I recently remodeled my bathroom and part of that remodel was to add an exhaust fan. Rather than go with a plain old exhaust fan, I decided to purchase a smart bathroom fan.
This Home Netwerks smart bathroom fan is an exhaust fan, light, and Alexa speaker all in one. It works with Alexa to play music, adjust the lights, and set the mood while you shower. You can turn on bright white lights and energizing music to get you going in the morning. Or, you can slow it down after a hard day by dimming the lights to a warm glow and playing some relaxing music.
When I first planned the bathroom remodel, my plan was to buy the cheapest fan I could find, which cost about $40. However, as I was walking through Home Depot, I saw this fan on display. At first, the price tag seemed way too high ($200). But as I read through the feature set, I became intrigued….
The fan runs at 110 CFM and 1.5 sones. (Booooring!)
The light is dimmable and can change colors to set the mood. (Okay…keep it coming.)
The speaker is Alexa enabled. This let’s you control the fan and light with Alexa. You can also use the device just like you would use any other Alexa speaker. (Oh yeah, that’s the stuff!)
I did a little price research and found other similar quality bathroom fan/light units were in the $130-$150 range.
But, those units don’t have Alexa.
They don’t have a dimmable, color-changing light.
And, they don’t have any smart control.
Once I thought about it that way, I figured I was only paying an extra $50-$70 for all those bonus features, which seemed pretty reasonable.
And that, my friends, is how you convince yourself to turn a $40 purchase into a $200 purchase. Budget be damned!
Where to buy?
Homewerks sells a number of products that are available at multiple retailers, but as of this writing, the only place I’ve found this particular model is at Home Depot.
Was it worth it?
Umm, heck yea!
Since my smart home relies pretty heavily on Alexa, this was a perfect fit.
Put it this way:
The biggest chunk of work in my bathroom remodel was replacing the old shower. I tore out the old fiberglass shower and put in these new gorgeous porcelain tiles and glass door. It looks great and should basically last forever.
However, my favorite part of the bathroom is still the Home Netwerks smart fan. The lighting and music supplied by the smart fan/light/speaker really takes the shower experience to the next level.
How does it compare to…
BlueTooth shower head
In the past, I considered buying a BlueTooth connected shower head to play music in the shower. Some of the units also come with colored LED lighting. However, I never did get one because…
- I don’t like the idea of adding yet another battery powered device to my home.
- Using BlueTooth means I have to control it from my phone which adds another step to the process.
The Home Netwerks smart fan is obviously hard-wired. Therefore, there aren’t any batteries to worry about. Also, it connects to WiFi and Alexa so whatever I want to listen to is only a voice command away.
BlueTooth smart fan
There are other bathroom fan/light/speaker combos available. However, the only ones I’ve found connect via Bluetooth which is less than convenient in my opinion. I have yet to find another one that works with Alexa.
Exhaust fan with motion and humidity sensor
Some higher end bathroom fans come with built in humidity or motion sensors to control the fan. To me, this seems like a pretty obviously useful thing to have for a bathroom fan.
No doubt, my Home Netwerks fan is loaded with some cool “extra” features. However, it doesn’t have a humidity sensor. It would be nice to have an “auto-humidity” feature that would turn on the fan as humidity goes up and keep it running until it goes back down. As it is, I tend to turn the fan/light off as I leave the bathroom which leaves any remaining humidity to slowly filter into the rest of the house.
Installing the smart bathroom fan
The ideal place for this unit is right above your bath so that you can make the most of its features to help create your ideal environment while you are bathing.
Once you’ve chosen a location, this smart bathroom fan installs just like many other bathroom fan units.
There are metal brackets which screw into the studs on your ceiling. This holds the base of the fan in place. The base includes the fan motor and vent system.
Then, there is a cover that slides onto the base. With other fans, the cover is usually just a plastic piece to make it look nice. But in this case, the cover contains the light, too.
To attach the cover to the base, you first connect the electrical plugin.
Then, you squeeze the spring wires on the cover,
then slide them into the slot in the base unit.
If you did it correctly, the tension of the springs should suck the cover up tight against the ceiling.
There is a good inch of overlap between the base unit and the cover. That overlap can help to cover up any rough edges or measuring mistakes (oops!) from when you cut the hole in the ceiling.
Using the Home Netwerks smart bathroom fan
I’ve found that when simply turning the light and fan on/off, I don’t use the Alexa commands very often. Usually, it’s easiest to just press the power button on the wall control which turns on/off both the light and fan.
However, I use the Alexa integration all the time to listen to music, Audible, or podcasts. It’s also the easiest way to set the light brightness and color.
Like most of my smart devices, my least desirable option for control is the mobile app. Fortunately, it’s rarely necessary to use the app to control this device. Aside from a few basic options to choose when you set it up, it’s not necessary to use the app at all.
The one exception is if you want to use your phone to stream to the speaker via Bluetooth. However, since I use Alexa connected to WiFi, I never have a need for the Bluetooth.
Alexa Voice Control Integration
The thing that really makes this device unique among its competitors is the Alexa integration. And, after using it for a few months, I can say that Home NetWerks did a pretty good job with it.
Will I be able to hear the speaker?
Once the shower is running and the fan is on, I was concerned about whether I’d be able to hear the speaker. No problems there! The audio volume is comparable to a 4th gen Echo Dot. I can easily hear the speaker even with the shower water blasting me in the face.
Will Alexa be able to hear me?
Additionally, with all that background noise, I was unsure how well the microphone would “hear” Alexa commands. Again the unit performs pretty well. Even with the shower at full blast, the fan running, and the speaker playing, the microphone picks up Alexa commands. In my experience, it performs as well as other Amazon Echo devices.
Set the mood with an Alexa routine
I especially like how the right lighting paired with appropriate music can help create the perfect shower mood.
If you have certain settings and music that you tend to use frequently, you can setup an Alexa routine.
In the mornings, I like to turn on some upbeat music and set the lights to bright white on full brightness. It helps to wake me up and get me energized for the day.
If I want to take a nice relaxing hot shower at the end of the day, I dim the lights and set the color to a warm white (similar to candlelight). Then, I ask Alexa to play some relaxing music.
Is Alexa not responding?
If you ever see a red light ring around the speaker like this…
it means you muted Alexa and she won’t work until you unmute her. Press the unmute button on the wall control to turn her back on.
After a couple months of regular use, I noticed some filth building up on the grille where the air gets sucked into.
I simply wiped it off with a damp rag and it’s as good as new.
At some point it may be necessary to remove the light/cover to clean the fan blades or clean any dust off the speakers, but as of right now they look brand new.
When I bought the Home Netwerks smart fan, I felt like it was sort of ridiculous and unnecessary. It was definitely an impulse purchase. However, after using it for a few months, I’m certain that I’d really miss it if it were taken away.
The ability to control the light and sound to create a certain mood during my showers makes me feel like I’m in a much more luxurious place than my tiny bathroom in my 110 year old house.
So even if you’re not doing a full bathroom remodel, adding this smart fan to your existing bathroom will greatly enhance your bath/shower experience.