Whole house fans are a great option to keep your house cool but without the costs of traditional A/C systems.
In this review, we'll go over...
- My #1 top pick for the best whole house fan
- Ducted vs. Non-ducted fans
- Correctly sizing your whole house fan
- Tips on installation
During home inspections, I have tested and inspected a lot of whole house fans.
Whole house fans suck in the cooler exterior air and then expel the warm interior air through the attic.
These high-powered exhaust fans can save you anywhere from 50-90% of traditional A/C costs!
I have put together what I think are the top whole house fans on the market in this article.
Check out our top picks below for the best whole house fans or jump ahead to read our buyer's guide here. Let's get going!
Quiet Cool Energy Saver
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Quiet Cool Classic Series
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My Overall #1 Rated Pick
My overall top pick for the best whole house fan goes to the Quiet Cool Rafter Hung whole house fans. These whole house fans are hung on the attic rafters so they can stay super quiet. These whole fans are also very efficient and can save you 50-80% in A/C costs. They also include gravity insulated dampers to prevent energy loss.
My #1 top pick for the best whole house fan goes to the Energy Saver by QuietCool. This ultra efficient whole house fans come in a several models from a low of 1,434-cfm and up to a whopping 6,878-cfm for large homes.
This QuietCool ducted whole house fan is hung from the attic rafters (instead of installed in the ceiling) which can greatly reduce noise and vibrations.
The Energy Saver model also features a ultra high efficient brushless motor (AC/DC) that will make it even quieter and use less energy. As in all of the QuietCool fans, it also has pressurized gravity dampers to give it a tight seal when not in use.
Best Traditional 24-Inch
The Cool Attic is a budget friendly 24-inch whole house that can cool down your home. It has a rough opening of 26" x 28" and it is rated at 4,600-cfm on high.
Cool Attic also makes a 30-inch model that is for attics up to 3000-sf. This fan is made in the USA, and it is powder coated for a long lasting finish.
Unlike many other whole house fans, this Cool Attic model has four fan blades (instead of three) so it can move more air. You can do a joist-in or joist-out installation with this Cool Attic fan.
Best With Insulated Doors
The Tamarack is a unique whole house fan that features self-sealing insulated doors with an R38 rating.
Unlike other whole house fans that leak air into and out of the attic, the Tamarack unit creates an air-tight seal.
The dampers automatically open when the fan is in use, and they close when the fan is shutoff.
This whole house fan is rated at 1,150-cfm and it can be installed on either 16" or 24" on center joists.
Our top pick for the best budget whole house fan goes to the QuietCool classic series.
These ducted whole house fans are very similar to the Energy Saver Quiet Cool fans except that it uses a 2-speed PSC motor instead of a 2-speed ECM motor.
The PSC motor is somewhat less efficient and quiet than the Energy Saver models, but these whole house fans are around 20-30% cheaper.
They are also hung by the rafters inside of your attic, which greatly reduces their noise and vibrations.
The Classic Series whole house fans range from 1472-CFM all the way up to 6924-CFM so you can choose the whole house fan for your exact home size.
QuietCool also sells a Control Kit that will allow you to control the fan from anywhere in the home (sold separately).
Our top choice for a rafter-hung whole house fan that has the best controls goes to AirScape.
The controls of this whole house fan are incredible with 10 different speed settings and a 12-hour timer.
These AirScape whole house fans are hung from your attic rafters which significantly cuts down the noise and vibrations that traditional fans make.
This model has a CFM rating of 5527-cfm but they also have a 3253-cfm and 3440-cfm models.
AirScape is a rival to QuietCool and they make an excellent line of whole house fans that are quiet and ultra efficient.
Our top pick for a whole house fan with the easiest maintenance goes to Solatube.
Solatube made their whole house fans simple to clean with a detachable intake grille that is dishwasher-safe.
After all, if the grille gets clogged with dust and nobody cleans it, efficiency will drop like a brick.
Solatube whole house fans are also rafter-hung in the attic which makes them super quiet.
Solatube also invented it's HushMount technology that makes a near silent whole house fan.
These whole house fans come in 4 different models with a low CFM of 1400 and up to ~5000-cfm.
What Is A Whole House Fan?
A whole house fan is a high-powered vent fan, usually installed on the top story hallway ceiling—that sucks out the hot air from the inside to the outside. The central home fan pushes the hot air through the attic, and to the outside (through the roof vents).
According to Wikipedia, a whole house fan is frequently confused with an attic fan. The main difference between a low-powered attic fan and a whole house fan is that an attic fan just ventilates the hot attic air. A whole house fan will ventilate and cool the entire house.
Read Also: How Does A Whole House Fan Work?
The Different Types
There are a few different styles of whole house fans for homeowners to purchase. Here is a quick breakdown.
Traditional Whole House Fans
Traditional whole house fans are installed on the ceiling of the uppermost home level, usually in the middle of the home with the attic directly above it.
These fans are typically 24" to 30" in diameter and they are usually controlled by a wall switch.
A variant of traditional whole house fans are models with insulated doors. The doors or dampers of this fan automatically open and close automatically when the fan is in use.
Cold air infiltration into the home during winter is a common problem with traditional style whole house fans. Many homeowners even build insulated boxes that they put over the whole house fan during the cold season.
Ducted Or Rafter Hung Whole House Fans
Ducted whole house fans aren't installed in the ceiling, they are hung by straps from the attic rafters or trusses.
The fan is connected to a vent in the ceiling by a duct that will open or close when the whole house fan is operating. Since the whole house fan isn't in the ceiling, they tend to make much less noise and vibrations.
However, ducted whole house fans tend to be much more expensive.
Read Also: Whole House Fans Vs. Attic Fans?
How To Use A Whole House Fan?
Homeowners will need to crack open at least a few windows for a whole house fan to work.
The windows don't need to be totally open, 4-5 inches should be sufficient. Instead of windows, opening a door and a single window could also work. I invite you to read our detailed guide on how to use whole house fans here.
Homeowners can also control the direction of airflow in the home by which windows they choose to open. If you want a strong breeze in one particular bedroom, then just open the windows in the bedroom.
To cool the home, ideally, homeowners should open windows or doors on the coolest or shaded side of the home. And after running the whole house fan, close the blinds and curtains on the hottest or part of the house with direct sunlight.
Whole house fans almost always come with two fan settings; high and low. Some fans come with a simple pull chain for on/off and high/low settings.
Other fans will have to be wired to a wall switch with two separate switches. In addition, you can wire the whole house to a remote controller so you can turn it on anywhere in the home, a very nice feature.
Timers are also very popular with whole house fans. Countdown timers allow you to turn on a whole house fan and automatically have it shut off in 15-minutes or a time of your choice.
What Size Whole House Fan Do I Need?
One of the most important things to look at when buying a whole house fan is it’s CFM rating—this stands for Cubic Feet per Minute. This is a rating that will tell you how much air the fan moves.
If you buy a too powerful whole house fan, it will use more energy than you need, and there probably won’t be enough attic venting for it to work properly. Each manufacturer will have it’s specific recommendations for maximum attic size or home size.
A general rule for fan sizing is also mentioned by Kansas State University.
First, determine the volume of your home. Take the square footage of your home, and multiply that by the ceiling height. Then select a fan with a CFM rating that is 2/3 of your home’s volume.
In general, most whole house fans will have CFM’s that range from 1,000 CFM all the way up to 7,000 CFM.
How Do Whole House Fans Work?
Whole house fans work by using fan suction, creating a negative pressure environment in the home, and putting positive pressure in the attic. Put simply, the fan sucks out the hot air from the interior and pushes it outside through the attic vents.
According to the U.S. Energy Department, a whole house fan should move about 30-60 air changes per hour which will vary based on your climate, the layout of your house, and other factors.
Some whole house fans use direct drive motors and others use belt drive. In general, the belt driven motors are quieter than direct drive.
The Stack Effect
Whole house fans can be a great way to cool your home because hot air already wants to rise to the top level of the home.
This is why basements are usually cooler during the summer. This phenomenon is known as the “stack effect” because your home almost acts like a chimney stack.
The whole house fan takes advantage of this stack effect, and sucks out all of the rising hot air from the home interior.
Traditional And Yet Effective Cooling
Thomas Jefferson even designed his Monticello home in Virginia to take advantage of the rising effect of warm air through a central great hall and a cupola at the top of the home which is almost like a decorative chimney.
In fact, whole house fans were the first electrically powered air conditioners from the early 1900s. And yet, whole house fans are still incredibly effective — especially when the outdoor air is cooler than the home’s interior, such as when the air cools at nighttime.
A high quality whole house fan can reduce your air conditioning costs during hot weather anywhere from 25% and all the way up to 90%. With some homes, all that is needed is to run the fan for 30min up to an hour. Some owners like to keep the whole house fan on because it creates a small breezy feeling in the home.
The Main Benefits
Here are some of the advantages of buying a whole house fan rather than a traditional air conditioner…
- Significantly reduce your electric bill
- Get a nice feeling of a small breeze
- Relatively easy to install (compared to a central air conditioner)
- It is controlled through a simple switch (and can also be connected to smart devices by using a “smart switch”)
- Very simple machine, with usually just high/low speed modes
- Doesn’t produce humidity like a traditional air conditioner (and possible mold issues)
How To Install Whole House Fans?
How the fan is installed is an important thing to consider. The two main types of installation are ceiling mounted and rafter hung. Ceiling mounted means that the fan is installed at the ceiling on the top level of a home, usually a hallway right below the attic.
If the whole house fan can be installed within the ceiling joists, it is called a “joist in” installation, and it is much easier to install.
A “joist out” install means that at least one joist will need to be cut to allow access. This may cause structural damage if done improperly, and a qualified contractor to help is recommended.
As reported by Home Energy Magazine, a better way to install a whole house fan than cutting a joist is to install an H-bracket, which allows you to install the fan above the ceiling joists. Even though this will lower efficiency a bit, it may be preferable to cutting a joist.
The other type is rafter hung which means that the whole house fan is hanging by straps inside the attic. Since the fan is hanging by the rafters, this greatly decreases the amount of noise and vibrations that the fan makes.
Attic Ventilation Requirements
It is important to know how much attic venting is required for the size of the whole house fan that you are considering purchasing
If the attic venting is inadequate, then the hot attic air may actually be pushed down the walls and back into the interior of the home. Each manufacturer will tell you how much attic venting is required for their model, and it is usually stated in square feet or square inches.
As a general rule for traditional whole house fans, you want to have at least 1 SF of attic venting per 750 CFM of fan speed. To add up your attic venting, you will have to go into your attic, and estimate the sizes of your ridge vent, gable vents, and any passive vents.
It is also important to note that insect screens on gable vents substantially reduce airflow.
How is a Whole House Fan Different From Air Conditioners?
There are some key differences between whole house fans and traditional air conditioners such as…
- Uses only electricity, not refrigerant
- Less maintenance required, fewer moving parts
- Simple controls of on/off and high/low
- A few open windows (or a door & single window) is needed during operation
- Annual maintenance by an hvac tech is not required
- Uses far less energy so you save money
- Doesn’t produce water or “condensate” so it won’t increase your humidity like traditional a/c
- There is no possible water damage because of a leaking air conditioner (it is a common occurrence to have a clogged a/c condensate line)
Read Also: How Does A Whole House Fan Work?
It's no surprise that my favorite pick for whole house fans goes to the Energy Saver series by QuietCool.
These super quiet whole house fans are hung on the attic rafters away from the ceiling. This allows for an ultra quiet whole house fan and avoids the biggest complaint which is noise.
Don't forget to crack open a few windows when using a whole house fan, and they can be controlled with a wall switch, remote control, or even an app. Countdown timers are also very popular so you can turn it on and forget about it.