We are living in the middle of the smart home revolution, there’s no mistaking that. Everything in our homes these days – our appliances, our lights, even our window treatments and blinds – are being designed with home automation in mind.
Bathroom fan ventilation systems are no exception.
Smart bathroom fans work by connecting to home automation systems – usually via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. They are usually more energy-efficient than regular bathroom fans, as they often contain humidity and motion sensors.
For other smart bathroom ideas that can transform your life, don’t miss my post on the 9 Coolest Smart Bathroom Ideas of the Year.
What Are Smart Bathroom Fans, Anyway?
Most of today’s smart bathroom fans include a lot of really cool features that “dumb” bathroom fans wouldn’t have had the ability to mimic.
We are talking about things like:
- Humidity sensors that can trigger the fan on or off as necessary
- Energy-efficient systems that optimize how these fans run to get you the best results without using a ton of electricity
- Remote control capabilities (usually tied to smart home hubs or smart home applications)
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Best of all, because smart home technology is so pervasive right now, you don’t have to spend a small fortune to get your hands on smart home bathroom fans.
In fact, in a lot of cases, you’ll be able to get smart technology in your bathroom fan for the same price as a “dumb fan” – and at that point the choice to get one becomes a no-brainer!
How Do Smart Bathroom Fans Work?
Once you connect the smart bathroom fan to a hub, you’ll be able to control so much more than just turning the fan off or turning the fan on.
Wireless or Bluetooth Connectivity
A smart bathroom fan has wireless or Bluetooth connectivity capabilities and a microprocessor onboard.
Both of these elements allow the fan to “make decisions” either on its own or to respond to pre-programmed decisions and directives that are given to it.
As soon as you hook your bathroom fan up (wiring it the same way you would wire a traditional bathroom fan), you’ll then need to connect that system to the internet or via Wi-Fi/Bluetooth to your smart home hub or application.
This is where the magic happens.
Stopping Bathroom Mold Through Smart Sensors
You’ll be able to activate those humidity sensors, programming the fan to turn on when a certain humidity level is hit and automatically shut off when a new specific level is reached.
Once your smart bathroom fan is working, you can program it to turn on and off at different times of day, in order to help guarantee that fresh air is always circulating.
This can go a long way to preventing bathroom mold, a problem that can be very costly to repair if it goes unaddressed.
Streaming Music Through Alexa or Other Home Devices
You can also pair some smart bathroom fans to an Alexa device from Amazon (or Google Home devices, or some other smart hub set up).
If you are able to connect to Alexa (or something similar), though, you’ll find that the integration process is about as simple and as straightforward as it gets.
Prioritize Your Favorite Features
If you want the bathroom light to be dimmed when you get up in the morning so that you’re not hit with a full blast of bright LED light when you first wake up a smart bathroom ventilation fan with dimmable lighting makes all of that possible.
Other smart bathroom fan features can include:
- Motion sensor activation
- Motion sensor overhead lighting
- Nightlight modes and capabilities
- Built-in infrared heat lamps
Some popular smart fans are going to come with Bluetooth speakers, too. Then you can stream music wirelessly to your smart bathroom fan, so you can enjoy your favorite soundtracks or podcasts while you are in the shower.
However, it’s not common to find a smart bathroom fan with every single possible feature. For that reason, it helps to prioritize the features that are most important to you.
For example, are you all about the music in the morning?
Or is a motion-sensor with automatic shut-off going to be key to keeping energy costs down in your busy bathroom?
Finding the right smart bathroom fan will be easier with your priorities clearly in mind.
3 Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make
Before you spend any money on a bathroom fan – especially a smart bathroom fan – you’ll want to be sure to get a model that will help you avoid these mistakes
1. DON’T Get a Bathroom Fan Without a Built-In or External Humidity Sensor
One of the biggest responsibilities that a smart home fan has is to move all of that hot, humid air you produce when you take a shower and get it out of your home ASAP.
Sure, you could trigger the ceiling fan every time you’re getting ready to take a shower, leave it run while you get ready, and then come back and turn it off when you are ready to head out the door each morning – but why not lean on smart technology to streamline that process for you?
With humidity sensing fans you don’t have to worry about anything. You jump in the shower and as soon as a certain humidity level is reached the fan flips on, all on its own.
You get out of the shower, dry off, and go about your day and when the fan detects that the humidity level has dropped sufficiently it turns itself off on its own – even if you aren’t home.
While some bathroom fans don’t come with built-in humidity sensors, if they can be paired with an external humidity tracking device, then you’re good to go.
2. DON’T Get a Bathroom Fan with Insufficient Air Flow Capacity
Airflow capacity is another important factor to look into, especially when you are looking to ventilate bathrooms.
Airflow is measured by CFM, which stands for cubic feet per minute. So a bathroom fan with a CFM of 80 is what you’d want to get to circulate the air in 80 square feet (or an 8 x 10 foot bathroom) in one minute.
3. DON’T Get a Bathroom Fan with a High Sones Rating
Modern bathroom fans are designed to exchange a tremendous amount of air and produce quite a bit of airflow without being the loudest things this side of a jet engine.
Most fans are rated by Sones, a measurement that tells you how loud your bathroom fan will be. A bathroom fan with a Sones Rating of 2.0 is about the same noise level as a loud kitchen fridge, while a fan with a Sones Rating of 0.5 is about as loud as a whisper.
Find out much more about Sones Ratings, and what noise level to expect from different ratings in Know Your Sones Before Buying a Bathroom Fan!
Smart Bathroom Fans: Top 3 Picks for 2022 (and Beyond!)
1. Panasonic WhisperSense DC Ventilation Fan
With a 0.3 Sones Rating, this fan is as quiet as you’ll get and will sound like a whisper or gently rustling leaves. It has an airflow capacity of 110 CFM.
What makes this bathroom fan so smart are the sensors: one for humidity and one for motion.
Already energy efficient, this fan can save you even more money with the set-it and forget-it motion detector timer. Do you have kids who forget to turn on and off the bathroom fan? No problem. Set the sensor to go off 5 minutes after it detects motion.
And talk about saving money: The humidity sensor is protection against a hidden mold problem; by the time you can spot mold and mildew with the naked eye, you may already be looking at a considerable expense to remediate it.
Though it lacks other features like LED lights or a Bluetooth speaker, if quiet is your top priority, this smart bathroom fan is a winner.
Homewerks 7146-80-MS Bathroom Fan
Homeowners looking for a significant performance upgrade with a new smart fan are going to want to get their hands on this Homewerks unit ASAP.
The exhaust itself puts out 1.5 sones, which is still considered very quiet in the world of bathroom fans, and is about as loud as the hum of your average kitchen refrigerator.
It has an airflow capacity of 80 CFM, so it will turn over the air once every minute in a bathroom up to 80 square feet big.
Not only does this smart bathroom fan come with a dimmable LED light, but the light has a day and night light setting and a motion sensor that will turn it on and off. There is a humidity sensor built in as well.
This bathroom fan also comes with a wall touchpad for easily adjusting the various smart features.
3. Delta BreezIntegrity Ventilation Fan
Those on the hunt for a real minimalist Bluetooth bathroom fan with smart capabilities will appreciate this Delta unit for sure.
For one thing, it has a minimalist (and sort of retro) aesthetic that fits with any bathroom. It isn’t going to stick out, it isn’t going to protrude down from the ceiling, and it isn’t going to draw your eye away from all of your bathroom finishes, either.
Fully ENERGY Star Rated for optimum efficiencies, the fan operates at a maximum of 1.0 sones. You’ll still be able to exchange a tremendous amount of hot, humid air with this fan in place – and you’ll be able to get rid of unpleasant odors without a lot of effort, too.
The Bluetooth-enabled capabilities allow this fan to be connected to your favorite smart home systems, including Alexa.
You can pair it with other smart home systems – such as the Govee humidity sensor that runs on WiFi – to guarantee your bathroom is getting the right amount of ventilation to prevent mold.
How Do Smart Bathroom Fans Work to Improve Your Life?
At the end of the day, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the smart home revolution has finally found its way to the bathroom fan world. And today’s smart bathroom fans can save you money through energy efficiency.
They can also save peace of mind as they’re a lot quieter than their predecessors.
Many of them can pair with popular smart home systems (like Alexa and Google Home, for example), and almost all of them can be tightly integrated with smart home mobile apps for extended functionality and better user control.