Updated July 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Best of the Best
Broan-NuTone AE110 Invent Flex Energy Star Qualified Single-Speed Ventilation Fan
AE110 Invent Flex Energy Star Qualified Single-Speed Ventilation Fan
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Highly Rated
Bottom Line

A fan that effectively removes moisture buildup and pollutants in bathrooms.


Features a TrueSeal Damper Technology that greatly reduces air leakage. Equipped with a GFCI circuit that captures steam from tubs and showers before it spreads. Easy to install and does not require attic access.


Several complaints of the fan being too loud.

Best Bang for the Buck
Broan-NuTone 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan
688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan
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Most Powerful
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At a fraction of the price of other models, this fan is a great deal for the performance.


This model is powerful enough to efficiently move moist air out of a small bathroom. The grille uses torsion springs so no tools are needed for installation. If you want it to be a perfect match for your décor, the unit is paintable.


This is a loud fan.

Air King BFQ 90 Bath Fan
Air King
BFQ 90 Bath Fan
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Easiest to Install
Bottom Line

A good budget pick that can handle continuous operation and moves air out.


Manufactured using high-impact plastic housing for increased durability. The snap-in installation is a greatly appreciated feature. Additionally, this fan offers impressive performance for a price that may be lower than expected.


While the plastic body on this model may feel flimsy, performance is solid.

BV 90 CFM, 0.8 Sone Bathroom Ventilation & Exhaust Fan
90 CFM, 0.8 Sone Bathroom Ventilation & Exhaust Fan
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Least Noisy
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Consider this bathroom fan that can move large volumes of air while producing minimal noise.


Eliminates moist air in bathrooms and prevents the growth of mold and mildew. Includes a heavy-duty motor with thermal protection and lifetime lubrication which allows for continuous and stable operation.


Not very easy to install if you don’t have handyman experience.

Panasonic WhisperSense DC Ventilation Fan
WhisperSense DC Ventilation Fan
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A solid choice that's built to last and won't disappoint on performance.


This bathroom fan features a four or six-inch duct adapter, making it ideal for renovations. It offers remarkably quiet operation and is efficient at drawing moisture-saturated air from your bathroom to create a healthier environment.


Because this model is relatively heavy, it could be a little more difficult to install.


We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best bathroom fans

To protect yourself from the danger and mess of mold, peeling paint, and ruined insulation, consider installing a good bathroom fan. Designed to help move moisture and odor up and out of one of the most important spaces in your home, without a bathroom fan, your bathroom could go from an oasis to an unpleasant sump over time.

Before you purchase a bathroom fan, there are some important technical features to consider. Size, amount of air moved, sound output, installation requirements, and venting vary from unit to unit. You may also be interested in some nice added features, such as overhead lights, night lights, and heaters. 

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After a shower, leave your bathroom fan on for about 20 minutes to clear out the humidity.

Air movement

The purpose of a bathroom fan is to move air up and out, thereby keeping the moisture in your home balanced and your bathroom clean and mold-free. Units on the market are designed to move air at a variety of rates. Here are a few tips.

  • Look for the “CFM” rating on any fan you’re considering to see how much air the fan moves per minute.

  • How high of a CFM rating do you need? A good rule of thumb is to opt for one CFM per square foot of bathroom space.

A lot of bathroom fans push at least 50 CFM. That is usually adequate for an average-sized bathroom. If you’re looking at a bigger space, or perhaps a master bath, do some measuring before you shop. Some fans will move well over 100 CFM and are a good bet if your room is large.

Noise level

Do you get up early or go to bed late? If you’re showering when others are sleeping, you will thank yourself if you pay close attention to the sound level of your fan.

Most fans come with a sone rating that indicates how much noise the fan makes while operating.

Your best bet for a quiet fan is to look for one with a sone rating lower than one. Other products might cost less, but noise output is a very noticeable quality in a bathroom fan.

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Did you know?
It is possible to get a quiet bathroom fan. Many are made with decibel levels not much higher than the sound of rustling leaves. Low-cost bathroom fans tend to make more noise than pricier models.


The venting of your fan is very important. We touch on some essential ventilation facts below.

  • Duct size

If you’re installing a replacement fan, you likely already have ductwork in place. Check your duct size before you buy a new fan. Sizes of ducts for bathroom fans generally run four inches in diameter, but some are three inches and others run up to six inches.

  • Placement

Another important venting issue to consider is where to place the fan. Generally, it is best to place it near your shower. If you have an enclosed toilet, it is a good idea to give that area a separate venting system, as the general system will likely not work well to remove odors from the enclosed space.

Note that if you vent into the attic only, you are not adequately venting out moisture and are at risk for mold growth. Adequate venting may require cutting a hole in your roof. Many homeowners will want to leave this job to a professional.

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Venting your bathroom fan into your attic or wall instead of out of your roof puts you at risk of damaging insulation and possibly the structural pieces of your home.


Bathroom fans come in a variety of lengths and widths, from as small as eight inches to as large as 14 or 16 inches. There is essentially no “standard” size for a bathroom fan.

In fact,  you might be hard-pressed to find one exactly the same size as a unit you need to replace.

The housing for your bathroom fan unit will have to be installed in your ceiling. If you have not had a fan in your bath before, you will have to cut large hole in your ceiling and, likely, another in your roof for ventilation.

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Did you know?
A duct-free bathroom fan will not remove any air from the room and will not reduce your humidity levels.

Heating elements

A nice heater in your bathroom will keep you comfortable when you step out of the shower. Some bathroom fans have them, and they come in two basic types: those with a heat lamp and those with a built-in heat coil.

  • Bathroom fans with heat lamps use high-wattage bulbs to give you a little extra warmth in your bath. Notably, some of these products cannot be installed directly over the shower.

  • Bathroom fans with heat coils generally operate on the same principle that small space heaters do. These fans are more durable than heat lamp-based fans, but they pull a lot of energy.

Remember if you are running a heater, light, and fan at the same time, you will be drawing a lot of electricity. This can be close to 1,500 watts on some units, which is about the same amount as a hair dryer. You may need a 20-amp dedicated circuit with a heat lamp unit to run your fan and other appliances without tripping a circuit.

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For your safety
Fans should be cleaned every three months because they naturally create static electricity, which can restrict air movement.


Not all bathroom fans have a light, and you may not want one. However, in small spaces, the ability to illuminate from above can be a major benefit.

Newer fans are usually equipped with low-watt compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs. Nicer fans have LED bulbs for brighter light.

Some fans also include a night light feature. Many folks agree it’s nice to be able to see your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to turn the lights on.

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Did you know?
Some bathroom fans come with an automatic sensing feature that will turn your fan on and off based on the humidity level.

Bathroom fan prices

  • $25 to $50

In this price range, you will get something that moves air, but not as much air as a pricier fan would.  Fans in this lower price range will also be louder. If your bathroom is a good distance from your bedrooms and is on the small side, an economy fan may work well for your needs.

  • $50 to $100

In this range, you should be able to get a quieter bathroom fan that moves a lot of air. You may not get a heater or a light at this price, but you may be able to get a fan with varied air flow.

  • $100 to $200

These higher-end fans come with nicer features such as LED lights, night lights, built-in heating coils, and variable speeds. Some have moisture indicators that turn on only when needed. Most importantly, they can move a lot of air quietly.


  • The best place to install your bathroom fan is near or over your shower or bathtub – unless your fan has a built-in heater.

  • Double check the size of the current hole in your ceiling so that you do not undersize yourself and leave a visible space.

  • If you currently have a bathroom fan, check your ventilation system. If it is not properly vented, it could be damaging your home.

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Many bathroom fans are rated to work in homes with a continuous ventilation system.


Q. Will I be able to use the fan separately from the light?

A. Most bathroom fans can be set up to operate on a separate switch from the light. However, if you choose, you could wire them together.

Q. Can a bathroom fan be mounted on the wall?

A. It depends on the width of the wall. Many units will be too deep to fit in a 2x4 opening. There are some on the market that can fit the space, but remember, venting issues will be the same.

Q. What kind of electrical requirements does a bathroom fan have?

A. Requirements vary by unit. If you choose a unit that includes a heater, you may need a dedicated circuit. A fan by itself can generally be operated off of a light circuit.

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