How to Choose a Bathroom Vent – Bath Fan Costs: Low-End, Mid-Range, High-End

Selecting a vent fan for your bathroom can be a bit tricky. The device itself is rather simplistic, but there are many options available today. It helps to understand the basic functions, or features and explore some of the advanced features that may have you jump up a bit in cost.

Broan QTX110HL Ultra Silent Series Bath Fan with Heater and Light

Cost Basics

Vent fans for use in a typical home range from $25 to $450. While that covers the gamut of what you’d find at say Home Depot or Lowe’s, a more median range for a quality fan ranges from $100 to $250.

Depending on how your bathroom is situated, you could go the DIY route to save on professional installation. That could run as little as $250, and could go as high as $1,000 if the installation is done by a certified HVAC contractor.

The Need For A Vent Fan

Bathroom vent fans exist to reduce excess moisture and odors from a room that regularly has both. Removing unpleasant odors, as quickly as possible, is the popular conception. But the bathroom is also a place where steamy showers and baths can lead to moisture build up.

If you have insufficient ventilation, this can lead to moisture stains on walls and ceilings, peeling paint or wallpaper, frost on windows and even corrosion of metal fixtures. Worst case, mold develops and makes for unhealthy living.

The mere presence of a fan is of course not enough, as the air has to be moved to some other location. Poor installation will exhaust the air to spaces that are still in the home. This may seem especially convenient in a bathroom that is on a lower level.

Instead of leaving the moisture in a room that’s visible, it may seem easier to just get it out of sight and into ceiling joists or some other dark crevice.

Suffice it to say, this is very bad practice as the conditions for mold have actually increased. Instead, you’ll always want to have ducts move that air out of the house, likely through a roof vent.

Common manufacturers include Panasonic, Air King, Broan/NuTone and Delta. It’s likely one of these will have an affordable, good quality device that will match your needs. Though it helps to understand the basics and additional features.

The Basics

Ideally, a fan is quiet and excels in quickly discharging the unwanted air. Quiet though can be relative and subjective to each individual. Therefore, the industry uses the term sones to quantify how quite a fan is when operating. This is a scale that goes from 0 to 4.0 or higher (most noisy), often utilizing decimals to the tenths for conveying degree of loudness.

In choosing a model, you’ll ideally want anything that is under 1.0, and up to 1.5 is still very good. The median and still fairly quiet is in range of 1.5 to 2.0. After that, noise is noticeable. Really, anything above 4.0 is a product that is considerably loud.

At the same time, to operate with enough energy to truly remove air quickly, it might be noisy. It doesn’t have to be, but there is sometimes a trade off especially when considering an economical model. Air flow capacity is the second most basic function of a vent, and often the one that most determines price.

This is quantified under the acronym of cfm, which stands for cubic feet per minute. The science on this says your fan ought to have 1 cfm for every square foot of floor space in your bathroom. The higher the cfm, the more powerful the motor is in removing air quickly.

Yet, in listings of bathroom vents, you’ll see terms such as “max room size” to help indicate if that is a fan for you to consider. In other words, knowing the dimensions of your bathroom, along with fixtures that run water will go a long way in determining which product’s cfm is most appropriate for your bathroom.

Pricing Options from High to Low

Now, that you understand the basics, let’s take a look at 3 devices in terms of sones and cfm. For this article, I am selecting among 3 different vents to help you zero in onto the right fan based on your price range. My intention is to go with one high priced, one medium, and the lowest price I could find.

High-end: Broan QTX Series at $250-$300 = 110 cfm, 0.9 sones, plus heater and light
Mid-Range: Panasonic Whispering Ceiling at $120 = 80 cfm, 0.3 sones
Low-End: Broan NuTone 696N at $25 = 50 cfm, 4.0 sones

Note that the listings actually include cfm routinely as way to determine the model. Such that the Panasonic Whispering Ceiling is more of a line within the brand where you can purchase various cfm options, but still maintain the extremely low sone level.

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Bathroom Heaters – Buying Guide for Homeowners in 2022

I would like to share the following tips and ideas for keeping your bathroom warm and cozy:

Having a warm and comfortable bathroom is incredibly important. Stepping out of a hot bath or shower into freezing air is an unpleasant experience that can be avoided by proper heating of your bathroom.


Once you have chosen and installed your heating system, you won’t have to worry about crossing cold floors in the morning, or shivering in the cold as you dry yourself off after your shower. Keeping your bathroom warm can also help to prevent problems with mold and mildew.

It is important to choose your bathroom heater carefully because your bathroom is a unique environment in your home. The most important thing to remember is that your bathroom will need to be able to cope with exposure to a lot of steam and moisture in order to provide a good source of warmth for your bathroom.

You may also want to consider what types of heaters will be able to provide the type of warmth that you want.

If you suffer from frozen bathroom floors, then you might want to think about under floor heating, for example, while if you are more interested in having a warm towel ready to wrap around yourself when you step out of the bath, you might want to consider buying a heated towel rack.

Heated Bathroom Floors

You should also think about the ventilation in your bathroom before you choose your any particular heater. Although many bathrooms have excellent ventilation, some will require additional help. It is possible to find bathroom heaters that have incorporated fans for ventilation, so it will be worthwhile considering these if you have a small or poorly ventilated bathroom.

You will need to decide how much heat you need in your bathroom. This will depend largely upon the size of the room.

A larger bathroom will need a more powerful heater in order to warm it up. If you have more than one source of heat in your bathroom, for example if you are adding a new bathroom heater to a room that already has central heating, then each heater can be less powerful.

If you are only using one source of heat, then it will need to be sufficiently powerful. A more powerful heater will also be able to attain the desired temperature more quickly.

Many people like to keep their bathroom warmer than other parts of their home since they will be undressing in there and they will need to feel warm even after coming out of a hot bath.

As a general rule, you should aim to buy a bathroom heater that will provide 10 watts of power for every square foot of your bathroom, although if there is no other source of heating, it is better to aim for about 15 watts per square foot of space.

The times of day when you require heat in your bathroom will also be important considerations when you are choosing a bathroom heater. You may want to think about how quickly a particular heater will be able to warm up the room. Heaters that are more powerful and heaters which have fans to move the warm air around the room tends to work faster.

You should also think about how the heater can be operated. You might want a heater that can be left on all day if your bathroom needs to be kept warm at all times. Alternatively, you may want a heater that can just be turned on when it is needed.

You should also think about buying a bathroom heater that has a timer feature, so you can set it to come on automatically, for example in order to ensure that the bathroom will be pleasantly warm by the time you get up in the morning.

Some simple bathroom heaters can only be turned on and off, while others have multiple heat settings, and some are controlled very precisely by thermostats. You will need to pay more for a thermostat controlled heater, but it can be a good choice if you want to keep your bathroom at a steady temperature over an extended period.

Once you have spent some time thinking about your heating needs, you should consider the different types of bathroom heaters which are available. You should try to find the bathroom heater that will best match your needs. Different heaters will warm the room in different ways.

Ceiling Mounted Bathroom Heat Lamp

Overhead heaters are a popular option for bathrooms. They often combine a light, a fan and a radiant heater in a single unit. Overhead heaters are ideal for a small bathroom since they do not take up any floor space.

Bulb heaters are a common type of ceiling heaters. A bulb heater is fitted into the ceiling. It warms the room using one or more heated bulbs. The more bulbs there are, the more powerful the heater will be. Bulb heaters are usually fairly cheap, but there are some more expensive and more effective ceiling heaters.

Wall mounted or panel heaters are another option. They can be very slim and compact, which means that they do not need to take up much room in your bathroom, although you will need to have sufficient wall space available on which to mount them.

wall mounted bathroom heaters

It is also possible to bring a freestanding heater into your bathroom in order to add some extra heat. This can be a cheap option and it can be sensible if you only occasionally need any extra heat in your bathroom.

As a long-term solution, it is less useful since a freestanding heater can get in the way. However, a portable, freestanding heater can be a good choice if you want to be able to use it elsewhere in your home. Another benefit of choosing a freestanding heater is that there is no installation required.

A heated towel rail can also be a good addition to your bathroom since it can provide heat for the room while also holding and warming your towels, so that they will be ready when you need them. Heated towel rails can come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and they are often very stylish.

A mirror defogger is a small heater that can be installed near the mirror, or even hidden behind it, in order to prevent it from being covered with condensation.

Baseboard heaters can be a neat and effective option for heating the bathroom. They fit along the baseboard and they are usually about 28 to 70 inches in length. You should make sure that you choose the right sized baseboard heater for your bathroom.

A larger bathroom will usually need a longer heater, and the longer your baseboard heater is the better it will be able to heat the room. Baseboard heaters tend to be fairly expensive, but they can be very effective. Baseboard heaters tend to be slow to heat up the room, but they are quiet and energy efficient, and they make a good choice for all-day heating.

radiant baseboard bathroom heaters

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