Wiring bathroom fan with lights and timer

elk2000November 8, 2012

Hi, I already posted same question on Electrical forum, but may be someone on this forum can also comment on.

We are remodeling kids bathroom, it will have a new Panasonic exhaust fan, dimmer for recessed lights and timer for fan. We want to wire the fan with recessed lights so that when lights dimmer switch is turned on, the fan will turn on as well (I know my kids, they never turn on fan by itself). That part is easy. At the same time we want the fan timer to be turned on automatically, let's say for 30 minutes. After light switch is turned off, we want the light to be turned off but fan to continue working for set number of minutes, and it will turn off automatically when timer expires.

Quite likely that what we want to do is impossible, but wanted to check anyway. Please advise.

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There are single-switch controls that with the flip of the switch turn the light and the fan ON, and when the switch is turned OFF, the light turns OFF but the fan remains ON for a time selected by you.

I usually get them through EFI. EFI fiscontinued my favored switch, but they still have this one and this one.

The problem is that I am not aware of any single switch or controller that does the above plus allows you to dim the lights.

There are switches, Lutron has a few in their Maestro series. As well as others.

My understanding from your post is that you'll have the bathroom and shower lighting all one one switch?

I'll tyically have the shower lighting on a separate switch from the bathroom lighting.

That way you walk into the bathroom and you can control the bathroom lights from a dimmable switch. Easy with a standard dimmer switch.

Then to shower or get in the tub, have something similar to one of the above EFI switches to control the shower/tub light and fan. Turn the single switch on and the shower light and fan turn on. Get out of the shower, turn the switch off, and the light turns off but the fan continues to run for a specified period of time set by you.

You mentioned you're using a Panasonic fan. The newest Panasonic fans do have occupancy sensors on them. So your ventilation could run completely independent of the lights.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Thank you, I'm not sure we will have shower light in addition to bathroom lights. The bathroom is only 5' x 8', it will have white tiles, so we were thinking that shower light is not necessary. We might rethink that if the only solution is to join fan with shower light.

You mentioned Panasonic fan with occupancy sensor. Does the fan turn off automatically when persons leaves the bathroom? If so, it's not good solution as the whole idea of timer is to be able to run fan for preset time. My son likes to take long showers, the fan must stay on for at least 20-30 minutes after he is done. Will the fan with occupancy sensor be able to handle that?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:16PM
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If you get an adequately sized fan, you won't need it to run for 20-30 post shower--no matter how long of a shower he takes.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. As I see, there are multiple approaches to this issue. To make it easier, we'll probably eliminate dimmer and do a regular switch. I guess we can always add a night light for when my son goes to the bathroom at night.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 3:39PM
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There are also bathroom fans that trigger from the humidity levels.

Maybe one of those to take care of the teenager and showers?

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 4:28PM
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"You mentioned Panasonic fan with occupancy sensor. Does the fan turn off automatically when persons leaves the bathroom?"

Some of the fans have sensors; motion and/or humidity. Motion will turn the fan on when you step into the shower. When you step out they will continue to run for a specified period of time set by the user, to 60 minutes, then they turn off automatically. The humidity sensors, they can go off any time. You can set them to a certain level...but they can be a little wishy-washy.

The sensors sound good, but I'm wary of how they perform. Humidistats can activate at any time (3:00 in the morning) and run for how ever long. It's really all about sensor sensitivity and calibration.

Motion sensors could be activated by simply walking through the bathroom. I'm not aware of how well (or poorly) Panasonic's automation performs.

Automation can be advantageous - as long as it works how you expect it to, at least within reasonable boundaries.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 4:55PM
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I suggested a humidity-sensing switch in a reply to your post on the electrical forum.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 2:29AM
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Thank you all for suggestions!

We've narrowed down to 3 approaches:

1. Install dimmer for bathroom lights (important for night calls); install shower light and connect fan to the shower light switch as mongoct suggested with "Fan/Light Time Delay Switch". The disadvantage is if bathroom has enough lights kids might not turn on shower light thus not turning on the fan.

2. Forget about dimmer; install "Fan/Light Time Delay Switch" for main lights and fan, so one switch will control everything; install night light (I think some Panasonic fans come with night light) that will be sufficient for middle of the night wake-up call. This is, probably preferred approach.

3. Install fan with moisture sensor, need to research how effective / sensitive these fans are. I'm running humidifier in boy's room most of the time, so if the bathroom door is opened the fan might sense higher humidity lever and will work all the time.

Thank you again!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 12:15PM
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I've had good success with the DewStop sensor. It senses condensation, not humidity. If there is condensation on the walls, you want the fan on. You can also turn the fan on and off manually. If you turn it off, it will turn back on if there is still condensation. Panasonic sells the exact same switch, in their own Panasonic packaging, and charges about twice what it costs to buy it in the DewStop packaging. The Panasonic switch IS the DewStop switch, it's just in a different box.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Dewstop is what I'm using too. I'd hate to see what Panasonic charge for them, they're $40 as Dewstop. I do like mine and find it works well.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 2:41AM
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Thank you for all suggestions!

We will be most likely getting Nutone LunAura fan. It's definitely more expensive than, let's say Panasonic, but it it will look much nicer in a modern bathroom.

The fan comes with 2 18-watt GU24 bulbs. I've read that each 18w lamp gives approximately 1150 lumen, equivalent to a 75W incandescent. Now, the room is 9'x5', no window, do you think this fan/light will be sufficient as the only light in the room or we need to add 1 recessed light?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:13AM
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