Best Bathroom Fans Consumer Reports

Best Bathroom Fans Consumer Reports, Tips, Reviews, Ratings, and Guides in 2022

Are you in the market for a new bathroom fan? Looking for the best one to meet your needs and fit your budget? Consumer Reports can help. Our experts have tested dozens of fans and compiled their findings in this comprehensive guide. Whether you’re looking for a high-powered fan to keep your bathroom cool and dry or a low- noise model that won’t disturb your peace and quiet, we’ve got you covered. So read on to find the perfect fan for your bathroom – and start enjoying those long, hot showers worry-free!

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think too much about your bathroom exhaust fan – until it breaks down. And then suddenly you realize how important it is.  That’s why you should know about the latest high-tech options. We’ll tell you what to look for, and which fans work best.

What are Bathroom Fans?

A bathroom fan is a powerful exhaust system that quickly pulls air, moisture, and odors out of the bathroom. You’ll find them in homes, apartments, condos – pretty much anywhere people live. They also come in handy in places like locker rooms where you want to get rid of nasty odors fast.

Most Common Types of Bathroom Fans: 

There are two types:

Attachable fans (also called “spot” or “portable” fans) that pull the moist air and odors from one spot, like under a stall in a public bathroom. Or you can use them in smaller bathrooms to remove moisture from tubs and showers. Some attach right to your wall; others sit on the floor.

Ventilation fans (sometimes called whole-house fans or attic ventilators) that work best when they’re installed in the ceiling of your bathroom. They typically exhaust larger quantities of air to keep your home free of moisture and must be properly sized for your home and local climate conditions.

What should you know about Bathroom Fans?

Bathroom fans are rated by cubic feet per minute (cfm) of air moved. The bigger the fan, the more cfm it moves. For most bathrooms, you’ll need a fan that moves at least 50 cfm. If your bathroom is larger than 100 square feet or if it has particularly tall ceilings, you might want to go with something in the range of 80–100 cfm.

Keep in mind that bath fans aren’t intended to remove odors from multiple bathrooms or keep your home free of excess humidity – for those purposes, it’s best to install whole-house ventilation system with an electric powered heat-driven ventilator.

Factors to Consider before buying Bathroom Fans:

Room Size: The bigger the room, the more power it requires. This means that if you’re dealing with a large multi-person family bath (or multiple bathrooms) then getting a powerful whole-house ventilation system is probably going to be necessary for your home comfort.

Power Source: For homeowners, the most common type of fan is an electric one that’s plugged into a nearby outlet or hardwired to your switch box. If you’re replacing an existing fan, it probably already has a plug attached to it. Otherwise, when selecting your bathroom fan make sure that the power source is in a location that allows for easy installation and access if needed in future years. It’s also easier to add a plug to any type of fan if you ever need to replace it in the future.

Some fans are powered by batteries instead of electricity from a wall outlet. These battery-powered models normally run-on AA batteries and can be useful when installing a permanent solution isn’t possible or practical (in a rental property for example). In some cases, the batteries only need to operate a wall switch to turn on and off. In other cases, the fan runs continuously.

Look for a battery-powered bathroom fan that includes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack that can be easily connected or disconnected from the unit. Lithium-ion batteries are lightweight and last much longer than alkaline models. If you’re going with a plug-in model, it’s best to get one with an LED indicator light that shows when the batteries are in use.

Lighting: Many fans come with integrated lighting. But some don’t – and we’ve found both types work equally well. One advantage to having an integrated light is that it makes shaving, applying makeup or cleaning up after your shave or shower easier because of the bright light provided. Another benefit of lighting is that if the light is located right next to the fan switch, you don’t have to turn on a light when using the fan. Keep in mind that if your bathroom has multiple fans or lights, then coordinating them can get confusing – especially when it’s dark and other lights are already turned on.

Arranging for Your New Fan: Before you begin shopping, measure the height of your ceiling at its highest point. Also measure how high you’ll need to reach when installing your new fan, so you buy one with a maximum height rating that’s tall enough. Then keep in mind that most fans are rated to be installed up to about 24 inches off the ground. If possible, try to avoid placing your bathroom fan closer than 4 feet from an outside wall (to improve air circulation) and away from windows (to prevent rain or snow getting into it). With all that in mind, there are some things you should consider before deciding on the best location for your new bathroom fan.

Fan Placement: The placement of your fan is critical – determining what you want to accomplish with your new bathroom ventilation system determines where it needs to be placed.

Material: It’s recommended to use metal (such as galvanized steel) rather than PVC pipe when venting outdoors, and make sure the flange is properly sealed around all openings. Galvanized steel has a life expectancy of at least 50 years and its resistance to sunlight helps reduce fading over time; plus, it can be painted any color for an attractive appearance inside and out.

Price:   A good ceiling fan cost will depend on the size of the room, quality of motor, number of blades and brands. However, you can expect to pay up to $100 for a small bathroom fan, $150 for medium sized bathrooms and up to $300 – for large bathrooms.

Size: As mentioned earlier, most fans are rated to be installed up to about 24 inches off the ground. So, if your ceiling height is over that mark then you may have trouble finding one that fits properly. If placing it closer than 4 feet from an outside wall is not possible due to space constraints, consider using a smaller fan with less power or consider adding an additional light fixture in your bathroom so you have two sources of light instead of one.

Placement: Many models of bathroom fans come with a duct that’s already attached and seems like the perfect fit. But consider whether it will create undue noise, which can be bothersome after reading, watching TV, or even sleeping. It may require you relocate your fan – and if you use an elbow connector to extend the duct (instead of more expensive metal pipe) don’t forget to buy a special adapter.

Design: The   style of your fan should blend in with the décor of your bathroom. Then match or coordinate its color, finish and even the type of light switch used to operate it with other bathroom features to create an attractive overall look.

Environment: Where do you live? Where does your new bathroom vent system need to be placed? There are fans available designed specifically for cold areas (greater than 0 degrees Fahrenheit) and others for warm areas (less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

Dust: Also check to see if the fan blades are reversible so you can replace them when they become soiled or worn looking.

Bathroom Ventilation System Maintenance:

Opening Windows: It’s good to crack open a window when taking a shower to let steam escape, but this also lets in cold weather during winter months, rain during storms and mosquitoes that carry diseases into your bathroom. This makes it important to choose a ventilation system that does not rely on windows that need opened every time you want to take a shower.

Overflow Drain Accessibility: Be sure all overflow drains are easy to reach while standing in your bathtub before purchasing any new ventilation system. These can be clogged from soapy residue, hair and debris from the tub making it difficult to drain water after a bath or shower.

Algae: Bathroom fans can become clogged with green algae over time if placed above your shower where they get wet. If this happens, clean them once every two weeks by removing the cover (be sure to unplug before working on any electrical components) and wipe off the grills or blades with a soft cloth dipped in white distilled vinegar while dry; then let them dry completely before replacing covers. If this doesn’t work, use CLR (Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover) according to manufacturer’s instructions then rinse well with clear water, let it dry completely and put back into place.

Filter: Try using a filter with your bathroom ventilation system to help keep it cleaner longer. The more expensive ones are made from stainless steel or aluminum mesh and can be cleaned by brushing off soapy residue, rinsing in hot water, letting dry completely before putting back into place.

Warranty:   Be sure to choose a ventilation system with at least a one-year warranty on the motor and housing, plus an additional warranty for its attached duct. Most warranties cover free replacement parts for any defective parts or labor fees if there are problems you cannot fix yourself.

Electrical Requirements: Read your electric fan’s label to know how many amps you need (remember that adding more than one fan requires additional amperage) or call your electric company to request wiring up to that size (5/8″, 3 Wire). Your new bathroom vent system must be wired correctly by licenced professionals to avoid fire hazards from overloaded circuits.

Sones: Bathroom fans are rated in sones, which measures the noise level they produce. To achieve one sone of sound reduction, you need at least four times the number of square feet in area for your bathroom. For example: a 2′ x 3′ fan will require about an 8′ x 10′ room to operate it quietly enough to not hear over running water.

Electric Heater: If you choose an electric heater with your new ventilation system, be sure it has UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) approval – especially if children or pets use your bathroom every day! Also follow their instructions for connecting them safely and remember that they’re never meant to replace hot water heaters. If you don’t want another electrical appliance in your bathroom, you can use an old towel rod and place it over the shower head to dry towels.

Water Temperature: For best results, run your fan whenever you want to achieve more than one sone of sound reduction (if needed). If you choose an electric heater, avoid using it while at the same time running your bathroom fan unless you have an advanced thermostat that can be set to automatically turn on and off when necessary.

Sound Reduction: The better sound reduction your bathroom fan has, the less often you’ll need to run it. Even ceiling fans can reduce noise levels and save energy while still providing fresh air circulation in summer months. Remember though; whenever you install a new system, always make sure its duct is larger than the previous one and runs outside safely without causing any fire hazards by meeting combustible materials inside or near the home.

Durability:   The more durable your bathroom fan, the less often you’ll need to repair or replace it. Invest a little more now and save money in the long term by choosing a unit with a stainless-steel pull chain switch instead of one made from plastic that could crack over time.

Installation: Most bathroom ventilation systems include all necessary installation hardware for a basic install above the ceiling or on an expesive wall (shower niche) where it’s usually placed if the structure allows. An 8′ x 10′ room should allow you to choose from a wide variety of types and styles available out there today – from simple modern fans with light kits that can be used as nightlights, to high end digital models with advanced features that make them easy to use and maintain.

Some models are even compatible with your smartphone or tablet, making them very convenient to control from anywhere in the house.

Brand:  Always buy your new bathroom vent system from a reputable brand that offers an extensive selection of models, making them easy to find one that fits in perfectly with your other bathroom décor.

The pros and cons of Bathroom Fans:


Keeps humidity down by allowing fresh air to circulate inside your bathroom while you’re taking a shower or using the sink.

They often include light kits that are good for bathrooms where lighting is always needed, especially on dark rainy days.

They can be used to heat up small rooms in colder months of the year if they have an electric heater included with them.

Installing one above the shower is advisable because of airborne water vapor and mist caused by running water or hot showers which can leave behind mold spores if left unchecked.


Can get noisy over time if it doesn’t have sound reduction features installed on its grill (usually chrome plated metal) – some models are quieter than others though so choose carefully.

The more features it has, the more expensive it will be – keep that in mind when shopping.

An advanced thermostat can’t save you money unless you turn your shower off while you’re not using it and only run your fan as needed instead. They usually cost extra anyway so consider buying a less advanced unit and simply turning it on whenever necessary to achieve one or two sones of sound reduction (if needed).


How do Bathroom Fans work?

A bathroom fan works by creating a negative pressure zone in the bathroom that causes air to travel up its duct and out of an opening on top where it’s usually placed if possible. Some fans are less powerful than others – especially electric heaters which can be dangerous if they suck in too much oxygen – while some are quieter to run due to their sound reducing grill or extra insulation.

Why should I install a bathroom fan in the first place?

Not only do they save money on your monthly energy bills by allowing you to use less hot water when taking long showers, but they also keep humidity under control and reduce the risk of mold forming that can eventually lead to serious respiratory problems. In addition, if there’s not enough fresh air circulation inside your bathroom, bad odors can build up easily after using it which makes it even more important to have a working ventilation system installed.

How often do I need to run my bathroom fan?

The more bathrooms fans have sound reduction features installed on their grill (usually chrome plated metal), the less often you’ll need to run them unless you take more than 15-minute showers on a regular basis. If they don’t, invest in a small digital timer to keep track of the time and only use yours for 5-10 minutes (or less) per day at maximum.

How do I know which size fan will fit perfectly in my bathroom?

The room’s cubic feet are what determines the size of ventilation system you’ll need to buy. Simply multiply its length by its width and then divide that number by 3,600 (the result will be in Cubic Feet). For example, a 10′ x 8′ bathroom would require a fan with at least 80 cu ft/min air movement rate.

How to use Bathroom Fans?

There are two main ways to use a bathroom fan

As a permanent fixture directly wired into your home’s electrical system with no switch or pull cords whatsoever – they usually cost more because of this though so consider buying an easier to install one with the help of the previous tips and tricks mentioned in this article instead if you can’t do it yourself.

As portable units that only need batteries (preferably rechargeable ones) or an exterior power source like solar panels, both which can be placed on windowsills, mirrors, walls without leaving behind unsightly marks if removed at any time.

How often should I have my Bathroom Fans cleaned?

You should have your bathroom fans cleaned at least once a year unless you have pets inside – in this case, twice may be needed. Bear in mind that if there are any windows present, they’ll need to be closed or the fan won’t work as well because of too much exposure to outside elements which can cause them to break down faster over time.

How to Clean your Bathroom Fan?

Turn off its main power switch before cleaning it with either an easily bendable pipe cleaner, cotton swabs or a soft toothbrush for smaller grills.

For exhaust fans mounted onto walls or ceilings, use a screwdriver instead and carefully unscrew the grill first before pulling out any removable small items inside it (like dead bugs or pollen).

Waterproof grease should be removed with standard window cleaner.

Wash the grill itself with soap and water before letting it dry out for 10 minutes before you put it back in place again.

Do I need a more powerful bathroom fan?

The increase in fan power is about 50% for every +1 sone rating above the minimum requirement for your bathroom. This means that you can save money over time without sacrificing on noise levels when buying a more efficient ventilation unit if it has at least this level of sound reduction built into its grill or design.

Does humidity affect the performance of my bathroom fan?

Yes, especially during colder months when there’s less moisture in the air than during summertime, so installing an electronic dehumidifier is also a good idea unless you keep it running all year round.

How long do bathroom fans last?

The average lifespan of a fan is between 15 and 18 years under normal operating conditions. Bear in mind that smaller bathrooms (under 350 sq ft) only need 30 to 60 seconds of ventilation per use while larger ones (400-600 sq ft or more) may require 90 seconds or more on top of that – the more expensive the model you buy, the longer it will last overall with less maintenance needed over time.

How do I choose a bathroom fan?

Look for one with a CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating of at least +40 over the required minimum for your room’s size. This way you’ll make sure that it is powerful enough to remove any excess moisture and put out negative pressure inside your bathroom which keeps bugs and pollen away as well.

Can a bathroom fan catch on fire?

Yes, if it uses a heat-producing light bulb as its main source of lighting, so make sure to buy a fan that has an incandescent or LED lamp instead. It’s also important to note that you must never install a fan that doesn’t come with a UL listing for safety reasons because this will increase the risk of fire significantly over time.

Can I use my bathroom fan during winter?

No, not unless you have an exhaust only model installed in your bathroom. If there’s no way to ventilate your home without opening any windows at all either, then using the shower isn’t advisable because carbon monoxide from gas appliances can seep inside through any small cracks and cause health problems after extended periods of exposure to this type of indoor air pollution.

Are bathroom fans expensive?

Typically, not, though it depends on the features you need and where you buy it from. It’s important to note that cheaper models usually lack any form of insulation or noise-reducing technology and will break down far sooner than more advanced ones with carefully engineered designs to minimize sound and last for many years without needing repairs in between.

Is installing a bathroom fan hard?

No, it should be easy enough to do with the help of a standard DIY kit that comes with all the necessary parts and pieces that you need for this type of project. Be sure to follow all safety procedures and turn off the power switch to your bathroom before attempting any electrical work on your own though because there’s always a slight risk of electrocution when installing or repairing exhaust fans like these which is why professional assistance is advised in this type of situation instead.


A bathroom fan is a must-have for every home because it keeps the air inside your house breathable by removing excess moisture and odors to keep you healthy over time. The key is to buy one with high CFM ratings so that it can always deliver more than enough power while keeping noise levels down to an absolute minimum without sacrificing on quality or durability.