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
- Why whole house fans can be so useful in cooling a home in some environments
- The hidden issues and dangers of installing a whole house fan (such as carbon monoxide)
Let’s get started!
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.
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The Top 3 Best Whole House Fans in 2020
Here is my list of the best whole house fans you can buy. 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.
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 our 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.
What Is The Best Way 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 Pick The Best Quality Whole House Fan?
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. We highly recommend that you stick to the manufacturer specs.
Whole House Fan Sizing
However, a general rule for fan sizing is 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 1500 CFM all the way up to 4000 CFM.
In contrast, most bathroom exhaust fans are only rated between 50-100 CFM.
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.
If you want to find a local contractor for your next home project, I highly recommend using Thumbtack. As a licensed inspector, my clients ask me all the time for referrals, but now I just advise using Thumbtack because it's free — and it even uses artificial intelligence to match contractors with homeowners. You can check out Thumbtack by clicking here.
How much electrical energy the whole house fan uses is also an important consideration.
Most whole house fans will use between 200 watts and all the way up to 1500 watts of energy.
The most energy efficient, but also more expensive fans will be the rafter hung type of whole house fans made by QuietCool.
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.
However, 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?
Where To Buy The Best Whole House Fan?
When selecting a vendor to buy a bathroom exhaust fan with a heater, you want to choose a company that has the largest range of products, a lot of customer reviews, great shipping options, and an excellent return policy.
At Home Inspector Secrets, we highly recommend buying from Amazon because it is a seller that you can trust.
Why Choose Amazon?
Buying a whole house fan on Amazon gives you a wide selection of whole house fans from reputable sellers, and usually comes with fast shipping. And if you are an Amazon Prime member, you will usually get free two day shipping.
On Amazon, you can search for products that have the most reviews with the highest ratings. Most big box stores do not have a large selection of whole house fans — it is a very niche product. If sold by Amazon, there is usually an easy 30 day return policy.
What Is The Best Whole House Fan?
Here are my top picks with their pros and cons...
My #1 pick for best quiet whole house fan belongs to the unique patented design by the Quiet Cool company.
These whole house fans are hung by the rafters inside of your attic, which greatly reduces their noise and vibrations — so you barely know it’s even there.
The Quiet Cool 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.
- Extremely quiet so you may not even know it’s operating due to it’s patented “rafter hung” installation
- Wide range of fan size from 1400 CFM to 7000 CFM so you can choose a fan just right for your home size
- Save 50% to 90% in a/c costs because of it’s ultra high efficiency
- Quiet Cool fans use special “gravity dampers” to minimize energy loss during cold weather (traditional whole house fan louvers have a zero R-rating)
- Tend to be more expensive that traditional whole house fans
- The installation may be more difficult due to the rafter hung design
- You must have enough attic height for the install
The Cool Attic is a budget friendly whole house fan that comes in a 24″ size as well as a larger 30″.
The 24″ is for attics up to 1800sf, and the 30″ is for attics up to 3000sf.
This fan is made in the USA, and is powder coated for a long lasting finish.
The 24″ model required a minimum of 8sf of attic venting and is great for single story homes.
- 24″ model is placed in between ceiling joists, an easier install
- 2 switches are included (on/off and high/low)
- Comes with a 10 year warranty
- The unit is ceiling mounted so it will be noisier
- You may have to cut a joist (especially with the 30″ model)
- 24″ is suitable only for single story homes
My favorite pick for most affordable whole house fan is the Air Vent 54301 traditional whole house fan.
This 24″ fan will fit in between your joists in most homes so no joist cutting is required — saving time and money.
This fan is rated for up to a 1500sf home size and the rough open size is 28″ x 29″.
- Very affordable and won’t break your budget
- Simple design with a “joist in” installation, no joist cutting
- A nice pull cord for on/off and high/low
- Can be wired separately to a remote or for smart device control
- Moves air at 4500 CFM on high setting, a powerful fan for a moderately sized home
- Won’t work well for homes larger than 1500sf
- Doesn’t come with switches, only a pull cord
- Less energy efficient than the Quiet Cool fan
- Can be loud and noisy
My Top Pick: The Quiet Cool “Rafter Hung” Whole House Fan
The unique design of the Quiet Cool “rafter hung” product line get’s our stamp for #1 best whole house fan because of these reasons…
1. Ultra High Efficiency
- These patented whole house fans are incredibly efficient and can lower your a/c bill by 50% all the way up to 90% and cool your home by 30 degrees!
2. Exact CFM Sizing
- The Quiet Cool sells whole house fans from 1400 CFM all the way up to 7000 CFM so you can choose the exact right fan for your home size from a small 730sf attic up to a whopping 3000sf attic.
3. Noise Reduction
- Due to it’s patented “rafter hung” design, these fans are extremely quiet as compared to the traditional whole house fan
4. Insulated Dampers
- The Quiet Cool fans have special insulated gravity dampers that will prevent energy leakage during cold weather. The traditional whole house fan louvers can waste energy because they have zero insulation.