Some, but not all bathrooms come with pre-fitted extractor fans but new ones can be fitted. It’s not the most difficult job in the world but does require drilling the ceiling or wall.
In some cases, the fitting of an extractor fan is a legal requirement. Strictly speaking, Building Regulations require a bathroom to have either an extractor fan or an opening window, but both must meet the minimum ventilation requirements.
If your bathroom does not have a window, then you must fit a bathroom extractor fan ASAP. If it has only a small window then fitting a bathroom extractor fan is highly recommended.
There are various options available, so it’s worth doing your research.
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Best Overall – Xpelair C4HTS 4-inch Simply Silent Contour Extractor Fan Humidistat
The Xpelair C4HTS is a high-quality, ultra-silent bathroom extractor fan. It has two-speed modes to move either 15L or 21L of air out of the bathroom.
This means it conforms to Building Regulations Part F for ventilation. It’s a powerful fan but is extremely quiet owing to Ghost Air Movement technology. In fact, it’s very hard to detect that this fan is on even in the higher-powered mode.
The Xpelair C4HTS is operable either by humidity detection or an external on/off switch. It will auto-detect when the air humidity exceeds 5% and auto-activate.
If you switch it on manually, it’ll run for a set period of time (between 30 seconds and 30 minutes, with a default of 5 minutes), and then revert back to automatic mode.
Installation is relatively simple, but as always, fitting via a professional electrician is usually advisable unless you have decent DIY and wiring knowledge.
Like other bathroom extractor fans, the first-time installation will require drilling and other specialist DIY that requires a professional.
By all accounts, this is a simple but high-performance bathroom extractor fan. It looks great too and is exceptionally quiet. That’s about all you need from a bathroom extractor fan and the Xpelair C4HTS rates as the best bathroom extractor fan overall.
- 4-inch dual-speed bathroom extractor fan
- Manual or automatic functionality
- Comes with all fittings
- Ultra-quiet operation
- Building Regs compliant
- Exceptionally quiet operation
- Automatic and manual modes
- Easy to fit
- Different models available (e.g. pull cord)
Runner-Up – Knightsbridge EX004T LED Backlit Extractor Fan with Overrun Timer in Stainless Steel
This superbly elegant bathroom extractor fan sports a very snazzy backlit LED design. It has an extraction rate of 90m³/hr which sits towards the higher end of bathroom extractor fans. It’s fully compliant with Building Regulations Part F for ventilation.
Aside from looks, this extractor fan is quiet and effective at removing humidity and odour from even larger bathrooms. It’s a standard 4-inch fan and can be wired to most typical pre-existing extractor holes.
As always, professional fitting via an electrician is advised unless the fitter has decent DIY and electrical knowledge. This fan will have to be wired up to the light switch unless used with an optional pull cord.
That means that the fan will be activated when you turn the bathroom light on/off. It does also have a timer function that can be set up to 30 mins.
The headline here is the looks but the reviews are rock-solid – this is a classy but robust bathroom extractor fan for the decor-conscious.
Overall, this is an undoubtedly classy bathroom extractor fan with high-performance extraction and low running volumes. It’s easy to wire up to the light switch which is often the preferable option – there’s no humidity sensor.
- 4-inch LED-backlit bathroom extractor fan
- Wired to regular lightswitch (optional pull cord)
- Timer function
- Ultra-quiet operation
- Looks awesome with LED backlighting
- Easy to wire to a regular lightswitch
- Still has a timer
- Easy to fit into pre-existing extractor holes
- No humidity detection
Best Budget – Xpelair 93225AW Bathroom Ventilation Wall/Ceiling Extractor Fan
A quality budget bathroom extractor fan by a trusted brand, the single-speed Xpelair 93225AW gets the job done at a slim price. It’s a simple, single-speed fan but is fully Building Regulations Part F compliant for ventilation.
It’s easy to wire up to a switch, usually the bathroom light switch. This means the fan will turn on/off when the light switch is operated. It does have an additional timer setting that can be adjusted from 30 seconds to 30 minutes.
This is all most people need anyway – humidity and motion sensors are great but non-essential.
A classic 4-inch extractor fan, the Xpelair 93225AW rates as a quick budget replacement for a similar spec/size extractor fan. It’s a budget option but works well and is easy to fit.
Single-speed operation really isn’t a big issue for standard-sized bathrooms. It’s also IPX4 rated which does improve its safety when used near a water source, but it’s still only suitable for Zone 3 (the outside zones) of the bathroom, like most other fans (see below for an explanation).
Overall, a no-frills, simple and straightforward bathroom extractor that offers a straight swap with most pre-existing fans. As always, professional fitting is recommended if one is unsure of what to do, particularly when wiring it up to the light switch.
- 4-inch single-speed bathroom extractor fan
- Quiet operation
- Wires directly to the light switch
- Timer function
- IPX4 waterproof rating
- Cheap and easy to fit
- Direct wiring or timer
- Waterproof rated
- High-performance single-speed
- Just the basics for functionality
Great Value Alternative – AirTech Bathroom Extractor Fan
This is a great-value bathroom extractor fan for the price. It boasts both timer and humidity detector functionality and with a max extraction rate of 94m3/h, it sits towards the higher-end in terms of extraction performance.
At its core, this is a simple and robust extractor fan with a brushed chrome cover. It looks great and can be fitted into either the ceiling or wall.
The fan runs at a maximum volume of approximately 44dB, which is higher than some fans but should really pose little problem. It wires either directly into the main bathroom light switch or via the humidity sensor.
It also has a timer. Simple in design and functionality, this great-value extractor fan easily packs enough in terms of features and spec for the average user.
For the money, this fan boasts a solid spec sheet, though it reportedly doesn’t come with particularly good instructions and will likely need to be fitted by someone with professional electrical and DIY knowledge.
- 4-inch extractor fan
- Humidity sensor
- Quiet running volume
- Attractive brushed metal design
- Cheap for its spec
- Humidity sensor and timer
- Looks great
- High extraction rate
- Poor instructions
Best Silent – Envirovent SIL100T Silent-100T Axial Silent Extractor Fan
With a max running volume of some 26.5dB at 3m, this is an exceptionally quiet bathroom extractor fan, probably one of the quietest around, in fact. It’s even won an award for how quiet it is.
By a trusted brand, this excellent bathroom extractor fan has picked up stellar reviews and it ticks all the boxes in terms of spec and functionality.
With an extraction rate of 96m3/h, it’s a quality extractor fan that is fully compliant with Building Regulations Part F for ventilation.
This fan features both humidity, timer and proximity functions, so it will turn on when it detects bathroom humidity or when someone moves within 4m of the fan. The timer can be set between 1 and 30 minutes and it can be run directly from a light switch too.
Overall, this is probably one of the more sophisticated bathroom extractor fans around – it even prevents heat leakage when not in operation thanks to the backdraft shutter.
Despite its size and cost, it’s clearly a high-tech unit that is cut out for the majority of bathrooms, big or small.
Whilst the noise of bathroom extractor fans is rarely a massive issue, this is still an impressively quiet device for those who are looking for specifically that.
If you’re looking for a silent, well-made bathroom extractor fan with plenty of trigger options then this is very tough to beat. It’s a real smooth operator with a spec to match.
- 4-inch ultra-quiet bathroom extractor fan
- Humidity and proximity/movement sensors
- Adjustable timer
- Backdraft shutter
- One of the quietest fans on the market
- Silent operation
- Multiple ways to trigger the fan
- Innovative movement sensor
- Doesn’t look fantastic
Powerful Option – Airflow iCON 30 Extractor Fan
If you have a larger bathroom or other room that requires ventilation then the Airflow iCON 30 Extractor Fan steps the extraction rate up to a mighty 118m3/h.
This high-performance extractor fan features an innovative shutter design that prevents heat leakage when not in operation. The cover can even be changed to one of 3 different colours to match your bathroom’s decor.
This is a classic bathroom extractor fan that needs to be wired to a mains switch, usually the light switch. However, it can be equipped with numerous modules as following; pull cord, run-on timer, humidity with run-on timer, motion sensor with run-on timer or motion sensor with humidity and run-on timer.
Essentially, it can be customised to fit your unique operational requirements.
This is a clever way to go about things, and this is clearly a well-made, high-performance bathroom extractor fan with some added power for larger or wetter rooms.
It ensures that the Airflow iCON 30 Extractor Fan can be adapted to pretty much any room and can be triggered in pretty much any way you prefer. The modules are a bit tricky to fit but can be fitted DIY.
As always, professional fitting is recommended if the fitter doesn’t have sound electrical and DIY knowledge. The Airflow iCON 30 Extractor Fan is IPX4 waterproof to boot – a solid all-rounder that boasts superb flexibility when paired with one of its many modules.
- Powerful 4-inch extractor fan
- Additional modules available for ultimate flexibility
- IPX4 waterproof
- Backdraft-proof shutters
- Optional coloured covers
- More powerful than most other standard extractor fans
- Superb optional modules
- Coloured covers to suit bathroom decor
- Innovative shuttered design
- Not the quietest fan around
Bathroom Fans and Building Regulations
Buildings in the UK must meet minimum specifications, known as Building Regulations. Building Regulations require buildings to be well-ventilated to prevent damage, mould and other complications from excess moisture and condensation.
Building Regulations surrounding ventilation are notoriously convoluted and complex. Most literature currently cites the minimum requirement for bathroom extraction to be 15L/s. All extractor fans in this guide meet or exceed this spec, and are compliant with current Building Regulations.
How to Fit Bathroom Extractor Fans
Bathroom extractor fans are electrical devices and cannot be fit anywhere in the bathroom. Bathrooms are split into 4 zones; Zone, 0 Zone 1, Zone 2 and Zone 3. Zone 0 and 1 are at close proximity to the shower and bath area – any extractor fan fitted here must be a high minimum spec for waterproofness (IP rating).
Zone 2 is between the bath or shower and the remainder of the room whereas Zone 3 (or the outside zone) is the rest of the bathroom at a typical distance from water sources. The vast majority of bathroom extractor fans are fitted in Zone 3, the safest zone, which does not require the extractor fan to have an IP rating.
Always consult a trained electrician if you are unsure – poorly fitted bathroom extractor fans can pose a serious fire risk.
Wiring Bathroom Extractor Fans
Bathroom extractor fans are generally triggered in one of 3 ways:
- By switching on a switch (e.g. the light switch) or pulling a cord
- Via a motion or proximity sensor
- Via a humidity sensor
They may also be triggered by a combination of all 3. Once turned on, the fan will either turn off when switched off or after a timer runs out.
Wiring bathroom extractor fans is generally fairly straightforward but fitting by a qualified electrician is always recommended if you’re unsure. The most important thing is to make sure the mains electricity is totally switched off at the main switch prior to undertaking any work.
Most bathroom extractor fans are standard-sized for UK use (4-inches). Check your pre-existing fan (if you have one) for compatibility. Swapping a new fan for an old one might be as simple as wiring it up to the same pre-existing wires.
To Sum Up
Some excellent bathroom extractor fans here. We kicked things off with the Xpelair C4HTS, a silent, powerful, 2-speed extractor fan from a trusted brand. It comes with a humidity sensor and timer and runs very quietly even in the higher-powered mode.
Next up, the LED-backlit Knightsbridge EX004T looks the part and boasts high-spec, reliable performance. It’s a simple but awesome-looking bathroom extractor fan.
The simple and minimalist Xpelair 93225AW is a cheap replacement for many ordinary bathroom extractor fans. It doesn’t break any records but it certainly doesn’t break the bank either.
Another value extractor fan, the AirTech Bathroom Extractor Fan boasts impressive specs for the price.
The high-tech, ultra-silent Envirovent SIL100T Silent-100T Axial Silent Extractor Fan is an impressive device that comes with everything most people need from an extractor fan and a bit more to boot.
Last, but certainly not least, the Airflow iCON 30 Extractor Fan is a bit of a behemoth and has the highest performance extraction of any fan on the list. Its optional modules feature is impressive too.