The Best Whole House Fans of 2023 - Bob Vila

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jun 23, 2023 11:05 AM

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The Best Whole House Fans of 2023 - Bob Vila

Central air, window air conditioners, and split AC units aren’t the only ways to keep a home comfortable during hotter weather. For folks who’d prefer a cooling method that draws less on the energy grid and provides a bit more fresh air, the best whole-house fan might be the way to go.

A whole-house fan is installed in the upper level of a home. It draws in the fresh air and ejects the warm, stale air through a vent in the attic. The result is fresher air and more comfortable temperatures indoors while potentially lowering the electric bill (due to running the air conditioner less). Keep reading to learn more about which of the best whole-house fans is a good fit for your home.

Choosing a list of the best whole-house fans wasn’t easy breezy. We wanted to ensure that every fan we suggested could really make a difference by cooling homes. For that reason, we drew upon all of our DIY and home improvement experience, as well as some heating, ventilation, and air conditioning experience, to determine the most important features and components a fan should have.

Once we knew what to look for, we performed extensive product research to compile a list of fans we thought would meet our criteria. We then compared these fans’ power, design, and prices to ensure they offered enough value to make our lineup. Those that didn’t were cut, while those that did were given awards based on their strengths.

There is a lot to think about when shopping for the best whole-house fan, but choosing one needn’t be complicated or time-consuming. Those in the market for one of these fans will want to consider the following top picks, which are among the best whole-house fans on the market. Whether hunting for a ducted fan or a more basic model, you’ll be sure to find some good options for everyone among these leading products.

DIYers looking to install quiet whole-house ventilation will want to give QuietCool’s CL-1500 whole-house fan serious consideration. This ducted unit places the direct-drive fan in the attic space, which allows the fan to draw cool, fresh air into the home without noise and chatter.

The CL-1500 system is available in several sizes ranging from 1,472 cubic feet per minute (CFM) to 6,924 CFM, which are compatible in homes from 750 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet. (For a more detailed discussion of CFM, read the section Size and CFM that appears below our product reviews.) The finished end of the duct features an attractive vent with built-in gravity dampers, keeping heat and cool air from escaping when the fan is not in use. The CL-1500 includes a remote control that can operate up to 100 feet away from the fan, but it doesn’t come with Wi-Fi support for operation with a cell phone.

Get the QuietCool CL-1500 whole-house fan at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Shoppers who don’t have a ton to spend on a whole-house fan can get a lot of cool for their cash with this unt. This Cool Attic gable ventilator installs in a gable vent and pushes hot air out of the home or attic, sucking fresh air in through the open windows. Though one air vent fan only draws 1,300 CFM, installing two units on either end of an attic space will bring in quite a bit of fresh air through open windows—and two of these fans is still less expensive than buying a single whole-house fan from most other manufacturers.

As inexpensive as it is, the Gable Mount attic ventilator still offers some desirable features. Its direct-drive motor is low maintenance, so you needn’t worry about changing belts. While it doesn’t have a remote or Wi-Fi, there is a built-in temperature sensor that can be set to turn the fan on automatically, which ensures the home stays cool when the heat rises.

Get the Cool Attic CX1500 whole-house fan at Amazon.

Sometimes, spending a little extra now saves money in the long run. QuietCool’s ES-4700 might cost more than the company’s other units, but this series’ brushless direct-drive motors are efficient, quiet, and require minimal maintenance.

The ES-4700 is a ducted fan unit with a dampered vent for temperature control and comfort. The ES line comes in sizes ranging from 1,434 CFM to 6,878 CFM for cooling homes from 700 square feet to over 3,000 square feet, while the ES-4700 produces 4,195 CFM (2,304 CFM on low) for homes up to 2,295 square feet. This unit’s damper system features barometric-pressurized gravity activation to retain heated or cooled air, helping this model improve efficiency even further. It also comes with a wall-mounted remote control that can operate the fan from up to 100 feet away.

Get the QuietCool ES-4700 at Amazon or The Home Depot.

Those looking for a simple, effective approach to whole-house cooling will want to check out Cool Attic’s CX30BD2SPD two-speed belt-drive fan. This model comes in both 24- and 30-inch sizes, which are suitable for homes between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet. With its belt-driven motor and stabilized framework, the fan cools homes quietly. At its top speed, it moves 7,800 CFM of air, and on low, 5,400 CFM.

Installed in an attic floor, the fan is equipped with a set of louvers that are closed when the fan isn’t in use. You can choose the amount of airflow by setting the fan to one of two speed settings. While the Cool Attic doesn’t come with a temperature switch or a timer switch, it does have both an on/off switch (which DIYers can replace with a Wi-Fi model) and a high/low switch. Keep in mind that the belt will need periodic replacement (depending on the weather and amount of use) and that the fan can grow louder when it starts to wear out.

Get the Cool Attic CX30BD2SPD whole-house fan at Amazon.

Folks shopping for a quality direct-drive fan that will offer low maintenance and very little noise might want to take a look at the QA-Deluxe. This whole-house fan has an efficient direct-drive motor with two speeds, producing up to 3,945 CFM of airflow in homes up to 3,400 square feet.

The QA-Deluxe has more features worth noting. The fan sits at the end of an insulated duct to minimize noise, and the other end boasts a louvered grill that shuts when the fan is not in use. It also has a two-speed remote control that allows for wireless adjustments. And it features rubber bushings to reduce noise and vibration even further. Unfortunately, “wireless” does not mean Wi-Fi—there isn’t an app to control this fan from a phone or tablet.

Get the QA Deluxe whole-house fan at Amazon, The Home Depot, or QA-Deluxe Fans.

Not everyone can, or wants to, cut into their ceilings or walls to install a whole-house fan, and Air King’s 20-inch whole-house window model is an attractive choice for those in that category. When installed in an upper-level window, this fan pushes warm interior air out and replaces it with fresh air drawn from open windows on the lower level. The Air King also features three speed settings, moving up to 3,560 CFM of air.

One of this product’s biggest selling points is its flexible installation shroud, which allows the fan to fit any window between 27 and 38 inches wide. If the weather turns nasty, no worries—the Air King has a Storm Guard that lets you close the window with ease. The whole fan can also be removed from the window at any time. However, it doesn’t come with a remote control or Wi-Fi interface.

Get the Air King whole-house fan at Amazon.

Folks hoping to move air through their homes or simply eject it from their hot attics might find the Air Vent Gable Ventilator an excellent solution. This model features a direct-drive motor that Air Vent states is 30 percent quieter and 35 percent more efficient than comparable fans while also remaining affordable.

This Air Vent fan features a unique design. Rather than sitting within a solid shroud, the fan fits inside a series of rings to allow more airflow with less restriction and improve efficiency. It produces a maximum airflow of 1,050 CFM, making it suitable for attics up to 1,500 square feet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a set of louvers or a vent, so you’ll have to purchase these separately. While it doesn’t include a remote control, there is a programmable thermostat.

Get the Air Vent whole-house fan at Amazon or Sears.

There’s a lot to know about how to choose the best whole-house fan, but shoppers shouldn’t lose their cool. The following sections will outline the most important considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a fan to cool an entire home.

There are four main types of whole-house fans, and they differ in several ways.

Once a homeowner decides on the type of fan that’s best for their needs, the next decision is whether to get a direct-drive or belt-drive fan. Direct-drive fans have motors mounted directly to the fan blade (somewhat similar to a ceiling fan or box fan). Belt-driven fans are standard whole house fans that have separate motors, with belts connecting the motors to the fans. Direct-drive fans are typically the most energy efficient, but belt-driven fans are quieter.

Whole-house fans are available in different sizes and airflow ratings, and it’s important to choose one that will work for your home. Installing a small fan in a large house won’t pull cooler air into the space effectively, and installing a large fan in a small home might feel like living in a wind tunnel.

In their product literature, most manufacturers will indicate the size of the home for which their fans are suitable. They might also list the CFM, which describes the volume of air that the fan can move. The square footage of the living space determines the CFM a fan should have:

Fresh air is wonderful, but a constant, loud hum or chatter from a whole-house fan can be disruptive. For those who are sensitive to noise, some fans are better choices than others.

The quietest whole-house fan option is the ducted type—by a long shot. Because the actual fan is on the end of a long duct and installed in a separate space, home occupants will hear very little noise. These are quieter than standard window fans.

The second-quietest option is a belt-driven standard model. The belt dampens much of the chatter and vibration, as long as the belt is in good working condition.

Whole-house fans are convenient, but some are easier to use than others. Many models have built-in timers or temperature switches that can be programmed to turn on automatically. Others have convenient remote controls.

Some fans have Wi-Fi connectivity so that they can be controlled via a smartphone app. With these fans, you don’t even have to be home to ensure the temperature in the house is comfortable. You can adjust fan speed, timers, and other settings directly from your phone.

If the whole-house fan chosen is not W-iFi enabled, there’s a work-around: Simply install a WiFi-enabled switch to control the fan and provide remote connectivity. While these switches might not provide the same functionality as a specific app, a simple on/off switch you can control from anywhere can make a world of difference when it comes to comfort.

Despite all of the information presented here on the best whole-house fan, there may still be questions about how they work. Read on for answers to some of the most common questions about whole-house fans.

The best whole-house fans are reportedly 50 to 90 percent more efficient than air conditioners.

They’re effective at cooling when the exterior temperature is lower than the temperature inside the home. The airflow these fans create can make a space much more comfortable, even if it doesn’t lower the temperature inside very much.

It depends on the size of the home and its design, but some general guidelines are:

Yes. During hotter months, nighttime is actually the best time to run a whole-house fan. You can also install a timer or a Wi-Fi switch if you’d prefer to schedule when the fan runs.

Some WiFi-enabled fans are available, but many come with simple remote controls. If you’d prefer to operate a non-app-controlled fan via your smartphone, you can install a WiFi-enabled switch.

Direct-drive motors don’t require much maintenance—just ensure that the fan is clean and unobstructed. Belt-driven fans will require new belts every few years, depending on usage. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics on your model.

An attic or whole-house fan is a very simple design, and users can expect to get around 15 years of use from a fan before having to replace it.

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

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The Best Whole House Fans of 2023 - Bob Vila

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