Bath Fans and Accessories
Bath fans provide important moisture control. If you don't have one you probably have mold in your bathroom. If it's not vented through the roof, you probably have mold in your attic. My free Bath Fan Guide tells how to install them right, these products are ones we like.
Panasonic Whisper Green Select Fan
Panasonic makes really nice bath fans. Look for ones under 1 Sone for noise. If done right, the only way to tell if they are on is by looking at the switch.
Can be set to 50, 80, or 110 cfm. Has an efficient ECM motor.
Vent outdoors through the wall or roof using 6" hard duct. Seal the joints with mastic (a thick glue.) If you do insulated flex duct, be sure it's 6". Flex duct will reduce noise from outside, but increased pressure often makes fans louder.
Panasonic FV-08VRE2 Recessed Light Bath Fan
Incognito 80 cfm bath fan that masquerades as an LED recessed light.
80 cfm is fine for most bathrooms. You'll be lucky to get more than 50 cfm of real world performance unless you install as recommended: short run to outdoors with 6" hard pipe and as few bends as possible.
Rated at 1.0 Sone, this is at the high end of noise I like, and may get noisier when ducted to outdoors, particularly if you use 4" or flex duct.
That said, if you want a fan without having it look like you have a fan, these are pretty slick.
Broan-Nutone 634M Roof Vent Kit
6" Roof Bath Fan Vent
We strongly recommend using 6" hard duct for venting bath fans. You can't buy 6" roof or wall duct kits at big boxes, so get one here.
Buy the duct and sealing mastic at the big box though, shipping makes those silly to buy from Amazon.
Avoid facing these west, as the wind can rattle them.
Broan 641 Wall Cap for 6" Ducts
If you are venting your bath fan through the wall, use this vent or this Air King Vent, both are highly rated.
You'll need a tool like a Sawzall to cut through the wall. I have this Dewalt Kit and love it, it includes a drill and a light as well.
Avoid facing these west so the wind doesn't rattle them. If that is the only option be sure to use an inline backdraft prevention damper.
Speedi Products AC-BD 06
6" Backdraft Prevention Damper
If you are concerned about noise coming back through the bath fan (flapping wall vents can be annoying), add one of these to your install.
They also prevent cold air from coming in through the bath fan. This is less of a problem with higher end fans.
These dampers only open when air is coming from the bath fan, not from outdoors.
3M Foil Tape 3381 Silver
We strongly recommend mastic for sealing duct joints. The only backup (which is likely to fail sooner than mastic) is foil tape.
Don't cheap out on tape. Only 3M and Venture Tape brands are good in our experience.
Sealing joints will help prevent mold and moisture problems in your attic. Once you insulate, the odds of you doing this are pretty low.
Intermatic FD60MWC Timer Switch
Bath fans (properly vented of course!) should run for at least 30 minutes after you get out of the shower to get moisture out of your house.
This simple switch has come to be my favorite for making the fan run after a shower/bath.
You're probably used to it at hotels. It's simple, unlikely to malfunction, and easy to install. It also fits into a standard switch wall plate. Sold!
Maxxima 1875 Watt 7 Button Countdown Timer Switch
If you want something fancier than the spring loaded timer switch, look at something like this.
Air Cycler Smart Exhaust Timer Switch
A third option is this highly adjustable switch. You can set it to run 0-60 minutes per hour to serve as fresh air ventilation.
This may sound like a shortcut to fresh air, and it is. A bath fan sucks on your house, which is a depressurization strategy. Sucking sucks. It will pull makeup air through not so nice places like mouse poop infested attic insulation, damp and/or moldy basements and crawlspaces, and other unmentionable places. Far better to use a pressurization or balanced strategy.
I've had issues with this switch being faulty in the past, it's possible we miswired it somehow, but I've cooled on this solution and come to like the simple timer switch.
Range Hoods and Accessories
The worst air quality in your house is in your kitchen. Cooking on a gas stove is equivalent to breathing from a tail pipe. Whether gas or electric, you're actually combusting foods, which leads to air quality that would literally get you arrested by the EPA if you were outdoors. Range hoods to the rescue! They suck the bad stuff out. If it's at all possible, get one and vent it outdoors.
Broan CLDH130SS Range Hood
$369 only at Lowe's
I spent several days finding this range hood and have one in my home.
If you have a standard 30" installation, just buy it. I get a cut from everything else here, but not this. Here's my video review.
I called a friend at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, who connected me to an R&D engineer at Broan/Nutone to find this model. Only Lowe's sells it.
It is the ONLY hood I could find that matched what I wanted: two fans for better draw, 2 Sones on regular speed, LED lights because we like to leave them on at night, an exhaust hole that matched what we already have, and that didn't have the Heat Sentry feature.
If you prefer to spend forever researching a range hood, knock yourself out. =) Otherwise just get this one.
(Update: Broan is adding LEDs to many more models, see the next 2.)
Broan BCDJ130SS Range Hood
The runner up in my research. Quiet, it has 2 fans and LED lights.
Unfortunately, it has the Heat Sentry feature that I have seen very poor reviews on. When it senses high heat it goes to high fan and stays there, it's difficult or impossible to override, making the kitchen noisy.
3 fan speeds with medium speed being very quiet one low speed (0.5 sones). Granted low is often inadequate. 6.5 Sones on high, which is the same as mine, and is still very possible to talk over.
Broan BCSEK130SS Range Hood
Least expensive one I've found that is relatively quiet and has LED lighting. Looks like LEDs are becoming the standard, which is good because incandescents are HOT to cook by.
Paired with induction the whole "if you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen" thing is in the past.
2 fan speeds (not 3). 1.5 Sones on low, 5 on high. Energy Star, although I don't know what that means for this product.