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Best Rated Whole House Fans

What is Best Type Whole House Fan - What Size Whole House Fan Do I Need?

Looking for the Best Rated Whole House Fans in 2022?  Today, we explain the 3 basic types of whole-house fans, the pros and cons of each type, and how to select the best-rated, and best size whole-house fan for your home.

Fun Fact:  It’s estimated Whole House Fans cool homes by using up to 90% less energy than central air conditioning. That is a lot of savings when it comes to electricity usage, and a whole house fan costs substantially less than an AC unit to install.  Therefore, this is one home improvement definitely worth considering.

What is a Whole House Fan?

A whole house fan is a large exhaust fan, which is ceiling mounted in a central location of your home.  A whole house fan, sometimes referred to as a whole house “attic” fan, is used when temperatures outside are cooler than inside the home.  To operate, you simply open your windows, turn on the whole house fan, removing heated air – by replacing it with cool air. Whole-house fans can be controlled by a manual switch, or by an automatic timer.

 

How Does a Whole-House Fan Work? – Video:

 

 

Benefits of Using A Whole House Fan:

Whole-house fans have been used in homes for over 100 years, because of their affordable and effective method of cooling any warm interior space. Whole house fans operate simply by pulling cooler(evening) air in through open windows and doors and pushing the warm air up into the attic. 

Warm attic air is then dispersed upward and outside through the roof vents, thereby cooling it with a house fan.  Overall, this is the cheapest way to cool off a home.

Originally identified as “Attic Fans” the modern whole house fan is gaining more popularity as an effective tool to cool homes, due to its many innovations and improvements. Additionally, if you choose the right size whole house fan, and live in a moderate and relatively dry climate, You can avoid using an air conditioning system entirely.

Whole House Fan – “Pros”

  • Uses far less (up to 90%) Energy than central air conditioning systems (using condenser and blower)
  • Work best in dry climates with 20 degrees (or more) Day to Night temperature swings.
  • (In-Line) Whole-House fans are much quieter as they are mounted in the attic (not ceiling) and ducted to shutters that are mounted in the ceiling.
  • An Insulated Whole House fan includes self-closing Insulated ceiling louvers

Whole House Fan – “Cons”

  • Does not dehumidify interior spaces
  • Not suitable for very humid regions
  • Cools home only when the outside temperature is cooler than inside house temperature
  • Windows and or Screen doors must be left open – before turning the whole house fan on.
  • Can be installed by the homeowner, but a professional HVAC contractor is recommended.

 

Caution:  When using a whole-house fan, it is vital that you have your windows and or doors open.  If you don’t, a whole-house fan will draw dangerous fumes from gas appliances, such as the furnace or water heater, and backdraft the dangerous carbon monoxide and exhaust fumes into the living space.

Also, check with your local building authority to make sure whole-house fans are permitted in your jurisdiction.

 

How To Choose a Whole House Fan:

Choosing the right whole-house fan for your house can be a little intimidating if you’ve never installed one. Plus, you don’t want to install a small house fan that isn’t going to be effective.

Choosing the right size whole-house cooling fan for your home is simple using the whole-house fan sizing formula we provide below. Step one:  determine how much CFM you need for your home.

To Determine the Correct Size whole house fan for your house, we first need to determine the CFM (cubic feet of air movement per minute) required to effectively cool your size house.  The formula recommended by the Department of Energy, PG&E, and the California Energy Commission states you should move your air volume 3-6 times per hour.

Whole House Fan Sizing Method – Determine your “CFM” rating:

Use a multiplier of 2 to 3, x the square footage of your house.  Example: 2,000 square foot home x multiplier of 2 = 4,000 CFM.  If your house is 2,000 square feet with standard 8’0″ ceilings, consider a whole house fan with a CFM of 4,000. The range however can be between 4,000 and 6,000 CFM*

The above CFM method is considered by the Dept. of Energy to be the ideal CFM ratio, used to circulate your air volume 3-6 times an hour, which may be a little excessive for most homeowners’ needs.

*Note:  If you have higher ceilings than 8′-0″, or multiple floors, or wish to cycle the insider air quicker, then order the next size up or two sizes higher CFM whole-house fans. In our sample above for higher ceilings, you would order a 5,000 or 6,000 CFM-rated fan.

Note: After you determine your CFM rate, use that rate to decide on the best type of whole house fan for your needs (See Three-Types of Whole House Fans – Below)

How Is the Air Exchange (CFM) Rate Determined?

Not to get too far “into the weeds”, but some people like to know how the CFM rate is actually (scientifically) determined, and for those (nerds), here is a detailed chart from Cool is how CFM is determined:

whole house fan size chart - best home gear
Whole House Fan Chart – besthomegear.com

*NOTE:  Most HVAC (heating, venting, and air conditioning) contractors simplify the method by using the 2 – 3 multiplier formula, which we show you in our Whole House Fan sizing Method above.


 

Best Whole House Fans in 2022

 

These are the 3 Different Types of Whole-House Fans:

  1.  Standard Whole House Fan – Least Expensive, Loudest, Non-Insulated
  2.  Insulated Whole House Fan – Mid Range Cost – Insulated Dampers
  3.  In-Line Whole House Fan – Most Expensive, Easiest installation, Includes Insulated Dampers

Choosing the whole house fan system for Your Needs, all depends on what your best hope to accomplish is.  Is your top priority to simply and quickly replace the hot air inside your home? Are you concerned about heat loss through whole-house fan louvers in the winter, or is the noise level of a whole-house fan an issue for you when sleeping? Let’s review each “type” of whole house fan below:

Type 1 – “Standard” Whole-House Fan 

If you’re considering an exhaust fan for your house, The least expensive and most powerful whole-house fan option is the standard whole-house fan.  Standard exhaust fans are large (up to 30″) and can produce as much as 4,000 – 6,000 cubic feet per minute of air exchange.

They may however require additional joist framing in your attic, and possibly require extra attic vents due to the vast amount of CFM they deliver.

In addition, because of their design, the Standard whole-house fan is a ceiling-mounted, whole-house ventilation fan, and Because the fan and motor are mounted directly to the ceiling; they are much noisier. 

In addition, the louvers are non-insulated – acting almost like an open window in the winter, producing greater heat loss for your home.  The louvers, however, can be insulated by adding a modified insulated cover for the winter season.

Editor’s Choice:  “Cool Attic” 30″ 2-Speed Whole House Fan

Cool Attic CX30BD2SPD Belt Drive 2-Speed Whole House Attic Fan with Shutter, 30 Inch

 

 

VIDEO:   How To Install Cool Attic Whole House Fan (Standard)

 

 


 

Type 2 – “Insulated Door” Whole-House Fan

To combat the winter heat loss from a Standard Whole House Fan, you might consider an Insulated fan like the Tamarack whole house fan which, while delivering less CFM capacity, automatically keeps heating bills lower in winter months.

These whole-house fans’ have louvers that are Insulated (R38) and include an operation that opens and closes the insulated louvers each time the fan is turned on and off.  Not only does this whole-house fan keep heat from escaping in the winter, but also prevents heat from entering the home through the attic in summer.

Limited to 1,000 – 1,800 CFM however, the insulated whole house fans will take 3-4 times longer to cycle the air volume of your interior, than a standard whole-house fan.

If you live in a climate with huge fluctuations between summer and winter temperatures, the insulated fan model can keep you comfortable without the worry of heat loss or heat gain from a standard fan.

Editor’s Choice:  “Tamarack” – HV1000 R-38 Insulated Fan

Tamarack Technologies HV1000 R38 Ductless Whole House Fan with Insulated Doors

 

VIDEO:   “Insulated” Whole House Fan

 

 

 


 

Type 3 –  “In-Line” Whole-House Fan

The last type of whole-house fan (and our first choice) we look at today is the “In-Line” whole-house fan.  By design, it is intended for use as a whole-house fan – and is also centrally located in the home.

Models such as the Quiet Cool Smart Gable mounted fan, are in our opinion, is the most modern, efficient, and quiet in-line whole-house fan you can buy for your home.

The main difference with an In-line fan is that they are mounted to a truss up in the attic, without boxing or cutting ceiling joists, and are then vented with a flexible duct down to a ceiling-mounted insulated damper. This makes the whole house fan installation easier and the operation very quiet.

In-Line fans come in various sizes and move air based on the CFM volume required per house size.

These house exhaust fans are pricier than standard or insulated whole-house fans. However, In-Line house fans offer a small damper that is less obtrusive to look at than large whole-house fans, and much easier to install.  

To order, or check the pricing and details on an In-line fan with 5,500 CFM, Timer, and Insulated Dampers, check out our first choice from Quiet Cool below:

Editors Choice:   Quiet Cool Fan “In-Line” Whole House Fan – 4505 CFM

QuietCool QC CL-4700 Classic Series Whole House Fan

VIDEO:  “In-Line” Whole House Fan

 

 

 


Whole House Fan – Safety Tips:

  • Consider installing window stops at all windows you intend to open.  Window stops mount on the window jambs and prevent the window from being raised beyond the limited height you need to operate the whole house fan.  Usually, window stops can be set at a 6 – 8″ maximum opening to prevent unwanted entry.
  • Always – Open windows and if necessary screen doors, to allow fresh air to enter the home – BEFORE turning the whole house fan ON.  This is critical to prevent a backdraft of gas-burning appliance fumes from entering the home, as well as the introduction of fresh air to protect the whole house fan motor from overwork and burn-out.

How to Install Whole House Fan

As mentioned earlier, you may want to consider or at least get an estimate to have a professional install your whole-house fan.

On the other hand, Installing a whole-house fan is very straightforward for capable DIY homeowners. Since each whole house fan type has very different methods of installation, we recommend carefully following the installation instructions for the fan type you select. 

Another suggestion: Before you go ahead and install a whole house fan yourself – take a look at the short video below.

After watching the installation video, you can decide whether you are comfortable installing a whole house fan, or whether it would be best to hire a professional:

Remember, the installation involves the use of power tools, ladders, and possibly new electrical wiring, or attic framing.

How to Install Quiet Cool Gable Fan (In-Line Whole House Fan Installation) Video:

 

Conclusion

Whole house ceiling fans are an extremely efficient and affordable means of dispursing interior home heat to the outdoors.  While cooling off your home, they can also be used in conjunction – with or without an air conditioning system.  Some owners choose to run the A/C during the day, and the whole house fan in the evening. 

And others just prefer fresh air over the stale recirculated air, that A/C systems produce, and use the whole house fan exclusively.

Our advice:  If you prefer fresh air, and like the idea of saving money on your electric bills, then a Whole-House fan may be the perfect source of cooling to consider.

For the most peaceful (quietest) sleep, insulated efficiency, timer control options, 4500 CFM rated, quiet whole house fan with generally easy installation, Our First choice is the Quiet Cool Whole House Fan QC- CL-4700.

 

Thanks for visiting Besthomegear.com – and don’t miss our other How-To-Guides for Homeowners.

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