Blow off some steam, banish damp and wave goodbye to condensation with our favourite bathroom extractor fans for every budget
A bathroom extractor fan isn’t a luxury – it’s a must. As well as sucking away any unpleasant odours, it removes moisture from the air after a shower or bath, which can otherwise lead to long-term damage, especially if your bathroom doesn’t have an outside window. And if you plan on letting out your property, an extractor fan is a legal requirement.
With literally hundreds of different extractor fan models on the market, however, the question is: how do you pick one? We consulted an expert builder, who explained that all extractors do the same basic job. The main difference is that cheap units are likely to break down sooner and can be noisier. So it’s suggested that you always go for a quality brand and steer clear of the very cheapest products.
To help you, here’s our guide to choosing the perfect fan, plus our recommendations for high-quality extractors that are affordable, easy to fit and effective at drawing out stale air.
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Best bathroom extractor fan: At a glance
- The best all-round fan: EnviroVent Silent 100T
- A top-notch twin-speed extractor fan: Vent-Axia Silent Fan VASF100T
- The best odour-detecting extractor fan: Vent-Axia PureAir Sense
- The best humidity-sensing extractor fan: Xpelair C4HTS
- The best high-end extractor fan: Airflow iCON 30
- The best budget bathroom extractor fan: Manrose QF100TX5
How to choose the best bathroom extractor fan for you
What sort of features should I look for in an extractor fan?
Most domestic extractors pull through about 21 litres of air per second, which is plenty for an average-sized bathroom or shower room. To ensure the room gets fully ventilated, it’s a good idea to look for a model with an overrun timer, which keeps the fan running for a set period after you’ve turned it off.
The precise duration of the overrun is normally configured during installation, with most fans offering a range between 30 seconds and 30 minutes. You might as well tend towards the latter end of the scale as the cost is very low: on average, a fan like this uses around 8W.
Most fans also come with a backdraught shutter to prevent cold air from blowing in from outside. The downside to these is that windy conditions can cause the shutter to clatter against the wall; if your outlet is exposed to the elements, it may be better to simply leave the shutter off.
Finally, if you think you (or anyone else in the house) will forget to turn the fan on, consider a model with a humidity sensor. This automatically activates the fan when the level of moisture in the air exceeds a certain threshold. This sensor may need occasional cleaning, though, or the accumulation of dust or grime will hinder its effectiveness.
What about noise?
In a survey carried out by ventilation specialist Vent-Axia, 40% of respondents said that they or their children had been woken in the night by a noisy bathroom fan. Even the cheapest fans are usually very quiet out of the box, but as the motor bearings start to wear – typically after about two years with low-end models – the blades can start to oscillate against the main housing, producing an annoying rattle in the process. A higher-quality fan should last longer, but if you value quietness then at some point you’ll probably need to repair or replace your fan.
How do you install a bathroom extractor fan?
Most domestic bathroom extractors attach to a 100mm hole in the outside wall. If you’re replacing a standard-sized extractor fan, this hole will already be present and you should be able to install the new one yourself. Before you remove the old fan, it’s a good idea to take a photo of its wiring for later reference – and make absolutely sure you shut off the mains power before you take the old one’s front housing off.
If you don’t already have a fan, you’ll need to get in a qualified builder to make the hole and install the wiring. Be aware that there are regulations governing where your fan can be located: if you want to put a fan in Zone 1 (the area within a shower or 2.25m above a bath) or Zone 2 (60cm from Zone 1), it must be a low-voltage SELV fan with a transformer, or an AC-powered model that’s IPX5-certified. Most of our recommendations below are intended for use outside of Zone 2, but the layout of your bathroom may dictate your options.
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The best bathroom extractor fans you can buy in 2023
1. EnviroVent Silent 100T: The best all-round silent bathroom extractor fan
Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon
This extractor fan is efficient, reliable and ultra-quiet, thanks to a motor that’s mounted on elastic blocks. It draws through 26l of air per second – five litres more than most – and comes with an overrun timer that can be set for up to 30 minutes. It fits in a standard 100mm aperture, with a backdraught shutter to keep out the chill.
If your bathroom doesn’t have a window – or if you like your showers really hot and steamy – you might alternatively consider the EnviroVent Cyclone 7, a high-end model that switches on automatically as soon as it detects moisture in the room. But if you have an average-sized bathroom, the Silent 100T does a brilliant job at a very reasonable price.
Key specs – Flow rate: 26l/sec; Power consumption: 8W; Noise level: 26dB; Overrun timer? Yes
2. Xpelair C4HTS: The best humidity-sensing bathroom extractor fan
Price: £56 | Buy now from Amazon
If family members keep forgetting to switch on the extractor when taking a shower, a humidistat fan such as the C4HTS is the perfect solution. Its built-in humidity sensor automatically turns on the fan when the level of moisture in the air hits a preset level (between 65% and 85%), and remains on for a set length of time, between 30 seconds and 30 minutes.
When installing the fan you can also choose between two fan speeds. If your bathroom has a decent-sized window, you can take advantage of the whisper-quiet 15l/sec setting, while the louder 21l/sec setting is suitable for steamier bathrooms.
Key specs – Flow rate: 15l/sec to 21l/sec; Power consumption: 7W; Noise level: 16dB to 29dB; Overrun timer? Yes
3. Vent-Axia Silent Fan VASF100T: A top-notch twin-speed extractor fan
Price: £57 | Buy now from Amazon
The VASF100T’s two-speed motor gives you options. Set it to the lower speed when installing and it’ll pump out 15l of air per second at a near-silent 14dB – or, if you need more thorough ventilation, you can select full speed for throughput of 21l per second (although the volume goes up to a fairly audible 26dB).
It’s tastefully designed, with a white plastic cover on the front that hides the otherwise ugly housing, and the built-in overrun timer keeps the fan running for between five and 30 minutes after switching it off. A clever low-power fan that’ll unobtrusively keep your bathroom fresh.
Key specs – Flow rate: 15l/sec to 21l/sec; Power consumption: 6.8W; Noise level: 14dB to 26dB; Overrun timer? Yes
4. Manrose QF100TX5: The best budget bathroom extractor fan
Price: £34 | Buy now from Amazon
Manrose extractors are popular in new builds because they’re both cheap and reliable. This model won’t win many prizes for its looks, but it’s pretty quiet and can shift 21l of air per second – plenty for an average bathroom.
It’s energy-efficient too, with a motor that’s rated at just 7W, so you can set the overrun timer to the maximum 20 minutes and your electricity meter will hardly notice. And since it’s IPX5-compliant, you can install it in Zone 1 if you wish.
A reverse-flow shutter, meanwhile, keeps outside draughts at bay; this can flap against the outside wall in windy conditions, but overall the QF100TX5 is an effective fan that’s ideal for tight budgets.
Key specs – Flow rate: 21l/sec; Power consumption: 7W; Noise level: 21dB; Overrun timer? Yes
5. Airflow iCON 30: The best high-end bathroom extractor fan
Price: £89 | Buy now from Amazon
The fetching iCON 30 fits flush with the wall or ceiling and features a stylish iris shutter that slowly opens up when the unit is switched on. When closed, it also provides backdraught protection with zero rattling.
The iCON 30 is highly effective too, pumping through a huge 32l/sec of air. However, it does come with a couple of caveats: if you want an overrun timer, pull-cord or humidity sensor, you’ll need to splash out on an additional control module. It’s also quite a bit louder than most standard fans, and it may require some chipping away of your stonework to get it to fit properly. Still, it’s an amazing performer, and comes in a choice of silver, anthracite and sandstone finishes.
Key specs – Flow rate: 32l/sec; Power consumption: 15.5W; Noise level: 33.6dB; Overrun timer? Sold separately
6. Vent-Axia PureAir Sense: The best odour-detecting bathroom extractor fan
Price: £170 | Buy now from Amazon
Vent-Axia has really pushed the boat out with this brand-new model. Aside from shifting up to 39l of damp air per second, this bathroom extractor comes crammed with more sensor tech than any other model on the market. In fact, it has a sensor for everything, even odour. Yes, that’s right, when this clever little air mover detects a nasty smell, it either switches itself on or, if already running, speeds up the fan, returning the bathroom to its original sweet-smelling scent in a thrice.
The PureAir Sense not only detects bad smells, it also senses the level of humidity in the room, turning on automatically whenever the need arises – an essential asset for showers and wet rooms. It also comes with an overrun timer function and an option for continuous use at a wide range of flow rates, from 10 to 15l per second.
Unlike most air extractors that require their overrun timers to be preset during installation, this one is fully controllable at any time either via the opaque interface on its fascia or a Bluetooth-connected app (for Android and iOS). Programming it is rather confusing because its humidity and odour sensing functions won’t kick in unless the humidity increases or it detects a smell, which makes it quite tricky to tell if it’s been set correctly.
The PureAir Sense comes with two spigots (or sleeves): one for standard 100mm installation and another for larger 125mm portals. The larger spigot is the one to fit if you want to benefit from its excellent 39l per second flow rate. That said, its standard 32l per second flow rate is still better than most and easily good enough for the majority of bathroom installations.
This really is an excellent extractor that uses just 2W of electricity when running continuously and no more than 5W at full pelt. It’s also one of the most attractive models around – the fascia can be used bare or with the included white magnetic cover – and one of the very quietest.
Key specs – Flow rate: 32 to 39l/sec; Power consumption: 5W; Noise level: 19dB; Overrun timer? Yes