Compare fans (text)
Note: the opinions expressed throughout this site are those of Atticfan.com. If you want to express your own opinion please use the contact us page and we might post it on this site.
Below you will find descriptions of the major types of fans available for whole house cooling. We are obviously partial to the types of fans we sell--that's why we sell them! We feel they do the best job and are actually cheaper and more effective than the other fans shown here.
Here are some questions you need to ask when choosing a fan:
A. Will this fan solve my problem?
B. Is this a proven technology?
C. Will it move enough air? (Less than 1 complete air change every four minutes is not sufficient)
D. Is it quiet at ALL speeds?
E. Can I actually get someone to install this? Can I do it myself?
F. Will I be able to get parts for this fan in the future?
G. Will I be able to service the fan myself or be able to find someone?
H. Will this fan move enough air to cool my house or am I being misled by fancy marketing?
When you are buying a whole house fan, you are actually only buying air flow--enough air flow to cool your house. Without enough air flow the house will not cool down quickly enough and you will be disappointed in the performance of the fan. In order to provide proper cooling you want a complete air change every 2 to 4 minutes. There are expensive fans currently being sold that simply do not move enough air to do the job properly. Other, cheaper fans fans will work well but are very noisy and cannot be repaired. See 11B below for air flow specifications. Click on to our compare fans (chart) page.
Belt Drive, 2 speed Whole House Fan:
This is the best system currently available. Belt drive means a large blade can be used to move lots of air (5000 to 10,000 cfm) yet do it quietly! Two speed motors are readily available if a replacement is ever necessary and the two speed switches almost never fail, unlike delicate variable speed switches. Good engineering, heavy duty, automotive style bearings and simple but strong construction enable this fan to last well over 30 years! It is easy to repair if necessary and the standard parts used to build these fans will very likely be available well into the future. Think about that when you look at some of the other fans below. When you sell your home with this fan in it, you are likely to recoup most of the money you originally spent having it installed since it should still be running quietly and effectively. (See picture of in the banner at the top of the page.)
Beware! There are many belt drive fans on the market that have been cheapened up and will disappoint. See “Fan from big box store” below.
Dual Fan System:
Not a Whole House Fan! They can call this anything they want, but unless it can move the entire volume of air out of the house in two to four minutes, it can't be considered a real whole house fan. These fans move 1000 to 1,700 cfm. A more exact description would be a whole room fan. Noisy! Small fans must spin very quickly in order to move any substantial amount of air. That's why bathroom fans are so noisy. In addition, the two tiny fans cannot spin at exactly the same speed so that they create a very loud interference sound. Expensive!You would need 4 or 5 of these to equal the air flow of a single 30" fan. Insulated! Yes, but so what? There is very little heat loss through a good ceiling shutter and there is a very simple, inexpensive way to limit that loss even more.
Fan from Big Box Store:
Even though this is a belt drive fan, we cannot recommend it. Why? Cheap! Cheap! You get what you pay for: Poor engineering, metal so thin you can bend it with your hand. Bad information and no spare parts along with a very noisy shutter. This might work for a few years but it's more likely to wind up on the trash heap and leave a big hole in your ceiling. With a fan like this, you'll wish you had spent the money on a good one in the beginning.
Hangs from the rafters in the attic:
Same problems as with Dual Fan Systems noted above. Fan moves 1,700 cubic feet of air per minute, not nearly enough to qualify as whole house fan. Three of these fans would be more appropriate for a modest (2000 sq. ft.) house and would cost over $2,500 without installation. The main selling point is that, located deep inside the attic, these fans are remarkably quiet. This may be true, but with our fan, you can whisper to someone while standing under a full size 30' fan, running at low speed. You would be moving more than 5,000 cfm and still be clearly heard. And the extra cash in your wallet would not be a bad thing, either.
A newer unit composed of three fans combined in one unit has recently come onto the market. The cost of this unit installed is two to three times a good belt drive fan and only delivers a portion of the air flow. You can wind up spending $4,000 to $5,000 for these fans and still not move as much air as one our belt drive fans.
The one advantage of this fan is that you can have several, smaller air vents in the ceiling rather than the single, large one used by the belt drive fan.
But, if something goes wrong, can it be repaired 10, or even five, years from now?
This odd looking fan is an attempt to make everything seem easy. It's supposed to fit into an existing attic entry hatchway. For more than $1,200 (without installation) and moving only 2,800 cfm it is only slightly better than the other over-engineered, over-hyped and under thought through fans listed above. On low speed (the quiet speed) it moves all of 1,650 cfm. That means you'll need two or four of these in most homes. A Better Idea if you want the effect, but don't want to spend the money: buy a cheap $20 box fan and put it in your attic entry hatch for the summer. It will sound just as quiet on low and move as much air as this one.
Attic Exhaust Fan:
The attic exhaust fan is an inexpensive ($90 to $500) unit that moves about 1,200 cfm. Unlike the other fans listed above, it is not and does not pretend to be, a whole house fan. It is made to blow the hot air out of the attic only and does not pull air through the house itself. It turns on and off automatically via a thermostat and pulls fresh air into the attic through the existing ventilation. A slightly different model can be mounted behind an existing gable end vent inside the attic. By removing the very hot attic air it is possible to reduce the amount of heat radiating from the attic, through the insulation, and into the rooms below. The effect is mainly to reduce the cost of air conditioning in single story homes. It is usually not very effective in creating a very noticeable effect by itself. As a last resort, one can open the attic entry hatch when this fan runs and it can pull a slight amount of air through the open windows.
Uses very little electricity. (5¢ to 10¢ a day)
Solar Attic Fans:
Expensive! ($300-$800!). Does not save much electricity over electric exhaust fan.
Moves very little air. about half that of the electric powered exhaust fan.
Runs only when the sun shines. Speed reduced during cloudy periods. Does not run at night Most do not shut off but run continuously when sunny. Shut-off problem if fan becomes noisy.
No solar whole house fans exist, only attic exhaust fans. Just cooling the attic without removing the hot air inside the house has very limited effectiveness. See above.
A note about costs:
Don't try to save money by buying a cheap fan at one of the Big Box Stores. While cheaper than the fans we sell, they represent the worst in fan engineering. We will not install them because the customer is rarely satisfied with their performance or their excessive noise level.
If you want to save money, learn how to do the installation yourself and buy a good quality fan.
Beware of many of the newly designed fans sold over the internet. Most of them claim to run much quieter than traditional whole house fans. In fact they are comparing themselves to the cheapand noisy Big Box Store fans, not to a well engineered fan system. The cost of these internet fans tends to be very high and the air movement very low.
In addition, the unique engineering of these fans means that service and parts may well become an issue several years from now. Any breakdown of the fan might mean that it there are no parts available and it needs to be discarded and completely replaced.
A fan from Attifcfan.Com will last more than 30 years and because it is made from commonly manufactured components, any parts prone to failure can be easily replaced for many years to come.
Big box store fan
Hangs in the attic fan
Strange tall fan
Attic exhaust fan (roof mount)
Solar attic fan