I Spent $30 on a Window Fan for My Rental Kitchen, and It’s Made a Huge Difference

published May 29, 2015
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

A while ago, I wrote a post about how to ventilate a kitchen when you don’t have a range hood or vent. A number of Kitchn readers recommended installing a reversible window fan which, when put on the exhaust setting, can effectively draw smells, steam, and smoke out of your kitchen.

I don’t have a hood in my rental kitchen, and for a long time I just ran the ceiling fans in other rooms when I cooked something particularly smelly or smoky. It worked okay, but wasn’t ideal. So I decided to put a window fan in one of my kitchen windows, and now I’m so glad I did.

You can spend upwards of $100 on a window fan, but I wanted to keep this project cheap. My priorities for a kitchen window fan were as follows:

  1. The fan had to be reversible at the control of a button. Some window fans are advertised as “manually reversible,” which means you can reverse the air flow, yes, but only if you literally take the fan out of the window, turn it around, and put it back in. That sounded way too cumbersome to me, so I wanted to be able to control the flow with a button.
  2. The fan had to be quiet. I don’t want my kitchen to sound like the garage at a race track. My current ineffective air circulating vent does that already!
  3. The fan had to be affordable. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this, so an $80 fan was not going to work. I was looking for something under $30.
  4. The fan had to look decent. No cheap window fan looks awesome (aesthetics definitely factor into the more expensive models) but some are definitely better looking than others. I just wanted one that wouldn’t make me cringe every time I looked at it. That’s a pretty low bar anyway, so I felt confident I could find what I needed.
  5. The fan had to have good reviews. I’m a review junkie. Before I buy anything, I always read user reviews. It’s the best way to gauge potential problems, complaints, etc. (Reading reviews is what first led me to be aware of the “manually reversible” claim I wrote about above. I don’t think I would have caught what that meant unless a reviewer pointed it out.)
My window — with fan! (Image credit: Cambria Bold)

After checking out a few options, I settled on the HDX 9-Inch Twin Window Fan from Home Depot. (Unfortunately, it’s no longer available, but I’ve included a similar option below!) It met all of my requirements, and came in around $30. Both fans run independently of each other, so one can pull air out while the other pulls air in. At the highest setting it’s still only a mild hum, and the basic design isn’t too offensive. So we installed it in the window in our pantry/laundry room, which is right off the kitchen through an open doorway. (It’s basically an extension of the kitchen.)

(Image credit: Home Depot)

The result? Noticeably better air quality in the kitchen! We made bacon as our first test, because as we all know, nothing permeates the walls of your home quite like a pan of bacon. After a few minutes running the fan, there was practically no lingering bacon smell in the kitchen at all, and we only detected a faint smell in the entryway. It quickly clears our kitchen of smoke and steam, too. Success!

I’m so happy I decided to try this out. Do you have a window fan in your kitchen?