Bathroom Fans

Designed to ventilate, aerate and reduce moisture, bathroom fans comprise the full range of wall- and ceiling-mounted units. Bathroom fans can either be very utilitarian and basic or exceptionally decorative in design. They may be a fan-only unit or a combination fan and light, fan and heater or a fan, light and heater. Bathroom fans help to prevent moisture from building up, leading to the presence of mold and mildew. By venting the moisture, fumes from cleaning products and even hairspray particles, bathroom fans help to circulate air and keep the atmosphere fresh. 

Types of Bathroom Fans

In the bathroom, fans may be either ceiling- or wall-mounted. Exhaust fans and ventilation fans both refer to units specifically designed to pull moisture from the air and vent it to the outdoors. Bathroom fans in many cases serve a single purpose, but other fan designs feature a mounted light and/or a heater. Combo bathroom fans are usually more decorative while fan-only units typically consist of the through-wall or ceiling housing and a cover grille. 

Combination Fans

Combination bathroom fans are multifunctional installations that, depending on their design, can add style to your bathroom. Whereas fan-only units mount inconspicuously on a wall or the ceiling, combination fan/lights usually feature an attractive fixture specific to the room's decor. There are practically no limitations to the design potential for combination fan/lights except for available space. Common fan/light designs include domed glass shades, hanging pendant lamps and period specific bronze and brushed nickel varieties. Wood-framed fan/lights are available as are other types of polished metal. 

Combination fan/light/heater units are capable of fan-forced heat to add warmth to a chilly bathroom. Using a ceramic heating element which safely contains the heated metal coils, these units alternate between venting moist air and blowing heated air back into a room. Some units allow both functions to operate simultaneously, although independent of one another. 


Bathroom fans are rated according to their energy efficiency, the number of cubic feet per minute they can effectively vent and how many sones or loudness units they produce. Energy Star-qualified bathroom fans consume less electrical energy than non-rated units. In addition, the use of energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs increases efficiency. Cubic feet per minute or CFM is a figure which indicates the amount of air a fan is capable of ventilating in a minute. The larger the number the greater the fan's ability to reduce moisture. Lastly, fans are rated for loudness in terms of sones, a derived unit of which a rating from 1 to 4 is considered normal talking. For instance, BROAN makes a decorative fan/light combo rated at 80 CFM and 2.5 sones.


Manufacturers of bathroom fans include BROAN, NuTone, Panasonic, Hunter, Emerson, Craftmade, Maxim Lighting and FanTech. All producers of bathroom fans are diverse in that they offer numerous models and several unit styles. Specialization does occur, however. Hunter makes a wide variety of decorative fan/light combination units while Panasonic produces utility exhaust and ventilation fans almost exclusively.

Depending on your bathroom fan, lighting and heating needs, you have a wide range of choices. While bathroom fan-only units provide adequate moisture removal and air circulation, combination fan/light/heater units a 3-way appliances that can add decorative value to your bathroom.