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The 7 Best Bathroom Exhaust Fans of 2020

Eliminate odors and control humidity with these bathroom fans

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Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here . We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Best Overall: Delta Breez Slim Series 70 CFM Wall or Ceiling Bathroom Exhaust Fan

If you’re looking for a bathroom fan that provides sufficient airflow without noisy operation, consider the popular Delta Breez SLM70H. This fan is described as a “sanity saver” by homeowners fed up with noisy bathroom exhaust fans.

With a power level of 70 cubic feet per minute (CFM), this fan will handle bathrooms up to 70 square feet in size. It features a brushless DC motor that’s energy efficient and reliable thanks to “soft start” operation that allows the fan to quickly but smoothly reach full speed.

The unit operates at 2 sones and includes an indicator light as visual confirmation that the fan is on. Though Delta describes this fan as ‘virtually silent,’ reviewers report soft audible noise.

Best Budget: Broan 688 Ceiling and Wall Ventilation Fan

Blast odors and increase circulation without blowing your budget on a pricey bathroom exhaust fan. Broan makes an efficient and affordable bathroom exhaust fan that’s a good pick for homeowners on a budget.

The Broan 688 is rated for 50 CFM and is best fit for small bathrooms of under 50 square feet. It earns frequent praise in reviews for being especially easy to install and can be mounted in the ceiling or wall. However, the somewhat limited CFM may not be the best fit for bathrooms in need of serious moisture management.

This budget bathroom exhaust fan operates at about 4.0 sones, which is considerably louder than other models. Some people find the increased noise level to be a good match for providing bathroom privacy. The bottom line is that this bathroom exhaust fan is great for tight budgets and smaller bathrooms.

Best with Light: Broan-NuTone 110 CFM Ventilation Fan with Soft Surround LED Lighting, 1.5 Sones; ENERGY STAR

This model from NuTone’s InVent series provides 110 CFM to provide abundant air movement combined with a soft surround LED light you can wire separately or together with the fan.

The built-in LED light runs around the perimeter of the exhaust fan grill for even light distribution. Unlike some other models of bathroom exhaust fans that have a light feature, users find that this model is bright enough to light the bathroom, even as a standalone light source. You won’t need to worry about replacing the light source anytime soon—the 12W LED light source is rated for 25,000 hours of use.

!f you’re concerned about removing moisture from the air, keep the area this fan is serving to 110 square feet or less. The fan operates at around 1.5 sones, making it relatively quiet, but not silent.

Best with Humidity Sensor: Air King Humidity Sensing White 80 CFM 0.5 Sone Ceiling Bath Fan

A primary purpose of bathroom exhaust fans is to control humidity. But what if you forget to flip the switch to turn the fan on or the humidity levels climb when no one is around? You may want to consider a bathroom exhaust fan with a humidity sensor so you can never worry about elevated humidity levels again.

This model from Air King moves air at 80 CFM and operates at just 0.5 sones, but what really sets this fan apart is the integrated humidity sensor. You can program it to kick on when the room surpasses a preset humidity threshold (as high as 80 percent).

Other important things to know about this fan is that it’s Energy Star-certified for efficient operation and is UL-listed for damp environments (like above the shower). It can be installed in rooms up to 80 square feet. Some reviewers did mention that the fan is a little larger than expected, but that it wasn’t necessarily a dealbreaker.

The best bathroom exhaust fans control humidity, eliminate odors, and increase circulation. Here are our top picks for cleaner, safer bathroom air.

The Best Window Fans

Updated June 26, 2020

After a new round of testing in summer 2020, we still stand by our pick, but have added new comments to its flaws but not dealbreakers section.

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The powerful, dual-blade Bionaire Twin Reversible Airflow Window Fan has routinely clobbered every other window fan we’ve tested, and many members of Wirecutter’s staff have happily used this model for years. However, we’ve seen new complaints pop up with this model in recent summers, noting some problems that we’ve experienced ourselves in re-tests. Window fans meet a unique need, but they are notoriously weak products. So even though this is the best of the lot, those who are shopping for a window fan should ask themselves whether they need to get one in the first place.

Our pick

Bionaire Twin Reversible Airflow Window Fan

The best window fan

The Bionaire is the most powerful twin fan we tested and also the easiest to use. But even the leader of the window fan pack is not without its shortcomings.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $65 .

The Bionaire Twin Reversible Airflow Window Fan was clearly the most powerful fan we tried, with robust breezes we felt from 24 feet away, 8 feet farther than from our runner-up, the Genesis Twin Window Fan. It’s also the easiest to control, with a straightforward interface and an individual button corresponding to the fan’s every feature, including speed, temperature, and electronic reversibility—that means, like many good window fans, you can push a button (rather than physically flipping it) to change from drawing in fresh outdoor air to venting stale or smelly indoor air.

Runner-up

Genesis Twin Window Fan

A distant second place

If the Bionaire is sold out and you absolutely need a fan, the Genesis is our second choice. It’s weaker and has worse controls—but is still better than the rest that we tested.

Buying Options

May be out of stock

The Genesis Twin Window Fan (occasionally listed as the Avalon Twin Window Fan) was the second most powerful fan in our testing, but we recommend it only if you absolutely can’t get the Bionaire. Its airflow is weaker—we felt its wind at a max distance of 16 feet—and its less intuitive controls make accessing basic functions unnecessarily confusing. But leaving the Bionaire aside, the Genesis stands apart from a field of worse competitors—it’s still among the most powerful models available, it’s electronically reversible, and it’s easy enough to install, and one nice side effect of its weaker power is that the Genesis isn’t as loud as the Bionaire.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Bionaire Twin Reversible Airflow Window Fan

The best window fan

The Bionaire is the most powerful twin fan we tested and also the easiest to use. But even the leader of the window fan pack is not without its shortcomings.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $65 .

Runner-up

Genesis Twin Window Fan

A distant second place

If the Bionaire is sold out and you absolutely need a fan, the Genesis is our second choice. It’s weaker and has worse controls—but is still better than the rest that we tested.

Buying Options

May be out of stock

The research

Why you should trust us

In researching this guide, and our guide to the best fan, we’ve spent more than 50 hours researching, testing, and living with fans to understand what it takes to move air effectively throughout a room. We interviewed several researchers who have devoted their entire careers to understanding how to most effectively cool spaces, including: Danny Parker, a principal research scientist at the Florida Solar Energy Center; Paul Raftery, PhD, a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Center for the Built Environment; and Edward Arens, PhD, the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Design Research.

Sabrina Imbler, who wrote the 2018 update to this guide, lived in a muggy Brooklyn apartment without a range hood, and Kit Dillon, the original writer of this guide, grew up in an apartment in New York City that exclusively relied on window fans to keep cool.

Who should get a window fan

If you live in a moderate, low-humidity climate with warm days and cool nights, a window fan can circulate outdoor air into your home without taking up any floor space.

If you don’t own a range hood or another way to ventilate your kitchen, a window fan can improve your air quality by drawing smoky/spicy/smelly air out of your home.

Window fans are especially effective when used in pairs in two different windows: one to draw cool outside air in from the shady side of your home, and another to push hot indoor air out on the sunny side. As Danny Parker of the Florida Solar Energy Center explained, this setup creates a continuous, full-house cross breeze.

That sounds great, but consider your alternatives before committing to window fans. First of all, they occupy windows, so opening and shutting a window means you have to remove the fan and stow it somewhere when it’s not in use. They also take the same space (and maybe the same electrical outlet) you might want to use for a window air conditioner. In each of those instances, if you have the floor space to spare, a great room fan might achieve your goals more easily.

We ran side-by-side tests of our picks in this guide against the picks in the best fan in summer 2020 to come up with some comprehensive advice. First, we have to acknowledge that window fans meet a unique need, and there will always be rooms (such as compact, single-window bedrooms) where they make a lot of sense. But the tests proved our picks in the fan guide are far more powerful air circulators overall. If you can simply park one of those by an open window, you’ll get cross breezes similar to what a window fan puts out in ideal conditions. A room fan also has the ability to help circulate a window AC’s output, creating additional comfort on days when it’s so hot that a window fan is out of the question anyway. An indirect breeze from a room fan can even be an aid in winter months by circulating forced-air heat that’s hovering up on the ceiling.

Whatever you go with, you should also look into ways to minimize the amount of heat the room absorbs from the sun, like cellular window shades, weather-stripping, and other passive methods laid out in our guide to keeping homes cool.

Plan B: Put a great room fan by an open window

The Best Fan

After years testing room fans, including testing a new round of 12 in summer 2018, we’re sure the Vornado 630 is the best choice for most people.

How we picked

We started by compiling an exhaustive list of all of the window fans for sale at major retailers such as Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, and Lowe’s. We didn’t come across too many promising new models that we hadn’t tested in prior updates—the window fan market is not exactly rife with innovation—but we reevaluated many fans we’ve tested long-term (or tested and dismissed in the past) to see if any deserved a second look. We also pored over customer reviews of these fans, keeping an eye out for any patterns of inconvenience or failure or time-tested durability. Keeping with previous years, we focused this guide on twin-blade window fans designed to be used in standard-sized rooms, and excluding single-fan models that most people would find too loud, too large, and excessively powerful.

With all of this in mind, we developed the following selection criteria:

  • Electrically reversible: Some fans require you to physically remove the fan, turn it around, and reinstall it to change the direction of the airflow. That’s an automatic no. An electrically reversible fan can do that with the push of a button.
  • Strong airflow: Though you don’t want a gale in your living room, a good window fan should easily move air at least 15 feet away.
  • Minimal noise: On its highest setting, the fan should not be disruptively loud, and on its lowest setting, it should create a soft and steady hum.
  • Intuitive controls: You should be able to adjust the speed and turn the fan on or off without much hassle. A dimmer for the display is a plus.
  • Two-fan design: In our research and testing, we found that models with two internal fans struck the best balance of power and size for most windows. We found single-fan models too powerful and too bulky, and the slimmer three-fan models too weak.
  • Multiple speeds: The fan should have at least three speed settings, to produce everything from a gentle zephyr or a full-on gust.
  • Longevity: No window fan is built to last forever, but all are a burden to replace, especially if they break during the summer, when models can disappear from the shelves. We preferred fans with an extensive positive track record from owners, and a warranty of three or more years.
  • Easy to clean: Though scouring all of the corners of a window fan grate is never going to be fun, it shouldn’t be too difficult to wipe down the fan’s components as they inevitably accumulate dust and grime.
  • A good seal: A fan and its extenders should fit tightly in any window frame, sealing out bugs.
  • Remote control: Not a requirement, but it’s nice to have a remote so that you can adjust the fan from your bed or desk.

Most fans have an internal thermostat, which should theoretically turn your fan on and off when your room reaches a certain temperature. But in our years of testing, we’ve never encountered one precise enough to work, so we didn’t prioritize this feature in making our picks.

Likewise, most fans let you run one blade on “drawing air in” and the other on “pulling air out.” Our experts said this effectively cancels out a fan’s effects, because the blades are so close together that the one immediately feeds the other. We didn’t consider this feature important.

How we tested

We tested five window fans during an unconscionably humid week in a New York apartment in August. We installed each fan in a standard double-hung window, taking careful notes on how easy they were to set up, and ran them for hours, day and night.

We placed a great deal of value on each window fan’s overall raw power, because unlike room fans, window fans are significantly less effective on lower settings. To test each fan’s airflow velocity, we put each on its highest setting and used the movement of a generic store receipt to measure the effective distance of the breeze the fan created. We also evaluated the usability of each fan’s controls, noting whether the power, temperature, and reverse-flow controls were clearly marked and easy to operate, or clunky and confusing.

We used the iPhone noise meter app Decibel X to measure the amount of noise emitted from each fan on each power setting, though no one fan sounded significantly louder than any other. Because decibel readings don’t perfectly correlate to perceived sound, we buttressed these measurements with notes on how pleasant (or annoying) we found each fan’s whir. We did not take measurements of the accuracy of how each degree option of the window fan’s thermostat matched the temperature of the room, as we found the feature rarely worked well in any fan.

And as always, we pored through avalanches of customer reviews of the fans we tested, scanning for any red flags regarding the fans’ long-term performance and accounts of dealing with warranties.

After 25 hours of research, we found that our pick is the most powerful and user-friendly of the five window fans we tested. Read on to learn why.