Best Ventilation Fans

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Written by:

Updated January 24, 2023

The best ventilation fans help prevent moisture damage, mold spores, and bad odors from affecting your home. Our evaluation criteria focused on airflow capacity, dB rating, and energy efficiency. We also looked into “smart” options such as humidity sensing for automatic shutoff, built-in heaters, and multiple fan speed options. You can trust that we have listed the best fans for you.

After more than 20 hours of research and testing, our best ventilation fan pick goes to the Delta BreezSkim SLM5050 CFM Exhaust Bath Fan. This compact, little machine offers an outstanding combination of power, silent noise level, and energy efficiency that is hard to match.

Top 7 Best Ventilation Fans Compared

 #1  Delta BreezSkim SLM50 50 CFM Exhaust Bath Fan – Top Pick/Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: This exhaust bath fan is a workhorse, featuring 50 CFM, a compact size of 7.2” x 7.25″ x 3.94″, ENERGY STAR certification, a retrofit sleek design, and 40 dB noise levels, one of the quietest on our list. It is the perfect choice for people looking for an energy-efficient, quieter solution in a compact package.

  • ENERGYSTAR certified
  • Retrofit design
  • 40 dB noise level
  • LED light power indicator
  • May require professional installation
  • Galvanized steel body may not match room decor

Its compact size and weight of fewer than 5 pounds allow for easy refitting in an existing space or a ceiling or wall-mounted area, fitting easily within a 4-inch wall. Its ENERGY STAR rating is also legendary, besting ENERGY STARs own requirements by 458% to consume virtually pennies in energy bills a year.

Other auxiliary features include an LED indicator light to let you know it’s running and a 70,000-hour DC motor fan lifespan, lasting practically an entire lifetime of use without needing a replacement. It is also UL approved for ceiling or wall installations, a distinction granted by Underwater’s Laboratories, an organization that provides product testing and certification. Ventilation fans are great for keeping your home healthy and can work well in conjunction with the best modern ceiling fans.

 #2  VIVOSUN 4-Inch 195 CFM Fan Vent Blower – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: This fan vent blower provides exceptional ventilation with a 2,930 RPM fan speed, 28 dB noise level, and 195 CFM. This unit works for larger rooms with greater surface areas of up to 195 square feet, such as home offices, kitchens, bedrooms, or greenhouses that need increased air circulation to reduce hot spots generated from hydroponics grow equipment.

  • Covers large surface area (195 CFM)
  • 30 dB noise level
  • Reduces hot spots
  • Plastic feels cheap
  • May vibrate with rumbling noise depending on the surface

Unlike the Bionaire Window Fan, this Vivosun fan is compact, measuring 7.5″ x 6.75″ x 6.75″, excellent for placement in unobstructed corners in a crowded grow house or living area. Its 30 dB noise level uses a noise deflector to project the fan stream and limit kinetic energy, generating as much noise levels as quiet whispering, making it ideal in areas where a lot of people congregate.

Installation is a breeze (no pun intended), with a stand and 5.9-foot cord length. Though not as effortless as the best USB fan. Both the intake and exhaust ends also contain flanges which makes them easier to set up. Like the Delta, it offers a silent operation, in part due to its permanently lubricated motor and blade construction. Consider a window fan as well if the air in your space would circulate better with more fans. You may also need a window fan for smoking if you’re a smoker.

 #3  AC Infinity Cloudline T6

WHY WE LIKE IT: This ventilation fan is a digital powerhouse, generating 410 CFM airflow, 32dB motor, and a smart programming controller with temperature and humidity sensors to optimize airflow This unit is ideal for hydroponic grow rooms and greenhouses with fluctuating high and low temperatures, which is very common weather behavior in tropical regions and microclimates.

  • 32dB motor
  • Sleek design
  • IP44 rated for liquid and dust resistance
  • Design may be too modern for some
  • Steeper learning curve to use than non-digital ventilation fans

One of our favorite AC Infinity CLOUDLINE T6 features is its “intelligent” controller, a sleek contraption that programs fan speeds, with additional functions such as an alarm system, failure alerts, countdown timer, and eco-mode. It optimizes airflow in response to current temperatures and humidity, along with 10 fan speeds from meek to powerful. You may not need the best tower fans in your home if you use the powerful settings.

This model is very energy efficient, with its controlled DC-motor consuming a lot less energy than AC-motors, saving up to 40% in energy. IP44 certification also keeps dust and liquids from entering the unit and a mixed flow design performs well under high static pressure areas, so you do not have to worry so much about wiping it down.

 #4  VIVOSUN 6 Inch 390 CFM Inline Duct Fan

WHY WE LIKE IT: The VIVOSUN inline duct fan uses a centrifugal impeller design for 390 CFM of airflow (the second largest area coverage on our list) and features a variable fan speed controller, and <37 dB noise rating. This offers versatile ventilation power for mid-sized rooms up to 390 square feet, perfect for living rooms, dining rooms, or small hydroponic houses.

  • Excellent for mid-sized rooms
  • Variable fan speed controller
  • <37 dB noise rating
  • Cheap plastic assembly
  • Questionable appearance

This ventilation fan offers modest fan speed adjustments using a simple knob, with 3 levels (High, Medium, Low), a step below AC Infinity CLOUDLINE T6’s digital controls, and 10 speeds. Its 37 dB rating is a bit higher about mid-range compared to our other picks, falling in between a consistent whispering sound and rustling leaves.

Its lightweight and compact design occupy very little space, with intake and exhaust end flanges and a 5.9-inch cord for easy installation. The finest ceiling fans for homes can take up more. It can be placed without issue on corners without obstructing foot traffic.

 #5  Broan-NuTone 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan – Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: This ceiling and wall ventilation fan is the cheapest option on the list, offering a 50 CFM rating, 48 dB noise level, and a paintable, white polymeric grille. This makes it a match for someone preferring style (matching decor) over substance with its lower-than-average room coverage and noise rating.

  • Works best with small rooms
  • Variable fan speed controller
  • Louder than most fans on list (48 dB)
  • May appear cheap to some users

The Broan, with its 50 CFM ratio and 48 dB noise level, serves a dual role as a bathroom fan to stave humidity and mold spores, as well as a traditional fan to loosen/remove airborne contaminants and bad odors.

Installation for this fan is easy, with a torsion spring grille set up, which negates the need for any hand tools. It also includes a snap-style motor assembly that is easy to remove without the use of screws. All in all, it feels like a highly durable unit to the touch. This is why we ranked it among the best fans.

 #6  Broan-NuTone 678 Ventilation Fan –

WHY WE LIKE IT: This ventilation fan is an odor, mold, and mildew killer, featuring a sleek white, paintable polymeric grille, an average 40 dB sound level, and 45 CPM-rated, doubling as a 100-watt lamp with a shatter-resistant light diffusing lens to replace your bathroom’s ceiling light. This makes it an excellent choice for people desiring a more integrated appearance with the rest of the decor.

  • Built-in lamp
  • Excellent for smaller rooms
  • Accepts 100-watt incandescent bulb
  • Below average 1-year warranty
  • Bulb not included
  • Needs GFCI-protected branch circuit for hanging over shower or bathtub

This unit is compact, only needing a 2-Inch x 6-inch minimum construction space. This looks good in smaller homes with smaller rooms, such as a laundry room to eliminate humidity and remove odors and smoke from kitchens. Durability is also a plus with a galvanized steel construction.

One knock on the unit is that it is not UL-approved for mounting over large water surfaces, such as showers, without being connected to a GFCI-protected branch circuit. Professional installation may be required. Its 1-year warranty is serviceable but below average, with superior options including the Delta BreezSlim’s limited 3-year warranty and the AC Infinity Cloudline’s 2-year warranty. We also look for good warranties when we choose the best heaters.

 #7  Tjernland V2D UnderAire Crawlspace Ventilator Fan –

WHY WE LIKE IT: This ventilator fan offers basic functionality silver faceplate with adjustable dehumidistat and two exhaust fans for 220 CFM of area coverage. This unit is strictly for crawl space ventilation with limited room, cutting off mold, mildew, and other contaminants from reaching your living areas through air vents.

  • Covers 220 CFM
  • Prevents mold and mildew from contaminating the air
  • Can be trimmed to fit the frame
  • Not powerful enough for large living rooms
  • Galvanizedsteel design may not match home decor
  • Loudest fan on our list (51 dB)

Its galvanized faceplate can be trimmed to fit your air vent’s frame. Colder environments can also benefit from a deactivated thermostat when the fan senses temperatures below 40 degrees to help save on energy costs.

The Tjernland V2D also features a built-in dehumidistat to help control humidity levels by adjusting thermostat temperature, which helps prevent mold-causing excess humidity during long vacations away from home. Its list-worst 51 dB sound level and manufacturer’s warranty could be improved with 1 year of parts and labor coverage. If you are looking for a fan that you can place on the office desk, read our best desk fan guide.

How We Decided

Finding the right ventilation fan could mean the difference between wallowing in mold spores and moist contaminated air and breathing fresh. You have to get the right size for a whole-house fan or any fan.

In determining which ventilation fan to buy, you should consider the correct airflow rating relative to room size, noise levels, programming features, ventilation methods, and a minimum 1-year warranty. Our evaluation criteria took into account a minimum of 50 CFM to cover the smallest rooms and auxiliary features such as programmable or manual fan speeds and humidity control adjustment for areas with fluctuating high and low temperatures. If you’re unsure of CFM, our content on how to calculate the CFM of a fan can help you.

Our evaluation also prioritizes ventilation fans with less than or equal to 48 dB noise levels, which we felt offered tolerable listening for 10 minutes straight without going crazy. Installation should also be quick, taking no more than 1 hour to complete. “Premium” features such as humidistats that shut fans off based on the humidity level, lighting, automated timers, and energy efficiencies were also considered.

Product Category Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Airflow Rating
    CFM rating is determined by the square footage, with a recommended 1 CFM per square foot. We recommend units with a minimum CFM of 50, which covers the smallest rooms.
  2. Noise Level
    Measured in dB, our ventilation picks ranged from 28 dB to 48 dB. The lower the decibel levels, the quieter the fan is. For perspective, a 28 dB fan is nearly silent whereas a 48 dB fan is equal to the sound of a humming refrigerator. If you’re annoyed by constant background noise, finding a ventilation fan with a quiet operation setting will make all the difference.
  3. Programming features
    Some of the more advanced ventilation fans offer a choice of fan speed adjustment, and humidistat controls, which are very useful in areas of fluctuating high and low temperatures such as greenhouses or homes in tropical regions. Controls can be either digital like the Infinity Cloudline or manual like the Vivosun 390 CFM fan.
  4. Installation
    Installation should take no more than 1 hour for a retrofit. Note, new constructions require upwards of a day to complete, involving hole drilling in the ceiling, installing a vent, and connecting the fan.

Ventilation Fans FAQs

What is CFM?

CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and refers to the amount of air a fan can move in a single minute. For example, the Panasonic WhisperCeiling Fan runs at no less than 110 CFM, meaning this Panasonic Fan is processing 110 cubic feet of air per minute. Each bag has their own cleaning requirements, but you can never go wrong with using an old toothbrush or rag and gently rubbing the product with a mix of lukewarm water and mild detergent. Keep these things out of the washing machine.

How do I determine the appropriate vent fan for my room?

As a general rule, 1 CFM should cover 1 square foot, so a 300 CFM-rated vent fan would be appropriate for large bedrooms and master bathrooms. To calculate the square footage of your room, multiply the length times width. For example, a bedroom 17 feet long by 13 feet wide would be 221, so a 250 CFM ventilation fan would be appropriate.

Do I really need a ventilation/exhaust fan in my bathroom?

Possibly, yes. Even the best bathrooms can be susceptible to mold and damp due to excess moisture that clings to the air. If you know your bathroom is suffering from mold, damp and poor air movement/flow, then you should definitely consider having a look at the fans we mentioned that double as bathroom fans. Damp left untreated can lead to a number of problems and may spread to other rooms. The best bathroom fan will be the difference between sickly moist contaminated air and a clean, fresh damp-free room. Have you ever wondered why a seemingly clean bathroom can still have a lingering odor? That's because damp stale air leads to unpleasant smells that persist if not dealt with properly. Bathroom exhaust fans (ventilation fans) will reduce condensation, prevent mold, and work to keep bad odors away.

How does a bathroom exhaust fan work?

As with any exhaust fan, bathroom exhaust fans pull odors, fumes, and moisture from inside the room, venting them outside. The fan will use a motor to rotate its blades, which in turn pulls air out of the space it's in. The stale air is then propelled through the exhaust fan, exiting the home. The best bathroom exhaust fans will extend the life of your bathroom by ensuring mold and damp don't seep into the walls and damage the integrity of the building. Rising damp, especially, can cause superficial damage to an internal wall, as well as structural damage to timber and masonry. So, make sure you prevent mold by choosing the best bathroom exhaust fan for your home.

What is the "sone rating" on my bathroom fan?

To understand the sone rating system, you need to know what it represents. Firstly, the phon is a basic measure of sound levels and can be used to refer to the amount of noise a ventilation fan generates. However, the phon system was confusing and not particularly "user friendly." Therefore, the sone system was developed. Typical economy fans are rated about 4.0 sones or more. Quieter fans, on the other hand, will have a 1.0 sone rating. You should check the sound rating online before purchasing any fan.

Are ventilation fans compatible with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant?

Although there doesn't seem to be any well-known smart ventilation fans with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa built-in. With a little bit of creativity, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can be used to operate smart switches and other devices that could control a ceiling fan.
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