts and six years for the DC motor.
- Galvanized steel housing
- Easy to install
- Heated clean air
- Code compliant
- 3-year warranty
- Rather loud at 7 sones
- A tad expensive at close to $400
3. Delta Breez RAD80 Delta BreezRadiance Series 80 CFM Fan with Heater
When shopping for a residential fan, the two factors that most people prioritize are the ability to move large volumes of air per minute (determined by the CFM rating) and low noise levels. For the bathroom particularly, shoppers want whisper-quiet fans.
That’s precisely what you get with the RAD80 BreezeRadiance from Delta Electronics. At just 1.5 sones, it’s as quiet as they come. You may not even notice that the fan is operating. For context, consider that 4 sones is the standard noise level for bathroom fans. The RAD80 only produces around one-quarter of that.
Aside from the quiet operation, the 80 CFM-rated RAD80 is also a precision-engineered fan with DC brushless motor for extended durability. The galvanized stainless steel construction completely resists corrosion.
- Exceptionally quiet operation at just 1.5 sones
- A galvanized, corrosion-resistant steel construction
- Fan impeller stops if obstructed
- Highly energy-efficient at 7.6 CFM/Watt
- It’s a plain fan (no heat, no lights)
4. Aero Pure A515A W Quiet Bathroom Fan with Heat and Light
Speaking purely on quietness, the Aero Pure A515A is another eye-catching option. This fan is one of the quietest you’ll come across, producing just 1.0 sones. Considering that it moves air at 80 CFM, one sone is just out of this world.
The features don’t stop there, though. This unit is also a fan/heat/light combo, meaning that you can use it for air conditioning in the hot weather and heating during the winter months.
A 3-toggle switch allows you to choose from the three functions with convenience. Remember that you can run the fan, heater, and lights independently of each other.
The unit comes in a vibration-damping, rustproof steel housing with mounting brackets included. It’s backed by a 4-year warranty.
- Exceptionally quiet at 1.0 sones
- It’s a fan + heat + light combo
- Attractive, contemporary design
- UL and CUL Listed
- 4-year warranty
- May require professional installation
5. BV Ultra-Quiet 90 CFM, 0.8 Sone Bathroom Ventilation & Exhaust Fan
The products on this list keep getting better. At 0.8 sones, anyone would accept that the BV-BF-01 is among the quietest bathroom fans. But, it goes beyond just quiet operation. The BV also moves air at 90 cubic feet per minute (CFM), making it one of the more powerful fans.
Buried inside the stainless steel housing is a heavy-duty motor suitable for continuous operation. The motor is thermally protected and features life-time lubrication.
The package comes with every item needed to get the fan working. The housing, adaptor and wiring compartment, secure tabs, installation hardware, and grille are included. A one-year warranty protects all these parts. You’ll also find a user manual in the package.
- Super quiet performance (0.8 sones)
- Ideal for up to 90 Sq. Ft.
- Well-made exhaust fan
- HVI approved, UL Listed
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- Product warranty is only limited for one year.
6. Air King BFQ 90 Bath Fan, CFM, BFQ90
Air King has a reputation for making some excellent air conditioning systems, and the BFQ90 is another masterpiece. What makes this unit different is that it’s not made from steel. Although the majority of bathroom fans are made with steel, the material has quite a few drawbacks.
The process of bending and welding steel is more expensive, and, if it breaks (which happens quite often), steel housing causes the fan to operate with unbearable noise.
Air King has therefore opted for durable-impact plastic housing that is less expensive. It’s also a natural sound absorber.
The BFQ90 features a snap-in installation mechanism. Bracket nails/screws for the installation are included. Once you’ve snapped it in, connect the wiring and ducting, and install the grill.
- Quiet operation at 2.5 Sones
- Moves air at 90 CFM
- Ideal for up to 115 Sq. Ft.
- Inexpensive (at under $50)
- UL Listed
- One-year parts warranty
- Plastic housings are rarely durable
- Not as easy to mount as the manufacturer says
7. Hauslane BF100 Electric Bathroom Fan
Rated at 120 CFM, the Hauslane BF100 is the most powerful fan on this list. It uses a suction to remove unpleasant smells and odors in spaces up to 120 square feet. Something else you’ll like is that the fan is made from highly durable materials.
The BF100 is also very silent, producing just 1.2 sones of noise. This is almost as quiet as the TV with the sound off. The noise-free operation makes the BF100 a great choice for shared areas such as public bathrooms.
The unit is supplied with a double-hanger bar system for ideal positioning. The extractor has a 4-inch vent connector and features separable components, making the BF100 a great replacement option for most electric fans.
- Double hanger bar system enables ideal positioning
- Housing designed to fit in-between joists
- Product is ETL certified
- Comes with a one-year warranty
- No night lights
8. Hunter 83002 Ventilation Sona Bathroom Exhaust Fan with Light
Rated at 3.0 sones, the Hunter 83002 isn’t the quietest of bathroom fans. However, it compensates for the slightly loud noise with a sophisticated design featuring flowing scrollwork and an imperial bronze finish. The cased white glass enclosure for two bulbs and an optional nigh-light further enhances the design.
It’s worth noting that the fan motor and light fixtures can be wired together or separately. It depends on whether you’d like to use them together or independently. The glass cover is easily removed and can be replaced with a screw-less design. The fan requires a 4-inch duct for installation.
Components included in the package include the exhaust fan motor, housing, frame, light shade, and installation hardware. The unit comes with a 5-year (motor) and six-year (parts) warranty.
- Moves air at 110 CFM
- Energy-Star rated
- Incorporates lights and night-lights
- Finished in imperial bronze
- 6-year parts warranty
- The lighting is a bit poor/dim
9. Homewerks Worldwide 7117-01-BN Bathroom Fan
One of the more gorgeous bathroom fans on this list, the 7117-01-BN from Homewerks Worldwide, is built to remove moisture and humidity from your bathroom quietly. It adorns a white grill that seamlessly fits in most bathroom ceilings and comes with a built-in 16-watt LED light panel that truly makes the fan shine.
On fan operation specifically, the 7117-01-BN moves air at 80 CFM, which is about the industry average. But, it does so at just 1.1 sones, which is impressive. The AC motor is engineered to operate continuously for up to 50,000 hours.
The housing is made from corrosion-resistant, galvanized steel that resists moisture. It is HVI and ETL certified.
- Built with galvanized, corrosion-resistant steel
- Moves air at 80 CFM and only 1.1 sones
- Features a 4000K Cool White Light LED Light
- Ideal for up to 80 square feet
- HVI and ETL certified
- Has a few plastic parts
10. Tosca 7117-02-BN Bathroom Fan
If you’re not impressed with 7117-01, Homeworks has a near-similar model (7117-02) that’s only about $10 more expensive but quite impressive in operation. It also operates at 80 CFM with a noise output of just 1.1 sones. However, there’s more.
First off, this unit features a modern-looking brushed nickel grill that’s both attractive and durable. The grill easily stands up to the moist conditions of the bathroom. Secondly, it features dimmable LED lights that aren’t available on 7117-01. Dimmable lighting means you can use the lights during the day or the night.
The fan sports a frosted glass color and is made from alloy steel. It comes with a 3-year limited manufacturer warranty.
- Operates at 80 CFM
- Built with alloy steel for durability
- Features dimmable day/night lights
- Backed by a 3-year warranty
- Sounds louder than 1.1 sones
Bathroom ceiling fans are a must-have if you want to protect your bathroom, and the home in general, from the damaging effects of moisture, steam, and condensation. These damages often include but aren’t limited to mold and mildew (which are health hazards) and damage to walls, wallpaper, and the ceiling.
More importantly, you want to pick out the right fan. So, spend a bit of time assessing your needs and, once you begin shopping, select the right-sized (CFM) fan that generates as little noise as possible. Happy shopping!