Our latest article on what to do when your bathroom exhaust fan is leaking when it rains.
Top 5 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans (2020 Review)
Do you want to find the best bathroom exhaust fan?
Bathroom fans are some of the most important home appliances because they remove moisture and help prevent mold growth.
In this product review, I will go over…
- My #1 top pick for the best bathroom fan
- Fans with humidity sensors
- Installation tips
- Noisy fans
- And more…
Let’s get started with this guide!
|View on Amazon|
|View on Amazon|
Broan-NuTone Very Quiet
|View on Amazon|
|View on Amazon|
|View on Amazon|
My Overall #1 Rated Top Pick
My overall #1 top pick goes to the WhisperFit by Panasonic.
This premium bathroom exhaust fan is great for retrofit installations (and new construction) because it will fit for 2″ x 6″ ceiling joists due to its low profile shape. It also includes a Flex-Z Fast install bracket which is adjustable for your ceiling.
Another great feature about the WhisperFit is that you can flick a switch and choose your CFM… either 80-cfm or 110-cfm.
What's In This Guide?
Top 5 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans
The best bathroom exhaust fans have unique features that make them stand out. My top picks for the best bath fans have a variety of premium features such as a low sone rating (very quiet), humidity sensor, bluetooth speaker, and one even has a heater. Check them out below…
Sometimes when I inspect houses, I come across bathrooms that don’t have bathroom exhaust fans.
When I tell the prospective buyer, they are frequently surprised because they didn’t notice.
Usually, my clients are very grateful that I discovered a missing bath fan, because now they can request a credit (or install) from the seller.
Why Use Bathroom Exhaust Fans?
But once in a while I get a question from a buyer such as “Can’t I just open the window?”. Well, yes, of course, people can just open the window to let out moisture and smells.
But opening a window is highly wasteful in terms of energy because you are also letting in the cold or hot exterior air. And then the HVAC system will have to re-condition this outdoor air because you opened a window… which is costly. You are also taxing your HVAC system unnecessarily when a bathroom fan is so much more efficient.
Bathroom fans sometimes come with a wide variety of features.
There are bathroom fans that have humidity sensors which can actually turn the fan on/off automatically based on the moisture level. These humidity-sensing fans are great for households where occupants fail to use the bathroom fan, and mold growth or hardware/wall damage occurs.
It is also nice that you can leave the bath fan on but it will still save electricity by automatically turning off.
Bathroom fans with humidity sensors are also a great idea to keep the bathroom fan on after you take a shower or bath. Most people don’t realize that you are supposed to keep your bathroom fan on after you take a shower for at least 15-min to 30-min in order to adequately remove all of the moisture.
Bath Fan Speed in CFMs
Bathroom fan strength or speed is rated in CFMs, which stands for cubic feet per minute. This is a measurement of how much air the bath fan can exhaust in one minute.
Residential bathroom fans usually range from the 50-cfm and all the way up to 180-cfm. Anything above 200-250 is usually for commercial properties.
The general recommendation for CFM is based on the size of your bathroom and the number of bathroom fixtures. If you have a bathroom in between 50-100 square feet, you can simply add one CFM for every square foot of your bathroom space.
For bathrooms less than 50 square feet, then a minimum 50-cfm bathroom fan is recommended. For a bathroom above 100 square feet, industry associations recommend adding up the number of fixtures.
- For each toilet, add 50-cfm.
- For each shower, add 50-cfm.
- For each bathtub, add 50-cfm.
- For each jacuzzi tub, add 100-cfm.
Read Also: How To Size A Bathroom Fan?
Bathroom Fan Noise
One of the biggest complaints of homeowners is the noise level of bathroom fans. Some fans can be significantly noisier than others.
The loudness of bathroom fans is rated in something called sones. Sones actually isn’t a physical measurement like decibels, but it is a measurement of the loudness that is perceived by humans.
The loudest bathroom fans are in the 3-4 sone range, these are the fans that you can hear with the door closed or even down the hallway.
The quietest bathroom exhaust fans are 1.5 sones are very quiet and some can go as low as 0.3 sone. These bathroom fans can be so quiet that they sometimes have indicator lights to show that they are on (otherwise you wouldn’t know).
Read Also: What Are Bathroom Exhaust Fan Sones?
Another important consideration for bath fans is the installation.
If you have an older home with 2″ x 6″ ceiling joists, there are some fans that you may not be able to install into such a ceiling.
For older homes with 2″ x 6″ construction, I highly recommend that you choose a bathroom fan that has a low profile so that it can be easily installed in-between the joists.
Some bathroom fans also come with adjustable metal brackets which in theory should make it easier to install the bath fan. The idea is that you screw or fasten the bracket to a joist, and then you attach the bathroom fan to the bracket.
Homeowners should also be aware that buying a new bathroom fan may have a different duct size requirement.
Most homes that I inspect with older bathroom fans have 3-inch ducts. But with newer bathroom fans, they almost all use 4-inch or 6-inch ducts. Now, you could just install an adapter which will connect the 3-inch duct to the 4-inch or 6-inch flange, but it will decrease performance.
All of the sound ratings, CFM rating, and performance of the fan is based on using the duct recommended by the manufacturer. So if the fan is louder that expected, or doesn’t work very well, it may be due to the wrong duct size.
It’s also important that the duct is as straight as possible and with a minimal number of bends. You also should not vent exhaust fans into an attic, it should always go to the outside.
Read Also: What Are Bathroom Fan Venting Options?
What Is The Best Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
Here are my full reviews of the best bathroom exhaust fans together with their pros and cons. Check it out below…
Let’s face it, installing a bathroom fan is perhaps one of the most annoying appliance installations imaginable.
With the WhisperFit, Panasonic has made it as easy as possible to install a bathroom fan.
This fan was designed for retrofit installs (not just new construction) since it has a low profile (5-5/8″ housing depth).
The WhisperFit will fit not just 2″ x 8″ construction, but it will also fit in between 2″ x 6″ ceiling joists.
Panasonic also provides a Flex-Z Fast installation bracket to make the install even easier.
Another great feature about the WhisperFit is that you can actually choose a higher or lower CFM by flicking a switch, between 80-cfm and 110-cfm. The WhisperFit requires a 4-inch duct for stated performance but a 3-inch duct adapter is included.
The WhisperWarm by Panasonic is a high quality bathroom exhaust fan with a heater.
You can now avoid a chilly morning shower with this fan and heater combo unit.
At 110-cfm, this is a powerful bathroom fan that will fit a variety of bathroom sizes and uses a 4″ duct.
The housing is made out of stainless steel to help prevent corrosion and rust. This bathroom exhaust fan is also very quiet and it is rated at 0.6-sones which is ultra low sound.
I may be biased, but I think Panasonic makes some of the best bathroom fans on the market. The WhisperWarm is a very popular model if you would like to have your own personal heater AND bathroom fan in the same product.
This bathroom fan also comes with a powerful ECM motor which can overcome the 0.375-inch ‘static pressure’ which is a frequent barrier to inferior fans.
The QT Series bathroom fan by Broan-NuTone is a very quiet bathroom fan.
This fan is rated at 0.3-sones which is ultra quiet, and you may not even know that it’s on. The QT series fan is also rated at 80-cfm which is suitable for bathrooms up to 75 square feet.
Read Also: What Are The Quietest Bathroom Fans?
This Broan-NuTone bath fan comes with a hanger bar system, which makes it easy to install this fan in a variety of construction configurations (but it does need 2″ x 8″ space).
This high performing bathroom exhaust fan uses 6-inch ducting which is one way it goes such an ultra quiet sone rating.
It is also energy star qualified and HVI certified so Broan isn’t just making empty claims, they have industry backing. You can also install this bathroom fan above a shower or bathtub as long as it is connected to a GFCI circuit.
The BreezeSignature by Delta is a premium bathroom exhaust fan that includes a humidity sensor. The humidity sensor will automatically turn the bathroom fan on & off based on the moisture level.
This is a great feature because it allows you to keep the fan on after a shower for the recommended 15-30 minutes to effectively remove moisture.
And it is also nice for households when you know that users fail to use the bathroom fan and you want to prevent mold issues or wall damage.
You can also bypass the humidity sensor by simply toggling the wall switch for manual use. This bathroom fan has been engineered with a DC brushless motor which should outlast many other home appliances.
It also includes an indicator light at the grille so that you know the fan is on even if you have trouble hearing it. The average CFM for this fan is 80-cfm and the sone rating ranges from 0.8 to 2.5 depending on the fan speed.
The Sensonic by Broan-NuTone is a high quality bathroom fan that includes a bluetooth speaker.
This will allow you to play music or podcasts while taking a shower or bath, and the built-in speaker is high fidelity.
And the bluetooth speaker is seamless with the fan so it is hidden in plain sight.
The Sensonic is rated at 110-cfm so it is suitable for bathrooms up to 105 square feet.
Broan-NuTone made this fan easy to install and will fit standard 2″ x 8″ construction and with a unique spacer so you can mount it to an I-joist.
This bathroom fan was designed for continuous operation so that it runs very efficiently. And it is quiet with a sone rating of 1.0 and it is energy star qualified.
My overall #1 top pick for the best bathroom exhaust fan goes to the WhisperFit by Panasonic. Here’s why…
#1. Easy Installation
This bathroom fan can fit not just 2″ x 8″ ceiling joists, but it will also fit 2″ x 6″ joists of older homes. It also comes with a Flex-Z Fast installation bracket which is adjustable for your ceiling.
#2. Pick Your CFM
With the WhisperFit, you can literally flick a switch and choose between a higher or lower CFM, either 80-cfm or 110-cfm.
#3. Duct Adapter
This fan was designed to be used with a 4-inch duct for optimal performance, but they have included a 3-inch duct adapter if you really don’t want to change your duct.
Meet Your Author
Learn More About Bathroom Fans!
Check out some of these other helpful guides on bathroom fans…
Do you want to find the best bathroom fan timer switch? Timer switches allow you to
Want to know all of your bathroom fan venting options? Bathroom fans ultimately need to vent
Do you want to know what are the best Panasonic bathroom fans with humidity sensors? Panasonic
Want to find the best Broan-Nutone bathroom exhaust fan? Broan-Nutone has a family of vent fans
Want to know how to clean a bathroom exhaust fan? Dirty bath fans don’t work very well and can be a fire hazard. Check out my detailed guide right here!
Our guide on how to oil a bathroom exhaust fan. With time, bath fans can accumulate lint and debris—becoming noisy and less efficient.
Do you want to learn how to remove NuTone bathroom fan light covers? Removing a bath
Got Questions? Search For In-Depth Answers Below!
About Home Inspector Secrets
A dedicated online resource for maintenance guides, product reviews, cost estimates, inspection tips, and home science.