Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 1:38 pm.

What is the best whole house fan? To find out, we interviewed five HVAC contractors in different parts of the country, asking them for their advice and recommendations. Which fans were best? Easiest to install?

We then spent another 19 hours researching the fans they recommended, comparing features and feedback from consumers. Here are our recommendations.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep our reviews independent, we don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best Whole House Fan

Costs 75% less to run compared to A/C
The top pick for a traditional whole house attic fan—24" fan sized for most homes with 1200 to 1800 square feet in attic. Made in USA. Caveat: it is loud, especially on high speed.
$249.99

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Best Whole House Fan: Cool Attic CX24DDWT Direct Drive 2-Speed Whole House Attic Fan

Whole house fans are great for homes in parts of the country with low humidity. How do they work? Whole house fans suck in cool outside air and expel it into an attic (and then out via roof rents). Warm air in the house is replaced by cooler outside air.

Humidity is the key here—it must be low enough outside that when you bring that air inside, it doesn’t feel muggy. Basically, the western one-third of the US fits this bill.

Another key aspect of low humidity: once the sun goes down, dry air cools off quicker than humid air. That creates the temperature difference needed to make an attic fan work most effectively.

Here in Colorado, we’re experts in whole house fans. We grew up in houses with traditional whole house fans—often, this is all that was needed to cool a home at night.

This article focuses on three types of whole house fans:

• Traditional whole house fans. Typically 24″ in diameter, these fans are designed to work in attics from 1200 to 1800 feet.

• Self contained duct house fans. These smaller fans work to cool spaces from 1000 to 3500 feet, depending on the speed and size of the motor. Again, cool outside air is drawn into the house and hot air is expelled through the attic.

• Window whole house fans. These smaller fans are designed for small spaces (a bedroom, for example). They fit in a window and move air directly outside (not through an attic).

We interviewed five contractors who specialize in heating, ventilation and cooling to get their feedback on whole house fans. We took their suggestions and then additional research to compare specifications and consumer feedback.

One key metric: CFM or cubic feet per minute—this measures the amount of air flow a fan pulls. Sizing this correctly for your home is important.

For the best traditional whole house fan, we recommend Cool Attic’s CX24DDDWT fan. This two-speed, 24″ whole house attic fan is an old school workhorse—it can move up to 4600 cubic feet per minute of air on high speed! (As a comparison, a typical desk fan moves about 600 to 900 CFM.)

What We Liked

• Made in USA.

• Less expensive to run than an air conditioner. This fan uses 150 watts of energy when on high speed. A typical window air conditioner uses four times as much juice.

• Works for attics 1200 to 1800 square feet. That is the typical size attic—but you should measure your own before ordering.

• Two speeds: 3200 CFM and 4600 CFM.

• Rough opening of  26″ x 28″.

• Powder coated finish.

What Needs Work

• Assembly required.

• LOUD! Unfortunately, this is true for most traditional attic fans—the average decibel level is about 85. An equivalent level of noise is that of a garbage disposal. Of course, whether you find the noise level uncomfortable is a matter of personal preference. Some folks like the white noise, since the fan is used at night.

If you prefer something quieter, we’d suggest a self-contained duct system fan—which is what we’ll discuss next.

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Best Quiet House Fan

Only uses 250-300 watts of power
Loved this whole house fan solution—much quieter damper system operates at a low hum, while drawing in cool outside air. Hint: pair with a smart plug to control the fan via WiFi.
$799.00

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Best Quiet House Fan: QuietCool QC CL-3100 Original Classic Fan Model

We actually installed these fans in our own home. (And, yes, we pay for the products we test with our own money!).

This solution is quieter than the traditional whole house attic fan like the one we reviewed above. How? The fan is mounted up in the attic—a duct pulls air from a vent into the fan. This makes the solution less noisy.

What We Liked

• Fully assembled.

• Simple installation. 

• Quieter than traditional whole house fans.

• Smaller ceiling opening needed (15″ x 19″).

• Works in attics up to 1570 square feet.

• 3126 CFM—that’s equivalent to a traditional whole house attic fan on low speed.

• Range of fan sizes available, from 1472 to 6924 CFM.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

• May need more than one to cool off a large home.

• Still noisy. Yes, while this solution is much quieter . . . it isn’t silent! The noise level is about 45 decibelsroughly the sound of a normal conversation. Traditional whole house attic fans are closer to 85 decibels.

Best Budget Window Fan

Great for cooling off a bedroom
For smaller spaces (condos, apartments), this window fan is an excellent choice. Moves up to 3560 CFM and mounts in windows between 27" and 38". 3 speeds.

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Best Budget Window Fan: Bionaire Window Fan with Twin 8.5-Inch Reversible Airflow Blades and Remote Control

Sometimes you just want to cool off a small space, like an apartment or condo. In that case, a traditional attic fan is overkill. Instead, we’d suggest a window fan.

After talking with HVAC contractors and surveying our readers, this is our favorite window fan—Bionaire’s Window Fan. It is an excellent choice for a bedroom or small apartment. We liked the thermostat, remote control and overall quiet operation. And it’s easy on the wallet to boot.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Installation is quick and uncomplicated. However, you may need to add insulation or weather stripping for a tighter fit, depending on your window. This fan fits windows from 24″ to 37″ wide out of the box.

• 3 speeds. 

• Quiet! According to our research, this fan is approximately 44 decibels on low and 55 decibels on high (when measured from six feet away).

• Reversible fan direction. You can direct hot air outside, or pull cool outside air into a room. You can even run one fan in one direction and the other opposite!

• Temperature control via thermostat.

• Extender panels available in case you have a larger window.

• Remote control!

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• BEEP! When you change the speed or press any button, there is a loud beep to confirm the change. It’s too loud, in our opinion . . . especially for use in a bedroom at night!

• No CFM rating. Oddly, the maker of this fan does not publish its CFM, which as you know from reading the previous reviews in this article is important. CFM is the way we measure how much air a fan can move.

• Not a good solution if you want a whole house-type fan—or you have a larger space to cool than a bedroom.

• Better durability, please? This fan could be more durable, in our opinion. We see reports that after a year or less, the fan may stop working or the remote doesn’t do its thing. One issue that comes up: the fuses in the plug. When these blow, it can be frustrating to replace.

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Best House Window Fan

Best feature: fan is reversible
For smaller spaces (condos, apartments), this window fan is an excellent choice. Moves up to 3560 CFM and mounts in windows between 27" and 38". 3 speeds.
$171.92

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Best House Window Fan: Air King 9166F 20” Whole House Window Fan

If you like the concept of a window fan but have a larger area to cool, we’d suggest a whole house window fan like Air King’s 20″ Whole House Attic fan. Excellent quality and features.

This fan installs in a window between 27″ and 38″ wide. On high, it can move 3120 CFM—that’s a lot of air!

What We Liked

• Fan is reversible. You can pull in cool outside air—or expel hot air from an upstairs bedroom.

• Best for smaller apartments, condos or homes under 1000 square feet.

• 3 speeds.

• Impressive power for a 20″ fan—it moves between 2510 and 3120 CFM!

• Powder coated steel front grill and blade.

 • 7 foot cord.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Noisy at higher setting. This fan’s decibel rating is 50, 57, 64 decibels at low, medium and high speeds. 50 isn’t bad, but 64 is getting close to a vacuum cleaner in noise level!

• No remote control.

• No thermostat.

• Not a good solution for larger homes.

• Requires hard mounting to window frame.

• If not mounted securely, it can shake the window frame.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. For this article, we tested a QuietCool fan in our own home—we paid for it with our own money.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here's another key point: we don't take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no "partnerships." Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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