Do your loved ones mistake the sound of your bathroom fan for a dump truck driving by in the middle of the night? My bathroom fan became such a nuisance to my wife that she insisted I get one of the best ultra-quiet bathroom exhaust fans.
Through my research, I discovered quite a few nearly silent bathroom exhaust fans, and I wanted to simplify the process for you by sharing what I learned. Before we start comparing the quietest bathroom exhaust fans, it’s important to understand a bit about how they work and why they’re loud, to begin with.
Note: For information on other quiet household appliances, equipment, or gadgets, please see some of our other articles: The Best and Quietest Garbage Disposal of 2022, and The Best Quiet Coffee Grinder of 2022, and The Best Quietest Electric Kettle of 2022, and The Best Quiet Mini Fridge of 2022.
Top Pick for Best Quiet Bathroom Exhaust Fan
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Why Are Most Bathroom Fans so Loud?
Bathroom fans are very small units tasked with removing smells and circulating air in an entire room. Inside there is a motor controlling a fan blade that pulls air from the bathroom and expels it.
The motor on an older bathroom fan will tend to make more noise than on a newer fan. The technology on older fans was not as quiet as our current capabilities with brushless motors and ECM (engine control module) units.
Cheaper fans will usually keep the price low by using low-cost and low-quality parts. This means using older technology motors that are more cost-effective but make more noise as well.
On top of this, bathroom fans are often expelling the air through a 3” duct. Compared to a larger 6” duct; the motor will have to work much harder to push air through this smaller hole. This will result in a louder operation.
What Is a Quiet Bathroom Exhaust Fan?
A bathroom fan’s loudness is measured in sones. The lower the number, the quieter the fan is.
For a bathroom fan to be considered quiet, it must have a 1.0 or lower sone rating.
Some modern bathroom exhaust fans are built for near-silent operation. This would be 0.5 sones and less.
An average amount of noise would be anywhere in the range of 1.5-3 sones. If the noise is rated 4 or higher, it’s pretty darn loud.
So can a bathroom exhaust fan be near-silent? Well, this is achieved through several different methods.
First, quiet bathroom fans use higher-end motors, often brushless or ECM controlled. These motors are much more efficient than their older counterparts. This means they make much less noise as well. Brushless motors also have a much longer life expectancy.
Next, bathroom exhaust fans that are advertised as being quite often use a wide 6” duct instead of the 4” or 3” duct that you may find on an older one. By allowing more airflow, the wider duct helps the motor to run more efficiently. This, in turn, equals a quieter operation.
Things To Consider When Buying A Bathroom Fan
There are several factors to take into consideration before you purchase your new bathroom fan.
Each quiet bathroom fan will have its sone rating posted. This may be a super silent 0.3 sones, or it may be an average noise level of 2.0.
You’ll want to pick a fan with a rating of 1 sone or less. If you want a near-silent operation that has you questioning whether your fan is even working or not, then you’ll want to pick a fan rated 0.5 sones or less.
Many bathroom exhaust fans are rated at or near 0.3 sones. These fans will be as quiet as possible and should never be a nuisance.
Although this sound rating is accurate, it is not the whole picture. If you do not install the fan exactly as described, your own experience may be considerably louder than the rating on the box.
Installation and Ducting
Let’s say the fan you picked out is rated at .5 sones. However, that rating is with a 6” exhaust duct, and your bathroom duct is 4” right now. If you install the new fan with your existing 4” duct, you will not get .5 sone operation.
Changing to 6” duct from your existing 3” or 4” may cause much more headache and cost. You’ll have to determine if the noise reduction is worth it for you.
To be installed properly, the duct will need to be run to a vent that goes outside, either through your wall or through your roof. If you use an adapter to hook 4” ductwork to a fan meant for 6” duct, you will not get the quiet operation listed on the box.
To run new ductwork from your bathroom to an external vent will likely require that you remove your ceiling panels at the least. This is major surgery and one that you may need professional help to complete. The cost will also climb substantially.
Aside from the duct considerations, you also need to think of how the fan is installed. Some fans are much taller than others, and you’ll need to check the clearance of your fan mounting area.
Some fans are built for 2X4 construction; others may be intended for 2X6 construction. You wouldn’t be able to fit a fan built for 2X6 construction in a ceiling built with 2X4s.
Be sure to check the height of your new fan. You may have a hole that seems to fit your new fan perfectly until you try to mount it. This is the point you discover that you don’t have enough clearance for the fan you picked!
If joists or bracing are limiting the clearance you have available for installing your fan, then you will need to consider a fan with a shorter height to make sure it will be able to fit.
You may want to contact a professional if you think you need some assistance.
Airflow is rated in cubic feet per minute or CFM. The larger your bathroom is, the more CFMs of airflow you’ll need.
Each model of the bathroom exhaust fan should be offered in different levels of airflow. Pick the CFM rating that is appropriate for your bathroom.
A general rule of thumb to follow is 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom space. So if your bathroom is 8X10 or 80 square feet, then you’d need an 80 CFM fan.
If you get a fan with too low of a CFM rating, it will not properly remove the humidity and moisture from your bathroom. Over time, this could lead to mold and fungus, and other problems that you would rather not encounter.
Higher CFM-rated fans will tend to be a bit louder than their lower CFM-rated counterparts in the same model. This is because a more powerful motor is required to move the additional air. More powerful motors tend to generate more noise.
These days, there are many luxury options available as upgrades for your bathroom fan.
You’ll want to consider whether you need a fan with light or not. If the only lights in your bathroom are mounted above the vanity, then getting a fan with a built-in light may be a great way to brighten up your bathroom.
Motion sensors are also available. This would automatically turn the fan on when it senses someone in the bathroom. This could be especially handy if your fan has a light that would turn on with the motion sensor as well.
Some newer fans also offer interesting features such as humidity sensors. These turn the fan on automatically when the humidity rises, such as when taking a shower.
In cold climates, a fan with a heater built-in may be a welcome bit of help in the mornings when you have to take a shower in the freezing cold!
Many bathroom exhaust fans are also available with timers built-in. Once you turn it on, it operates long enough to remove all the moisture from the room without wasting energy by running longer than necessary.
If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan currently and you’re adding a new one, your energy bill will go up. You can mitigate this issue by choosing a highly efficient fan.
Products that are rated as highly energy efficient will receive the “Energy Star” designation. These products are 70% more energy-efficient than their competitors that haven’t received the “Energy Star” certification.
By picking an “Energy Star” product, you can be certain that it will be very efficient and help keep your electric costs to a minimum.
If the fan you’re replacing is an older model, then you may save a noticeable amount on your electric bill by switching to a modern, high-efficiency model.
Feature selection, operating noise, and energy efficiency could all contribute to a premium price tag.
If your budget is of utmost concern to you, then cost may be your number one deciding factor.
If features or noise levels are more important than for you, the price could be a lesser consideration.
You must determine which attributes to prioritize.
As with many things, you get what you pay for. If cost is the deciding factor for you, you’re going to have to make a sacrifice somewhere else.
Your fan may not be as quiet, or it may not have any extra features.
Each brand has its own particular warranty specifications. Often, this can be a contributor to the price difference from one brand to the next.
Since you’re installing it into your ceiling, you’d certainly like to hope that your new bathroom exhaust fan is a permanent addition that will not need attention, servicing, or replacing anytime soon.
The reality is that things happen.
Your fan may, unfortunately, happen to go bad. In that case, you’ll want to know that it is covered, and you won’t be incurring any out-of-pocket expenses.
If you picked a fan with a good warranty, you should have your fan replaced with no questions asked and free of charge.
In the case that you didn’t get a fan with a good warranty, you’ll probably be wishing that you did.
Low Sones Bathroom Fan Brands
Panasonic is a Japanese multinational electronics corporation. They produce a wide range of consumer electronics, from televisions to headphones to bathroom exhaust fans.
The bathroom fans built by Panasonic are some of the quietest on the market. They also have cutting-edge features such as motion sensors, humidity sensors, lights, and more.
Featuring ECM-controlled motors and Energy Star certifications, Pansonic fans are guaranteed to be energy-efficient and long-lasting. 3 to 6-year warranties keep you protected in case anything does go wrong.
Broan is an American-based company with global outreach. They have manufacturing and sales locations in America, Canada, China, Chile, and Mexico.
Touting themselves as “The Global Leader in Residential Indoor Air Quality,” their diverse product selection meets the requirements of all three major green building programs, including Energy Star.
With bathroom exhaust fans as quiet as 0.3 sones and as loud as 2.5 sones, Broan has products that will match any budget or application. They are focused on quality fans and don’t offer as many extras.
Delta has been providing global power and thermal management solutions since 1971.
Focused on the challenge of climate change, Delta researches and builds innovative and energy-saving products that aid in increasing the sustainability of mankind.
The fans produced by Delta are focused on near-silent operation volume and incredible energy efficiency. All of their products have received the Energy Star designation.
Delta offers plenty of modern options with its fans, such as humidity sensors and LED lights. A standard 3-year warranty keeps you safe against manufacturing defects.
Best Ultra Quiet Bathroom Exhaust Fans Reviews
1. Panasonic FV-0511VQC1 – Best Quiet Bathroom Fan
The high-efficiency design of Panasonic FV-0511VQC1 promises large volumes of air movement using less energy. This equates to a long life and quiet operation.
SmartFlow technology means this fan senses the pressure in the room to adjust its airflow and remove any humidity from any room.
With an adjustable speed selector and an operating rating of 0.3 sones, this fan is whisper quiet. It’s also available at CFM ratings of 50, 80, and 110.
I recommend going with a slightly higher CFM-rated model on this particular fan. Although it does include speed selection, that raises the RPMs of the motor, thus increasing the noise.
For the quietest operation, you will want to have your speed selector set to the lowest setting.
One great feature is that this fan can work with 4” and 6” ducts making installation more versatile. The Flex-Z fast installation bracket ensures a quick and painless installation process.
This is a larger size fan, so you may need to enlarge your existing fan hole if you’re replacing a current bathroom fan.
Energy Star certification means this Panasonic product will help keep your energy costs to a minimum.
Equipped with a 6-year warranty on the motor, you can be confident that problems are quite unlikely to arise with this fan. If they do, you’re covered for the foreseeable future.
- Can be used with 4” or 6” duct
- Speed is adjustable
- Near-silent operation
- 6-year warranty
- May need to enlarge the existing opening
- Raising speed increases RPMs and noise
Buy on Amazon
2. Delta Electronics VFB25ACH Breez
Operating at less than 0.3 sones of volume, Delta Electronics VFB25ACH is virtually silent.
The switchable humidity sensing mode on this fan will automatically turn the fan on when the humidity in the room rises. This is great to help alleviate moisture concerns without having to remember to turn the fan on each time.
The fan is set by default to activate at a humidity threshold of 60%.
A brushless DC motor supplies the quiet operation and ensures outstanding service life. This also promises a very high level of efficiency. This is supported by this product’s Energy Star certification.
The motor is engineered to be able to run continuously. The life expectancy on this motor is 70,000 hours, which is approximately eight years of non-stop running. Your fan won’t be running 24 hours a day, so it’s safe to assume it should well last longer than that!
A 3-year warranty backs up the manufacturer’s claim of reliability. This is a standard warranty, though not the best on this list.
The Delta Breez fan is an 80 CFM model, meaning it’s good for bathrooms up to 80 square feet in size.
This fan is meant for use with 4” duct. This is most likely what is currently installed in your home. This helps to make sure that the installation of this fan goes smoothly.
UL rated for use in a tub or shower enclosure. It also has HVI certification.
- Nearly silent with operation under 0.3 sones
- Brushless DC motor has high life-expectancy and efficient operation
- Humidity sensing mode turns on at 60% humidity
- Only for use with 4” duct
- Only 80 CFM model is 0.3 sones quiet
Buy on Amazon
3. Panasonic WhisperRemodel 0.8-Sone 110-CFM
Panasonic WhisperRemodel is a near-silent way to exchange the air in your bathroom. At 0.3 sones operation, you’ll barely hear it turn on.
One of the great features of this particular model is its ability to use 4” or 6” duct. It also includes a 3” duct adapter, further improving your installability.
The Flex-Z fast installation bracket makes for a simple installation and easy fan placement.
This fan has an optional built-in light available. You can also opt for a motion sensor instead of light. The base model contains neither and is just the fan.
The low profile design that this fan features allow it to fit in 2X6 construction. Energy Star certification means it will have a minimal impact on your energy usage.
This fan is UL listed for use above a tub or shower enclosure.
The Panasonic WhisperRemodel has a speed selector that allows it to switch between 80 and 110 CFM. That means this fan is great for any bathroom up to 110 square feet. You won’t have to worry about accidentally getting a unit that won’t work for your bathroom size.
Panasonic fans are known for their longevity. This particular model includes a 3-year warranty on parts to back up their claim.
- Near silent operation
- Light and motion sensor options are available
- Can use 6” or 4” or even 3” duct with included adapter
- Can’t get light and motion sensors together
Buy on Amazon
4. KAZE APPLIANCE SE90T
Bathroom fan from KAZE APPLIANCE features a barely audible operating noise of fewer than 0.3 sones at 90 CFM. It is suitable for a bathroom up to 90 square feet. It is also available in 110 and 120 CFM for larger bathrooms.
This fan is so quiet partly because of the 6” duct it is designed to work with. If you do not have 6” duct in your home currently, they do sell a 4” adapter that will allow you to install this fan with your existing ductwork.
The Energy Star certification this product has received means you can be confident that it will help conserve energy and keep electricity costs down.
The permanently lubricated motors and high-quality parts used to build this fan ensure it has a long lifespan as a part of your home. With a fan housing constructed of 26 GA galvanized steel, this fan will be durable and reliable. A three-year manufacturer’s warranty backs it all up.
The included triple-point mounting brackets are heavy-duty and easily adjustable for up to 24” joist spacing. This means that installation will be easy in any ceiling with any spacing between joists. The original fan hole may have to be enlarged to fit this unit, though.
Although it’s a very quiet and well-functioning fan, the lack of available options such as lights and humidity sensors is a noticeable drawback.
- Durable and reliable
- Near-silent operation
- Up to 24” joist spacing
- No available options
- 4” duct adapter is extra
Buy on Amazon
5. Ultra Quiet Ventilation Fan Bathroom Exhaust Fan
This ultra-quiet bathroom fan is one of the smallest options on this list. This is a great choice to go with if you do not want to have to enlarge the hole from your existing fan. With a height of only 9”, this fan should have no problems installing in almost any bathroom ceiling.
With operation levels rated at 0.8 sones, it’s as silent as any offer listed here. The 90 CFM airflow is a little less than what is offered by some competitors. It is available in 110 CFM also, but that is at an operating volume of 1.2 sones.
Since it’s designed to work with 4” duct, this fan should work with your pre-existing ductwork. This will make the installation process much simpler.
This fan is UL listed for tub and shower enclosures making it very versatile. An Energy Star classification guarantees that you won’t be throwing away your money on wasted energy if you choose this fan.
The case is built from plastic. At only 10 pounds, this is one of the lightest fans on this list. This is in part due to the plastic construction.
The plastic case should hold up fine, but it may not be quite as durable as a metal casing.
Unfortunately, no warranty is currently listed for this bathroom fan.
- Very Light
- A small that fan may fit the original hole
- Can use existing 4” duct
- No warranty listed
- Plastic construction
Buy on Amazon
6. Broan Very Quiet Ceiling Bathroom Exhaust Fan with Light
With an operation rating of 0.7 sones, Broan bathroom exhaust fan lives up to its name.
It is built to work with 4” duct to help achieve such low-noise performance. If your current fan does not use 4” duct, then you will need to run some new ducts to use this fan.
Included hanger bars make universal installation easy and quick. Short height on this unit means that only 8” of clearance space is required for installation.
Despite the short height, this is a large bathroom exhaust fan. You will likely have to enlarge your existing hole to make this unit fit. It should have no problem fitting between your ceiling joists, though.
With an airflow of 80 CFM, this Broan model is intended for bathrooms up to 75 square feet.
Designed for continuous operation, the motor should provide longevity. The Broan Very Quiet fan is Energy Star certified, so it will help keep your electricity bill low.
Although this fan is very quiet, it also lacks in features. No speed selection, sensors, or adjustable duct sizing.
- Near silent operation
- Short height
Buy on Amazon
How to Replace Noisy Bathroom Fan
In this section, we will go over step-by-step instructions for how to install a bathroom exhaust fan.
Before you start installing, make sure to turn off the breaker in your main electrical panel.
Remove the fan cover to expose the fan assembly beneath. The cover should pop off. To be safe, make sure to test inside the fan assembly now to be certain there is no electricity.
Using a screwdriver, carefully remove the motor. It will be assembled on a metal plate that should also pop out. It may be held in place with one or two screws.
Using a screw gun, remove all of the mounting screws. Once the screws are removed, the fan housing should be free to move. Slide it to the side to allow access to the duct. Disconnect the duct hose from the fan outlet.
Once the duct is disconnected, remove the fan by maneuvering it through the mounting hole. Disconnect and remove the wires.
Check the size of your new fan to see if it will fit in the existing hole. If necessary, use the new fan to mark out a larger mounting hole. Using a drywall saw or razor knife, cut the hole so that the fan will fit.
Set the duct connector in the ceiling and push the housing into place so that the connector slides into its proper position on the fan housing. Once level and flush, drive screws into the bottom flange and up through the ceiling joists.
Head up to the attic to attach the brackets to the joists on either side using screws. With HVAC tape, connect the duct to the duct connector. Make sure it is sealed and secure.
Remove the junction box cover from the side of your fan assembly. Connect your existing wires to the wires inside the fan assembly by matching the correct colors together with wire nuts. Fasten the cover closed again.
Head to your electrical box and turn the breaker back on. If your fan seems to be excessively loud or is making a noise that you didn’t expect, turn the power back off and inspect the fan and wiring to make sure it’s connected properly.
Once you’re certain the installation is successful, install the mounting springs to the bottom and pop the cover on to complete the installation.
Now you know how to swap out your obtrusive bathroom fan for a much quieter one. The peace and quiet you will now receive will be well worth the time investment to read this article!
If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave them in the comment box below, and I will respond as quickly as possible.
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A lawyer never retires. So I would just say that I am not as active as I used to be. Now I simply dedicate myself to fishing, my hobby, and my grandchildren. For Business Finance News I write about legal aspects of mortgage policies, mostly regarding the rights of policyholders. I also have articles about personal injuries.