A garage exhaust fan can benefit you in a lot of ways – most importantly, it can help you dramatically improve the air quality inside. If the air in your garage has indeed been nasty lately, then our reviews of 10 great exhaust fans might help you get started.
Features a Good Garage Exhaust Fan Should Have
Any exhaust fan could work for garage use, but for the best experience, look for an exhaust fan that has the following features:
- The right CFM. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, which is the amount of air moved by the fan in a minute. We’ll talk about CFM more in our buyer’s guide.
- Adjustable speed. Adjustable fan speeds would allow for some flexibility in cooling. If it’s not too hot in your garage, then why run the fan at full speed and waste power and money?
- Sealed motor housing. Dust and moisture are the greatest enemies of your exhaust fan. A fan with a sealed motor would most likely be much more durable than one with an exposed motor.
- Water resistance. It would also be good if your garage exhaust fan was water-resistant. If your garage gets humid, then your fan should be UL rated for use in damp or outdoor locations.
Why Install an Exhaust Fan in Your Garage?
Why even spend money on a garage exhaust fan? Well, there are a few good reasons for having a fan in your garage if you will be there often.
- An exhaust fan will improve ventilation. The chemicals and fumes emitted while you are working are very dangerous for your health. This type of fan would be a staple for your garage ventilation, allowing you and your family members to say safe.
- Exhaust fans can cool down your garage, and at much lower costs than an air conditioner!
- An exhaust fan can remove smoke and odors from your garage, thus improving comfort while you are there.
- An exhaust fan can protect your property. With an exhaust fan, you can protect your garage belongings by removing moisture and ensuring that the air inside is dry.
- An exhaust fan may keep bacteria and fungi out. Fans may be somewhat effective at removing allergens, bacteria, fungi, and mold out, though this will depend on the fan.
Checklist Before Garage Exhaust Fan Installation
Before installing an exhaust fan in your garage, check the following things:
- Ensure that the CFM of your fan is sufficient to ensure the minimum required number of air changes per minute. Air changes per minute may be regulated by local code.
- Make sure that the exhaust outdoors isn’t obstructed by anything, e.g. covers, branches, leaves, etc.
- Your garage should be insulated to prevent outside moisture from coming inside. Bad insulation can nullify the benefits of an exhaust fan.
- Likewise, eliminate sources of moisture in your garage.
- Inspect the exhaust fan. Look for damage, loose bolts and screws, and check the bearings for smooth operation.
10 Best Garage Exhaust Fans for a Complete Cooling and Ventilating Solution
Iliving 12-Inch Variable-Speed Shutter Fan – Editor’s Choice
The Iliving 12-inch shutter fan seems to be a pretty heavy-duty unit that should work well for frequent use.
Thanks to its galvanized steel frame, aluminum shutters, and OSHA-compliant wire guards, this exhaust garage fan should be completely rust- and corrosion-resistant. Not only that, but it has a permanently lubricated motor with thermal protection, and other fan sizes also come with durable ball bearings.
Speaking of fan sizes, Iliving offers many of them for various spaces. The fan sizes go from 7 to 36 inches, with their CFMs ranging from 242 to as much as 6,128. With such a wide CFM range, finding the right fan with Iliving shouldn’t be too difficult for any garage size.
The 12-inch model we’ve based our review on has an airflow of 800 CFM, which is good for mid-sized garages. This 12-inch exhaust fan also has several speeds along with automatic shutters for improved energy-efficiency. But keep in mind that you’ll have to buy the speed control separately.
Some models are single-speed though, but we’d say that these should be avoided unless you are looking to run your exhaust fan at full speed all the time.
You may opt for remote control that is sold separately.
- Many size options available.
- Airflow of 800 CFM.
- Corrosion- and rust-resistant components.
- Permanently lubricated motor.
- Needs a separate controller for variable-speed operation.
iPower 12-inch Shutter Exhaust Fan – Editor’s Choice
The iPower 12-inch exhaust fan is a fairly inexpensive option of a garage fan. It’s perhaps not as heavy-duty as the Iliving fans, but it should be a good choice for occasional garage use.
For durability, the blades and shutters are made from aluminum, and if you didn’t know, aluminum is corrosion-resistant. The motor in this unit is fully enclosed as well, so it should be protected from dust and debris.
For thermal protection and reduced wear, this unit is also permanently lubricated, though iPower doesn’t specify what kind of bearings it uses. Likewise, iPower doesn’t specify the material of the frame, so we can’t tell how rust-resistant it is. People don’t seem to have encountered any rust though.
The airflow in the 12-inch iPower fan is pretty solid – it’s 940 CFM, noticeably more than in the 12-inch Iliving fan. If you buy the pack with the speed control, you will also be able to regulate the fan’s airflow.
iPower offers a 2-pack of this fan as well, which might be a good buy for the money if you’re looking for 2 fans. But do keep in mind that this pack doesn’t come with speed controls.
- Good airflow of 940 CFM.
- Completely enclosed motor.
- Permanent lubrication.
- Corrosion-resistant blades and shutters.
- Single-speed without the external speed control.
MaxxAir IF14UPS Industrial Exhaust Fan – Heavy Duty Fan
The MaxxAir IF14UPS industrial exhaust fan is designed for heavy-duty use. If you are looking to run your exhaust fan all the time, then this model might be the best option for you.
Like the Iliving exhaust fan, IF14UPS is rust-resistant thanks to its galvanized steel housing. MaxxAir doesn’t specify what the blades and other components are made from, but they should be rust-resistant as well.
For durability, the IF14UPS exhaust fan has a fully-enclosed and thermally protected motor unit. The shutters in the IF14UPS fan are precision-made as well – when completely shut, they are claimed to ensure a tight seal to eliminate drafts.
In terms of air movement, MaxxAir IF14UPS is very solid with its enormous 1,400CFM airflow. But if you want increased airflow, then you may go for the larger MaxxAir fan models. They cost much more than the 14-inch fan, but they deliver in excess of 4,000 CFM, depending on which model you choose to go for.
Note that IF14UPS has a bulky body due to the dedicated exhaust tube. In installation, it will be a little different from the previous two fans, and it will also occupy more space.
Aside from that, as a single-speed model, it won’t be very energy-efficient.
- Fully-enclosed motor unit.
- Airflow capacity of 1,400 CFM.
- Several size options.
- Rust-resistant galvanized steel housing.
- No speed controls.
The Tru North Vent 125CFM exhaust fan appears to be a great option for smaller garages. With airflow of just 125CFM, this thing won’t have the oomph of the previous units. However, it has a few other interesting features to offer.
Most importantly, the Tru North Vent exhaust fan has an auto-on feature that works based on a selected humidity threshold. The onboard dial allows you to set the humidity threshold from 20% to 80%. When this threshold is exceeded, the unit turns on automatically.
And even though this exhaust fan unit doesn’t have variable speed controls, the auto-shutoff feature should make it fairly energy-efficient.
As you could’ve also noticed, the Tru North Vent fan is designed differently from other exhaust fans on the list. It’s a more good-looking unit than others, and it’s fairly easy to install as well, particularly thanks to the flexible duct.
Tru North Vent also offers a pro installation kit as an option, but I don’t think it’s worth it because it’s a one-time item.
In terms of noise, the this unit isn’t the best as well – its noise level is 68 dB, which isn’t the loudest out there, but it’s relatively loud.
Aside from the 125CFM model, there is also 225CFM unit available. This will be good for very small areas or perhaps for local air circulation.
- Easy to install.
- 300CFM airflow.
- Auto power-on based on a humidity threshold.
- Fairly expensive.
If you want a heavy-duty exhaust fan that’s quiet, then perhaps the Broan-NuTone L300 commercial exhaust fan is the best option for you.
With an airflow of 308CFM, this unit is comparable with the Tru North Vent 225CFM fan. However, L300 is much quieter – its noise level is rated at 2.9 sones, which is about 45-50 decibels. This is even quieter than in the 125CFM Tru North Vent unit!
The L300 exhaust fan has a heavy-duty build as well. Its housing is made from galvanized steel and is non-rusting. The motor is also permanently lubricated, which allows for continuous operation.
For added energy efficiency, the L300 exhaust fan has variable speeds, but you’ll need to buy a separate speed control to adjust this thing.
Finally, L300 can be ducted horizontally or vertically. Besides, you may mount it in-line with a separate duct adapter. Installation should thus be not too difficult with this exhaust fan.
- Rather quiet.
- Heavy-duty build.
- 308CFM airflow.
- May be ducted in a variety of positions.
- Permanently lubricated motor.
- Expensive for a 300CFM fan.
- Has only a single speed if used without the speed control.
The Panasonic FB-20VQ3 fan unit is also very quiet, but it’s not as powerful as the L300 exhaust fan. Still, the Panasonic fan is noticeably quieter – just 1.3 sones or about 32 decibels.
With that said, the FB-20VQ3 is heavy-duty just like the L300 exhaust fan – both have a galvanized steel housing and a permanently lubricated motor that’s designed for continuous operation. What’s more is that the Panasonic fan has a fully enclosed motor, so it will probably live longer as well.
Interestingly, the FB-20VQ3 exhaust fan is marketed for bathroom use, and it’s claimed to be UL-listed for shower use when GFCI-protected. So if it’s plugged into a secure electrical system, it should not create any hazards in humid environments, including in your garage.
FB-20VQ3 is fairly energy-efficient as well, rated at just about 44 watts, whereas the L300 fan was rated at 212 watts. So even though the Panasonic fan isn’t speed-variable, it may be a much more efficient option for you.
For easy installation, this unit also has adjustable mounting brackets, detachable fan/motor units, and intuitive wiring.
Finally, if 190 CFM seems to be insufficient for your needs, there’s a 290CFM model available. It’s a bit louder (2.0 sones/38 dB), but it’s still quieter than the L300 exhaust fan.
- Permanently lubricated and fully enclosed motor.
- Decent airflow.
- Very quiet operation.
- Rust-resistant housing.
- Hefty price.
- Only has a single speed.
VES 24-Inch Exhaust Shutter Fan – Great Option for Big Garage
The VES 24-inch is truly a powerhouse of an exhaust fan.
With an airflow of up to 4,874 CFM, this fan is a great option for large garages. And thanks to the 3 fan speeds, you will also be able to balance airflow, noise, and power draw.
Of course, when dealing with such airflow, noise becomes a secondary concern, so this isn’t a quiet unit – its noise level is at about 60 dB.
Aside from high airflow, the VES exhaust fan boasts a totally enclosed motor along with rust-proof shutters and blades. Not only that, but it has an OSHA-compliant safety grill along with balanced rotors for reduced vibration and prolonged life. As claimed by VES, the lifetime of this unit is 10,000 hours.
And finally, what may also matter to you is that this exhaust fan is approved by the CSA for use in the US.
- Rust-proof shutters and blades.
- Totally enclosed motor.
- Up to 4,874CFM airflow.
- 3 fan speeds.
- Very expensive.
AC Infinity AIRTITAN T8 Exhaust Fan – Most Efficient Exhaust Fan
The AC Infinity AIRTITAN T8 exhaust fan is the most functional model on our list. With just 240CFM airflow, it’s certainly not for big garages, but it’s an excellent option if you want functionality.
Most remarkably, the T8 fan is programmable. It has a whopping 10 fan settings and allows you to set desirable temperature and humidity thresholds. Based on these thresholds, T8 decides on its own when to run and when not to run.
Aside from that, T8 has a bunch of other handy features like alarms, timers, backup memory, and an eco mode.
The T8 exhaust fan is very quiet as well with a noise level of just 32 dB. It’s also very energy-efficient, consuming just about 10 watts thanks to the DC motor.
In terms of durability, the T8 garage exhaust fan is fairly good, boasting IP-44-rated liquid- and dust-resistant fans. It should do pretty well in humid and dusty garages. Additionally, the body incorporates stainless steel and aluminum parts for rust resistance.
We also like the sleek design of the T8 exhaust fan. Thanks to its appearance, it can be used pretty much anywhere without harming the interior vibe.
- Liquid-resistant fans.
- 240CFM airflow with 10 settings.
- Self-adjusts in response to temperature and humidity.
- Very quiet and energy-efficient.
- Easy to install.
- Remote control could be a great addition.
The Broan-NuTone 506 fan has a more traditional exhaust fan design, but it’s still sleek enough to be used anywhere in your home. And with 430CFM airflow, this unit could be a great option for moderately-sized garages.
The 506 exhaust fan is far from being as functional as the T8 fan, but it’s more heavy-duty thanks to the permanently lubricated motor. Aside from that, this thing might be a little easier to install with its adjustable hanger bars and mounting brackets.
The motor can also be easily taken out for maintenance and put back in.
Unfortunately, the 506 fan isn’t as quiet as T8 – its noise level is 7.5 sones (roughly 60 dB). Aside from that, this unit doesn’t have integrated speed controls – you’ll have to buy a speed switch separately.
- 430CFM airflow.
- Permanently lubricated motor.
- Adjustable hanger bars and mounting brackets.
- Pretty loud.
- Not speed-adjustable without separate controls.
Finally, we have the Broan-NuTone AR110LKVV exhaust fan.
The key feature of this fan model is the SurfaceShield technology that is aimed at preventing mold, bacteria, and fungi from growing in your space. This could allow you to make your garage safer and healthier for you.
Apart from that, AR110LKVV is designed for continuous operation, partly thanks to the permanently lubricated motor. Its housing is also made from galvanized steel and is corrosion-resistant.
Notably, the installation of this unit is made very easy thanks to the EzDuct connector that can be accessed from inside the garage. You don’t need to work from the garage roof or attic.
If you also care about noise and energy efficiency, then you’ll be glad to hear that this exhaust fan is rated at 36W and has a noise level of just 1 sone (about 29 dB). With that said, due to the 110CFM airflow, AR110LKVV certainly isn’t for large garages.
- Protects against bacteria.
- Corrosion-resistant housing.
- Very quiet and energy-efficient.
- Easy installation.
- Permanently lubricated motor.
- No speed controls.
Things To Look In The Best Garage Exhaust Fan
We now know what each of the 10 reviewed exhaust fans has to offer, but which one to choose?
To help you pick the best garage exhaust fan, we will briefly talk about the key features to consider in garage exhaust fans.
CFM (cubic feet per minute) is the amount of air moved by the exhaust fan in a minute. This spec is one of the two most important specs in exhaust fans, the other one being static pressure.
When it comes to CFM, you may have to consult local building codes to find out the required number of air changes for proper ventilation. With garages, it’s typically required for a single change of air to take from 4 to 10 minutes. But do check local codes to make sure that you stay compliant with the law.
The formula for the calculation of CFM based on minutes per change is as follows:
CFM = room volume/minutes per air exchange
Here, the room volume is equal to the product of your garage’s length, width, and height. You just calculate the volume of your garage, divide it by the minutes per change, and find the right CFM.
If you want air to get changed quicker, then plug a smaller number for minutes per change in the calculation. This will naturally increase the required CFM.
Static pressure is quite a complex physical phenomenon, but to keep things simple, it’s the resistance to airflow in a heating or cooling system.
The static pressure depends on the design of an exhaust fan and its ducts. If static pressure is high, then a fan will need to move air with greater force to overcome the resistance. Aside from that, high static pressure reduces the effectiveness of an exhaust fan, meaning that lower static pressure is preferable.
Static pressure is typically measured in inches of water gauge. You don’t have to understand what this means to make a good purchase – just know that too high won’t be good for the performance of your exhaust fan.
Typically, non-ducted systems have static pressures from 0.05 to 0.20 inches of water, while ducted systems have static pressures from 0.2 to 0.4 per 100 feet of duct. Needless to say, non-ducted systems will be more effective since their fans don’t have to overcome as much resistance.
As mentioned at the very beginning of this post, adjustable CFM allows you to balance airflow, power consumption, and noise. We would thus highly recommend that you go for an exhaust fan that has speed adjustment.
Adjustability may not be necessary though if you are intending to run the fan at full speed all the time.
Garage exhaust fans usually have either sleeve bearings or ball bearings.
Sleeve bearings have an oil system that keeps the parts lubricated when the motor works. This system works well with fans that operate continuously, but if you will be turning the fan on and off often or running it at low speeds, the fan will have a hard time staying lubricated.
Ball bearings, on the other hand, remain lubricated no matter the speed and operation frequency, so fans with such bearings may be used intermittently. Aside from that, ball bearings usually are more temperature-resistant, so they are great for hot garages. However, ball bearing fans are more expensive.
Do you want your fan to operate continuously without frequent shutdowns? Then look for a fan that is specifically designed for continuous use.
Exhaust fans that can be kept on for a long time usually have permanently lubricated sleeve bearings. However, not all fans with such bearings will be designed for continuous use.
Often, manufacturers simply indicate in the product specs whether the fan can be used continuously or not. So check the specs if looking for a fan that can run constantly.
Ideally, the motor of a garage exhaust fan will be fully enclosed to keep moisture, dust, and debris out. Full enclosure ultimately results in a longer lifetime. Aside from that, fully enclosed motors are much better for continuous use.
Exhaust fans are designed for installation in three common locations – in the wall, on a roof, or in a duct. The only thing that’s different between these fans is the housing, so you aren’t sacrificing anything by going for one or another type.
Check your garage and visualize how the air should flow. Besides, find a few spots where you think an exhaust fan would work well. Based on your needs and available space, choose the right fan housing design.
Noise level in exhaust fans is commonly measured with sones. The higher, the louder.
Most buyers will probably be more familiar with decibels rather than sones. Fortunately, you can convert sones to decibels pretty easily. You may use this chart for conversion:
Finally, check the materials that the fan is made from. Ideally, they would be rust- and corrosion-resistant. With this in mind, among the best materials for exhaust fans are:
- Galvanized steel
- Stainless steel
- Red metals like copper, brass, and bronze (used in minor components)
Did you find the best garage exhaust fan for your needs?
It’s not easy to find the right exhaust fan, we aren’t going to lie. But with enough information, this shouldn’t be too difficult for you.
Remember that your garage exhaust fan should not only be effective but also cost-efficient. A power-hungry fan will cost a fortune in the long term, and unless you know that these costs are worth it, avoid high-wattage fans.
If in doubt, have a good look at the reviewed fans again, and go through our buyer’s guide once more. Feel free to do additional research if necessary – we didn’t cover everything there is to know about exhaust fans. Rather, we’ve covered the basics to help newbies get started.