What Whole House Fans Do
Are you the type of person who likes to open their windows at home? Whole house fans are mounted in your ceiling and are used to pull cooler air from the outside of the home to the inside. By opening your windows around the house, the whole house fan will allow air outside to come in. This way you have fresh air coming into your home, as well as equalizing the temperatures outside and inside. The second benefit of a whole house fan is that it cools off your attic, so the entire home can perform better, and save you energy. Don’t confuse these with attic ventilating fans that mount on the gable vent in your attic and point outwards to vent the attic. The difference here is, a whole house fan will complete this process much faster and probably lower the temperature in your attic more than an attic fan will.
Fox Family carries two types of whole house fans, the QuietCool brand and Triangle brand. We love them both, but for different reasons, and people usually find themselves really liking one or the other.
QuietCool is a brand that has stormed the industry with innovative thinking and low energy usage fans. They started up in 2003 out of Temecula, California. Triangle Whole House Fans are the more traditional style fans. They are a little bigger and might run at a little higher decibel rating, but they move a ton of air very quickly. We’ll talk more about that later.
Getting straight to it, I want to point out the features of both fans, and then let you decide which one is best for your home.
The first whole house fan I got for my home was a QuietCool whole house fan. I was drawn to it because as an HVAC technician, I liked the idea of attaching a flexible duct to the grille that you see in the hallway and placing the fan on the other side of the 10 ft duct. This insulates the sound of the fan. QC offers different capacities of fans and a very useful and easy to use sizing formula featured on their website.
The formula on the QuietCool website suggests sizing a system for between 2 and 3 cubic feet per minute, or CFMs, per square ft of your home. This means if your home is 1,000 sq ft, you’ll want a system that can move between 2,000 and 3,000 cfms of air. You can then proceed to check out different models and find the Trident Pro 2.5 and Trident Pro 3.3, both of which will move 2,500 to 3,300 cfms of air.
The technology I like about QC fans is in the insulated damper that shuts off any access to the attic when the system is turned off. This also prevents heat from the attic from coming into the home when the fan is turned off.
In 2011, QuietCool became the first to incorporate ECM motors with the fan. These motors run quietly and at lower amperages than regular PSC motors. PSC motors are the ones that you’ve seen on traditional whole house fans since the 1960’s. They require a capacitor to run properly. If the capacitor fails, the motor won’t work, and you’ll have to replace the capacitor before the motor will work again. ECM motors are electronically commutating motors.
QuietCool ECM Motors
A point I want to make here about speeds. In studying the QuietCool ECM motors in the Stealth Pro line, I found that they operate better at lower fan speeds. A case in point is with my own two-story, 2200 square ft home. I installed the 1.5 Trident Pro in the master bedroom ceiling, near the door. I put a 3.3 Trident Pro at the top of my stairs on the second floor. (See the link at the end of this post to watch my installation video.) When I turned them on for the first time, I wasn’t really happy with the volume of air it was moving. It was nice but, I guess I was looking for more.
Since then, I always recommend to people they get the biggest one they can afford and use the 3-speed switches provided by the manufacturer and adjust the airflow accordingly. You’ll find that the motors run more efficiently at lower speeds. Okay, point made about QuietCool’s volume issues. I’ve mentioned it a few times before.
Triangle Whole House Fans
When you mention traditional style whole house fans, people think about loud, whirring helicopters rumbling in their homes. And QuietCool does a good job of making that point on their website. But let’s look at an American classic, the CC Series of Triangle Whole House Fans.
As a technician working in hot attics, I noticed how much more air these traditional style whole house fans seemed to be moving. In fact, we’ll turn these whole house fans on during hotter days so we can bring the temperature of the home up into the attic, which is at times 30-40 degree warmer! And the homeowner has fresh ambient temperatures coming into the home.
The blades are larger, thicker and more durable than QuietCool’s. The belt drive is the secret to its quiet nature. The motor sits on top of the frame instead of near the ceiling joists. This reduces the vibration and noise from the fan blade. You really have to hear it to believe it. (See the link at the end of this post to watch my installation video.) All the noisy traditional style fans I’ve seen were old — maybe 15 years or older – some even older! By choosing a new quality-built fan, not some big box store whole house fan, you’ll feel and hear the difference in sound and volume of air once it’s installed. Think of these as luxury cruisers of the whole house fans.
How Much Air Do They Really Move?
QuietCool fans are sized in 1.5 for 1500 cfms, 2.5, 3.3, 4.8, 5.5, 6.0 and 7.0 models. So, 7000 cfms is the max you can get from a QuietCool fan. Triangle fans are sized in 24”, 30”, 36” around here. They do have a 42” and 48” but we don’t have them around here. The most common 36” fan moves over 9700 cfms of air, almost 3000 cfms more than QuietCool’s biggest fan. That’s pretty impressive to me.
Where Are They Installed?
Both of these fans are ceiling mounted. The triangle fan is mounted on top of the ceiling joist in the attic, bringing the fan blade further back to reduce noise, with no cutting involved. The QuietCool fans can also be installed between the ceiling joists without having to cut anything.
Most people don’t create a whole new dedicated circuit for these fans, instead, it’s more typical to tie into the existing HVAC circuit for the furnace. This is because nobody runs both the whole house fan and their furnace or air conditioner at the same time.
DIY or Contractor?
The best DIYers can install these themselves. A little electrical knowledge about switches and proper ventilation of the attic will go a long way installing these. Be sure to check out the card at the end of this video if you’d like to see an install. If you do need a little more help with installing a whole house fan here in the Sacramento area, we’d love to be the company that gets to do that for you. And if you’d like to learn more about how whole house fans work, you can also check out my post What is a Whole House Fan?
A Word About Warranties
The QuietCool Systems come with a 15-year warranty. Triangle Whole House fans only offer a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty. So that’s kind of lopsided there. QuietCool says they will replace any part that fails for the warranty of that system. When I searched the website of Triangle Engineering, I couldn’t find the warranty info on the whole house fans, although they confirmed their warranty by phone.
What do you think? Have you seen or heard these older style fans? What do you think about them? And what do you think about QuietCool’s fan? Is it strong enough? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks so much for tuning in this week on our blog. See you next week!
Don’t miss our video on this topic:
Installation of a Triangle Whole House Fan
Installation of a QuietCool Whole House Fan