Do you want to find the best bathroom exhaust fan?
Bathroom fans are one of the most important home appliances because they remove moisture and help prevent mold growth.
Bathroom moisture is also known to rust door and cabinet hardware and even lead to drywall warping.
I invite you to check out our favorite bathroom fans below!
In this HomeInspectorSecrets.com guide, we will go over…
- Our overall #1 top pick for the best bathroom fan
- Tips to install bathroom fans without attic access
- How to pick the CFM or fan speed
- What are bathroom fan ‘sone ratings’ for nosie?
- And more…
Keep reading to learn our top picks for bath fans and to see our detailed buyer’s guide!
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Broan-NuTone Very Quiet
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
Updated On September 6, 2022
Our favorite pick for the best bathroom exhaust fan goes to the WhisperFit by Panasonic because it is great for retrofit installations (and new construction) and it is very quiet. With the WhiserFit you can Another great can flick a switch and choose your CFM —either 80-cfm or 110-cfm.
Top 5 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans
- Panasonic WhisperFit Bathroom Exhaust Fan With Speed Selector
- Panasonic WhisperWarm Bathroom Fan With Heater 1600-Watts
- Broan-NuTone Very Quiet Bathroom Exhaust Fan 0.3-Sone 80-cfm
- Delta BreezSignature 130-cfm Bath Fan With Humidity Sensor
- Broan-NuTone Sensonic Bathroom Exhaust Fan With Humidity Sensor
What Is A Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
A bathroom fan is a type of ventilation appliance that exhausts moisture and odors from a bathroom.
Bathroom exhaust fans are usually installed in the ceiling, but they are sometimes installed vertically on the wall.
Bath vent fans are connected to a vent hose that is typically 3-6 inches in diameter. The duct runs along the ceiling or attic to the outside.
It is important that bathroom fans always exhaust to the outside to avoid moisture damage and mold growth.
How To Replace A Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
Replacing a bathroom fan involves removing the old exhaust fan from the ceiling.
The old bath fan will need to be disconnected from the wire nuts and unplugged.
Removing the bathroom fan housing will involve removing a few screws and possibly some metal clips. For more difficult housings, you may need to use a pry bar or even a reciprocating saw to cut it loose from the joist.
New Wiring May Be Needed
If you will be wiring the new bathroom fan to the existing switch, then no new wiring will be needed. You simply connect the wiring to the appropriate color, ground the fan, and you are good to go.
However, if you want to connect the bath fan light to a separate switch, or if there are any new features such as a heater—you will need to run new wiring from the new wall switch to the bath fan.
Read Also >> How To Replace A Bathroom Fan Without Attic Access?
How Many CFM For The Bathroom Fan?
The amount of CFM for the bathroom fan will depend on the size of your bathroom as well as the number of fixtures.
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 Pick The CFM For A Bathroom Fan?
How Many Sones Is A Quiet Bathroom Fan?
A quiet bathroom fan will have a sone rating of 1.0 or less.
Sones 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?
How To Install A Bathroom Fan?
Installing a new bathroom fan will require you to secure it to the ceiling joist.
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.
Read Also >> How To Install A Bathroom Fan On The First Floor?
How To Vent A Bathroom Fan?
Venting a bathroom fan will require you to install a 3-6 inch duct to the outside.
You also should not vent exhaust fans into an attic, it must go to the outside to avoid moisture damage and mold growth.
The duct can terminate on an exterior wall, a roof, or even a soffit.
Newer bathroom fans almost all use 4-inch or 6-inch sized ducts. You may be able to install an adapter which will connect the 3-inch duct to the 4-inch or 6-inch flange, but it will decrease performance.
It’s also important that the duct is as straight as possible and with a minimal number of bends.
Read Also >> What Are The Venting Options For Bathroom Fans?
Our Reviews of the Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans
Our overall top pick for the best bathroom exhaust fan goes to the Panasonic WhisperFit.
With the very quiet 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 our best choice for bath fans with heaters.
You can 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 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.
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 our favorite pick for a bathroom exhaust fan with 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.
Our favorite pick for a bathroom fan with speaker goes to the Sensonic by Broan-NuTone.
This premium bath fan 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.
Our 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Point Of A Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
The point of a bathroom exhaust fan is to exhaust the moisture and smells to the exterior.
Without a bath fan, the moisture from a shower will linger in the bathroom and may lead to deterioration and mold growth. Bathroom moisture can damage wood, rust door hardware, warp drywall, and lead to mold problems.
Is A Bathroom Exhaust Fan Worth It?
Installing a bathroom exhaust fan is cheap insurance to prevent moisture damage.
If drywall gets damaged, hardware becomes rusted, or if mold grows out of control --- it can be very costly to fix.
Most bathroom fans only cost in the $50 to $200 range though the labor and wiring will be extra.
What Makes A Good Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
The best bathroom fans have variable speed motors, humidity sensors, lights, and even heaters.
A bath fan with a DC multi-speed motor can change it's speed based on the amount of 'static pressure' in the duct so that it can always reach the desired CFM.
And since it doesn't always have to be at one speed, they are more efficient and quieter than older bathroom exhaust fans.