Product Trends: Time to Vent

Amid a growing concern for indoor air quality, manufacturers engineer bathroom ventilation to help create healthier homes.

authors Kyle Clapham | November 13, 2019

Energy efficiency has driven homes to be built tighter, which creates the need for mechanical ventilation capable of providing consumers with fresh and clean air. The biggest problem with ventilation today, however, is enabling homeowners to use their bath fans when they are most needed. They are more aware of indoor air quality but usually do not know how to improve it.

Manufacturers have been working hard to educate consumers and make bathroom ventilation easier. For remodeling projects, homeowners often are also seeking to elevate their lifestyles. Installing a quality bath fan that remains quiet and appealing to the eye is part of the equation. Qualified Remodeler reached out to several manufacturers to learn more about their new products.

Style and Flair

The Delta BreezSignature SIG80-110ELED represents a new revolution in ventilation, says Kai Wang, senior product manager for Delta Electronics. The Energy Star-qualified product is the industry’s first edge-lit LED bath fan combo that matches the company’s powerful DC motor technology with a sleek edge-lit LED light panel. Its soft LED glow has the ability to alternate between three color temperatures—2700K, 4000K and 5000K—to match any bathroom décor.

The high-speed adjustable feature offers two settings for air flow at 80 or 110 CFM, depending on the bathroom size and personal preference. Some people may desire faster air flow to rid the bathroom of humidity at 110 CFM (0.5 sones), while others opt for a virtually silent experience at 80 CFM (less than 0.3 sones), Wang notes. “With the release of our edge-lit LED bath fans, the feedback from consumers was overwhelming; however, some wondered if we could design a circular LED fan instead of a square. Variety is the spice of life, so our engineers went to work.”

They developed the Delta BreezIntegrity ITG100RLED, which offers a rounded edge-lit LED grille that is ideal for various bathroom designs. “Distributors like the fact that Delta Breez has a variety of fans in different designs,” he explains. “Consumers today are picky about the options they put in their bathroom. The BreezIntegrity ITG100RLED’s 13-watt edge-lit LED provides light that is the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent bulb, but without the energy costs. The LED lighting lasts up to 30,000 hours, compared to the 10,000-hour lifespan of compact fluorescents.”

Delta Breez has made remodel and retrofit projects easier through its creative offerings that run the gamut from different air flows to housing sizes, he adds. For example, the Delta BreezSlim series offers a compact housing size that is easy to install into tight spaces, which is especially important for older homes. The Delta BreezElite series introduced the industry’s first mounting brackets that quickly slide out for installation in new construction, saving contractors time and energy. In remodeling projects, the brackets stay hidden to allow for easy room-side installation.

“Homeowners, apartment owners and building operators are more discerning than ever,” Wang says. “People do not want to see or hear the loud fans of yesteryear with their plain grilles and lousy reliability. Increasingly, the aesthetics and design of a bathroom have taken centerpiece in the household. The bathroom is a place for relaxation and serenity. Consumers want to enjoy a peaceful shower experience while still operating a bathroom exhaust fan. We have incorporated thoughtful style and bold flair in the designs of our Delta Breez bathroom ventilation products.”

Codes and Standards

Earlier this year, Broan-NuTone and Vital Vio introduced SurfaceShield, a technology designed for hands-free disinfection of the bathroom. The Broan SurfaceShield exhaust fan kills up to 90 percent of bacteria on surfaces and offers effective protection against harmful bacteria, mold and fungi growth, notes Dave Jones, senior marketing communications manager for Broan-NuTone.

“The industry is seeing a fast-paced change in codes and standards; homes are being built tighter to meet energy efficiency standards, and so many states and municipalities are driving changes to building codes that focus on the well-being of the homeowner,” he says. “It is often the owner [who] is driving those building codes. They want fresh, clean air where they live and breathe.”

The SurfaceShield LED light incorporates two lighting modes: an everyday, white light perfect for task lighting and the SurfaceShield continuous disinfecting mode. Offering a sound rating of 1 sone, the Broan SurfaceShield 110 CFM Exhaust Bath Fan generates powerful air circulation with minimal background noise. Broan Roomside Series fans provide an EzDuct connector for hassle-free room-side installation with no attic access needed. Other additions include foldable mounting ears, a new damper and housing technology that improves airtightness, Jones explains.

“This bath fan includes soft white LED lighting for energy savings and a grille that complements any décor with beautifully styled round and square flat panel LED lights,” he says. “The SnapFit Flange Kit, EzDuct connector and FoldAway mounting ears make [the fan] flexible [for] almost any installation challenge, especially for rooms on the first floor or basement floor of the home.”

The patent pending FlexDC series marks a revolution in the manufacturer’s midrange ventilation fans with LED lights, he adds. It gives professionals the flexibility to handle new construction or room-side retrofit installations from one hard-working product line with a full range of operating points. Innovations include the foldable mounting ears and new damper and housing technology.

“They also include selectable settings of 50, 80 or 110 CFM,” Jones says. “The FlexDC can be installed very quickly because it doesn’t require attic access, making it ideal for retrofit projects.

“We’re helping remodelers effectively meet codes and standards while also keeping installation times and inventory down,” he continues. “Our FlexDC exhaust fan is the fastest, most-efficient retrofit exhaust fan on the market. It has many features and design elements that allow a retrofit to be done from the room side, which makes for an even faster installation. Those features, when coupled with a selectable-CFM DC motor, eliminate the need to carry three, single-speed fans.”

The QT series, with its best-in-class CFM-to-sound ratio, has been given an upgrade with the DC motor, Jones says. QTDC draws even less power with the same CFM and sound performance—up to 150 CFM and less than 0.7 sones. It also includes the selectable CFM feature found in the company’s FlexDC fan, which allows installers to select from 50, 80 or 110 CFM. QTDC series fans run at 110 or 150 CFM and range from 0.3 sones at 110 CFM to 0.7 sones at 150 CFM.

It makes QTDC ideal for master baths, other higher-end home applications or in any space where customers are looking for efficient, near-silent operation, Jones explains. The Broan DC motor in the LoPro DC delivers big-fan production, with speeds adjustable from 50, 80 to 100 CFM. “It’s that quiet operation and low-profile design that make LoPro DC the ideal choice for multifamily applications or any other place where larger, conventional fans simply don’t fit,” he adds. “The low-profile, galvanized steel housing is designed to fit into 2-by-4 stud cavities in walls, which opens up the installation landscape. And its shorter housing provides unmatched flexibility in retrofits and even new construction—where space in overhead floor or ceiling joints is tight.”

Quality and Health

The Pro Series from Fantech offers reliable and economical surface-mount bath fans for new construction or remodels in either single packaging or contractor packs that feature four each rough-in and trim kits packed separately for convenience during the installation and trim out, says Phil Rivas, director of U.S. sales. The Pro Plus features a multi-speed selectable fan with built-in occupancy, humidity sensing and constant run features for ASHRAE 62.2 compliance as well as an energy-efficient DC motor.

“Just a bath fan running continuously isn’t going to cut it anymore, and [contractors] who refuse to address the real need for proper ventilation in their sealed boxes will be at risk to lose market share and deal with angry customers, who simply will not trust them to look after their family’s health as it pertains to indoor air quality,” he adds. “Today’s savvy consumers have a plethora of independent IAQ research at their fingertips, and they will demand better ventilation solutions.

“Fantech continues to develop high-quality ventilation solutions ahead of the market curve and code requirements and is approaching builders and HVAC contractors alike across the country to consider offering upgraded IAQ options to their customers,” Rivas says. “Give the customer the choice instead of assuming they won’t pay for anything that’s not shiny and sexy. That granite countertop and jetted bathtub won’t do them any good if their health suffers from poor IAQ. Homeowners are waking up to the health risks of tightly constructed, poorly ventilated homes.”

Airflow and Light

Panasonic reintroduced WhisperGreen Select, a whole-house IAQ solution with enhancements that provide greater value to customers. An improved single-hinged Flex-Z Fast bracket offers more flexible, fast and easy installation. Other enhancements include an elegant grille design, an environmentally friendly 26-gauge zinc-aluminum-magnesium (ZAM) housing design, and dual access junction box that helps simplify wiring in tight spaces.

The customizable, all-in-one precision ventilation solution is ideal for use in the bathroom, sunroom, laundry room, basement or garage. Its Pick-A-Flow Airflow Selector features a built-in speed selector (50-80-110 CFM model) combined with SmartFlow technology to simplify the selection process and ensures optimum performance to meet building code and reduce callbacks.

The WhisperCeiling DC Precision Spot Ventilation Fan, which also features the built-in Pick-A-Flow speed selector switch, allows consumers to select their required airflow (50-80-110 CFM). It has an ECM Motor with SmartFlow technology and a Flex-Z Fast installation bracket that can be used to comply with the latest codes and standards. Lighted models incorporate one long-life, 10W dimmable LED chip panel with LED night light for a warm, energy-efficient illumination. QR

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