Did you know that whole house fans have been around since the 1900s? Тhey originates from the south and east coast of the US and became widely popular in the 1960s. They were designed as an alternative to air conditioning and are also the cheaper option. The traditional whole house fan offers an inexpensive way to cool and ventilate your home.
If you’re on the lookout for the best whole house fan, then you’re in the right place. Our research team has done the work and has prepared a comprehensive buying guide with helpful information on these products. We also give you some whole house fan reviews to help you with your search.
Do Whole House Fans Really Work?
These fans’ popularity has been spreading quickly because they are efficient in cooling down your entire house. Such house ventilation systems are the cheaper alternative to air conditioning. Whole house fans have seen significant improvements in the last 15 years. They have become smaller, more aesthetically pleasing with better shutters, and quieter than their predecessors.
Often they are installed in attics, and when you open all windows, this allows for a quicker and full cooling down of the house. The attic is also vented, which is often the hottest place in the house, and air conditioning doesn’t do much about it. That is one of the reasons why these fans work well. Such a house cooling system costs little to buy and install. Whole house fans are also energy efficient as they need less power than air conditioning to operate.
You can optimize these fans’ work and effectiveness if you follow the instructions that each fan comes with. They expel the hot air from your home outside and pull fresh air inside, so you need to keep as many windows open as possible.
Is a Whole House Fan Cheaper than an AC?
In a word, – Yes. Whole house fans cost less than A/Cs. Their installation is easier and cheaper as well. While A/Cs must be installed by a professional, a whole-house fan can be installed by anyone who has some experience and is handy.
Additionally, whole-house fans require a lot less electricity to work than A/Cs. Therefore, if you choose a whole house fan for your home, you will save a lot of money as an initial investment and in the long run.
Apart from a house fan and A/C, you may need a product to only cool or ventilate a particular room. If you’re only looking for a small fan for a home office, you should turn to our informative buying guide on the best desk fans.
Best Whole House Fans Comparison Chart
Centric Air QA-Deluxe Whole House Fan
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TPI BD302WHS Belt Drive Whole House Fan
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Air King 9166F Whole House Window Fan
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Air Vent Gable Ventilator 53315 Attic and Whole House Fans
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Cool Attic CX24DDWT Whole House Attic Fan
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Air Vent 54301 Whole House Fan
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Best Whole House Fans – Editors’ Picks
1. Centric Air QA-Deluxe Whole House Fan
This whole house fan is from Centric Air, and it has 3945 CFM. This means that the unit is powerful enough to ventilate a one-story house of up to 2,400sq.ft or a two-story house of up to 3,400sq.ft. This model has a heavy-duty aluminum fan and a safety guard. It also has rubber brushings that reduce the vibration and noise the motor makes.
The size of the ceiling vent is 16×30 inches, and it fits between 16 and 24-inch center joists. The diameter of the duct is 8 feet and 18 inches. The unit must have at least 4.2 sq. feet of free attic space for the ventilation to work correctly.
What is more, this unit can be mounted vertically with an additional wall-mount adapter. It doesn’t require a dedicated circuit, so you can use one that is convenient for you without having to worry. This whole house system comes with an on/off switch, a speed switch, and a digital timer. This fan has two speeds – high and low. An additional remote control can be purchased and used.
- This product lowers your air conditioning bill by 50%-90%.
- Both speeds are quiet. The noise level is only 54 decibels.
- The unit has a gravity damper that doesn’t allow for heat or cooling losses.
- This whole house fan has a 10-year warranty for the fan motor.
- The system works with a remote, but it has to be purchased separately.
2. TPI BD302WHS Belt Drive Whole House Fan
This whole house fan from TPI is available in three sizes: 24-inch, 30-inch, and 36-inch. It weighs only 50 lb and is easy to lift when installing. This size is sufficient for a two-story 4,000 sq. feet house.
The whole house fan has lubricated blades that protect them from corrosion. The dimensions of the fan are 34 x 35.5 x 14.5 inches. It requires a rough cut opening that is 35.5×35.5 inches. An additional wall mount unit can be purchased for vertical installation.
This system has two speeds – high and low. The high speed reaches 7,600 CFM. At its low speed, the fan reaches up to 5,800 CFM. The motor’s output is 1/3 HP. It comes with a rotary switch for the two-speed options.
- The shutters and switch are included in the package.
- The system’s shutters are conveniently open and close as you turn the ventilation on and off.
- This unit can be installed on a pitch angle ceiling.
- No wireless control option.
- The unit doesn’t have a timer.
3. Air King 9166F Whole House Window Fan
This window-mount whole house fan from Air King has a steel blade and grill, and plastic housing. The fan is more powerful than an attic fan and has three speeds available. The fan’s CFM options are 3560, 3120, and 2510 on high, medium, and low respectively.
The fan doesn’t require permanent installation. You can put it up in the summer and take it down in the winter. What is more, you can leave your window screen on to keep the house bug-free, and it won’t be a problem for the fan’s performance.
This unit doesn’t have a thermostat. You have to manually turn it on/off and set the fan speed.
If it’s mounted well enough and it doesn’t shake, the noise will be brought to a minimum. However, this product makes more noise than attic fans even with a proper installation.
- The fan is reversible. It can be used to pull air inside of your home or to exhaust the air.
- This unit has adjustable panels to fit different sized window spaces.
- The power cord is 7 feet long.
- The package includes the fan, the motor, the mounting hardware needed, and sliding panels.
- It has only a 1-year limited warranty, which is valid for defects in materials and labor.
- The bearings that come with the unit don’t last long.
4. Air Vent Gable Ventilator 53315 Attic and Whole House Fans
This ventilator from Air Vent can be used for an attic only or a whole house. It covers a maximum of 1,500 sq. feet and has 1050 CFM. The blades and the motor of this fan are made from stainless steel, and the outer housing is made from sturdy plastic. The dimensions of this unit are 19 x 19 x 8 inches.
This product is a gable-mount fan, not a roof-mount. It doesn’t come with the mounting board, only screws are included in the package. This unit can be installed horizontally or vertically with the right mounting kit. The fan has to be hard-wired. Тhe thermostat comes pre-wired to the fan.
The fan makes a slight humming sound like most fans. Adding some rubber dampeners can eliminate the vibration and the noise.
- The thermostat can be adjusted to turn on per your temperature preferences.
- The available range is between 50 and 120 degrees.
- The fan has overload protection.
- The plastic frame reduces the vibration and noise to a minimum.
- The unit has a 2-year warranty on labor.
- You cannot control the speed of the fan.
5. Cool Attic CX24DDWT Whole House Attic Fan
The Cool Attic whole house attic fan is made for horizontal installation only. The company offers another series of wall-mounted fans. The fan is made from aluminum, and so are the shutters. It has two speeds and comes with a three-way switch.
For the 24-inch fan, you need a rough opening 26×28 inches. The package includes the fan, the shutters, the switch, the plate, and a hardware package for the installation. The shutters open from the airflow when you turn on the fan. That’s why this unit should be installed horizontally.
This whole house attic fan needs 110V wiring. The unit can be plugged into a power outlet or be hard-wired. What is more, if you have solar panels, you can use them to power this product.
The fan requires 8-10sq. ft. attic space to ventilate properly. A thermostat can be added to this unit, but not a Wi-Fi model. This product’s noise levels are acceptable. It makes an average fan noise, which is bearable and hardly noticed in most of the house.
- You can add a timer to the fan.
- The parts and the assembly are done in the US.
- This whole house attic fan has a 10-year warranty.
- This unit isn’t suitable for vertical installation.
6. Air Vent 54301 Whole House Fan
The 24-inch whole house and attic fan from Air Vent has CFM of 4,500. This speed is enough to cover a 1,500 sq.ft. It has a pull chain for changing between its two speeds and turning it on/off. You can, however, remove the pull cord and replace it with a switch.
This fan has an automatic shutter made from thin metal. The installation of this unit is simple. A rough opening of 27 3/4 x 29 inches and no joist cutting is necessary. However, the unit needs to have about 860 sq. inches of free space for proper venting. You need to buy and install outside covers for the fan to close it in winter.
This is an old-school model, and it doesn’t have the option to be controlled remotely. A good thing about being old-school is that the unit can be plugged into an existing power outlet instead of needing to be hard-wired.
This fan is not for outside installation. However, if you have a flat roof, you might still use this unit but need to think of a way to protect the motor and the fan from rain and snow.
- This fan comes with a 10-year limited warranty on parts and a 5-year labor warranty, compared to other products on our list with only one year.
- The unit comes with a wooden base for its installation.
- You can install a rheostat for the fan.
- It’s noisy but bearable when you’re not near it.
- The fan doesn’t have a thermostat.
7. QuietCool QC ES-3100
This is the Quiet Cool’s Energy Saver Fan, which is a step up from their classic model. The ES model uses a different motor, which makes the product more energy efficient. This fan’s CFM capability is 3068 at high speed. This unit can cover up to 1,500 sq. feet house.
For this model to perform well, there needs to be at least 36 inches of free space between the floor and the ceiling in your attic so that it can have proper ventilation. If you have to mount the fan on a wall, you have to purchase an additional wall-mount kit.
The thermal ducting included in the package is about 6 feet long and has a diameter of about 18 inches. The grille itself is 14×30 inches. The unit has an automatic flapper that opens and closes when the fan is on or off. This whole house fan has two speeds. On low, it produces only 47 decibels and at high speed, about 51 decibels.
- The energy-saving motor uses 25%-35% less energy.
- Very quiet on low speed.
- The installation is simple, and no framing for the fan is required.
- The product comes with a 10-year warranty from the manufacturer, unlike most fans on our list with no more than two years.
- You need to purchase switches separately as they aren’t included in the package.
- A dimmer switch isn’t suitable for this unit.
8. QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 Smart Attic Gable Fan
This Quiet Cool smart attic fan is supposed to be installed on a gable in your attic. If your attic doesn’t have one, an additional roof mount kit can be purchased. With it, the fan can still be installed on the roof. The CFM power of this fan is 2,830. The fan size is 16x16x10 inches. The unit is advertised as an ‘attic fan,’ but if you want to convert it to a whole house fan, you’d need a professional to do it.
This fan has a ten-variable speed motor, which means you cannot control its work. You simply plug it in and leave it. It has a built-in thermostat and humidistat. They detect the levels of humidity and the temperature in the attic space. Then the fan turns on automatically. This why it’s called a ‘smart attic fan.’
However, if you want to have control over this unit you can install the fan without the humidistat and thermostat. Then you need to install an on/off switch. A professional electrician should do all of this.
- This fan requires a minimum temperature of 70 degrees to work.
- You get a manufacturer’s warranty is 15 years.
- The installation process is eased by the 20-foot power cord
- This product can be used as an attic fan only or as a whole house fan.
- The thermostat is too sensitive and could turn the fan on or off when you don’t want it to.
- If your bedroom is under the gable with the fan, you will hear the fan working, which can be annoying.
How Many CFM Do I Need for Whole House Fan?
A whole house fan’s job is to expel the hot air from your home through the vents while cool air enters your house through open windows. That being said, such a system works well if it is sized appropriately to your home. To size a whole house fan accurately, you have to calculate the house’s cubic area and CFM (cubic feet per minute) it needs for proper ventilation.
To measure the cubic volume and CFM of your entire house, you must measure the length and width of the floor in each room in your home. Then for each room, multiply the length to the width. Add all numbers and multiply them to the height of the rooms.
To find the CFM, multiply the number by 30 (this is for a complete air change per 2 minutes). The number you get has to be divided by 60 to get the actual CFM for your house. For example, if your home is 12,000 cubic feet, you multiply it by 30 and get 360,000 cubic feet of air per hour. Then divide 360,000 by 60 (minutes in an hour), and you get 6,000 CFM.
Here are some referential numbers to keep in mind:
- A property of 1,5 sq. feet needs 2,300 – 3,000 CFM;
- For 2,000 sq. feet, the required CFM is from 3,000 to 4,000;
- For 2,500 sq. feet, you need between 3,7500 and 5,000 CFM;
- If your property is 3,000 sq. feet, you’ll need between 4,500 and 6,000 CFM.
Types of Whole House Fans
Whole house fans have been around for over sixty years. Over the years, they have been improved, and after the traditional fan, two new types of whole house fans were created.
Traditional Whole House Fans
As the name suggests, these are the original fans that were created as a cheap alternative to A/Cs. They are quite large, with some models being as big as 48×48 inches. They are affordable but have some noticeable disadvantages. Traditional fans are noisier than the other two types. They also use cheaper and not very efficient motors. Most of the units have shutters that rattle loudly and are simply not pleasing to the eye.
Advanced Whole House Fans
They are also known as “ducted whole house fans.” These are the latest models and have several advantages over the other two types. These fans use more energy-efficient motors than the other types. Advanced whole house fans also have barometric pressurized damper systems, which make them whisper-quiet. This means you can leave them on at night without hearing them. Size-wise they are smaller than traditional fans, with the biggest ones reaching 14×36 inches. Advanced fans have white aluminum crates that are removable for easy cleaning.
Mini Ceiling-Mounted Fans
These are most similar to the traditional fans but smaller. Their installation is easier than the other two types. No cutting of ceiling joists is needed. Such units can move at only around 1000 CFM. This is much lower than the traditional and advanced types. For large houses, more than one fan is often needed to cool the entire space.
There are also differences in the way whole-house fans systems are mounted. The four types are:
- Ceiling-mounted units like the name suggests are installed between the attic and living space. These are the most widespread types of systems.
- Window-mounted fans are small, and as the name implies are mounted on a window. They are used for separate rooms, not whole houses. You can use window-mounted fans in garages, bathrooms, or sheds. If you would be interested in reading more about similar products, you can take a look at our comprehensive buying guide on bathroom exhaust fans. Using a separate fan for your bathroom can help deal with the humidity and steam.
- Rooftop-mounted fans are suitable for houses with no attics. They are mounted on the roof, as their name implies.
- Ducted fans are hung from rafters and away from the ceiling. These types of fans can eliminate heat from multiple locations. Such places can be your house and its adjacent garage. You can also prefer a high-quality garage fan for your garage as an alternative.
Safety Tips for Using a Whole House Fan
Like any other appliance in your house, there are some safety tips you should follow when you use a whole house fan.
- Leave the right number of windows open when you turn on the fan. Your installer should tell you the required number of windows you need to keep open. If the windows are closed, there’s a high chance the fan will create back-drafting. This happens when the vent pipes pull outside air inside, and it’s often polluted.
- Always cover the fan when the weather gets cold. The open vents can lead to heat loss in the winter.
- Do not install the whole house fan in the attic if you have a gas furnace or heater already set up there. It could lead to a dangerous situation.
- Consider using an electronic shut-off timer instead of an automatic one. Setting up a timer to turn the fan on and off could be problematic when you’re not home to open the windows.
- Do not turn on both the fan and an A/C. Windows need to be open for the fan and closed for the A/C. Using both and keeping windows open would be a waste of energy and will increase your electrical bill.
How Often Should I Run My Whole House Fan?
You could take advantage of the cooler air in the mornings and the evenings. Additionally, you could leave the fan on during the night. The new models are whisper-quiet whole house fans and will not be a nuisance if they are on while you sleep.
Overall, you can use the fan anytime the air outside is colder than the air inside of your home.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Whole House Fans
Naturally, whole-house fans have their pros and cons just like any other appliance, including air conditioners.
Advantages of whole house fans:
- These fans are efficient in creating a breeze in your house, which removes VOCs and unpleasant smells.
- Whole house fans cool the entire house and cool it down quickly.
- They are cheap to operate and do not increase your monthly energy bill much. A whole house fan would cost you about 10% of what an A/C does.
- These house ventilation systems are greener than A/Cs. They use less energy and do not have to release any harmful emissions.
- If the air outside is fresh and unpolluted, then it gets inside your house with the same quality. The opposite is also true and it’s bad. Whole house fans do not come with filters. Polluted outside air will be a problem.
- Whole house fans do not dehumidify your home as air conditioning does.
Disadvantages of whole house fans:
- If you already have air conditioning or a type of ventilation system, you don’t need a whole house fan. Its only job is to ventilate and cool the house and is practical in warm weather only.
- The fan draws cold air from outside, but if it is polluted, it all gets inside your home. An A/C would be more helpful in such cases because they have filters, and whole-house fans do not.
- These house ventilation systems should be used only when the air outside is cooler than the air inside of your home.
- House fans are not suited for humid climates because they carry the humidity inside.
FAQ about Whole House Fans
1. Where is the best place to install a whole house fan?
Whole house fans are typically installed in attics between the living space and the ceiling. You should install the fan itself in the central hallow for better performance. A handy homeowner can do the installation themselves since most modern fans’ set up has been simplified.
2. Can you run a whole house fan with the windows closed?
Absolutely not. That would increase the chance of back-drafting, which occurs because the fan creates negative pressure. This causes a problem with gas appliances, such as a furnace or a water heater. Backdrafting is the process when the carbon monoxide from the gas appliances is pulled into your house instead of vented outside. If the fan works with closed windows, it can overheat.
3. What is the difference between a whole house fan and an attic fan?
Attic fans are much smaller, and their only job is to remove hot air from the attic. Whole house fans are installed in the attic, but they cool your entire house. In warmer climates, a whole-house fan can replace air conditioning altogether.
4. How many windows should I keep open?
Two or more windows are recommended. Preferably, you should open windows that are as far away from the fan as possible, to allow the fresh air to circulate the entire house. You can also open windows only in the rooms or areas in the house that you want to be ventilated.
5. Is the installation complicated? How long does it take?
The installation should be performed by a professional. On average, it takes a couple of hours.
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