Attic Fan vs. Whole House Fan – What’s the Difference?

Since we spend a lot of time in our homes, we want them to be as comfortable as possible. Cooling your home in these hot Arizona summer days with central air, even in an energy efficient home, can be costly. Attic fans and whole house fans are helpful in cooling your home at a lower cost. Is one better than the other? Which should you choose?

While both types of fans help cool your home, they work in different ways and have different goals. In this article, we’ll look at what each of these fans are, see their advantages and disadvantages, help you decide if they’re the right solution for your home, and help you choose which is best for you.

What are Attic Fans?

Attic fans are installed in the attic in either the top of the roof or in a gable. They pull hot air out of the attic and pull the outside air through vents in the roof. This cools the attic, which in turn cools the rooms directly below it. They’re waterproof and are available in standard electrical and solar models.

On a typical hot day, the attic can be 20 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. It’s common for attics to reach 100 degrees or more. This, in turn, heats the rest of the house, or at least the rooms near the attic. Attic fans can reduce the temperature in the attic by as much as 50 degrees. Cooling the attic prevents the transfer of heat to the rooms in the house, cooling the rooms on the top floor by 10 degrees.

What are the Advantages of Attic Fans?

Attic fans lower the temperature in the attic, which can affect the entire home. They draw outside air through the roof venting. They’re effective in hot temperatures and they’re the most effective in the hottest part of the day. They operate well in most temperatures and humidity levels.

In the winter they dehumidify the air and prevent ice dams while keeping your attic dry. They can improve the life of a home’s components in the attic such as framing, insulation, and wiring. Attic fans are less expensive and are easier to install.

What are the Disadvantages of Attic Fans?

Attic fans only lower the temperature of the spaces below the attic by 10 degrees. It’s best if they work with A/C units to more effectively cool your home. They work best in cool and dry climates and can pull cooler air through cracks in the ceiling. They can also cause carbon monoxide backdrafts.

They’re only designed to reduce the heat in the attic. Attic Fans are typically cheaper to purchase and install than whole house fans, but they don’t cool as well and they’re not as energy efficient.

What are Whole House Fans?

Whole house fans are installed in the ceiling, between the living space and the attic. They’re usually placed in a central hallway. They’re designed to remove the heat from the house. They draw cooler air through open windows and doors. This pulls warmer air from the house into the attic which can then go out of the attic through a gable or roof vent.

With the windows closed and the fan off during the hot part of the day, the cooler air remains in the home. They can cool the home in one hour. Once the home is cooled it won’t reheat as quickly, reducing A/C usage. This allows you to use the whole house fan system less often which in turn makes the whole house fan system last longer.

What are the Advantages of Whole House Fans?

Whole house fans draw cooler air through the open windows and can cool the entire house in one hour. They’re more energy efficient than attic fans and make a great alternative to central air conditioning since they reduce the need for air conditioning. They’re not closed-loop systems like air conditioning systems. They replace stale air many times an hour and eliminate odors, pet dander, pollutants, smoke, etc.

Whole house fans, such as those from QuietCool, are quiet and can save 50-90% of A/C-related cost. QuietCool uses noise-dampening technology, so the fan has about the same noise as a typical A/C unit. They use standard electrical systems and are the most cost efficient way to cool your home. They also increase the home’s resale value.

What are the Disadvantages of Whole House Fans?

Whole house fans are not as good in areas with high humidity and they might not be ideal for some with allergies. They’re not for use in the winter due to heat loss. Many whole house fans are noisy (unless you get one from QuietCool, which are designed specifically to be quiet). Extra ventilation in the roof is required.

They shouldn’t be used with A/C units since they pull the cool air out of the house and need open windows or doors. They’re the most effective during the cooler times of the day. Unfortunately, they’re not usually rated for solar. Whole House Fans are typically more expensive to purchase and more difficult to install than attic fans, but they cool the house more effectively and have much higher energy savings.

Using Both Fans Together

Whole house fans have the most savings, but you can save even more by using an attic fan and a whole house fan together. The whole house fan would pull cooler air from the house into the attic, which would then be pulled from the attic to the outside by the attic fan- cooling the house even further.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Both types of fans do different jobs. Whole house fans have a higher ROI, are more energy efficient, cool the house better, and have a higher resale value. Both types of fans work great together.

Regardless of whether you choose one type of fan or use both types together, we highly recommend the QuietCool whole house fans and attic fans. Their whole house fans are the quietest and most energy-efficient available. Their low wattage attic fans have built-in thermostats, variable speeds, and are available in both roof-mount or gable-mount designs. And, QuietCool fans are made in the USA.

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1 Comment

  1. D. Pete Rainwater

    Informative and easy reading article. Very helpful.

    Reply

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