Bathroom Dehumidifier VS Exhaust Fan: Which is Best?

When deciding on bathroom dehumidifiers VS exhaust fans, you’ll have to factor in the pros and cons for each as both are great at fulfilling their purpose.

Bathroom dehumidifiers will be great at controlling humidity levels at all hours while exhaust fans are great at removing excess moisture build-up that occurs from your shower.

Below you’ll find the pros and cons of the dehumidifier vs exhaust fan debate and tips to control your bathroom’s humidity levels.

Let’s get started.

Bathroom Dehumidifier VS Exhaust Fan: Which is Best?

Both a bathroom dehumidifier and an exhaust fan can have their purpose. If your bathroom has persistent humidity issues even when you aren’t taking a shower, a dehumidifier is going to be best.

If you find that your bathroom is only humid when you take a shower, then bathroom exhaust fans will be the option you’re after.

While the exhaust fan in itself may be the cheaper option over a bathroom dehumidifier, you’ll still have to deal with installation costs.

It can cost anywhere from $250-950 to install a bathroom fan.

Bathroom dehumidifiers can be affordable, and for a smaller bathroom, you can get away with a smaller version that costs around $100.

You will have to empty the bathroom dehumidifier often, which can become a hassle over time. You can opt to use a dehumidifier with a pump so you can drain it into your sink.

Bathroom Dehumidifier


Affordable: You have many different options to choose from when purchasing bathroom dehumidifiers. They can range from $50 to $500 depending on the size of your bathroom and if you need a condensate pump or not.

Works great with persistent humidity: While an exhaust fan can get rid of the built-up moisture levels in your bathroom, it won’t work quite as well as a dehumidifier which is built to control humidity.

Low maintenance: If you purchase a dehumidifier with a pump or use the continuous drain, you won’t have to empty the tank whatsoever.

Prevents mold growth: Bathroom dehumidifiers are great at preventing mold and mildew growth by preventing excess moisture buildup


Take up space: A bathroom dehumidifier must be placed in your bathroom which can be problematic for a small bathroom.

Requires constant electricity: To keep your bathroom dehumidifier running, it’ll need electricity to remove moisture.

Unlike an exhaust fan which you would only turn on when you need it.

Required drainage: More affordable dehumidifiers do not have a drain and will be required to be emptied every day to every other day.

This can become a hassle if you don’t keep up with emptying the water tank.

Bathroom Exhaust Fan


Doesn’t use much electricity: Compared to bathroom dehumidifiers, you will only use your exhaust fan in short spurts to remove the humid air, unlike a dehumidifier which must be kept on all day.

Doesn’t take up space: An extractor fan will be installed in your ceiling or bathroom wall, allowing it to not take up any valuable space in your bathroom.

Inexpensive: While the upfront cost of an exhaust fan to be installed is quite high, you can opt to go with a window exhaust fan that will be affordable.

Works quickly: Unlike a dehumidifier that can take up to a few hours to work, a bathroom exhaust fan can quickly remove the moist air in your bathroom.


The upfront cost is high: With the average cost of a bathroom exhaust fan being around $250 to 900, you will have to put up significantly more money than if you were to purchase an affordable dehumidifier.

Can bring outside air into your bathroom: When your exhaust fan isn’t working, the outside air can make its way into your bathroom. This can be a problem during winter and summer.

Also, critters may make their way into your bathroom.

Not great at controlling humidity: While a dehumidifier can use a humidity sensor to control humidity, an exhaust fan will only be able to remove excess moisture that’s built up in your bathroom.

Does a Bathroom Exhaust Fan Remove Humidity?

A bathroom exhaust fan is not capable of removing the humid air inside of your bathroom.

It can remove built-up moisture from a shower, but other than that it won’t be able to control the humidity levels in your bathroom.

Tips to Manage Bathroom Humidity

  1. Keep the windows open
  2. Dry towels outside
  3. Don’t take hot showers
  4. Keep the door open
  5. Use passive ventilation
  6. Use humidity to remove plants
  7. Wipe down any wet areas

Alternative Options

An alternative option to bathroom dehumidifiers and exhaust fans would be desiccants.

Desiccants are those silica gel packets that you get in your shoes or beef jerky and they work to control moisture.

While they aren’t as effective as a dehumidifier or exhaust fan, they are super affordable and can work in a pinch.

Desiccant dehumidifiers are reusable and low profile.

Once they’ve changed from orange to dark green, you can put them in an oven until the moisture is released.

You can continuously reuse them saving money on electricity.

Final Thoughts

Depending on your needs, both bathroom dehumidifiers and exhaust fans have their purpose.

If you find that your bathroom only gets humid when you take a shower, then an exhaust fan will do just fine.

If your bathroom always has high humidity levels, then you’ll need to control the humidity levels with a dehumidifier.

You can opt to utilize a dehumidifier in your HVAC system, but this costs quite a bit when compared to alternative options.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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