Do you want a bathroom exhaust fan that has a light included? You are in the right place.
If you want additional lighting in your bathroom, then buying a bath fan that already has a light is the right choice. (And if you only want fans with LED lights, check it out here.)
In this review, you will learn…
- My #1 top choice for best fan with light
- Why I recommend LED light bulbs
- How bathroom vent fans actually work
- Features to look for in bath fans with illumination
- All of the advantages of having a bath fan with a light included
Let’s get started with this guide!
Our Top 5 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans With Lights
Short on time? Want to quickly check out my top picks on the best fans with lights Bathroom exhaust fans with lights built in is a great way to add more lighting to your bathroom (without extra wiring for a separate light fixture).
Check out my top picks below...
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
The Panasonic WhisperFit is a great choice for a bathroom exhaust fan that comes with a light. The energy efficient dimmable LED light also comes with a less than 1 watt night light. This bathroom fan is also very quiet since it is rated at less than 0.3 sones...hence the name "WhisperFit". The Panasonic Fan will also be pretty easy to install since it comes with a flex install bracket. You will also be able to choose between 80 or 100 cfm at any time with the flick of a switch.
What is a Bathroom Vent Fan With a Light?
A bathroom exhaust fan with a light is a combo fan that works to remove moisture from your bathroom, and at the same time also acts as a light fixture. The fan light can be the only source of illumination in the bathroom, or it can be supplemental to a wall or ceiling fixture.
The main purpose of a bathroom vent fan is to remove moisture from the bathroom area. If not removed, moisture can eventually cause paint damage, drywall damage, rusted hardware, and may eventually cause structural damage to the wood framing. In addition, mold loves to grow in the presence of water, so a bathroom ventilation fan helps prevent toxic mold growth.
As shared by the Center for Energy and Environment, our modern homes are thoroughly insulated and nearly air tight---which is great for energy efficiency and comfort. Unfortunately, the side effect is too little ventilation or air flow. A bathroom exhaust fan is an important part of maintaining high quality indoor air.
A Light Fixture
Installing a bathroom fan that already has a light is a great choice if you need more light in your bathroom. Since you will be doing electrical wiring, and possibly cutting out the ceiling, this is a great time to add more lighting to the bathroom.
Most bath vent fans are pretty bland anyways, installing a light can significantly add to it’s aesthetics as well.
Since most of these bathroom fans typically do not include light bulbs, I highly recommend installing energy efficient LED bulbs which will go into any standard socket---so will fit 99% of bathroom exhaust fans. Most bathroom exhaust fan lights will be between 50 to 100 watts.
If you want to install your bathroom exhaust fan with a light over a shower or tub, it must be rated for that purpose from the manufacturer. Water and electricity don’t mix, so bathroom fans rated for use over showers are designed to be safe in these wet areas. These specially rated exhaust fans need to be on dedicated electrical circuits that are GFCI protected (at the panel box or dedicated wall reset).
GFCI stands for "ground fault circuit interruptor" which basically means there is a switch that will cut off power if it detects a problem. You don't want to get shocked when taking a shower if you know what I mean.
Many of these products are already rated for use over wet areas, just don't forget to make that your electrical circuit is GFCI. The breaker at the panel box that goes to the bathroom fan will have a button on it and say "GFCI".
Use in Rooms Other Than Bathrooms
These bathroom exhaust fans can be used in rooms other than bathrooms where more ventilation is wanted. There are bathroom exhaust fans that look like regular lights such as the Hunter 83002 bath fan which can be installed in any room.
These bath exhaust fans don’t look like the normal “bathroom fan”.
Installation in these alternative areas may include…
- Garages (smelly chemical fumes)
- Mud room (allergens, dander)
- Exercise room (smelly odors)
- Kitchen area (food smells, but do not install directly over cooktop)
How Does A Bathroom Ventilation Fan With A Light Work?
Bathroom exhaust fans with lights work by removing air from the bathroom. Most bathroom fans will be able to completely remove the total volume of bathroom air once per minute. This air is transferred to the outside through a flexible or rigid duct (a vent hose).
Must Vent To Exterior
It is important to make sure that it is actually being vented to the outside, as stated by University of Southern California. If the bathroom vent goes into a wall cavity or into the attic, the excess moisure can lead to mold growth or wood decay — a potentially costly problem.
During my home inspections, I frequently come across bathroom vents to go directly into the attic. It is okay for a bathroom vent to go through an attic if it goes all the way to the roof. On the roof, there needs to be a special roof cover that has a flap.
Wall Switch For The Light
Bathroom exhaust fans with lights are designed to be used with wall switches for operation. You have to option to wire the exhaust fan to one switch, so it will turn on the fan and the light at the same time.
You can also wire the fan to one switch, and the light to another. If you have no experience with electrical wiring, we recommend hiring a qualified contractor to install the bathroom exhaust fan.
How To Pick The Best Bathroom Exhaust Fan With a Light?
There are a few key essentials in picking the best bathroom fan that comes with a light.
Since having a light is important to you, it is good to know that there are a few different options…
- Decorative Light. These lights look like a normal bedroom light fixture, and people won’t even notice that it is a fan (at least until it’s turned on).
- Recessed Light. These bathroom fans look like a normal recessed ceiling light. There is a small, barely noticeable gap above the light bulb that pulls in air. These exhaust fans are great if you want the exhaust fan to match existing recessed lights, or for installation in a closet.
- Normal Light. These are the units that look like your average bathroom exhaust fan. If your install is in the bathroom, and you don’t need anything fancy, this is the most affordable choice.
Fan Strength in “CFM”
The most important rating for bathroom fans is called CFM or Cubic Feet Per Minute. This metric simply means how much air the fan takes out, let’s say 50 cubic feet in one minute. Then the fan is rated at 50 CFM.
Most fans will be anywhere from 50 CFM and up to 120 CFM. The general rule for CFM is that you want 1 CFM per square foot of bath area.
Let’s say your bathroom floor is 8′ x 8′ or 64sf. In this case, you would want a bathroom fan that is at least 64 CFM or higher.
Regardless of size, a bathroom will always need a CFM rating of at least 50 CFM as stated by the Berkeley Lab.
How Are Bath Fans With Lights Different From Other Bathroom Exhaust Fans?
A bathroom exhaust fan with a light is different in a few ways from other bathroom exhaust fans. There are bath exhaust fans that come with humidity sensors. These special fans will turn on and off automatically without needing to flip a wall switch. Humidity sensors are perfect for homes where you don’t think the residents are actually using the bathroom exhaust fan and are worried about causing damage.
Besides humidity sensors, there are bath fans that include heaters. Installing a fan with a heater is a great idea if your bathroom get’s very cold in the morning. The heater will heat up the bathroom in a few minutes without having to touch the central thermostat — so you also save energy.
Where To Buy The Best Fan With a Light Included?
You can buy bathroom fans with lights at most big box stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. At Home Inspector Secrets, we recommend Amazon because it is the biggest online retailer in the world.
Besides, who wants to drive to a department store, possibly in poor weather, when they may not even have the bathroom fan that you want? When you shop on Amazon, you can be sure that they have the widest possible selection of bathroom exhaust fans with lights.
You will be able to easily compare prices, read informative reviews, and make a decision in the comfort of your own home.
What Are The Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans That Include Lights?
The Panasonic WhisperFit is a great bathroom exhaust fan that comes with an LED light. The 10-watt dimmable LED light also includes a less than 1-watt night light.
This fan includes a speed selector switch so you can control the fan speed from 80cfm to 100cfm. It is also easy to install with a flexible bracket included.
The Panasonic WhisperFit is also very quiet at less than 0.3 sones.
- Dimmable 10-Watt LED Light
- Less Than 1-Watt Night Light
- Quiet (less than 1.0 sones)
- Speed Selector (80 or 110cfm)
- Easy Install Bracket Included
- More Costly
- No Humidity Sensor
- Fits Only 4" & 6" Vents
- A quiet bathroom exhaust fan
- Comes with the LED light bulb
- Model comes in different CFM sizes, take your pick
- Affordable price
- It is a plain looking bath fan, nothing decorative about it
- Says it is “dimmable,” but doesn’t come with dimmer switch
- A beautiful looking fan, it looks like a nice light fixture
- Rated for use over wet areas (with a dedicated GFCI circuit)
- Fits medium to larger sized bathrooms
- Light bulbs not included
- Some users have complained that LED bulbs get clouded by the glass lens
- At 3 sones, it is louder than your average bathroom fan
- Has “keyholed” mounting brackets for an easier install
- The light lens is shatter resistant for safety
- With two different sizes (50 CFM & 70 CFM), you can choose the right size for your bathroom
- At 2.5 to 3.5 sones, this fan may be a little loud
This beautiful fan looks like a normal ceiling light fixture, suitable for a small to medium sized bathroom — or any room where air quality needs improvement.
The ribbed and frosted glass lens adds a nice sophistication to a bathroom fan.
The vent fan comes with a useful adjustable hanging bracket for ease of install.
- Looks good with a nickel finish, a hidden vent fan in plain site
- Uses two 60 watt bulbs (preferably LED) so you can use it as your only light
- Adjustable hanging brackets will help make it an easy install
- Glass lens won’t yellow like with a plastic lens
- At 4 sones, it will be somewhat noisy, unless you like white noise
- At 70 CFM, it is not suitable for large bathrooms
- Some users have complained about it rusting (spraying it with a coat of polyurethane did the trick for one reviewer)
My #1 Top Pick
Here are a few reasons why the Panasonic WhisperFit is my top choice...
1. Dimmable 10-Watt LED Light
The fan comes with a dimmable LED light panel. The LED lighting is much more energy efficient than standard lighting, and frankly, it looks better.
2. Night Light
A less than 1-watt LED night light is also included with the lighting.
At less than 0.3 sones, this fan is very quiet, hence the name "WhisperFit".
4. Speed Selector Switch
An awesome feature of the Panasonic fan is that you can flick a switch and go from 80cfm to 110cfm. You can control the fan speed to your liking.
5. Easy Install
Included is a flexible metal bracket that makes installation so much easier.