Builder's Show: best & most innovative bathroom fans

Consumer Reports News: February 09, 2012 09:08 AM

The humble bathroom fan is getting a decent amount of buzz at the Builders' Show, thanks to several interesting innovations. If your bathrooms lack this critical fixture, or the fans you have are old, noisy, and ineffective at eliminating moisture, these new products are worth a look.

Broan-NuTone is launching its Ultra Series ventilation fans, which the company says are easier and faster to retrofit than anything on the market. That's because they allow for in-room installation, whereas with other fans you have to access the ceiling from above, often by crawling through the messy attic.

The Ultra Series fans rely on a few exclusive features, including a telescoping mounting frame with pre-installed screws, a snap-in housing and blower, and an inside-out mounting duct connector. Boan-Nutone says these innovations make the job go 60 percent faster. The Energy Star-qualified fans are highly efficient and also whisper-quiet, earning the quietest possible rating of .3 Sones. And you can get them with a 36-watt CFL light that casts bright, even illumination onto the bathroom. The $200 price tag is more than you'll pay for an average bathroom fan at the home center, but you should get plenty of bang for the bucks—without spending the weekend in the attic.

Also new from Broan-Nutone is the LunAura bathroom fan, which combines the same efficiency and quiet operation with a blue LED light that creates a soothing environment for middle-of-the-night bathroom visits. It does not feature Ultra Series easy installation, however. The fixture comes in three clear light panel configurations—round, square and diamond—which give the appearance of natural glass when the LED light is off. The LunAura sells for $400.

Daniel DiClerico

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