If you are adding a new bathroom or remodeling an existing room you’ll need to consider what kind of ventilation fan will work best for your bathroom space. The most important decision on your next exhaust fan is it’s ability to move air. The bigger the space and the more bathroom components you have installed (shower, bath, toilets, whirlpool) will determine how powerful of a fan you’ll need. The fan’s capacity is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). Below we’ll go into more detail on how to correctly calculate the CFM rating you need based on your bathroom size and configuration.
Bathroom exhaust fans have improved a lot in recent years. In addition to being more efficient and much quieter, many modern bathroom fans offer additional functions such as: built-in heaters, humidity sensors, motion sensors and lights. We’ll cover all these in this article but the lighting is what we are here to talk about mostly here. Here is the shortlist of bathroom exhaust fans with light, in addition some of these have a second “nightlight” built-in.
In the end I chose the Hunter Home Comfort 90065 Ellipse Bathroom Ventilation Exhaust Fan with Light. I go into more detail below why as well as a review of each of these fans but to start here’s a quick comparison of the best ones that made the list.
The nightlight on the fan uses a smaller low-wattage secondary bulb to keep the room light enough at night so see where you are going without having to turn on the main overhead light which can be annoyingly bright in the middle of the night. This is especially useful if you have kids, the soft lighting gives enough light to make the room visible and takes out the fear factor of having to move around the house in the dark of night but still dim enough to not wake them up 100% and keep them awake with trouble falling back to sleep. A nightlight is also a nice feature for anyone my age or older who has found they now have to get up in the middle of the night to pee!
I recently helped add a small bathroom addition onto my parent’s rustic summer cabin. They are now in their 80’s and needed a bathroom that was enabled for elderly (easy entrance shower, grab bars for shower, toilet and wall). One of the very minor decisions was the exhaust fan and lighting. Up until now they just had a composting toilet but were wanting to upgrade to a small flush toilet and shower. Like many people their age, they both have to get up (multiple times) per night to use the facilities so we decided to get an extraction fan (“fart fan” as my local carpenter friend called it 🙂 that also had overhead lighting and an additional night light.
I figured it would be the easiest component to buy and install, compared to the larger items like the shower stall, toilet and vanity…but once I got to the big box store I was shocked to see half an aisle of different fans with all kids of features. I seriously must have spent an hour going back and forth. I’ll admit I normally do a LOT of research before I buy anything (a little obsessed maybe) and I also buy a large percentage of things online.
But the carpenter was finishing the roughing in of the ceiling and said he really needed the fan in hand to see the dimensions and where the electrical would go so I figured I’d just pop in to the hardware store and pick one up. Now granted, you could probably just pick any of the best selling extraction fans out there and probably do fine, after all a bathroom fan is a pretty simple accessory, but after all the time I spent at the store I figured I’d do a quick summary of my findings and write this quick guide might be helpful to our readers- and more importantly save you some time.
What to look consider when buying a bathroom exhaust fan with a light:
Those long hot showers that so many of us love (my teenage son especially)- it’s amazing how long a teenagers will stay in there if you let them!
Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM):
The ability of a exhaust fan to push air is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The larger your bathroom is, you’ll need to find a fan with a higher CFM. The fan’s CFM rating should be powerful enough to replace all of the air in the bathroom at a rate of eight times/hour.
The easiest way to calculate the size of your bathroom is using the following formula:
Length x Width x Height x 0.13 = Minimum CFM rating.
If you don’t feel like pulling out a calculator, the easier way is just to buy a fan using the square footage of your bathroom. Almost all bath extraction fans are labeled with the CFM rating along with the max number of square footage it can be used for
Most fans you’ll see on the market for residential bathrooms are rated from 50 -110 CFM.
- For bathrooms 50 square feet or less: look for fans for compact bathrooms -normally the CFM range is between 50-80.
- For larger bathrooms 50+ square ft: choose a fan that’s able to move at least 1 CFM per square foot. So for a 90 square foot bathroom, choose a fan 90 CFM rating. There is no problem going a little over that- 100 CFM is a very common rating so that will work for many larger bathrooms.
Sones refers to the industry standard measurement for the level of sound a fan generates when it’s in opreation. The higher the sone rating, the noisier the fan will be so you want to look for LOW numbers. One sone is about the sound that a quiet refrigerator makes, very quiet bathroom fans will be rated at about 2 sones or less although once you get into higher CFM ratings (bigger fans for bigger bathrooms) that number can get higher. As an example the Hunter model we bought is rated at 2.5 sons which in my opinion is still relatively quiet considering how much air it moves-and realistically I’m only running it for 10-15 after I shower, so it’s not a continuous noise like a refrigerator.
Hunter Home Comfort 90065 Ellipse Bathroom Ventilation Exhaust Fan Review
As I mentioned above, I ended up buying the Hunter Home Comfort 90065 Ellipse Bathroom Ventilation Exhaust Fan for that job on the cabin bathroom. I mostly picked it out for the looks and the features it offered. Apart from the fact that it had both the main light and a nightlight that I was looking for, my mom liked the looks of it. Aesthetically it’s has a warmer look that a lot of the plain white bathroom exhaust fans out there.
The bathroom was a new addition to a summer cabin, done in cedar and oak so we wanted a warmer feel to the accessories and the Hunter did look like a good match compared to the more “nursing home” look as my mom would say of the plain modern white exhaust fans.
While the Hunter Home Comfort fan did look nice once it was installed we did run into a few problems. It takes a 7 watt candelabra base bulb for the nightlight and two 60 watt (A-15) bulbs for the main lighting. First of all the nightlight didn’t work but I can’t fault the fan for that, it was a simple installation mistake on the carpenter’s part.
The main problem was the two bulbs didn’t fit the space provided, we could only get one of the 60 watt in with the 7 watt nightlight in the middle. In the end after searching high and low we found more compact bulbs and were able to get all three snugly in there, but it would have been nice if the instructions would have indicated the exact kind of bulb shape needed.
The fan itself does it’s job and pulls enough air out to circulate well and keep the bathroom well vented.
One of the main complaints I see about this exhaust fan is the fact that the HUNTER LOGO is strategically placed smack dab in the middle of the glass so when it is light up it looks something like a shop window neon add for the manufacturer.
I’m not sure if the marketing department thought that out well enough, people do not want a brand logo light up on their bathroom ceiling! This wasn’t a major concern and my mom just laughed, not a huge deal for a rustic cabin but if it were done for a nicer home or high end remodel I can see where people would be disappointed with this lamp.
The fan comes in two color styles: Brushed Nickel which is basically a shiny silver colored finish and Imperial Bronze which has a much warmer feel to it. We chose this one to go with the wood finish on the bathroom.
From a practical standpoint the lamp is a bit hard to clean, the glass is not the easiest to remove.
- Overall looks fit in well compared to sterile-looking white or medal fans.
- Fan as light and secondary night light.
- Pulls a decent amount of air.
- Rated at 100 CFM which was plenty strong for our 90 square feet.
- Sone rating of 2.5 which I found was reasonably quiet.
- Tight fit for all three bulbs.
- Difficult to clean under glass.
- Huge branded logo on the middle.
If you are looking for a bathroom exhaust fan that also has overhead lighting AND a nightlight, the Hunter Home Comfort is a decent option. As we mentioned above, the most important things to consider when buying are the CFM rating and sones. The one major detraction from the fan was the huge logo on the glass, but if you can get past that it could be the right solution for you.