Attic fans are a lot simpler, smaller, quieter and more effective than in decades past. Today, a whole house attic fan can be an economical and efficient way to clear away hot, stale air and pull in clean, cool air from outside. But with so many models on the market, which is best?
Some manufacturers of these units make big claims about how their attic fans can slash your utility bills and help you live without relying on your air conditioning, but are these claims true? In the case of the best whole house attic fan I’ve found, they are. I’ll explain the model that has proven itself to me.
First, though, it’s important to understand a bit about how these kinds of air movers work. I need to distinguish between today’s modern units and those of years ago — even though they work in somewhat similar ways. Those old attic fans had huge motors mounted on the wood frame of the ceiling. When you flipped the switched or turned the knob to activate them, the noisy motor came on and a massive panel of louvers opened up. Suction was created that pulled out the hot air and sent it outside.
Those old units worked pretty well, but the noise was too much for many people, so they stopped bothering to turn them on. And the suction created in certain conditions could be physically painful for those in the house. Plus, those louvers were unsightly and always caked in dirt.
Your Whole House Attic Fan Review
If you’re going to invest in a modern attic fan, it makes sense to choose the best on the market, so I recommend the QuietCool QC CL-3100 Classic Series Whole House Fan — available from Amazon. Unlike those models of the past, the motor is quiet, the vents are small and there’s a strong commitment to energy efficiency.
QuietCool makes big claims about this model, but it lives up to the hype. And there’s no denying that it works to clear out hot air and create some ventilation to make your home feel cooler, more comfortable and fresher too.
Perhaps the two best selling points of the CL-3100 are the fact that installation is so easy and the low price that means you’re sure to get your money’s worth. For me, comfort was the real issue, but the savings on my electric bill are a great bonus too. Rates are higher in my area than ever before, so saving a little here and there adds up.
When the air inside your home is hot and humid, a whole house attic fan is at its best. It can pull in cooler, drier air from outside — and it uses very little electricity. It requires just enough to power a small motor, which doesn’t need to run all the time. In fact, this model is designed to move air so quickly that even running it for a few minutes can make a real difference.
Keep in mind that when the air outside is warm and humid, you still get the benefit of circulating and freshening the air inside your home by pulling in new air, but you don’t get maximum benefit. That’s why many people choose to run their attic fans first thing in the morning and then again in the cool of the late evening during the hottest weeks.
In some cases, that cool air pulled in every morning and evening is all you need. Use other kinds of fans to circulate the air inside your home during the day and you may not need your compressor air conditioning system at all. That just depends on how hot it gets outside and how well insulated your home is.
A single CL-3100 system is designed to work for a space of 1,570 square feet — not quite as much space as the average home in the United States. If your home is larger than that, you may need two or more of these units, strategically located to do the most good. There are also other similar models from QuietCool designed for larger homes.
When used properly, these whole house fans work quickly. Some users simply turn the unit on when they come in from work for a few minutes to clear out the stale air and then turn it off. Others leave it on for hours at a time.
Since this modern whole house attic fan is mounted in a special way that hangs the motor above the rafters, you won’t get all that vibration that was common with attic fans in the past or with other brands that are on the market today. The motors are a lot quieter than those old ones.
The best place to put the unit is somewhere with access to as many rooms of the house as possible, like in a hallway or at the top of the staircase.
The small vents feature dampers that close on their own and seal out air when the unit isn’t in use, increasing the efficiency of the air conditioning when you have to run it and keeping heated air from escaping in the winter when you need it.
Some Final Thoughts
These units are also nice for cleaning out unpleasant cooking smells, pet odors and that closed-up smell that’s common in seasonal homes that aren’t used all the time.
I’m clearly sold on the CL-3100 whole house attic fan because it does what it says and does it with much more efficiency and quietness than you might expect. Attic fans have shown through the decades that they work, and it’s nice to see that modern technology has improved upon them.
Some things of the past have been made new again by improving on them to make them more suitable to today’s modern life. In the case of attic fans, that’s certainly true. And the CL-3100 is often called the best on the market for good reason: it works.