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Expert Shopper Bed & Bath

Best bathroom fan

Which bathroom fan is best?

A bathroom fan is an essential feature for bathrooms of all sizes. Without one, the high moisture levels in your bathroom may lead to problems like damaged wood, paint and plaster, the formation of mold and even lung issues if the quality of air suffers. A bathroom fan regulates humidity to keep your bathroom clean and free from moisture damage.

Regardless of your budget and the size of your space, there’s a good bathroom fan option for you. Choosing one can prove overwhelming given the various technical considerations that go into selecting the right bathroom fan, such as the size of your ductwork, the amount of airflow required for the size of your bathroom and whether to opt for additional features, such as lighting, moisture-sensing and heating. 

For powerful air movement and quiet performance, the Panasonic WhisperCeiling Ventilation Fan is the best of the best.

What to know before you buy a bathroom fan

Airflow rate

To ensure the circulation power of your fan is good enough, look for its rating of how much air it moves per minute, measured in units of cubic feet per minute or CFM.

Best practice is to select a bathroom fan with at least approximately 1 CFM for every square foot of bathroom space you have. For most small or medium-sized bathrooms, a rating of 50 CFM is sufficient. If you have a large bathroom, look for a fan with a rating of 75-100 CFM.

Noise output level 

Look for a bathroom fan that indicates "whisper quiet" operation if low noise levels are a primary concern for you. If members of your household sleep and shower on different schedules, a quiet bathroom fan helps ensure a loud fan early in the morning or late at night doesn't disturb them.

Bathroom fan noises are measured in sones, which is a subjective unit of perceived noise. Quiet fan models have a rating of less than or equal to 1.0 sones. Very quiet fans can be as low as 0.3 sones, and louder fans may be as loud as 4.0 sones, which would be a very noticeable level of noise.


When selecting a fan, take stock of your current bathroom ventilation ductwork setup. You probably already have ductwork in your bathroom, so you should measure the duct prior to purchasing a new model to avoid purchasing one that’s too small and leaves a gap.


Install your fan above or near your shower to clear out humidity in the bathroom. It’s also important to have good ventilation near the toilet to dispel odors.

What to look for in a quality bathroom fan

Heating elements

Some high-end bathroom fans include heating elements to keep you warm when you walk out of your bathtub or shower. This is a helpful feature to have, but keep in mind this type of fan uses a lot of energy, similar to a small space heater.

Also, note that heating bathroom fans shouldn’t be installed directly over your shower. This could be problematic if you already have a ventilation system set up over your shower and don’t want to move the duct.

You should consult with an electrician if you choose to install a heating fan to ensure you have the correct wattage hookup in your bathroom and avoid tripping a circuit.


Consider whether you want your bathroom fan to include LED lighting. This is a nice feature in a smaller bathroom where installing both a bathroom fan and a lighting fixture takes up too much ceiling space or creates a cluttered look.

Automatic on and off function

A fan with a humidity sensor automatically turns on and off based on the humidity level in the air. This is useful for preserving the quality of the walls in your bathroom and avoiding moisture-related problems, such as mold. This could save you a little bit of mental energy, because without this function, you’ll need to remember to leave your fan on for up to a half an hour after showering.

How much you can expect to spend on a bathroom fan

Bathroom fans range in price from budget models available for less than $50 up to luxury models that cost up to $200 with additional features like LED lights, built-in heaters and variable speed. Expect to pay around $100 for a powerful, durable and quiet fan.

Bathroom fan FAQ

How do you use your bathroom fan separately from the bathroom light?

A. Many bathroom fan models can be set up to operate on a switch that's separate from your bathroom lighting. If you don’t already have wiring set up for this function, you should consult with a contractor who can take care of wiring for you. Attempting to do this yourself could pose a hazard or lead to work that isn’t up to code.

Where should you install my bathroom fan?

A. Install your bathroom fan above your bathtub or shower to most efficiently reduce humidity in the space. If your fan has a built-in heating function, however, you should install it on the ceiling not above your shower.

What’s the best bathroom fan to buy?

Top bathroom fan

Panasonic WhisperCeiling Ventilation Fan

What you need to know: This is a highly rated fan that operates quietly, moves air efficiently and saves money with Energy-Star rated performance.

What you’ll love: As its name suggests, this fan is very quiet when in operation. It allows users to customize airflow to 110, 130 or 150 CFM.

What you should consider: Some customers find installation of this model difficult, although it's designed with easy installation in mind.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and The Home Depot

Top bathroom fan for the money

Broan-NuTone 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan

What you need to know: This fan costs less than others and provides stunningly powerful performance.

What you’ll love: At a fraction of the cost, this powerful fan moves air and clears humidity with surprising efficiency, especially in small bathrooms. You can also paint this fan to match other finishes in your space. It's relatively simple to install.

What you should consider: This fan is louder than others on the market.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Air King BFQ 90 Bath Fan

What you need to know: Easy to install, this quiet fan has an attractive white housing.

What you’ll love: The fan receives high marks for durability, whisper-quiet operation and a simple snap-in ceiling installation process. It offers impressive performance for its price.

What you should consider: Some customers find the plastic housing a bit thin or flimsy, but it performs well once installed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Evelyn Waugh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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