Extractor Fans | Everything You Need To Know

Extractor Fans

In today's world, where indoor air pollution is a growing concern, extractor fans have become an essential component of modern homes in the UK. These devices play a crucial role in improving ventilation and maintaining a healthy living environment. This article aims to explore the history of extractor fans, their specific applications in various rooms, and the different types available, including technical specifications. We will also delve into renowned UK manufacturers such as Envirovent, Vent Axia, Domus Ventilation, National Ventilation, and Vortice. Additionally, we will touch upon the advancements in smart extractor fans and their benefits.

Bathroom Extractor Fan

Extractor Fan History

The concept of extractor fans can be traced back to the late 19th century when they were primarily used in industrial settings to extract fumes and contaminants. However, it wasn't until the early 20th century that extractor fans found their way into residential properties as a means of improving indoor air quality.

As homes became more airtight and energy-efficient, the need for effective ventilation systems grew. Extractor fans evolved from simple axial fans to more advanced models with improved airflow capacity, noise reduction, and energy efficiency.

Extractor Fans for Specific Rooms

Bathroom Extractor Fans

Bathrooms are notorious for excess moisture and odors, making them a prime location for extractor fans. Bathroom extractor fans help remove steam from showers, prevent mold growth, and eliminate unpleasant odors. Key manufacturers like Envirovent, Vent Axia, Domus Ventilation, National Ventilation, and Vortice offer a wide range of bathroom extractor fans designed to suit different bathroom sizes and requirements.

Bathroom Extractor Fan

Kitchen Extractor Fans

Kitchens are prone to high levels of airborne grease, smoke, and cooking odors. Kitchen extractor fans effectively capture and remove these pollutants. They come in various forms, including wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, and island-mounted models. Some advanced extractor fans also feature built-in filters to trap grease particles before they enter the ventilation system.

Bedroom Extractor Fans

While bedrooms may not typically require extractor fans for ventilation purposes, some people opt for them to maintain a fresh and clean sleeping environment. Bedroom extractor fans are usually low-noise models designed to operate silently and discreetly, ensuring a peaceful sleep without compromising air quality.

Utility Room Extractor Fans

Utility rooms often serve as a hub for various household activities, such as laundry, cleaning, and storage. These spaces can generate excessive heat, moisture, and airborne contaminants, making proper ventilation essential. Extractor fans designed for utility rooms help remove stale air, control humidity, and improve indoor air quality.

Types of Extractor Fan

Bathroom Axial Fans - Bathroom axial fans are the most common type of extractor fans found in residential properties. They are easy to install and suitable for small to medium-sized bathrooms. These fans work by extracting air directly through a ventilation duct to the outside, helping to remove moisture and odors efficiently.

Inline Duct Fans - Inline duct fans are typically installed within the ventilation system, either in the ceiling or wall void. They are ideal for larger bathrooms or rooms where longer duct runs are necessary. Inline duct fans offer powerful extraction capabilities and can be connected to multiple vents simultaneously.

Centrifugal Fans - Centrifugal fans are more powerful than axial fans and are often used in larger commercial settings. However, they can also be employed in larger residential spaces, such as large kitchens, where high air extraction rates are required.

DMEV (Decentralized Mechanical Extract Ventilation) - DMEV fans are designed for continuous, low-level extraction, providing a steady stream of fresh air while removing stale air and pollutants. They are commonly used in kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms to maintain a consistent level of air quality.

Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) - PIV systems are primarily used to combat condensation and dampness in homes. These fans introduce filtered, fresh air into the property, creating a slight positive pressure that prevents the ingress of moist air from outside. PIV fans are particularly beneficial for properties with insufficient ventilation or high radon levels.

PIV Extractor Fans

Whole House Extractor Fans (MVHR) - As the name suggests, whole house extractor fans provide ventilation for an entire property. These systems are designed to extract stale air from various rooms simultaneously and replace it with fresh air. Whole house extractor fans are typically ducted to different areas, ensuring effective air circulation throughout the home.

Inline Duct Fans

Regulations for Ventilation

The UK Building Regulations Part F sets out the requirements for ventilation in residential properties. It specifies the minimum extraction rates, airflow rates, and provisions for each room. These regulations ensure that adequate ventilation is provided to maintain a healthy indoor environment and prevent issues such as condensation, mold growth, and poor air quality.

For bathrooms, building regulations stipulate the minimum extraction rates based on the floor area and the type of fan used. The regulations also outline the requirements for background ventilation in kitchens, which may include windows, trickle vents, or other provisions.

In bedrooms, building regulations generally focus on the provision of adequate fresh air supply rather than extractor fans. However, specific ventilation requirements may arise depending on the room's location or if it is used as a habitable space.

Building Regulations for Ventilation

Extractor Fan Wiring

Proper wiring is crucial for the safe and effective operation of extractor fans. Whether you are installing a new extractor fan or replacing an existing one, understanding the wiring process is essential. Here's a general overview of extractor fan wiring:

  1. Power Supply: Extractor fans require a dedicated power supply from the electrical circuit. This power supply should be protected by a suitable fuse or circuit breaker. It is crucial to ensure that the power supply matches the voltage and electrical requirements specified by the extractor fan manufacturer.

  2. Switching the Extractor Fan: Extractor fans are typically controlled by a switch, which allows users to manually turn the fan on or off as needed. The switch should be located outside the bathroom or at a safe distance from water sources to prevent the risk of electric shock. Ensure that the switch is easily accessible for convenient operation.

  3. Connection Points: Extractor fans have specific connection points for wiring purposes. These connection points may include live (L), neutral (N), and sometimes an earth (E) terminal. It is essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions and diagrams provided with the extractor fan to identify the correct connection points.

  4. Wiring Configuration: The wiring configuration may vary depending on the type of extractor fan and the specific electrical setup. It is important to use the appropriate cables and connectors that comply with electrical regulations. In most cases, extractor fans are connected using twin and earth cables, with the live wire (brown or red) connected to the live terminal, the neutral wire (blue or black) connected to the neutral terminal, and the earth wire (green and yellow) connected to the earth terminal.

  5. Professional Installation: While it is possible for individuals with electrical knowledge to install extractor fans, it is strongly recommended to seek the assistance of a qualified electrician. They have the expertise to ensure safe and compliant wiring, taking into account local regulations and specific requirements. Professional installation helps minimize the risk of electrical hazards and ensures that the extractor fan operates efficiently and reliably.

Always prioritize safety when dealing with electrical wiring. If you are unsure about any aspect of the wiring process, consult a qualified electrician to ensure that the installation is carried out correctly.

Remember, the information provided here is a general guide, and it is important to refer to the manufacturer's instructions and follow any specific wiring guidelines they provide for the extractor fan you are installing.

Extractor Fan Wiring - Standard


Extractor Fan Wiring - Timer & Humidistat

Bathroom Zones

In the UK, bathrooms are classified into different zones based on their proximity to water sources and the potential risk of electric shock. These zones are defined to ensure the safe installation of electrical equipment, including extractor fans. Let's explore the different bathroom zones and their implications for extractor fan installation:

  1. Zone 0 - refers to the area inside the bath or shower tray itself. For safety reasons, only low-voltage devices specifically designed for use in Zone 0 should be installed. In most cases, this excludes the installation of extractor fans directly within Zone 0.

  2. Zone 1 - encompasses the area above Zone 0, up to a height of 2.25 meters from the floor. This includes the space directly above the bath or shower tray, where water splashes are likely to occur. Extractor fans installed in Zone 1 must have a minimum IPX4 rating, which ensures protection against water splashes. The fan should be installed at a safe distance from the water source, preferably on the ceiling or high up on the wall, to minimize the risk of water contact.

  3. Zone 2 - extends 0.6 meters horizontally from the edge of Zone 1, as well as vertically up to a height of 2.25 meters. This zone covers the area surrounding the bath or shower, where water splashes are less frequent but still possible. Extractor fans installed in Zone 2 should have a minimum IPX4 rating to provide protection against water ingress. These fans should be installed away from direct water exposure but within a reasonable distance to ensure effective extraction.

  4. Zone 3 - refers to any area outside Zones 0, 1, and 2. This includes the rest of the bathroom where no water splashes are expected. Extractor fans installed in Zone 3 are not required to have a specific IPX rating but should still be selected based on their suitability for bathroom environments.

Bathroom Extractor Fan Zones

When installing an extractor fan in a bathroom, it's essential to consider the specific zone requirements to ensure compliance with safety regulations. It is recommended to consult a qualified electrician or follow the guidance provided by the manufacturer to determine the suitable location and installation requirements for the extractor fan based on the specific zone.

By understanding the bathroom zones and their implications, homeowners can ensure the safe and appropriate installation of extractor fans, promoting efficient ventilation and maintaining a healthy bathroom environment.

Extractor Fan Functions

Extractor fans have evolved to include various functions that enhance their usability and energy efficiency. These functions cater to specific needs and provide greater control over ventilation. Let's explore some common functions found in extractor fans:

  1. Timer Function: The timer function allows users to set a specific duration for the fan to operate after a trigger event, such as switching on the light or pressing a button. This function ensures that the fan continues to extract air for a predetermined period, even after the trigger event ceases. Timers are useful in bathrooms and kitchens, where it's essential to maintain ventilation for a certain period after using these spaces.

  2. Intelligent Timer Function: An intelligent timer function goes a step further by automatically adjusting the fan's operating time based on the humidity levels in the room. This function helps optimize energy efficiency by running the fan for longer periods when humidity levels are high and reducing operating time when conditions return to normal. It ensures effective extraction while minimizing unnecessary energy consumption.

  3. Humidistat Function: Extractor fans equipped with a humidistat function are designed to respond to changes in humidity levels. The humidistat detects high humidity in the room and activates the fan to extract moist air. Once the humidity levels reach a desired threshold, the fan automatically switches off. This function is particularly beneficial in bathrooms and other areas prone to excessive moisture, as it helps prevent condensation, mold growth, and dampness.

  4. PIR (Passive Infrared) Sensor Function: Extractor fans with a PIR sensor function utilize motion detection technology. The sensor detects movement within its range and triggers the fan to operate. This function is ideal for spaces like utility rooms or small bathrooms where occupancy may be intermittent. The fan activates only when someone is present, ensuring efficient ventilation and energy savings when the room is unoccupied.

  5. Pullcord Function: The pullcord function is a simple and convenient method to manually activate the extractor fan. A pullcord switch is typically installed in bathrooms or other areas where direct control is desired. Pulling the cord initiates the fan operation, allowing users to easily control ventilation without relying on other triggers or external devices.

These additional functions provide users with more control over the operation of their extractor fans, allowing for improved energy efficiency, effective ventilation, and tailored extraction based on specific needs and conditions.

It is important to note that not all extractor fans come with every function mentioned above. The availability of these functions may vary depending on the model and brand of the extractor fan. When selecting an extractor fan, consider the functions that align with your requirements and preferences to ensure optimal performance and user experience.

Renowned UK Manufacturers

Several reputable manufacturers in the UK offer a wide range of high-quality extractor fans. Some of the well-known brands include Envirovent, Vent Axia, Domus Ventilation, National Ventilation, and Vortice. These manufacturers adhere to industry standards and provide extractor fans with varying technical specifications, including extraction rates, noise levels, energy efficiency ratings, and specific features tailored to different applications. It is essential to choose extractor fans from reputable manufacturers to ensure reliability, performance, and compliance with regulations.

Vent Axia are an industry leading brand making excellent bathroom fans for decades!Envirovent SIL100 Bathroom Extractor Fan

The Future of Extractor Fans

In recent years, the integration of smart technology has revolutionized extractor fans. Smart extractor fans can be controlled remotely through smartphones or voice assistants, allowing homeowners to adjust settings, monitor air quality, and schedule ventilation cycles conveniently. Some models even feature humidity and motion sensors, optimizing ventilation based on real-time conditions and ensuring energy-efficient operation. Smart extractor fans provide an added level of convenience, control, and the ability to maintain optimal indoor air quality effortlessly.

Smart Extractor Fans


Extractor fans have come a long way from their industrial roots to become an integral part of homes in the UK. From the bathroom to the kitchen and even the bedroom, these devices play a vital role in maintaining excellent indoor air quality. Understanding the different types of extractor fans available, along with their specific applications, technical specifications, and compliance with building regulations, empowers homeowners to make informed decisions. With renowned manufacturers like Envirovent, Vent Axia, Domus Ventilation, National Ventilation, and Vortice leading the way, and the advent of smart extractor fans offering added convenience and efficiency, it's clear that extractor fans will continue to improve our living spaces for years to come.

Extractor Fan FAQ

Yes, extractor fans are designed to remove stale air, odors, and moisture from indoor spaces. For effective ventilation, they should be vented directly outside, preferably through a duct system. Venting outside allows for the proper expulsion of extracted air and prevents it from circulating back into the room.

It is recommended to hire a qualified electrician to replace an extractor fan. Electrical work involves technical knowledge and compliance with safety regulations. An electrician ensures that the wiring is correctly installed, connections are secure, and all necessary precautions are taken to minimize the risk of electrical hazards.

The lifespan of an extractor fan can vary depending on factors such as usage, quality, and maintenance. However, as a general guideline, it is recommended to replace a bathroom extractor fan every 10-15 years or when it starts showing signs of deterioration, reduced performance, or excessive noise.

Several factors can cause an extractor fan to stop working, including a faulty motor, clogged filters or vents, wiring issues, or power supply problems. Lack of maintenance, accumulation of dirt, or damage to the fan components can also contribute to its malfunction. In such cases, professional assistance may be required to diagnose and rectify the issue.

While not having an extractor fan may be permissible in some situations, it is generally recommended to have an extractor fan, especially in areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Extractor fans help remove excess humidity, prevent condensation, improve indoor air quality, and reduce the risk of mold growth, odors, and structural damage caused by dampness.

Building regulations in the UK require adequate ventilation in bathrooms to prevent issues like condensation, mold growth, and poor air quality. While extractor fans are commonly used to meet these requirements, alternative ventilation options like windows or trickle vents may be allowed. It is important to consult local building regulations or seek professional advice to ensure compliance.

Modern extractor fans are designed to be energy-efficient, consuming relatively low amounts of electricity. The power consumption of an extractor fan depends on factors such as the extraction rate, motor efficiency, and any additional features like timers or sensors. It is advisable to check the fan's specifications for energy efficiency ratings or consult the manufacturer for specific energy consumption details.

Yes, when an extractor fan is operating correctly, you should feel a gentle suction of air towards the fan. This suction indicates that the fan is effectively drawing out stale air from the room and promoting airflow. However, the suction may vary depending on the fan's power and the specific installation.

Extractor fans play a crucial role in preventing mold by removing excess moisture and improving ventilation. Mold thrives in damp environments, and extractor fans help to control humidity levels, minimize condensation, and create a healthier indoor environment. However, proper cleaning and maintenance of the fan, along with addressing any underlying moisture issues, are also important to prevent mold growth effectively.

It is not necessary to run the extractor fan continuously unless there is a specific requirement, such as high humidity levels or strong odors. Running the fan intermittently, especially during and after activities that generate moisture or pollutants (e.g., showering or cooking), is usually sufficient to maintain adequate ventilation.

It is advisable to leave the extractor fan on for some time after taking a shower to remove excess moisture from the bathroom. This helps prevent condensation and the associated issues of mold and dampness. The duration may vary depending on the fan's extraction rate, the size of the room, and the level of humidity present.

Extractor fans in bathrooms are typically installed on the ceiling or high up on the wall, preferably in an area where steam and moisture are most likely to accumulate. The fan should be placed away from water sources and obstructions for optimal air extraction.

A bathroom fan generally works more effectively with the door closed. This helps create a pressure differential, allowing the fan to draw air from the room more efficiently. However, if the bathroom is small or lacks adequate ventilation, leaving the door slightly ajar can help promote better airflow.