An especially hot summer can make the temperature in your house soar, making conditions inside unbearably hot.
The typical answer to this is a full air conditioning system. Unfortunately, air conditioners can be expensive to run, energy-hungry, and can contain chemicals that are damaging to the environment.
A whole house fan is an excellent alternative to the air conditioning system, allowing you to cool your house in a more friendly manner to your wallet and the environment.
To help you pick the right whole house fan for your home, we’ve gathered together all the core information you need into a buying guide and reviewed five of the best models on the market.
So, if you’re interested in getting the ventilation you need without installing a money and energy-hungry air con system, read on!
Best whole house fans for 2021
Because the five whole house fans we’ve chosen for this review are very similar, we’ve decided not to put them into our usual categories and instead review them on their individual merits.
The QuietCool QC ES-5400 Energy Saver is an attic mounted system that uses Quiet Cool’s patented, self‐contained duct system to help reduce any sound and noise vibration caused by the fan’s operation.
The system also includes the rather sci-fi sounding barometric pressurized gravity dampers, ensuring that there isn’t any cooling lost between your attic and your home.
The system itself is rated to more than 5422 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) and can cool an area of up to 2700 square feet.
One of the main selling points of the QC ES-5400 is that it uses QuietCool’s ultra-high efficiency electronically commutated AC/DC brushless motors, which makes it 50-90% more energy efficient than traditional AC systems.
The QC ES-5400 is part of a more extensive range of whole house fans produced by QuietCool with different CFM ratings, so it’s easy to find one to suit your house.
What we like:
- Energy efficient – The ES-5400 is around 50-90% more energy efficient than traditional AC systems.
- Adaptable – The ES-5400 is part of a range of whole house fans, making finding one to fit your space that much easier.
- Hidden medium speed – The motor on the ES-5400 does have the control step for a medium speed. You’ll just need a little wiring knowhow to get it working.
What we don’t like:
- Noisy – A fair number of customers have reported that the ES-5400 is quite loud when on High.
Energy efficient and easy to find a model that fits your space, the QuietCool QC ES-5400 makes for an excellent alternative to a traditional AC system.
Designed for houses with 1,200 to 1,800 square foot attics, the CX24DDWT uses a direct drive 2-speed motor to effectively cool your entire house.
One of the main selling points of the CX24DDWT is how quiet it is. Cool Attic has re-engineered the bracing system around the motor mount to eliminate as much vibration as possible and keep noise to a minimum.
The two setting system moves 4,600 CFM on high and 3,200 on low, while the four-bladed fan, rather than the three blades seen on other models, moves as much air as possible.
Cool Attic as a company is based in the heartland of Texas and offers U.S-based customer services for its products.
The entire system is covered by a 10-year limited warranty and is certified by both the U.S and Canadian Underwriters Laboratories for fire safety.
What we like:
- Quiet – The re-engineered tubular bracing system around the fan keeps the system as quiet as possible.
- U.S-based customer service – Since Cool Attic’s customer service operates out of Texas, you don’t have to worry about different time zones if anything goes wrong.
- A full certification and warranty – The system is both UL and cUL certified and covered by a ten-year warranty.
What we don’t like:
- Maintenance – Customers have noted that the manufacturer, Ventamtic, does not supply parts directly to the public, making maintenance after the end of the warranty difficult.
Quiet and effective, the Cool Attic CX24DDWT is an excellent full home cooling system that comes with great certifications and an even better warranty.
The Tamarack Technologies HV1000 circulates approximately 1000 cubic feet of air per minute to cool your home, and is around 80% more efficient than a traditional air conditioning system.
The system is easy to install, and can be so either vertically or horizontally inside an attic wall or floor.
One of the major issues with whole house fans is that they often allow cool air to escape back through their external vents. The HV1000 mitigates this issue by having insulated self-sealing doors that open when the fan is operating and shut automatically when the fan is off.
The entire system is covered by a 3-year warranty and is listed on the Building Performance Institute’s Product Listing Program.
What we like:
- Easy to install – The HV1000 comes with complete installation instructions, and it’s easy to install yourself.
- Automatic insulated doors – Having automatic doors that swing shut when the system is off prevents cool air from leaking out of your home.
- BPI listed – The Building Performance Institute has listed the HV1000 on their list of “ leading industry products and materials that meet home performance industry standards for energy upgrades to the home.“
What we don’t like:
- Unreliable – Several reviews have noted that the HV1000 is prone to breakdowns in the first three months, although the customer service offered to rectify these issues was excellent.
Delivering a powerful 5500 CFM of air movement, the QA-Deluxe 5500 comes with a 2-speed remote, a timer system, and automatic temperature control.
The system is designed to cool two-story houses of up to 3400 square feet and single-story homes of up to 2400 square feet.
The system is constructed with acoustical ducting, a precision spun aluminum fan housing, a rigid support form, and mounting brackets with rubber bushings to keep noise and vibration to a minimum.
Designed to fit between 16 and 24-inch on-center joists, the QA-Deluxe 5500 doesn’t require additional framing. The motor on the fan comes with a 10-year warranty, and the whole system has a 3-year parts warranty.
What we like:
- No additional bracketing needed – The QA-Deluxe 5500 is specifically designed to fit between standard 16 and 24-inch on-center joists, so you won’t need additional framing.
- Quiet and low vibration – The entire system has been designed to keep noise and vibration to a minimum.
- Good warranty – The fan motor has a ten year warranty, and all the rest of the parts have a three year warranty.
What we don’t like:
- Vertical mounting costs extra – If you want to mount the QA-Deluxe 5500 vertically, you’ll need to purchase the vertical wall mount adapter for an additional $49.
The QA-Deluxe 5500 is powerful, easy to install, and very quiet, making it an ideal choice for replacing an AC system.
The BD302WHS isn’t a whole house fan, per se, but it is the fan part of the equation.
The other systems we’ve shown come with the necessary ducting and fixing mechanisms, but if you’d prefer to build your own, then the BD302WHS is a great place to start.
Built to excellent quality standards, the BD302WHS uses self-closing shutters to prevent the escape of cool air back out of your home.
The 120-volt motor comes with a 2-speed control panel sealed inside a NEMA box enclosure for extra protection against dust and rain. The external air moisture vent also comes with IP32 protection against rainwater.
If you’re looking to fit the BD302WHS as part of your whole house cooling system, the dimensions are 34 x 35.5 x 14.5 inches and it weighs in at 50 pounds.
What we like:
- Automatic self-closing shutters – The self-opening and closing shutters on the BD302WHS means cool air drawn in from outside won’t just flow back out when the fan is off.
- NEMA box enclosure – The NEMA enclosure ensures that the motor’s electrics are protected from dust and moisture.
- IP32 protection – Additional IP32 protection on the external air moisture vent means you don’t have to worry about rainwater flowing into your ducting.
What we don’t like:
- Just the fan – The BD302WHS is only the fan part of the mechanism, making it ideal if you want to build your own, but less suitable if you’re just looking for an all-in-one solution.
The BD302WHS is an excellent fan to include in your DIY whole house fan construction.
Buying guide: buying the best whole house fans for your needs
Now that we’ve put together a list of some of the best whole house fans on the market let’s look at the information you need to choose the one that’s right for you.
Why choose a whole house fan?
Traditional air conditioning systems are effective but power-hungry. Using them draws more grid electricity, which is largely produced by burning fossil fuels.
Investing in a whole house fan lets you cool your house 50-90% more energy efficient than traditional AC systems, saving you money and the environment.
Attic fan vs whole house fan
The first hurdle to overcome is that the terms “attic fan” and “whole house fan” are used interchangeably but mean quite different things.
When your house heats up, the warm air rises into your attic and is usually trapped there by your insulation and roofing tiles. It’s a bit like wearing a fur hat on a hot summer day.
An attic van actively vents that hot air out of your roof space, cutting down on the work your AC system has to do to cool your house, which saves you money in the long run.
A whole house fan takes the same idea and applies it to your entire house. The fan system sucks the hot air out of your home and removes it through a vent in your roof. Cooler air is then allowed to flow in from outside through vents or windows.
The primary difference between the two is that an attic fan assists your AC system, and a whole house fan replaces it.
Ducted vs. traditional
There are two primary types of whole house fan, ducted and traditional, and knowing the difference between them is critical to choosing the right one for your home.
Traditional whole house fans are mounted in the ceiling of your house and vent hot air up into your attic. Because they are mounted in the ceiling, they tend to be louder than ducted models.
As you might have guessed from the name, ducted fans are hung from the attic beams or trusses and connect to a vent in the roof.
Because they aren’t mounted in your ceiling, they are less noisy, but the tradeoff is that you need more space to fit them in, and they are more expensive.
Benefits of whole house fans
There are a number of benefits associated with whole house fans, including:
- A reduction on your energy bills because whole house fans are 50-90% more energy efficient than traditional AC systems.
- A reduction in the use of grid energy, which is commonly provided by the burning of fossil fuels.
- Lowered heat levels in your attic prevents damage to your tiles and fixings and also prevents the buildup of moisture.
- Easy to install as a DIY project, so you don’t need to spend extra money on tradespeople.
How to size a whole house fan for your needs
One of the key factors you need to consider when sizing a whole house fan is Cubic Feet per minute, or CFM.
CFM is the measurement of how much air is being moved by the fan. To find the right fan for you, you need to compare the CFM rating of the fan you’re considering buying to your home’s cubic measurement.
To do that just follow the steps below:
- Determine the home’s cubic measurement by multiplying the square footage by ceiling height:
- Divide the cubic feet measurement by the CFM rating assigned to the fan.
The number you get from those equations is how often the fan is exchanging the air in your house in minutes. Generally, whole house fan manufacturers recommend a minimum of four air exchanges per hour.
Installing a whole house fan
One of the benefits of installing a whole house fan is that it’s a relatively straightforward process. However, it does normally require cutting holes in your roof and ceiling to mount it.
It will also require you to wire the whole house fan into your home’s electrical system.
If that sounds like it exceeds your DIY skills, then you are probably better off getting a qualified builder or electrician to come and fit the system for you.
How to use a whole house fan
In order to use your whole house fan as effectively as possible, there are a couple of steps you can follow:
- Step one – Open the windows: Your whole house fan works by drawing cooler air from inside and venting hot air out through the attic. In order to allow that cool air in, you should open your windows, ideally the ones that are on whatever side of the house is currently in the shade.
- Step two – Close your dampers: If you have a fireplace, you’ll want to close off your dampers to prevent soot from being drawn back down your chimney.
- Step three – Turn off your gas appliances: Gas appliances often vent their waste gasses out through exhaust vents on the outside of your house. Because the whole house fan draws air back in from the outside, those waste gasses could be drawn back into the house. So, when using your whole house fan, it’s best to turn off those appliances. If that’s not possible, it’s best to invest in a carbon monoxide detector.
- Step four – Turn on your fan during the cooler hours: Your whole house fan doesn’t actively cool the air being brought into your home. It just draws in cooler air from outside and vents out the hot air that’s built up in your house. To get the best results, it’s a good idea to run your whole house fan at cooler times of the day, such as the early morning or in the evening.
To give you all the information you need, we’ve pulled together some of the more frequently asked questions about whole house fans and answered them for you.
How do whole house fans cool a home?
Homes tend to heat up quickly because of what is called the ‘stack effect’. The air inside a home heats up in contact with people and appliances and then rises.
Because of the insinuating effect of the roof, it is then trapped in the house. Air cool from outside is unable to enter the house because of the trapped warm air.
Whole house fans vent out that trapped warm air and draw in cooler air from outside. The ‘breeze effect‘ or evaporative cooling caused by air movement also helps your house feel cooler.
What’s the difference between a whole house fan and an air conditioner?
Whole house fans cool your home through evaporative cooling, venting trapped hot air, and drawing in cooler air from outside.
Air conditioners use a compressive cooling system, similar to the one used in your refrigerator to cool down the air in your home actively. Compressive cooling systems are energy intensive, which is why whole house fans are around 50-90% more energy efficient than traditional AC systems.
Can I install a whole house fan myself?
This rather depends on your level of DIY skill. Theoretically, whole house fans are relatively simple to fit. However, fitting one does mean wiring it into your home and cutting holes in your roof and ceilings for the vents.
Does a whole house fan need a dedicated circuit?
As a general rule, no. Most whole house fans run on 1 to 10-amps and can be safely connected to a standard 15-amp home circuit.
Energy efficient whole house cooling
Using a whole house fan lets you cut down on your grid use and energy consumption while saving your money on your electricity bill.
With the information and reviews we’ve given you above, you’ll have everything you need to go out and get yourself a more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional AC system.