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Understanding the difference between exhaust and ventilation fans.

Difference between exhaust fan and ventilation fan

Exhaust and ventilation fans may seem similar initially, but their distinct functions make all the difference in commercial and industrial settings. Exhaust fans, for instance, are used to facilitate the removal of odours, fumes and smoke from an area. To accomplish this task, they draw air out of the room entirely and expel it to the outside. As a result, exhaust fans need to be connected to proper venting systems with adequate airflow.

Ventilation fans also draw air from a space, but instead of expelling it outside, these fans cycle existing air back into the space or bring in external air from outside via ducting. This means that ventilation fans can help reduce energy costs as they not only help circulate clean air throughout a space but are also less costly to install as they don’t require additional venting components. With all this in mind, it’s clear that understanding how exhaust and ventilation fans differ is essential when selecting the right fan for your needs.

What is the difference between exhaust and ventilation fans?

Exhaust fans play a crucial role in maintaining clean air, allowing for the extraction of contaminants and pollutants that may otherwise affect one’s health. If these contaminants are not removed from the air, you will subject your lungs to possibly breathing in harmful particles. Exhaust fans and other air cleaning systems can efficiently capture these hazardous particles from the air, preventing them from entering our spaces, allowing workers to work comfortably indoors without the fear of inhaling toxins and perform better in their roles. 

As the name implies, ventilation fans or roof fans are used to ventilate an industrial or commercial space by providing workers with fresh air in an enclosed area. These fans circulate air from outside through the building, allowing inhabitants to breathe in oxygenated, revitalised air. Ventilation fans are convenient and necessary for optimising air quality within a workspace. Poor ventilation leads to stagnant air, breathing difficulties and other health risks such as dizziness and nausea. Therefore, ventilation fans play a crucial role in maintaining clean air. 

Exhaust fans and ventilation fans are both crucial components in the pursuit of better indoor air quality. Exhaust fans have a specific purpose; they draw contaminants out of the air by sucking out smoke, fumes, and other pollutants from industrial or commercial spaces. In contrast, ventilation fans work to bring fresh air into an enclosed space from outside sources without dispelling pollutants. Together, these two fans ensure that workers can breathe clean air indoors – improving overall health and contributing to a safer work environment. 

What are the advantages of exhaust fans?

Reduce humidity

Warehouses and industrial spaces are often vulnerable to moisture intrusion, which poses a significant risk to the interior structure, machinery, and inventory. High humidity can lead to extensive mould and mildew growth on products, shelves, boxes, and walls, causing stock damage or worse. Excess condensation can cause rust, accelerating metal corrosion, resulting in considerable financial losses due to injuries or increased insurance premiums. To avoid such costs and potential health hazards, facilities managers need to take proactive steps towards safeguarding the warehouse against moisture accumulation. 

Exhaust fans are an essential tool in many applications, particularly industries such as food processing, as they help to minimise excess moisture in an enclosed space. By drawing stale air out of a room and replacing it with fresh air from outdoors, exhaust fans reduce the chance of fungal growth and other dampness-related hazards while also improving the overall air quality inside a building. 

Remove odours

Industrial odours’ impact on the workplace should not be taken lightly. Wastewater treatment, chemical processing, waste incineration and food production can produce many strong smells and aromas. As a business owner or manager, you must address health and safety risks effectively. In this case, it’s essential to establish measures to mitigate potential odour problems to protect your employees from possible irritation or long-term damage. With this awareness comes an obligation from employers to provide a comfortable working environment for their employees – guided by Australian WHS legislation, which outlines laws concerning the duty of care you share for the health and safety of all those engaging in your processes or services. 

Unpleasant odours can be drawn out faster with the help of an exhaust fan. This is important not just to create a pleasant atmosphere but also to safeguard against the short-term effects unpleasant smells can have on workers. Exposure to strong odours can lead to coughing, wheezing and other respiratory issues; beyond this, it can also induce headaches or dizziness or even trigger anxiety or stress. Employers can take proactive steps to protect their workers from these uncomfortable experiences by having an exhaust fan installed in the workplace. 

Contaminant protection

Industrial and manufacturing facilities are prone to a variety of substances that are considered hazardous. From gases and small inhalable particles to smoke, fumes and vapours, such environments can prove dangerous. Continuous exposure can lead to many afflictions, such as headaches, eye irritation, chest pains, siderosis, cancer, and pulmonary oedema. As such, the importance of safety when working with hazardous chemicals can’t be overstated; protocols must be followed to ensure no accidental exposures occur. Ensuring adequate ventilation when working with and storing these hazardous materials is paramount to ensure any build-up of dangerous vapours won’t reach potentially unsafe levels. Inhaling chemical fuels can lead to profound health implications, making it essential to maintain safety protocols. Industrial ventilation exhaust components are designed with a vacuum that easily captures these substances. 

An exhaust fan is an important device as part of a wider system that can help keep workers safe by removing any harmful contaminants lingering in the air after cleaning. Furthermore, compared to other ventilation systems, the installation of an exhaust fan is relatively straightforward and requires only basic maintenance over time. As such, this device should be seen as an important and cost-effective investment for any organisation that strives for a safe workplace for its employees. 

What are the advantages of ventilation fans?

Produce fresh, clean air

Not only do ventilation fans share many characteristics with exhaust fans in removing fumes, smells and other contaminants from within a building, but they take it one step further by introducing fresh, clean air from the exterior. Ventilation fans can be used industrially where harmful fumes are produced consistently, but their effectiveness doesn’t end there. They can also greatly improve interior air quality, offering much-needed respite and peace of mind for industrial workers and manufacturers who wish to ensure their space remains clean and healthy for their workers. 


Ventilation and exhaust fans often play an important role, contributing to employee comfort whilst safely removing pollutants and hazardous particles in the air. However, the choice between an exhaust or ventilation fan goes beyond the functions they can perform. Careful consideration should be taken into account regarding their maintenance requirements. Exhaust fan motors tend to be larger in size, requiring more frequent maintenance, whereas ventilation fan motors are smaller and need less upkeep since they only circulate air without needing to push it through ducts or vents. 

Industrial ventilation fans are a cost-effective way for organisations to improve air quality in their workplace. Ventilation fans are an important part of the industrial atmosphere and can be installed quickly at a reasonable price. Once installed, they require minimal maintenance and often only need repairs or servicing as needed. This makes them both cost-effective to install and maintain, allowing organisations to reap the long-term rewards of providing better quality air for their employees. 

What are the disadvantages of the two fans? 

Disruptive noises 

While necessary in many industrial settings, exhaust and ventilation fans can be extremely disruptive due to their noise levels. This disruption can hinder communication between employees and negatively affect overall productivity. To counter this, today’s industries have access to quieter models of exhaust fans that incorporate sound insulation materials. These alternative versions can still provide the same indoor airflow level as traditional fans while deflecting most of the unnecessary noise. Making the right choices regarding these ventilation fan models can ensure employees a more pleasant and productive work environment without compromising air quality. 

Large sizes 

Ventilation fans are essential to keeping a workplace comfortable and healthful by controlling the air temperature and air quality. It is important to know that ventilation fans come in different sizes suitable for different spaces. For instance, industrial buildings would require larger motors than a smaller single-family home or apartment complex, whilst businesses having multiple storeys or large open areas would necessitate bigger motors than what would be necessary for compact offices or stores with limited space.  

Ventilation fans play an important role in providing good airflow throughout all sorts of environments across various industries, making it vital to choose a suitable fan size for your workplace. Ultimately, it pays to research which type of intake air fan best suits your specific needs before making any purchases – this will ensure that you get the most effective solution possible while avoiding unnecessary costs associated with purchasing an incorrectly sized motor. The team at Fanquip can help you determine the fan size and airflow required to ventilate any space effectively.  

Fanquip Solutions 

Industrial operators have many options available when selecting intake air systems for their business operations – some more suitable than others depending on the size and scope of their project. Understanding the differences between exhaust and ventilation fans allows operators to choose the right product based on their exact requirements without overspending on unnecessary features or underperforming components. By considering factors such as size, maintenance requirements, and application needs before purchase, industrial operators can ensure they select an efficient product that meets all their cooling and heating requirements at an affordable cost.  

Fanquip provides a comprehensive range of exhaust and ventilation fans, making them the perfect choice for industrial workplaces. Their popular Centrifugal and Axial Fan and Roof Fan models provide efficient air movement, while their Wall Plate Fan and Side Wall Exhaust Fans can draw stale air away from areas with little to no access to the outside air. 

If your smelter, refinery or manufacturing environment requires higher purification standards, the Purging Fan is the solution of choice. Fanquip offers a dedicated Vertical Discharge Fan with reliable performance in any location for vertical discharge operations. With products tailored to different industrial needs, Fanquip is committed to delivering quality solutions in ventilation technologies for any workplace scenario. 

Fanquip has been providing high-quality ventilation solutions for over 35 years, with expertise, guidance and assistance with choosing the perfect industrial ventilation fan, warehouse fan, or heater best suited for your business needs. Fanquip also specialises in providing customised exhaust or ventilation systems that keep your facility running optimally year-round.