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Choosing the Right Ventilation Fan

Long showers, whirlpool tubs, saunas — the humidity and moisture from these bathroom luxuries create a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

Fortunately, there’s a hidden hero in your bathroom—removing excess moisture that can damage walls, eliminating foul odors, and preventing health problems caused by mold spores. It’s your bathroom exhaust ventilation fan!

Today’s bathroom ventilation fans are quieter, smarter, and more efficient than ever with added features like motion sensors, condensation sensors, LED lights, heaters, multiple speeds, and time delay.

Whether choosing a ventilation fan for one bathroom or 100, consider these four factors.

Air Rating

The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) recommends that every bathroom have a ventilation system that changes the air eight times an hour. That’s about one cubic foot per minute (CFM) per square foot of bathroom, or a minimum of 50 CFM. So for an 8’ x 10’ bathroom (80 square feet), you’ll need a fan rated for at least 80 CFM. For bathrooms larger than 100 square feet, the Institute suggests adding 50 CFM for each toilet, shower and bathtub, and another 100 CFM for a whirlpool tub.

Noise Level

Bathroom noise levels are measured in sones; the higher the sone, the louder the fan. The HVI recommends a noise level of 1.0 sones or lower.

Energy Efficiency

Consider Energy Star-rated bathroom fans which use 20% less energy than minimum federal guidelines. Other energy-saving features include on/off timers, humidity sensors which turn the fan on only when moisture is present; or motion sensors, which turn the fan off once someone leaves the room.

Comfort & Aesthetics

Your ventilation fan will likely stay unobtrusively on the ceiling, quietly doing its job every day. But it should also provide benefits beyond air quality. Some fans include heaters, night lights, and fan/light combinations. It should also blend with the design of your bathroom.

Our Expert Recommendation

Ashburn Branch Manager John Cantlin recommends Panasonic ventilation fans for both residential and commercial applications. “Historically, Panasonic produced electrical devices like car stereos and transistor radios. But in the last decade or so, they figured out a way to make one of the best, easiest-installed bathroom vents on the market,” explains John. “I live in a condo and the space between floors is just 8 inches. I had one of the noisy, old fans. One day in 2012, I was talking to Scott Gates, our Panasonic rep, and he sent me a low-profile Panasonic ventilation fan. It was super quiet, but low profile, so it fit my space perfectly.”

Most Panasonic fan motors have a switchable CFM (cubic feet per minute) option. You simply slide down the grill and flip a switch. The higher the CFM rating, the faster the motor spins, the greater the ventilation.

“For our contractor customers, Panasonic is the go-to fan because it’s so flexible, easy to install, and competitively priced.” shares John. “They come in asking for the Panasonic fans by part number because they’ve bought so many of them.”

John recommends that residential or do-it-yourselfers do their own research and consider the sone (or loudness) rating of the fan for the specific space. “I always ask customer, ‘Do you want it quiet, or really quiet?’” Explains John, “For example, if the fan is for a powder room that’s just off the living room and mostly used by guests, they may want a little noise. But if it’s for their master bathroom, they may prefer a quieter fan.”

Before choosing and installing any fan, be sure to check local building codes to ensure you’re in full compliance with local regulations. For help choosing a ventilation fan for a single home remodeling project or an entire apartment complex, visit one of our 11 counter locations, talk with a lighting professional at one of three Dominion Lighting showrooms, or call your materials salesperson.

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