Whole House Fan Review
Summer is upon us, and if you're like me, then you've struggled to fall asleep in a roasting hot bedroom at night. Of course you could try air conditioning, if you're willing to trade the heat for sleepless nights waiting for your next electric bill. Or you might try a whole-house fan. The concept of the whole house fan has been around for decades, but modern technology has made it much more practical in recent years.
This article will distinguish a whole-house fan from an attic fan, as many consumers get them confused, and, with so many options on the market, will recommend which one to go with.
Whole House Fan vs. Air Conditioning
There is a fundamental difference between an AC unit and a whole house fan. But they actually complement one another more than they compete. Air conditioning is a closed system. In other words, air is drawn, chilled chemically with refrigerant, and then pushed into your home at a lower temperature.
A whole house fan pulls cooler air from outside and pushes hotter air back outside.
That being said, in more moderate climates, a well-equipped fan system eliminates the need for AC. This is because:
- Whole-house fans typically cost pennies to the dollar vs. AC in terms of electricity use.
- More modern systems evacuate hot air out of your attic, making your home cooler for longer.
- Many people prefer the fresh air generated by a whole house fan vs. chemically altered AC air.
- A lot of energy companies provide rebates for whole house fans.
Whole House Fan vs. Attic Fan
It is important to distinguish between an attic fan, which only affects the attic, and a whole house fan system. Attic fans, or as they are sometimes called gable fans, are designed for daytime use. They draw air from attic vents, and push the air back out through other attic vents, circulating air in an attempt to keep the area cooler.
Whole house fan systems draw air from your windows and doors in your living space, and then expel them through the attic. The air in the attic is typically 20-50 degrees hotter than the air inside your home. Furthermore, evening and night-time air from outside your home is typically 20+ degrees cooler than your home. By drawing that cool, fresh air through your home and up through the attic, a whole house fan both cools your home and your attic.
Traditional vs. Modern Whole-House Fans
Traditional whole-house fans have been around for decades. Brands like Airvent, Tamarack, and My Green Home traffic in these. Basically, large, helicopter style blades move massive amounts of air. While the airflow is great, there are several drawbacks.
- Noise level. These fans are VERY noisy, resembling the sound of a "jet engine" taking off.
- They require very large louvered intake grates, which often do not look very good.
- Because of their noise level, they are typically run in short bursts and thus don't evacuate air out of the attic very efficiently.
Modern fans, typically from Airscape and QuietCool operate differently. Smaller, energy-efficient blades deliver almost as much airpower. Their advantages are:
- Quiet operation, which allows for use at night when people are asleep,
- Smaller cube-core grills rather than the large intake grates,
- Efficient evacuation of hot air out from the attic to keep cool during day.
Quiet Cool Whole House Fan
Airscape vs. Quiet Cool Whole-House Fan
Airscape and QuietCool are the top manufacturers of whole-house fans. Both are made in the US, both offer acoustic duct-style fans so they are whisper-quiet. There is some debate that Quiet Cool holds the patent on the whisper quiet ducted system, and that Airscape is infringing on the patent. This debate has been going on for at least 2 years, and at this point no one seems to know if Airscape will discontinue this line or not. The biggest difference, however, is in the distribution system. Both Airscape and QuietCool offer do-it-yourself systems. Airscape has a list of "approved installers" that in my experience appear to be a loose collection of handymen that may or may not have actually installed a fan.
The biggest difference, however, is in the distribution system. Both Airscape and QuietCool offer do-it-yourself systems. Airscape has a list of "approved installers" that in my experience appear to be a loose collection of handymen that may or may not have actually installed a fan.
Quiet Cool has a loose distribution system, with actual factory trained installers. They also offer an "executive" line of whole house fans not available in a DIY form.
Finally, Quietcool comes with a 10-year warranty and tends to be slightly less expensive. Either fan works well, but I recommend Quiet Cool in the end.
Whole House Fan Installation
With warmer temperatures and rising energy costs, whole house fans are clearly a smart investment not just for your home but also your lifestyle. In addition to being cheaper and cleaner than air conditioning, a properly installed whole house fan is perhaps the most cost effective way to cool your home at night and the evening.
As far as which fan, with dozens of brands and options, Quiet Cool Fans are currently the best option on the market. Professionally installed, whisper quiet, and with a 10-year warranty, they stand head and shoulders above the competition.