Staggeringly Efficient Bathroom Fan Sucks Out Steam and StinkS

The exhaust fan—that rattling, dusty vent hanging about 8 feet above the toilet—is the single most important gadget for the health of a bathroom. It eliminates the steam from a hot shower, helping battle the mold and mildew constantly threatening a bathroom's finishes. The device also helps fix more immediate air quality issues—they'd never say it in front of a client, but in the salty slang of a plumbing supply house, pros refer to it as a fart fan.

Now, innovation in the fart fan category does not come along that often. The science of moving air hasn't changed all that much since Lavoisier in the old phlogiston days. But motors, on the other hand, motors have evolved! That's the key to Broan's new Ultra line of fans—a DC motor that draws only 5.8 watts and moves 80 cubic feet per minute of air. For context, the fan could burn ten times more electricity and still earn an Energy Star rating. Compared to typical fans on the market, it's 88 percent more efficient.

The only possible problem is that the thing operates nearly in silence. It runs at the sonic measurement of 0.3 sones—to spell it out, a normal conversation heard at one meter distance is about 1 sone. When you're getting down to business with the fan fired up, you just might miss the old clunky unit's rattling audio camouflage. Considering the device's eponymous purpose, that lack of racket might be enough efficiency to completely blow your cover.