Picture this: you walk into the bathroom and flip the switch. The bathroom exhaust fan turns on at the same time as the light.
Well, you can do that when the light is part of the exhaust fan, as one unit. You can also wire the light and bath fan to separate switches if you want.
I invite you to check out my list of the best bathroom exhaust fans with lights (and other cool features). You will love these bathroom fans!
In this HomeInspectorSecrets.com guide, you will learn:
- My top pick for bathroom fans with lights
- The three main styles of exhaust fans with lights
- Features to look for
- All of the advantages of having a bath fan with a light included
Below is a quick list of all our top products. Keep scrolling to learn more about how to choose and use the best exhaust fans with lights.
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
Updated On September 6, 2022
Our favorite pick goes to the Broan-NuTone HD80L. This bath fan comes with a bright 100-watt incandescent light to give you a fan and light combo. The HD80L is rated at 80-cfm and it is suitable for bathrooms up to 75 square feet. Broan-NuTone also designed this bathroom fan to be easily installed with keyholed brackets for an easier install.
Our List of Highly Rated Exhaust Fans & Lights
Short on time? Check out our top 6 bathroom fans with lights! Keep reading to learn more on our choices and to read the buyer's guide.
- Broan-NuTone HD80L 100-watt Bathroom Light With Fan
- Panasonic WhisperSense LED Light And Humidity Sensor
- Delta BreezIntegrity 80-cfm Dimmable LED Light Bathroom Fan
- Hunter 83002 Imperial Bronze Exhaust Fan And Light Combo
- Broan 678 100-Watt Budget Friendly Light And Bath Fan
- Air King Decorative Round Bathroom Vent Light
Bath Fan Lights Double As A Fixture
A bathroom exhaust fan with a light is a combo fan that works to remove moisture from your bathroom, and at the same time, it also acts as a light fixture.
The light can be the only source of illumination in the bathroom, or it can be in addition to an independent light fixture.
If your bathroom has a water closet (enclosed toilet), it is common to have a bathroom fan and light as one unit because the space is small.
Installation Is Less Work And Less Damage
Installing a bathroom vent fan that already has a light is a excellent 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 without cutting a second hole in the ceiling.
Most bath vent fans are pretty bland anyway. Installing a light can significantly add to the aesthetics.
We Recommend Installing Energy Efficient LED Bulbs
Since most of these bathroom fans typically do not include light bulbs, I recommend installing energy efficient LED bulbs which will go into any standard socket and will fit the majority bathroom exhaust fans. Always check with the manufacturer though to make sure an LED will fit.
Most bathroom exhaust fan lights will be between 50 to 100 watts.
Must Be On GFCI Circuit If Above Shower Or Tub
If you want to install your bathroom exhaust fan with a light directly above 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 directly above showers are designed to be safe in these wet areas.
These wet 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 bathroom fans with lights are already rated for use over wet areas (always confirm from manufacturer), so don't forget to make sure 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".
Decorative Bathroom Fans Look Like Normal Light Fixtures
These bathroom exhaust fans can be used in rooms other than bathrooms where more ventilation and lighting 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)
The Basics Are The Same As Standard Bath Fans
Bathroom fans with lights work just like regular bathroom fans except that there is an integrated light.
The bathroom ceiling fan and light can be wired on the same switch, or they can be wired separately on their own switch. And as with all bathroom fans, the exhaust needs to go to the outside through a flexible or rigid duct (a vent hose).
Must Be Vented Outside
Bathroom exhaust fans should vent to the exterior as stated by the University of Southern California.
If the bathroom vent goes into a wall cavity or into the attic, the excess moisture 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.
Read Also >> What Are The Most Quiet Bathroom Fans?
Three Main Types of Bath Fan Light Combos
Homeowners have a few options to choose from when picking a bath fan with an integrated light such as:
- 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). These custom bathroom vent fans are also usually round like a normal light fixture.
- 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.
General Rule Is 1-CFM Per Square Foot of Floor Area
The most important rating for bathroom fans and lights 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 200-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 64-sf. 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.
Read Also >> Can You Vent A Bathroom Ceiling Fan Into The Attic?
Our Reviews Of The Highest Rated Bathroom Fans With Lights
Our overall top pick goes to the HD80L made by Broan-NuTone.
It comes with a very bright 100-watt incandescent light that comes with a shatter-resistant light lens.
The bulb is not included but we recommend you install an equivalent LED bulb for higher energy efficiency. The HD80L is rated at 80-cfm and it is great for bathrooms up to around 75-sf.
Broan-NuTone also designed this bathroom fan to be easily installed with keyholed installation brackets. This means the motor & fan assembly can just be slid into the brackets using the keyholes. And it also means you can just replace the motor/fan assembly in the future without removing the existing housing.
The Panasonic WhisperSense is a great bathroom exhaust fan that comes with a bright LED light.
This fan includes a speed selector switch so you can control the fan speed from 50-cfm, 80-cfm, or 100-cfm just by flipping a small switch on the housing.
It is also easy to install with a flexible bracket included called the Flex-Z Fast. The installation is also made super easy because the damper is detachable which allows you to install the vent and wiring first before the housing.
The WhisperSense comes with dual sensor technology to give you significant control over this exhaust fan.
The humidity sensor can be controlled to automatically turn the fan on or off based on the humidity level in the bathroom. There is also a motion sensor that can detect when someone has entered the bathroom and turn the exhaust fan on.
The BreezIntegrity is our top pick that comes with a 13-watt LED light.
The LED light is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb and it is rated to last an amazing 30,000 hours.
It is also dimmable but it doesn't come with the dimmer switch which you will have to buy separately.
This Delta model is rated at 80-cfm so it is great for small and regular sized bathrooms.
It is also pretty quiet and the sone rating is 1.3.
One nice feature of the BreezIntegrity is the quality of the motor. It is a DC brushless motor and it is variable speed. This means that the motor will speed up to reach the desired CFM even if there are things in the duct that slows down air flow.
My top pick for a decorative bath fan with an incandescent light goes to the Hunter 83002.
This decorative bathroom fan looks amazing with artistic scrollwork and a bronze finish. It also has a really nice frosted glass lens.
This exhaust fan is rated at 110 CFM, so it is suitable for medium to large bathrooms.
The fan uses two incandescent light bulbs at 60-watts each.
You also have the option of installing a 7-watt bulb as a night light.
My top pick for the best bathroom exhuast fan with light for small spaces goes to the Broan 678.
This 50-cfm rated bath fan with light is great for small bathrooms or half baths. Also, if you have a large bathroom with an enclosed toilet area, this fan is perfect since it has a light.
The bathroom vent fan can use up to a 100-watt incandescent light bulb. We recommend installing an LED bulb however if possible.
The noise isn't as quiet as my other picks, and it is rated at 2.5-sones which isn't exactly whisper quiet. If you don't care about the noise or if you like knowing that the fan is on, then this fan is for you.
The Air King DRLC702 is another great decorative bathroom ceiling fan with a light for small to medium sized bathrooms (65 to 85 square feet) with a 70-cfm rating.
This beautiful exhaust fan looks like a normal ceiling light fixture, the vent grill is the circular outer frame of the unit.
The frosted glass lens and nickel finish adds a nice sophistication to your bathroom fan that is pretty rare.
The vent fan comes with a useful adjustable hanging bracket for an easier installation.
You can install two 15-watt LED lights or up to two 60-watt incandescent bulbs with this exhaust fan.
Unfortunately it is somewhat loud at 4-sones so we don't consider it a quiet bathroom fan.
Our Top Pick: Broan-NuTone HD80L 100-watt Bathroom Light With Fan
Our overall favorite pick for a bathroom exhaust fan with light goes to the Broan-NuTone HD80L. Here's why...
1. Bright 100-Watt Light
This bath fan comes with a very bright 100-watt incandescent light and includes a shatter-resistant lens. The bright light is perfect for bathrooms that need more lighting or if you don't want to have a separate light fixture.
2. Keyholed Brackets
The HD80L comes with keyholed brackets for an easier installation. It also means that you can replace the fan motor assembly without changing out the entire housing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Point of A Bathroom Exhaust Fan With Light?
The point of a bathroom exhaust fan with light is to have two separate bathroom fixtures as one single unit.
Since the bath fan and combo is one device, you don't need a separate hole in the ceiling for a light which means less drywall work.
Can An Exhaust Fan With Light Go Directly Above The Shower?
Bathroom fans with lights are sometimes installed above the shower or tub for extra lighting.
This type of installation is only allowed if it is connected to a GFCI electric circuit.
GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and this type of circuit will instantly shutoff power if it detects a voltage leak. Since the bathroom fan is near water, it needs this GFCI protection so that nobody gets shocked.
Can You Replace A Bathroom Fan With A Fan Light Combo?
Yes, a bathroom fan can be replaced with a bath fan and light combo.
Since the existing bathroom ceiling fan already is wired to a wall switch, you can simply replace the existing bath fan and keep the same switch. This means that every time you turn on the exhaust fan, the light will turn on as well.
If you want the light and fan to be switched separately, you will have to run a new wire from the fan to a single pole combination wall switch (or two separate single pole switches).
Can A Bathroom Fan And Light Be On The Same Switch?
Yes, a bathroom ceiling fan can be on the same switch as a separate light fixture.
If you already have a light fixture in the bathroom, you don't have to buy a fan and light combo.
You can simply wire the bathroom fan to the existing light fixture, and they will turn on at the same time.