How Many Sones is a Quiet Bathroom Fan? (9 whisper-quiet options)


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Quiet can mean different things to different people and is a highly subjective word.

Since manufacturing technology has advanced rapidly in the past decades it is now possible to make common household items such as bathroom fans with very high quality and tighter tolerances. Fan blades are better balanced and parts fit together better.

This means that the quietest bathroom fans on the market today are practically unnoticeable when turned on.

A quiet bathroom will be rated below 0.5 sones. At this level, there will be no motor noise and the only thing audible will be a quiet whisper of air.

I know many people consider anything under 1 Sone to be quiet, but I have to disagree. This might have been true a couple of years ago, but today most manufacturers produce bathroom fans that produce no more than 0.5 sones. This is why I think whenever you buy a new bathroom fan it should be less than 0.5 sones.

1 Sones is much louder than 0.5 sones, therefore I argue that 0.5 should be considered quiet.

I have compiled a list of whisper quiet bathroom fans that I believe are truly quiet.

All manufacturers quote their sone ratings at 0.1 in. w.g static pressure. This basically means a very short duct or no duct at all. So if your duct is 20 ft long expect a lot more noise than quoted. The longer the duct the harder the fan must work to push out the air. This in turn creates more noise.

Keep in mind that all sone values are given with the largest duct available for a given fan. (Using a 4-inch duct on a 6-inch fan will increase the loudness by 30%)

You can find a Sones to Decibels calculator here.

I will start with the quietest bathroom fan on the market today. (Í will update this list periodically as the technology advances and better products come out)

Panasonic FV-0511VQC1 – Less Than 0.3 Sones

This is the quietest bathroom fan on the market. It is rated 0.3 sones at 110 CFM.

Related article: 6 Easy Steps To Choose The Right Bathroom Fan

It features a revolutionary ECM motor which provides unparalleled efficiency and reliability. However, the price can be offputting for a bathroom fan. But consider this as an investment that will last more than 10 years.

Sones<0.3
CFM50-110
Maximum bathroom size105 sq. ft.
Duct Size4″ or 6″
Integrated moisture sensorYes
Integrated speed controlYes
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x 10 ½”
Panasonic FV-0511VQC1 specifications

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Aero Pure ABF80L5 – 0.3 Sones

I really like the look of this fan, In fact, I would replace my own bathroom fan with this one if my ceiling construction would allow it. The problem is, it requires almost 8 inches of clearance. This means your ceiling construction must be made out of at least 2 by 8 lumber.

This grill looks like it belongs in a modern 5-star hotel and that’s why I was surprised to find that it was so affordable. Usually, anything that is stylish or looks even a little different than the mainstream product, has a price tag to reflect it.

The center part of the fan features a dimmable light/night light and air moves from the four sides. It doesn’t even look like a fan.

This is an 80 CFM version of the fan, unfortunately their higher capacity fans are much louder than that.

Cleaning the grill will be much easier compared to the traditional slatted grills that are found on other exhaust fans.

So I would say go for it if you have enough space in your ceiling.

Sones0.3
CFM80
Maximum bathroom size80 sq. ft.
Duct Size4″,5″ or 6″ (4″ duct will make it much louder
Integrated moisture sensorNo
Integrated speed controlNo
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10.39″ x 10.31″
Aero Pure ABF80L5 specifications

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Aero Pure AP904-SL – 0.3 Sones

I am really impressed with the design of the Aero Pure exhaust fans. They are really thinking outside of the box when it comes to looks. And it seems that their technical side is solid as well. They are confident in their product and offer a 6-year warranty.

This has a higher capacity compared to the previous one on the list, yet still is rated at no more than 0.3 Sones.

The housing depth is 5 ⅞ inches. This means it will fit a ceiling with at least 6″ of clearance.

The same fan is also available with an integrated humidity sensor. At this time I can’t find it for sale anywhere on the internet, but this might be because it is so new. You can look for it using the product code. The product code is AP 904 H-SL SERIES.

Sones0.3
CFM90
Maximum Bathroom size90 sq. ft.
Duct Size4″ and 6″ (Remember 4″ will be much louder)
Integrated moisture sensorNo
Integrated speed controlNo
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x 11 ¾
Aero Pure AP904-SL Specifications

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Broan-NuTone QTXE080 – 0.3 Sones

If you don’t need a moisture sensor and an integrated speed control this can be a great option. Maybe you already have some sort of timer switch and speed control installed from your previous fan.

If not, then it is quite easy and affordable to slow down the fan.

Lean more on how to slow down a bathroom fan

It is rated for continuous operation so that means you could theoretically just leave it on all the time.

Since it is so quiet you would not even notice that it was on. However, in most cases it is not necessary to have the bathroom fan turned on all the time, especially if you have an other source of ventilation for the whole house. Then leaving it on all the time would only waste energy.

Excessive ventilation will increase your heating and cooling costs since all that air that the exhaust fan pushes out will be replaced with too cold/warm outside air.

Sones0.3
CFM80
Maximum Bathroom size75 sq. ft.
Duct Size6″
Integrated moisture sensorNo
Integrated speed controlNo
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x 11 ¾
Broan-NuTone QTXE080 Specifications

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Kaze SE90T – 0.3 Sones

Kaze bathroom fans are certified by HVI and ENERGY STAR. You can rest assured that the specifications correspond to the values in the table below.

This is not a good choice if you don’t have ceiling access, as the connection must be done from above.

It comes with an oversized grill, so if your current ceiling cutout is larger than the housing dimensions on this one, then the grill will cover it up. The grill will connect directly to the housing with torsion springs so you don’t need to worry about leaving room on the sides for screws.

Grill dimensions are 13 inches by 14 inches.

Sones0.3
CFM90
Maximum Bathroom size90 sq. ft.
Duct Size4″ and 6″
Integrated moisture sensorNo
Integrated speed controlNo
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x 11 ¾
Kaze SE90T Specifications

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Panasonic FV-0810VSS1 – 0.3 Sones

The picture above may seem stretched, but it is not. This is a very low profile bathroom fan. It fits perfectly in a 2 by 4 construction. The housing depth is only 3 3/8 inches.

The integrated damper on this, to be honest on 90% of the exhaust fans for sale today is just a simple gravity-operated flap. This means that if you don’t have any other damper installed in your duct, it can be very noisy when it is windy outside. This Is why I recommend installing a high-quality butterfly damper instead.

Read more about butterfly dampers and why bathroom fans make noise when windy.

The duct is oval because the overall depth is less than the duct size. Regular 4″ round flexible duct will fit onto it.

It is approved for both ceiling and wall installations. As far as I know it is the only low profile 0.3 sone bathroom fan that can be installed both vertically and horizontally.

Sones0.3-0.9
CFM80-100
Maximum Bathroom size100 sq. ft.
Duct Size4″ oval
Integrated moisture sensorNo
Integrated speed controlYes
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x 10 ½”
Panasonic FV-0810VSS1 Specifications

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Kaze SEP120L2 – 0.3 Sones

I really like the integrated light/night light on this fan. I have not seen something like this on any other fan before. The extra warm white night light is excellent if your bathroom is close to your bed.

When you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, the usual strong cold white light from a regular bathroom light is very disturbing for eyes.

Using a night light is much more comfortable for eyes when coming from complete darkness, not to mention it won’t wake up your better half.

Keep in mind that attic access is required as the mounting is similar to the other Kaze fan I have in this list.

Sones0.3
CFM120
Maximum Bathroom size120 sq. ft.
Duct Size6″
Integrated moisture sensorNo
Integrated speed controlNo
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x ⅜”
Kaze SEP120L2 Specifications

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ESD Tech BF80R -0.4 Sones

This is by far the cheapest option on this list. Some of the others on this list cost 4 times more than this one.

They say that it is comparable to major brands, but I find this hard to believe. Others offer a 6-year warranty and they have only 12 months.

This leads me to believe that some of the components are of inferior quality and won’t last as long. It is to be expected since the cost is much much lower as well. As with everything, you get what you pay for.

As replacing the bathroom fan is not always very quick and easy, it is wise to spend a little more to get quality that will last for the next decade.

The housing depth is quite large at 7-5/8 inch so it requires at least 8″ ceiling joists to fit.

Sones0.4 with 6″ and 0.8 with 4″ duct
CFM80
Maximum Bathroom size80 sq. ft.
Duct Size4″ and 6″
Integrated moisture sensorNo (Here is a version with a moisture sensor)
Integrated speed controlNo
Housing size(ceiling cutout)10 ½” x ⅜”
ESD Tech BF80R Specifications

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Joonas

I like it when I'm able to fix everything that needs fixing around the house. In order to do that, I have to do a lot of research. This site will cover everything I learn and maybe help others do the same.

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