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A good exhaust fan is a bathroom must-have not only to manage odors but also to properly vent hot, moist air that builds up as you bathe or shower. This humid air can lead to mold, cause corrosion to fixtures, and even damage painted and wooden surfaces.
In many areas, building codes require bathroom ventilation, so you’ll want to know the rules in your area. When choosing a bathroom exhaust fan, be sure to pick one that corresponds to the size of the bathroom. You will also want to decide if you need any additional features, and if the vent’s look or noise level matters to you.
Here are the best bathroom exhaust fans available on the market.
Best Overall: Panasonic WhisperCeiling DC Fan
Dimensions: 10.25 x 13 x 8.51-inches | Weight: 9.26 pounds | Material: Metal | Noise Level: 0.3 Sones | Efficiency: Not listed
One of the quietest bathroom exhaust fans on the market
Perfect for rooms of multiple sizes
Easy to install
More expensive than other options
Panasonic makes some of the most popular models of bathroom exhaust fans, and the brand has a reputation for quiet operation. It lives up to this reputation with the Panasonic WhisperCeiling DC Fan.
This versatile bathroom exhaust fan is perfect for rooms of multiple sizes thanks to the Pick-a-Flow Speed Selector that adjusts fan operation between 50, 80, or 110 CFM. To live up to its quiet name, this model is rated to operate at 0.3 sones—making it one of the quietest bathroom exhaust fans on the market. Room-side installation is easy, thanks to Flex-Z fast brackets that allow you to mount the unit without having to crawl into your attic.
As for its ability to clear moisture from the bathroom, people are very happy with its performance. Many users report that the fan does a great job of removing moisture from steamy showers and keeping mirrors fog-free. It’s rated for use in bathrooms up to 110 square feet and is Energy Star rated for efficiency.
Best Budget: Broan 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan
Dimensions: 9.25 x 0.38 x 9-inches | Weight: 3 pounds | Material: Plastic | Noise Level: 4.0 Sones | Efficiency: Not listed
Efficient and affordable
Best fit for bathrooms under 50 square feet
Easy to install
Limited CFM may not be best for all bathrooms
Blast odors and increase circulation without blowing your budget on a pricey bathroom exhaust fan. Broan makes an efficient and affordable bathroom exhaust fan that's a good pick for homeowners on a budget.
The Broan 688 is rated for 50 CFM and is the best fit for small bathrooms of under 50 square feet. It earns frequent praise in reviews for being especially easy to install and can be mounted in the ceiling or wall. However, the somewhat limited CFM may not be the best fit for bathrooms in need of serious moisture management.
This budget bathroom exhaust fan operates at about 4.0 sones, which is considerably louder than other models. However, the increased noise level might be a good match for providing bathroom privacy.
Best with Light: Broan-NuTone 110 CFM Ventilation Fan with Soft Surround LED Lighting, 1.5 Sones; ENERGY STAR
Dimensions: 13.25 x 13.25 x 7.75-inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Material: Galvanized Steel | Noise Level: 1.5 Sones | Efficiency: Not listed
LED light can be wired separately or with the fan
12W LED light rated for 25,000 hours of use
Relatively quiet but not silent
This model from NuTone’s InVent series provides 110 CFM to provide abundant air movement combined with a soft surround LED light you can wire separately or together with the fan.
The built-in LED light runs around the perimeter of the exhaust fan grill for even light distribution. Unlike some other models of bathroom exhaust fans that have a light feature, users find that this model is bright enough to light the bathroom, even as a standalone light source. You won’t need to worry about replacing the light source anytime soon—the 12W LED light source is rated for 25,000 hours of use.
!f you’re concerned about removing moisture from the air, keep the area this fan is serving to 110 square feet or less. The fan operates at around 1.5 sones, making it relatively quiet, but not silent.
Best with Humidity Sensor: Air King Humidity Sensing White 80 CFM 0.5 Sone Ceiling Bath Fan
Dimensions: 13.75 x 11 x 8.25-inches | Weight: 12.8 pounds | Material: Galvanized Steel | Noise Level: 0.5 Sones | Efficiency: Not listed
Integrated humidity sensor
Energy-star certified efficient operation
UL-listed for damp environments
Larger than other models
A primary purpose of bathroom exhaust fans is to control humidity. But what if you forget to flip the switch to turn the fan on or the humidity levels climb when no one is around? You may want to consider a bathroom exhaust fan with a humidity sensor so you can never worry about elevated humidity levels again.
This model from Air King moves air at 80 CFM and operates at just 0.5 sones, but what really sets this fan apart is the integrated humidity sensor. You can program it to kick on when the room surpasses a preset humidity threshold (as high as 80 percent).
Another important thing to know about this fan is that it’s Energy Star-certified for efficient operation and is UL-listed for damp environments (like above the shower). It can be installed in rooms up to 80 square feet. Some reviewers did mention that the fan is a little larger than expected, but that it wasn't necessarily a dealbreaker.
Best with Heater: Broan-NuTone 9093WH Exhaust Fan, Heater, and Light Combo
Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 12-inches | Weight: 17 pounds | Material: Plastic | Noise Level: 3.5 Sones | Efficiency: Not listed
Model includes an exhaust fan, onboard heater, and light
Includes a four function wall switch
More expensive than other options
Heat things up while keeping moisture away, thanks to a bathroom exhaust fan with a heater—like the Broan 9093WH. This combo model includes an exhaust fan, an onboard heater, and a light.
Step out of the shower or warm up your morning routine with the help of the 1500-watt heater that provides a direct source of heat into your bathroom. A 100-watt incandescent bulb provides plenty of light power to illuminate the room, while the 7-watt night light is just bright enough to help you find your way in the middle of the night. The 70 CFM exhaust fan provides sufficient air movement for bathrooms up to 65 square feet. The unit includes a four-function wall switch that lets you operate each function separately.
Best Design: Hunter Home Comfort 83002 Ventilation Sona Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Dimensions: 16.7 x 16.5 x 15-inches | Weight: 20 pounds | Material: Glass/metal | Noise Level: 3.0 sones | Efficiency: Not listed
Looks more like a conventional light fixture
Motor capable of moving 110 CFM
Uses two 60-watt light bulbs for illumination
Frosted coating on the dome diffuses the light
For an incognito bathroom exhaust fan, consider the Hunter Sona Bath Fan with Light. This decorative exhaust fan looks more like a conventional flush-mounted light fixture, but inside is a motor capable of moving 110 CFM. It’s a top choice if you’re designing a bathroom that is beautiful and functional.
The Hunter Sona uses two 60-watt light bulbs to provide illumination and includes the option to install a smaller 7-watt bulb for a soft nightlight. People agree that this exhaust fan for bathrooms looks beautiful and could easily be mistaken for only a light fixture. However, the frosted coating on the dome does diffuse the light, so you will need a second source of light in the bathroom as well.
At 3.0 sones, this bathroom exhaust fan is considerably louder than some other top models.
Best Duct-Free: Broan 682 Duct-Free Ventilation Fan
Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.13 x 3.75-inches | Weight: 3.4 pounds | Material: Steel | Noise Level: Not listed | Efficiency: Not listed
Contains a charcoal filter to absorb odors
Great choice for basement bathrooms
Improves air circulation and clears odors well
May not meet some building code requirements
Isn't recommended for larger bathrooms
If you don’t have access to an external vent but still want to improve circulation and air quality, consider a duct-free bathroom exhaust fan. The Broan 682 utilizes a fan to produce air movement and a charcoal filter to absorb odors.
A duct-free bathroom fan is a good choice for basement bathrooms or bathrooms with no attic access (just note they may not meet building code requirements in some areas). In lieu of an external vent, the hardwired fan moves air across a filter to purify it before recirculating it in the space. That means the fan does a good job of improving air circulation and clearing odors in powder rooms and half baths but isn’t recommended for larger bathrooms or for controlling high humidity levels.
Because the unit doesn't hook up to a duct, the product description doesn't include how much noise it produces but keep in mind that it’s not a silent unit.
You can't go wrong with the Panasonic WhisperCeiling DC Fan (view at Home Depot), an easy-to-install option that's suitable for multiple room sizes and has one of the quietest operations on the market. If you're looking for a more affordable pick, we recommend the Broan-NuTone 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Local Building Codes
Your local building codes may mandate that all bathrooms must have an exhaust fan, and may also require fans to meet a certain minimum exhaust capacity as well as other requirements. It’s important to check with your local permitting department.
It’s important to pick an exhaust fan that correlates to the size of your bathroom. A fan that’s too small won’t be effective, but a fan that’s too powerful might create unpleasant drafts. In some cases, a second fan might be recommended.
The lower the sound rating, the quieter the fan. If you only plan to switch on the fan after taking a quick shower, the noise level of the fan may not be important to you. However, if you want to run your exhaust fan while taking a relaxing bath, look for a fan with a rating of 1.0 or less.
Most exhaust fans have a simple and discrete grate, but others have more elaborate or noticeable designs. You may want to find one that fits with the style of your bathroom.
Some bathroom exhaust fans offer a number of additional functions in addition to venting, if you’re willing to spend more. You can find fans that also function as lights, heaters, or even have built-in bluetooth speakers. Some also feature automatic humidity sensors.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erica Puisis, a freelance writer who has written for The Spruce since 2017. She specializes in interior design and has covered everything from furniture to appliances. To make this list, she considered each pick's style, features, and sound ratings.