2 retro exhaust fans

vintage-style-exhaust-fanmid-century exhaust fan

LAST YEAR Nutone discontinued the satin chrome grille its classic ceiling / wall exhaust fan, replacing it with an unexciting plastic housing. It’s taken me a while – but here are two other options to dash ahead of Nutone on our selection list.

First: The Marley 1080 (first, leading image) — but note, the install instructions say this is NOT RATED for KITCHENS. No chrome. But that’s a powder-coated steel grille…much better…and I like that brassy knob in the center.There is also a wall-mount model with pull switch. Marley sells their fans nationally through electrical distributors such as GrayBar, Cresent Electric, AllPhase, for example. You can find the fans via online retailers, as well, and there may be some price competition… but I’ll tell you, I like dealing with folks I can talk to. Marley’s website does note seem to show this fan, but here is the PDF of its install instructions: http://www.marleymep.com/en/multimedia-library/pdf/mep-pdf/products/residential-bath-fans/home-kitchen-fans/1080/5200-2535-000.pdf

mid-century exhaust fanSecond: The Trade-Wind AF7 from Universal Metal Industries. It also has a steel grille with a powder coated paint finish – nice. This fan is a legacy of the Trade-Wind brand, which has been around for decades. I see lots of Trade-Wind ads in my vintage marketing materials.  I did not ask the company for its distributors, but I am assuming that as with Marley fans, you can get them from local electrical distributors. Link to the Trade-Wind site here.

Be careful when specifying these exhaust fans for your kitchens. There are usually building codes with air flow requirements; check with your Building Department or another professional, or you may not pass inspection. Marley’s spec sheet for the model I show says it handles 280 cfm. The Trade-Wind AF7 says 290 cfm. One Nutone model is 210 cfm, other models are less. Note: If you use one of these, property specified, you do not need a range hood. Some folks continue to prefer the range hood, though, to catch grease as well.

Drum roll, please. These two options hereforeto move ahead of Nutone on the retro recommendation list.


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  1. Kristin says

    Speaking of Nutone, does anyone know of a site featuring photos of vintage exhaust fans? Our kitchen has a Nutone that on the exterior of the house has this cool adjustable flap to open when you need to use the fan in the kitchen. I had never seen anything like it before. The flap is getting rusted and I want to restore it so I am searching for ideas. Also, how to remove layers of heavy paint from the interior part of the fan and not damage the metal?

    (Pam, if there is a more appropriate forum for these queries, please let me know, but it looked like the forum was mostly steel cabinets or for sale items–thanks!)

    • pam kueber says

      Kristin, sorry, I cut the DIY advice that came from one reader. This is not a DIY site, so I don’t really want to go there. I will make this recommendation: Try R&I — they seem to be able to handle vintage Nutone requests, and maybe they can help. To anyone else considering fussing with their vintage fans: Educate yourself and take appropriate precautions relative to environmental and safety issues. For example, lead can be in paint, asbestos can be in insulation, EPA links on my Fast & Easy Pages and New?Start Here.

  2. Kristin says

    Thanks Pam! Sorry about that, I just know there are many of us that get into the same fixes with our little homes and it is hard not to go off in tangents! In fact, I spent a good hour+ bouncing from one reno/design topic to the next last Friday night with D’Lana Arthur of Moonshine Shades!

  3. Detroit Janice says

    I found some really cool, custom order exhaust fans here customhttp://www.laurelhurstfancompany.com/ Alas, (sigh) I cannot afford one on my very small renovation budget.

    • pam kueber says

      Kismet, the Laurelhurst fans are not specified for kitchen exhaust usage. I believe that they do not have enough CFMs to meet code. In addition, they are not specified for above a shower or tub unit — my preferred location for an exhaust fan in the bathroom. Their functionality seems very limited. On top of that they are very expensive.

  4. Ashley says

    Thank you for doing this research…The exhust fan in my 1940’s kitchen just when out yesterday. so I am searching for a exhust fan that would fit into the large round hole in the ceiling.. I thik the Marley fan is going to work without having to retro fit anything. yea!

  5. Todd says

    Speaking of NuTone problems…, recently I discovered that the vent door on our NuTone kitchen exhaust had been painted shut by the previous owner. The vent is very cleverly designed with a chain that opens the outside vent flap and turns on the fan; pulling the chain turns off the fan and closes the vent.
    My problem is that I cannot see how to remove the fan to clean off the paint. Anytime I go outside and attempt to pry the painted vent open, the fan turns on. I do not see anyway to remove the inside grill without turning on the fan, and cannot find the wiring without first removing the grill. Any ideas? Thanks!!

    • pam kueber says

      Todd, this is not a DIY or fixit site…. What I would recommend is that you talk to one of the companies that seems to specialize in Nutone repairs and see what they say. I have not researched this extensively, but R&I Distributing (I think it’s called) comes to mind… good luck.

  6. kim says

    Hi Pam. I just want to be clear about something here: we have just removed our microwave hood and the cabinet it was attached to. Would one of these smaller vintage fans you are discussing work in place of a hood? (I realize that I still need to check code, etc.) That is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I don’t want a full-fledged hood there as it would block the view.

    Thanks so much!

    • pam kueber says

      in principal, the answer is ‘yes’, kim. these are kitchen exhaust fans, same as a hood. but YES: you need to check your local code requirements to ensure you have the proper CFMs in whatever exhaust solution you choose. there could well be other installation requirements that I am unfamiliar with – consult with a licensed professional….

  7. Justin says

    In have exhaust fan I found in the wall of the house I am remodeling the numbers on it are. Union made serial#c47761977 axial flow fan#225 Emerson pryne company Paloma California 3502197h it works and I would like to get some info on it

  8. Glenn says

    If you want chrome grills instead of the powder coated paint, find a re-chroming shop. I had the exhaust fan grills in my mid-50s California-style ranch re-chromed along with some shower drain covers and they turned out great.

    • pam kueber says

      Even cheaper and authentic: See our story on where to find New Old Stock Emerson Pryne exhaust fan grilles (just $39) – use the search box at the top to get there.

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