What is the Difference Between a Whole House Fan and an Attic Fan?

Many people mistakenly use the terms whole house fan and attic fan interchangeably. The problem is, they are different fans with altogether different purposes – both offering benefits that are beneficial to many homeowners throughout the country. The key lies in determining what your goals from the fan are so you can choose the fan that will help you achieve those goals.

Key Details about Whole House Fans
Whole house fans are ideal for providing quick cooling for your home. They move huge volumes of air in a relatively brief period of time – expelling stifling air through attic vents and drawing cooler air in through open windows on lower floors. A properly sized whole house fan for your home, in the right conditions, can effectively cool your home, with a nice comfortable breeze, in as little as five minutes.

Operate best in cool evening, overnight, and morning hours (times when the temperature outside your home is generally cooler).

Draws heat out of your home through roof vents.

Draws cool air in through open windows (windows on lower floors of your home must be open for a whole house fan to operate).

Creates a comfortable breeze for added comfort.

Using a whole house fan to cool your home when possible helps you reduce your dependence on air conditioning units for your home that cost considerably more to operate. The mounting is different as well. Whole house fans are typically mounted in the ceiling between your living space and your attic while attic fans are generally mounted between your attic space and the outside of your home.

Key Details about Attic Fans
Attic fans operate a little differently than whole house fans. The purpose of an attic fan is simply to remove the hot air from your attic space. This doesn’t directly offer cooling benefits for your home, but offers indirect benefits by reducing the amount of heat that builds up in your attic throughout the hottest hours of the day. It is most efficiently used during daytime hours and can be used with a timer.

Runs best during the hottest daylight hours.

Removes hot air from your attic allowing your air conditioning unit to operate more efficiently – even during the hottest hours of the day.

Isolated to the attic space in your home.


The Argument for Both

Each type of fan offers many benefits to homeowners interested in reducing cooling costs, improving air quality in the home, and keeping the family comfortable. When used in combination with each other, one during the day and the other during the night, the overall effects on your comfort and budget are truly impressive.

If you have questions about either whole house fans or attic fans or specific products we offer, give us a call at 1.888.229.5757. We’d love to hear from you!

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