The 6 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans of 2021

Eliminate odors and control humidity with these bathroom fans

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Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans

The Spruce / Chloe Jeong

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, pick one that corresponds with the size of the bathroom. You will also want to decide whether you need any additional features, such as a built-in light, and whether the vent’s look or noise level matters to you.

Here are the best bathroom exhaust fans available on the market. 

Our Top Picks
This is one of the quietest bathroom exhaust fans on the market and is rated for bathrooms up to 110 square feet.
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This fan can blast odors and increase circulation without blowing your budget but is best for small bathrooms.
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This unit offers abundant air movement and a soft LED light that can be wired to turn on separately or together with the fan.
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Program it to kick on when the room surpasses a preset humidity threshold.
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This combo model includes an exhaust fan, onboard heater, and light.
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The fan moves air across a filter to purify it before recirculating it in the space.
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Best Overall: Panasonic WhisperCeiling DC Fan

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

What We Like
  • One of the quietest bathroom exhaust fans on the market

  • Perfect for rooms of multiple sizes

  • Easy to install

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than many 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 (cubic feet per minute). 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

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

What We Like
  • Efficient and affordable

  • Best fit for bathrooms under 50 square feet

  • Easy to install

What We Don't Like
  • 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

NuTone InVent Series 110 CFM Exhaust Fan with Light

Dimensions: 13.25 x 13.25 x 7.75 inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Material: Galvanized steel | Noise Level: 1.5 sones | Efficiency: Not listed

What We Like
  • LED light can be wired separately or with the fan

  • 12-watt LED light rated for 25,000 hours of use

What We Don't Like
  • Relatively quiet but not silent

This model from NuTone’s InVent series offers 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. And you won’t need to worry about replacing the light source anytime soon; the 12-watt 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

Air King Humidity Sensing 80 CFM 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

What We Like
  • Integrated humidity sensor

  • Energy Star-certified efficient operation

  • UL listed for damp environments

What We Don't LIke
  • 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? Consider a bathroom exhaust fan with a humidity sensor, so you 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%).

Another important factor 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 wasn't necessarily a dealbreaker.

Best With Heater: Broan-NuTone 9093WH Exhaust Fan, Heater, and Light Combo

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

What We Like
  • Model includes an exhaust fan, onboard heater, and light

  • 1500-watt heater

  • Includes a four function wall switch

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than many other options

Heat things up while keeping moisture away with a bathroom exhaust fan plus heater—such as 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 1,500-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 Duct-Free: Broan 682 Duct-Free Ventilation Fan

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

What We Like
  • Contains a charcoal filter to absorb odors

  • Great choice for basement bathrooms

  • Improves air circulation and clears odors well

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Final Verdict

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 might mandate that all bathrooms must have an exhaust fan. They also might require fans to meet a certain minimum exhaust capacity as well as other code requirements. It’s important to check with your local permitting department. 

Bathroom Size

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. 

Sound Ratings

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 might 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. 

Style

Most exhaust fans have a simple and discreet grate, but others have more elaborate or noticeable designs. You might want to find one that fits with the style of your bathroom.

Features

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 or heaters. Some even have built-in bluetooth speakers or 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.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Building Codes and Indoor Air Quality. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. Chapter 15: Exhaust Systems. 2018 International Residential Code.

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