Do you want to find the best bathroom exhaust fan?
As a licensed home inspector, I have seen numerous bathrooms damaged due to missing or poorly maintained bath fans.
High moisture in bathrooms can lead to rusting door and cabinet hardware, drywall damage, and mold growth.
I have compiled a list of the best bath fans that include humidity sensors, heaters, bluetooth speakers, speed (CFM) selectors, and more.
Check them out below, or jump ahead to our buyer’s guide.
7 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans
- Panasonic WhisperFit (Best Overall Bathroom Exhaust Fan)
- Panasonic WhisperWarm (Best Bathroom Fan With Heater)
- Broan-NuTone QTXE08 (Best Quiet Bathroom Vent Fan)
- Delta BreezSignature (Best Bath Fan With Humidity Sensor)
- Broan-NuTone Sensonic (Bath Exhaust Fan With Bluetooth Speaker)
- BV High CFM (Most Powerful Bath Vent Fan)
- Panasonic WhisperFit With LED Light (Best Bathroom Fan With Light)
Pick #1: Panasonic WhisperFit
Best Overall Bathroom Exhaust Fan
- Easy installation (fits 2″ x 6″ joists)
- Pick your own CFM (80 or 110)
- Flex-Z Fast install bracket
- Poor instructions
- Doesn’t include a light
Our overall top pick for the best exhaust fan goes to the Panasonic WhisperFit because it is extremely quiet and Panasonic has made it easy to install.
This exhaust 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 the advertised performance but a 3-inch duct adapter is included.
Pick #2: Panasonic WhisperWarm
Best Bathroom Fan With Heater
- Steel-sheathed heating element
- 110-cfm fan speed
- Galvanized steel housing
- Complaints of being louder than advertised
- Difficult install (unique size)
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. You can see our full article on the top bath fans with heaters here.
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 bath 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 exhaust 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 bath 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.
Pick #3: Broan-NuTone QTXE080
Best Quiet Bathroom Vent Fan
- Ultra quiet at 0.3 sone
- Hanger bracket for easy installation
- Energy star qualified & HVI certified
- Requires 6-inch duct for performance
- May have to repair ceiling (tough to get through existing hole)
Our top pick for the best quiet bathroom fan goes to the QT Series by Broan-NuTone.
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. You may want to read our full guide on the best broan-nutone bath fans here.
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 vent fan uses 6-inch ducting which is one way it goes for 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.
Pick #4. Delta BreezSignature
Best Bath Fan With Humidity Sensor
- Humidity sensor for auto on/off
- Quiet from 0.8 to 2.5 sones
- DC brushless motor
- Humidity level is not adjustable
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. Here is our full article on just the top bath fans with humidity sensors.
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.
Pick #5. Broan-NuTone Sensonic
Bath Exhaust Fan With Bluetooth Speaker
- Bluetooth high fidelity speaker
- Easy installation with I-joist spacer
- Quiet at 1.0 sone
- Speaker will only play with fan on
Our favorite pick for a bathroom fan with speaker goes to the Sensonic by Broan-NuTone.
This premium bathroom vent 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 makes this fan easy to install and will fit standard 2″ x 8″ construction and comes 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.
Pick #6: BV High CFM
Most Powerful Bath Vent Fan
- High 150-CFM for max power
- Suitable for baths up to 150 square feet
- Comes with brackets for easy install
- Relatively loud at 2.0 sones
Our most powerful bath fan choice goes to the BV brand that has this incredibly strong 150-cfm exhaust fan.
No more fogged windows, mirrors, or drywall damage with this ultra powerful unit.
The biggest downside is that it will be loud at 2.0-sones, at least compared to the ultra quiet models (less than 1.0-sone).
But if your biggest issue is that your current exhaust fan is under-powered, then this BV extractor fan is for you. It uses a 3-inch duct and the housing dimensions are 10.31″ x 10.31″ x 8.07″.
Pick #7: Panasonic WhisperFit With LED Light
Best Bathroom Fan With Light
- 10-watt dimmable LED light
- 1-watt LED night light
- Pick your own CFM with switch (50, 80, or 110)
- Needs new wiring if you want to turn off light separate
- Also needs separate wiring for night light
Out of all the bathroom fans we have tested and analyzed, the WhisperFit with LED Light is our top choice for vent fans with lights.
The lighting for this exhaust fan includes a 10-watt dimmable LED light (built-in chip) and a 1-watt warm glow nightlight.
Similar to the ‘standard’ WhisperFit, this lighted model also includes Flex-Z Fast installation brackets to help with the install.
You will also be able to choose your fan speed from 50, 80, or 110 CFM by changing a small switch on the housing.
It is similarly super-quiet and rated at only 0.25-sones, which is extremely low noise.
Our Buyer’s Guide
- Bath Fan Speed Ranges From 50-CFM to 180-CFM
- The Old Housing Will Need To Be Removed
- Quiet Bath Fans Have 1.0-Sone or Less
- Make Sure Bath Fan Will Fit Ceiling Joist Dimensions
- Bath Vent Must Go To Exterior
- Frequently Asked Questions
Bath Fan Speed Ranges From 50-CFM to 180-CFM
The amount of CFM for the bathroom vent 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. I invite you to read our full guide on CFM sizing bathroom fans here.
Residential bath 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 CFM based on 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.
RELATED: Check Out ALL Our Articles On Bathroom Fans Here!
The Old Housing Will Need To Be Removed
Replacing an exhaust fan involves removing the old exhaust fan from the ceiling.
The old bathroom vent fan will need to be disconnected from the wire nuts and unplugged. You can read our full article on how to install a bathroom fan without attic access here.
Removing the bathroom vent 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 exhaust 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.
Quiet Bath Fans Have 1.0-Sone or Less
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 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?
Make Sure Bath Fan Will Fit Ceiling Joist Dimensions
Installing a new extractor 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 vent fan that has a low profile so that it can be easily installed in-between the joists.
Some bath 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 An Exhaust Fan On The First Floor?
Bath Vent Must Go To Exterior
Venting an exhaust 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. You can read our guide on bathroom ventilation options here.
Newer bathroom vent 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Purpose Of A Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
The point of a bathroom vent 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.
Do I Really Need A Bath Fan?
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 extractor fans only cost in the $50 to $200 range though labor and wiring will be extra.
What Features Do Good Exhaust Fans Include?
The best bath fans have variable speed motors, humidity sensors, lights, and even heaters.
A bathroom vent 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 bath fans.
Do Bath Fans Have To Vent Outside?
Most local building codes require the bathroom fan to vent outdoors. Some local municipalities may allow a ventless or recirculating fans under certain conditions. We always recommend venting outdoors (and not into the attic).
Where Is Best Place To Install An Exhaust Fan?
The top place in the bathroom is in the ceiling and in the middle. Since hot air and moisture rises, it is logical to place it in the middle and in the ceiling. Some bath fans are also able to be installed vertically on the wall if needed.