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How to get a smart bathroom extractor fan

By Mark's Tech Blogs

3rd July 2021

The bathroom is perhaps the last place you’d think of to make smart however what’s more relaxing than a nice coloured light during a bath. As Smart Lights often require the light to always be on getting a smart bathroom extractor fan will be something you’ll also need to do (unless you want to turn your isolator on and off every time you need it!).

So, how do you make a bathroom extractor fan smart?

The Problem with Smart Lighting and Bathrooms

We love Philips Hue bulbs at Mark’s Tech Blogs and having some nice ambient lighting in the bathroom is an ideal way to create a relaxing atmosphere…pairing the Hue Coloured GU10 bulbs and some IP65 downlight fittings can really set the mood and help you unwind. The problem is that in most UK homes the bathroom extractor fan has a switched power cable which means it’s triggered by the lights coming on. This means that with smart lighting you’ll be left turning your fan isolator on and off whenever you want the fan to run or you’ll have a fan that runs 24/7.

So, how do you create a smart bathroom extractor fan…

We’ve found two ways to achieve this and the best bit…it’ll cost you less than £25!

Option 1 – The Switch-bot button pusher for a Smart Bathroom Extractor

We’ve talked about Switch Bot before at Mark’s Tech Blogs and the Switch Bot button pusher is a great way to operate on/off switches. You can even use IFTTT to make them react to events from other smart home devices.

The Switch Bot button pusher could be placed into Switch Mode and attached to your fan isolator switch. You could then create yourself some automation rules so that it comes on a few times a day or perhaps you could hook it up to Switch Bot’s new motion sensor and get it to switch on for a certain amount of time when it detects motion.

This method is great for those who don’t want to play around with electronics. The only thing we found is that some fan isolator switches were to stiff for the Switch Bot to push.

Option 2 – The SONOFF Mini for Smart Bathroom Exhaust Fan

The second option to create a smart bathroom extractor fan involves a little bit of (simple) wiring and the SONOFF Mini. The SONOFF Mini costs just over £10 and can pretty much make any item you like smart. All you have to do is reroute your live and neutral cables to send them via this device.

This is perfect for bathroom extractors which are wired in the loft space of a house as it keeps the SONOFF Mini out of the damp (make sure you switch off your mains power at the fuse box before fitting one of these). Once wired up you use the app to connect your SONOFF Mini to your Wifi and you can then add it into your various routines.

If you want to take it further…

If you want to push your home automation to the next step then picking up a Raspberry Pi Zero for £30 and installing HomeBridge on it will let you add both of the products we’ve mentioned in this article to Apple’s HomeKit. You can then use the automations in the Home app to trigger your fans when lights come on! Perfect!

In Summary

Making your bathroom extractor fan smart is something that can be achieved cheaply and easily without the need of a new fan (which is great because we can’t find a smart extractor fan out there!).

In our opinion the SONOFF Mini is the best solution and one we’d certainly recommend!

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