Interested in learning about the best whole house fans?
Whole house fans can cool your home by using the "breeze effect" at a much lower cost than traditional air conditioning.
In this product review guide, I will go over...
- My #1 top pick for the best whole house fan
- Choosing between ducted and traditional
- Correctly sizing your whole house fan
- Tips on installation
- And more...
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.
Quiet Cool Energy Saver
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Quiet Cool Classic Series
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Top 4 Best Whole House Fans
Here is my list of the best whole house fans. Whole house fans can cool and ventilate your entire home at a much cheaper cost than traditional air conditioning. If you want to read my full reviews, keep scrolling.
Choosing Ducted Vs Traditional
One of the biggest choices in choosing a whole house fan is between ducted whole house fans and traditional. Traditional whole house fans are installed in your attic ceiling, usually in the middle of the home --- and they exhaust air into your attic.
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, and QuietCool has cornered the market on these fans as the patent owner.
Read Also: Whole House Fans Vs. Attic Fans?
How To Size Whole House Fans?
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.
What Is A Whole House Attic 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).
To learn how to use a whole a house fan, check out my guide here.
According to Wikipedia, a whole house fan is frequently confused with an “attic fan”. The main difference between low powered “attic fans” and a whole house fan is that attic fans just ventilate the hot attic air. A whole house fan will literally ventilate the entire house.
Read Also: How Does A Whole House Fan Work?
The So-Called Stack Effect of Whole House Fans
Whole house ventilation 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 conditioner from the early 1900’s. 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.
Benefits of Whole House Fans
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 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.
How To Use A Whole House Fan?
You will have to open at least a few windows, or maybe just a door and single window, for the whole house fan to work properly. The whole house fan is sucking and moving massive amounts of air, so if there isn’t a few open windows, the fan will be moving, but hardly any air will be moving.
I remember turning on a whole house fan once during an inspection, and I forgot to open a few windows. When I turned on the whole house fan, it caused a few interior doors to slam shut by the suction power — causing a little scare to my client.
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.
Besides a remote controller, another possibility is to wire the whole house fan to a thermostat. The fan will turn on automatically when the home reaches a certain temperature.
There are some risks to wiring a whole house fan to a thermostat however. What if you have a gas-fired water heater and the whole house fan turns on when you are away without any open windows?
This may cause the water heater to “backdraft” which means that the combustion air from the water heater is being pulled into the home rather than going outside. If you have gas-fired appliances, it’s always a good idea to have a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of the home.
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 the 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.
Is There Enough Attic Venting?
It is important to know how much attic venting is required for the size of the whole house fan that you are considering to purchase.
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?
What Is The Best Whole House Fan?
Here are my top picks with their pros and cons...
My #1 top pick for the best whole house fan goes to the Energy Saver by QuietCool. This whole house fan is rated at 5,003-cfm and it is suitable for attics up to 2,700 square feet.
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.
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.
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.
My #1 pick for best whole house fan goes to the QuietCool Classic Series.
These ducted whole house fans are hung by the rafters inside of your attic, which greatly reduces their noise and vibrations. The QuietCool fans are also much more energy efficient than the traditional whole house fan.
The Quiet Cool product line has fans in range from 1400 CFM all the way up to 7000 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 separate).