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Ductless Bathroom Fans: How Do They Work and Pros & Cons

One of the most common complaints people have about their bathrooms is the unpleasant smell.

But what if I told you that you could remove unpleasant odors and dust in your bathroom with a flip of a switch?

A ductless fan

The following are some of the reasons why you ought to consider purchasing one.

ductless bathroom exhaust fan

How Does a Ductless Bathroom Fan Work?

Ductless fans have a major difference from their duct siblings, which is they require no ventilation.

These fans use a charcoal filtering system that allows them to remove unpleasant odors and dust from the air without the need for ventilation.

Pros & Cons of Ductless Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Pros of a Ductless Bathroom Fan

  • Inexpensive

With a price tag between 30 to 60 dollars for a brand new fan, you are getting a good deal. Vented ductwork fans will cost about the same, but that does not include the cost of creating a duct in your ceiling or electrical work.

  • Noise Level

Ductless bathroom exhaust fans are more quiet compared to the older duct fans that performed with a subtle roar. If bathing in peaceful serenity is what you require, then upgrading to a ductless fan is a wise decision.

  • Versatility

It is designed for rooms that require air circulation but where ducting is either not feasible or not practical. A ductless bathroom fan can be installed in a place where humidity is not an issue, like a half-bath, a kitchen, or a closet.

Cons of a Ductless Bathroom Fan

  • Installation

Installing a ductless fan can come with specific issues. If you are installing a fan somewhere no fan has ever been previously installed, you will have some extra work to do. This will require an electrician to cut some holes and patch the fan into your electrical system. Other systems come with an outlet you can simply plug in, but then you must deal with a cord dangling from your ceiling that will be nearly impossible to hide.

  • False Sense of Security

Just because these ductless fans are promoted to help eliminate moisture, it does not mean they can guarantee you a mold and mildew-free bathroom in all conditions.

  • No Seamless Look

A vented fan is hardly noticeable. It may protrude half an inch or so from your ceiling. On the other hand, with many ductless fans, the entire unit will protrude from your ceiling, and you will definitely notice it’s there.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Ductless Bathroom Fan

Filter Cleaning or Replacement

One thing to look at when buying a ductless fan is the filter replacements. These fans have charcoal filters that clean the air.

You should look at how often your fan requires a filter replacement and how much these filters will cost you.

Fan Capacity

One important specification to look at on a fan is its capacity. Fan capacity is measured in CFM, which means cubic feet per minute. This is the measurement that determines the speed that your fan moves the air.

A good way to find out how much CFM you will need will be to have 1 CFM for every 1 square foot of your bathroom. So for a 50 square foot bathroom, you would want a fan with at least 50 CFM.

Noise Level

Though ductless fans, in general, are very quiet, you will still want to look at this measurement.

Sound level is measured in sones. You will want to buy a fan with as little sones as possible.

Many people are quite satisfied with a noise level of 4 sones or less. But this will be determined by your own preferences.


How often does the filter need to be replaced?

Most filters will typically last 60 to 90 days when used continuously. They can last longer depending on how frequently they are used. It is recommended that you change a filter at least once a year.

What size bathroom is a ductless exhaust fan designed for?

The duct-free bathroom fan is designed for a small bathroom, approximately 50 square feet.

Could a ductless fan be used by someone who smokes inside?

A ductless fan will not exhaust cigarette smoke. The charcoal filter can remove some of the smoke odor but will not remove the smoke itself.


If your bathroom doesn’t have any windows or creating a duct is not a viable option, these ductless fans will definitely help. They will make your place smell better, feel cooler, and be quieter.

Adam McCoy

Adam is an HVAC expert and the owner of Mackydo's HVAC Services with decades of experience in fixing and installing air conditioning units, furnaces, and every type of cooling and heating equipment you can think of.

Adam believes that your home is your sanctuary. He loves sharing advice based on his lifelong experience and treats every HVAC problem as if it was his own.

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At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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