Where Is The Best Place To Install A Bathroom Extractor Fan Tips, Property Guide, Real Estate

Where Is The Best Place To Install A Bathroom Extractor Fan?

7 July 2020

Best place to install bathroom extractor fan

It may sound like a simple question with a simple answer. However, there’s a lot to consider when choosing a place to install an extractor fan in your bathroom. The right extractor fan for your bathroom can easily be overlooked, yet it’s essential for keeping your new bathroom dry and free from the effects of mould on your health. Thus, you must choose the position, and the type of fan wisely.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all Bathroom Extractor Fans are created equal.

At face value, the answer to this question is not too far from common sense; as close as possible above the source of the steam. Basically, in the wall or ceiling above the bath or shower. This way, as the steam rises, it heads straight towards the fan and can be extracted straight out. Job done? Not quite.

Bathroom Zones

In the UK, your domestic bathroom is divided into three Zones, depending on how close to the source of water they are.

Zone 1 is the bath or shower floor area and up to 2.25m high, Zone 2 is 60cm outside of that, and then beyond that is Zone 3 or “no Zone.” The best place to install your fan is above the bath or shower, so in Zone 1. To do this, you’ll need to install a fan that’s protected against water ingress.

This can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Installing a fan that runs on 12v power, converted from 240v mains via a transformer;


  1. Installing a fan that has been designed and tested specifically to resist water and has been given an IP Rating. In order to be installed in Zone 1 of your bathroom, this fan would need to have an IP rating of IP45, or IPX5.


bathroom extract fan ceiling

Type of Fan

Axial Fan

An Axial fan is what most people picture when they think of a bathroom extractor fan. The kind you see on countless bathroom walls with a grille and a spinning fan blade behind.

These fans usually extract around 95 m3/h (metres cubed per hour) and are perfect for installations directly through a wall. A good IP45 rated one is perfect for an average domestic bathroom or en-suite.

However, if fitting an axial fan in the ceiling, there needs to be consideration about how long the run of ducting is to the outside world.

When installing an extractor fan, you must extract the stale air and moisture to an external vent in a wall, roof tile, or roof soffit. Extracting moisture and steam into a loft space will cause mould build-up and eventually structural problems. A surface mounted axial fan will not be able to adequately extract outside with any real power if the duct run is longer than 3-4 metres. The system will be a disappointment, to say the least.

Centrifugal Fan

If a longer duct run is unavoidable, there’s another solution. A centrifugal fan will generate similar extraction rates to an axial fan but will generate sufficient pressure to extract down a long run of duct.

Ceiling or surface mountable, a centrifugal fan will easily cope with a duct run in excess of ten metres. For installation above the shower, however, a 12v version will be required.

Inline Fan

If your duct run is to be more than 4 metres, and you have the space to fit one, an inline fan will give you almost three times the power of an axial fan, around 245m3/h; and will extract through a duct run in excess of twelve metres. For a fully comprehensive bathroom extraction system, a ceiling-mounted extraction system would permit two extraction points, one above the shower and one above the toilet.

Furthermore, an inline fan above the ceiling means that no electrical wiring work needs to be done in an existing room. Since all electrical connections are very much outside of the bathroom, there’s no need to worry about bathroom zoning. Your extraction point can be directly above the steam source with no problems.

To Conclude

So, where is the best place to fit a bathroom extractor fan? A fan fitted in Zone 1, as close to the steam source as possible, will give the best extraction solution. An inline fan fitted above the ceiling with a grille-mounted above the bath or shower gives the best combination of extraction rate – low noise and ease of installation.

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Design: OMA / Reinier de Graaf
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photograph : Laurian Ghinitoiu, Courtesy of OMA
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