How Much Does a Whole-House Fan Cost?
Whole-house fans offer a cost-effective and efficient way to cool a home. The national average whole-house fan cost is $1,700, falling within a typical range of $900 to $2,500.
- The typical cost range to install a whole-house fan is between $900 and $2,500, with a national average cost of $1,700.
- The main factors that affect the cost for a whole-house fan include the size of the house, the size and speed of the fan, the type of motor, the fan brand, and the cost of labor.
- Whole-house fans have numerous benefits, including fast cooling, decreased air- conditioning bills, easy installation, and quiet operation—and they improve indoor air quality.
- Installing a whole-house fan can be a complex project that can be dangerous for inexperienced homeowners; for this reason, it’s often recommended for homeowners to hire a professional to install their whole-house fan.
A whole-house fan can improve a home’s ventilation and cooling when homeowners are faced with sweltering summer days and stuffy indoor air. Whole-house fans pull hot air out of a home and draw in cooler air from outside. This exchange provides an effective and efficient cooling method that can stand alone or work alongside an AC system to keep a home comfortable on even the hottest days. Whole-house fans improve indoor air quality by reducing moisture and pollutants. They can also help homeowners save money on energy bills and increase property value.
But how much does a whole-house fan cost? According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the typical cost range for whole-house fan installation is $900 to $2,500, with a national average cost of $1,700. Several variables influence the price of a whole-house fan installation, including the size of the home, the type of fan chosen, and local labor costs.
In this guide, homeowners can explore the cost-influencing factors of whole-house fans in depth while learning whether a whole-house fan can be a DIY install. Money-saving tips on whole-house fan projects are also provided to help budget-conscious homeowners make the most of their installation.
Factors in Calculating Whole-House Fan Cost
Various factors can influence whole-house fan costs. Although national averages range from $900 to $2,500, local averages can vary depending on house size, fan size, motor type, and labor costs. This section explores such factors in more detail to help homeowners better understand why prices can fluctuate so much.
House size is one of the factors that has the greatest influence on whole-house fan costs. House size refers to the square footage of a home, including multiple floors. In general, a larger home will require a larger fan to cool the entire space effectively. Larger fans tend to have higher price tags.
One way homeowners decide on fan size is by using the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating, which refers to the amount of air a fan can move in 1 minute. This rating is directly proportional to the size of a fan. Contractors often recommend multiplying a home’s square footage by 4 to determine the recommended CFM rating for the space. The following chart shows CFM ratings by home square footage with price ranges.
|Home Size in Square Feet||CFM Rating||Cost Range for Fan Only|
|1,500||3,000 to 5,000||$400 to $1,300|
|2,000||4,000 to 6,000||$500 to $1,400|
|2,500||5,000 to 7,000||$600 to $1,500|
|3,000||6,000 to 8,000||$700 to $1,600|
Fan size plays an important role in determining whole-house fan costs as well. As can be expected, larger fans tend to cost more than smaller options, and this is for two reasons. First, larger fans require more material to build. Second, larger fans may require more labor to install, which can increase the overall cost.
When choosing an appropriate fan size, homeowners will want to consider CFM ratings according to their home’s square footage. But other factors such as ceiling height, insulation, and the number of stories are also important to consider. For example, a poorly insulated home with low square footage may require a larger fan than a home that has a higher square footage and exceptional insulation.
Whole-house fans are equipped with either belt-drive or direct-drive motors. Direct-drive motors are more expensive than belt-drive, costing between $550 and $1,500 for materials. However, they offer lower running and maintenance costs because their blades are directly attached to the motor, eliminating friction that can lead to higher energy costs.
Belt-drive motors cost less, with an average price range between $200 and $600 for materials. Belt-drive motors work by utilizing a belt and a series of pulleys to turn the fan, offering another advantage against direct-drive—quieter operation. But this super-quiet fan tends to require more frequent repairs and can have higher energy costs over time.
Fan diameter plays an important role in determining how powerful a whole-house fan is. The diameter refers to the span of the fan blades. The larger the blade span, the more air a fan can move.
Fan diameters typically range from 20 inches to 36 inches, with larger fans being more expensive than smaller units. Generally speaking, homeowners with larger homes will want to consider a larger fan to ensure it can adequately cool the space. However, a larger fan may also require more energy to run and be louder than a smaller one.
CRM ratings are typically in line with a fan’s diameter. Homeowners can expect to pay the following when it comes to fan size alone.
|Fan Diameter||CFM Rating||Cost Range for Fan Only|
|20 inches||4,000||$200 to $1,300|
|30 inches||6,000||$400 to $1,300|
|36 inches||7,000||$700 to $1,600|
Basic whole-house fan models come with a single-speed or two-speed motor. These models tend to be the least expensive option.
Some whole-house fans offer more advanced options such as three-speed or variable-speed motors. These options allow homeowners to adjust the speed of a fan based on the current temperature and humidity levels inside a home, allowing for more precise cooling.
Advanced models that offer multiple speeds come with higher up-front costs. A variable-speed whole-house fan can cost up to $3,600 for materials and installation. However, the ability to adjust a fan’s speed can provide homeowners with greater energy savings in the long run.
Homeowners have three main options when it comes to how a whole-house fan is installed or attached to their home. Several factors determine the appropriate mounting type, including the size and layout of a home, the type and pitch of the roof, and whether any existing attic ventilation systems are available.
- Direct-mounted: This option involves mounting the fan directly to the ceiling joists or trusses. It is the most common and least expensive option, costing an average $1,700 for materials and installation.
- Ducted: Ducted fans involve installing ductwork to move air from the living space to the attic and vice versa. The cost to replace ductwork can add an additional $1,200 to the overall cost.
- Roof-mounted: This type of mounting involves installing the fan on the roof of the home and may require the help of a professional roofer, which can cost around $45 to $75 per hour for installation. Roof-mounted fans can be more expensive due to the additional labor and materials required.
Homeowners have a wide range of options when it comes to whole-house fan brands. Each brand has its own unique features and benefits, along with varying price points. The following are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for the best whole-house fans.
- Look for brands that have a good reputation and a long history of customer satisfaction.
- Consider the warranty offered by each brand, keeping in mind that a longer warranty with minimal fine print is usually a sign of a higher-quality brand.
- Brands that offer a wider range of fan sizes and motor types are more likely to have an in-budget option.
- Check customer reviews and ratings for each brand and all considered models.
- Compare pricing between different brands, focusing on value over dollar amounts.
Some common whole-house fan brands with price ranges are listed below.
|Brand||Cost Range for Fan Only|
|Air Vent||$245 to $320|
|Centric Air||$1,555 to $2,040|
|Master Flow||$245 to $310|
|QuietCool||$450 to $1,460|
|Solatube||$1,000 to $2,900|
Labor costs for whole-house fans can vary depending on complexity and job scope. More complicated installations are likely to take longer, resulting in higher labor costs. On average, labor costs range from $300 to $1,000 for a whole-house fan installation or between $50 and $100 per hour.
Labor costs can also depend on the type of contractors a homeowner needs to hire for a whole-house exhaust fan installation. Most installations require a licensed electrician to install wiring and fan switches, while carpenters are often required to cut into ceiling joists. The following are some common labor costs for homeowners to consider.
|Job Type||Labor Cost|
|Drywall repair||$300 to $880|
|Thermostat installation||$130 to $250|
|Roof ventilation installation||$300 to $500|
Additional Costs and Considerations
In addition to the cost of the fan and installation, there are other costs and considerations that homeowners will want to keep in mind when taking on a whole-house fan project. Some of these may be necessary to ensure the safe and proper operation of the fan, while others may be optional upgrades a homeowner may want.
The following additional factors can affect the total cost of a whole-house fan, such as permits and inspections, alternatives to whole-house fans, customizations, insulation, electrical work, and drywall repair.
Permits and Inspections
Permits and inspections are necessary for whole-house fan installations to ensure the process meets local building codes and safety standards. One benefit of working with contractors is that they typically handle the permit and inspection requirements, saving homeowners time and stress.
The cost of an electrical permit for a whole-house fan installation can range from $10 to $500, depending on the property’s location and the project’s complexity. While permit costs are typically included in a whole-house fan installation cost, it’s recommended for a homeowner to confirm this with the contractor before the project begins. Installing a whole-house fan without a permit can lead to fines or legal issues.
Whole-House Fan vs. Alternative Options
Whole-house fans aren’t the only option for homeowners. While fans that cool like air conditioners are ideal for low-humidity climates, other cooling methods can be considered.
Central air conditioning costs between $3,880 and $7,900, making it much more expensive than a whole-house fan. Window AC units are more affordable, costing between $150 and $530 per unit, but they operate as single-room fans. Ceiling fan installation costs around $250 and can provide cooling to single rooms as well. Running a whole-house fan is much more affordable than running an AC system, with some homeowners spending as little as $5 per month on electricity for a whole-house fan.
An electrician or contractor can install an attic fan as another option. While attic fans reduce heat buildup in an attic, they don’t cool an entire home. The best attic fans typically cost between $380 and $880. Whole-house attic fans are more affordable, but they are not a full cooling solution.
Homeowners may also want to consider swamp coolers, especially in dry, low-humidity areas. Swamp coolers are often more expensive than whole-house fans, with an average price range between $1,550 and $3,750.
One benefit of whole-house fans is that with so many features and options, homeowners can virtually customize their unit to meet their exact needs and preferences.
For example, fan-size variations allow homeowners to choose a model that can effectively cool their space without paying more than they need. Different motor types allow for different levels of operational noise and energy consumption. Speed settings offer homeowners greater control over airflow, while integrating a whole-house fan with a smart-home system can provide additional benefits.
How a homeowner customizes their whole-house fan can affect the cost of a whole-house fan installation. While avoiding unnecessary costs is important, homeowners shouldn’t limit themselves to a basic installation if it won’t meet their cooling needs.
Insulation is a material that helps to reduce heat transmission between a home’s interior and outside. Insulation may help improve energy efficiency all year long by keeping cold air inside in the summer and warm air inside in the winter.
Insulating material can also help reduce noise from the outside and from a whole-house fan system. Insulation makes it easier for a whole-house fan to keep a home cool and should be highly considered to boost the efficiency of a system.
The cost of insulation can vary depending on the size of a home and the insulation type used, but homeowners can generally expect to pay $20 to $30 per roll of insulation.
Electrical work is crucial to nearly any whole-house fan installation project. It can also significantly impact the overall cost.
Depending on a home’s existing electrical setup, wiring may need to be added or moved to accommodate a new fan. It’s recommended that a licensed electrician handle any wiring work. They may also add switches or remote control units for convenience.
Homeowners can expect to pay between $50 and $100 per hour for an electrician and an additional $85 to $200 for a new switch. Electrical costs may be factored into a contractor’s overall installation quote, though this will need to be confirmed to avoid any surprises when a homeowner is budgeting for this project.
Some whole-house fans may require the installation of vent work. While this is a simple and affordable process, it can damage or compromise existing drywall.
For example, when an electrician adds a new switch for a whole-house fan, they’ll likely need to cut into the drywall to install it properly. Sometimes a whole-house fan can require a vent to connect it to the outside; this can also damage drywall.
Repairing or replacing drywall after a whole-house fan installation is important to ensure the finished project looks professional and neat. Homeowners can expect to pay between $60 and $90 per drywall panel or an average of $300 to $900 for an entire drywall repair or replacement project.
Types of Whole-House Fans
Homeowners can choose from several types of whole-house fans. Each type comes with its own unique features, benefits, and considerations. Understanding the different types of whole-house fans can help homeowners make informed decisions when making a selection for their homes.
Direct-mounted whole-house fans are the most common type available. They’re directly installed on the ceiling between the ceiling joists and covered with a whole-house fan cover. They do not require ductwork and can be installed in smaller attic spaces. On some models, adjustable speed settings are available.
Direct-mounted fans generally cost less than other types and are easier and quicker to install, resulting in lower labor costs as well. However, this type of fan tends to be louder than others and may not effectively cool larger homes. Direct-mounted fans are also not the most energy-efficient style to choose from. Homeowners can expect to pay an average of $1,700 for a direct-mounted whole-house fan.
As the name suggests, ducted whole-house fans use ductwork to aim hot air at the vents in an attic. Installing a ducted whole-house fan may involve clearing out or creating attic space for the new material.
Ducted fans can be used to cool the whole house and tend to be more efficient than direct-mounted fans. They’re also considered by many to be the quietest fan. However, a quiet cool attic fan can be more expensive and require more maintenance due to the ductwork. They may also not be suitable for all home layouts.
The cost of ductwork for a ducted whole-house fan system costs an average of $1,200.
Additionally, homeowners may need to pay an additional $300 to $650 to install a gable or roof vent for proper airflow.
Roof mounted whole-house fans, or indirect mounted fans, are perfect for flat and low-pitched roofs or homes with small attic spaces. While installation can be more complicated and expensive than for other types of fans, a roof-mounted fan can cool large areas quickly and be used year-round for ventilation.
Roof-mounted fans are installed directly into the roof of a house and can be operated by a remote control or wall switch. Because of how this type of fan is installed, a roof may require additional structural support to support the weight of the fan.
Homeowners can expect to pay between $45 and $75 per hour for a professional roofer to help with the installation process. This is crucial to prevent overly noisy operations or roof leaks. Additional ductwork may be an additional cost when connecting the fan to the ceiling.
Benefits of Installing a Whole-House Fan
Installing a whole-house fan offers several benefits compared to other cooling systems. For homeowners unsure of how a whole-house fan can improve their home, the following are some of the top advantages of a whole-house ventilation system.
Many homeowners instantly notice how much faster a whole-house fan can cool their home compared to an AC system. This is because whole-house fans draw in cooler outdoor air and push out warm indoor air, creating a quick breeze throughout the home.
While an AC unit can take time to cool a home using circulated cool air, a whole-house fan can provide nearly immediate relief from the heat. Cooling a home faster can reduce the risk of heat exhaustion or other heat-related problems. Pets can also benefit from a cooler home, especially since they are more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
Fast cooling can also make it easier for homeowners to sleep, relax, and enjoy time at home, even if the weather is scorching.
Decreased Air Conditioning Bills
Homeowners who cool their homes with a whole-house fan system tend to experience a decrease in their cooling bills. Running a whole-house fan reduces the need for air conditioning, resulting in less energy consumption. With a whole-house fan, homeowners can save up to 90 percent on their air-conditioning bills over using central air conditioning.
These cost savings can free up money for other home improvement projects or necessary expenses. To maximize their savings, homeowners will want to keep windows closed and blinds drawn during the day to prevent warm air from entering their homes. At night, as long as the outdoor temperature is cooler than the indoor temperature, homeowners can take advantage of a natural cooling method that can be backed up with their whole-house fan rather than an AC unit.
A whole-house fan system is an affordable cooling option for homeowners. Compared to traditional air conditioners, the installation cost of a whole-house fan is significantly lower. While an AC system can cost between $3,800 and $7,500, a whole-house fan can be installed for less than $2,500.
Additionally, a whole-house fan system’s operating costs are much lower than the cost of air conditioning. Homeowners can expect to save hundreds of dollars a year on energy bills with a whole-house fan. There’s also less maintenance and fewer repairs to worry about with a whole-house fan than with an AC system.
Professional whole-house fan installation is typically easier than installing an air-conditioning unit. Adding a whole-house fan requires minimal structural changes, while installing an air-conditioning unit may require major modifications or electrical upgrades. Additionally, whole-house fans are designed to fit into existing attic vents, making installation quicker and less invasive.
An easy installation often means less time and money spent on labor costs. In addition, a whole-house fan system doesn’t require ductwork. Installing ductwork for an AC unit can be a significant expense and time-consuming process.
Overall, a whole-house fan is an easy and quick installation that can provide a cooler home in less time than a typical AC installation would take.
Compared to other types of cooling systems, whole-house fans are quiet, powerful fans. Since a whole-house fan is installed in the attic and the blades in the ceiling, less noise is generated than with ductwork or window units.
A homeowner can appreciate a quiet cooling system for several reasons. Light sleepers are less likely to be awakened by the unit turning on. During social gatherings, such as dinners or movie nights, guests won’t be distracted by the rumbling noise of a loud system throughout the home.
Homeowners can read, rest, or relax in peaceful, cool surroundings. With less noise pollution, a quiet whole-house fan can help create a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere.
Whole-house fans have less impact on the environment than traditional air-conditioning systems, making them an environmentally friendly option for eco-conscious homeowners. Air conditioners use refrigerants to cool the air they circulate. Refrigerant leaks can harm the environment when fumes are released into the atmosphere.
Also, running air-conditioning systems on hot days increases the overall energy demand, increasing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Whole-house fans use a fraction of the energy air conditioners need to cool a home. Homeowners who choose whole-house fans almost always reduce their carbon footprint.
Improved Indoor Air Quality
As whole-house fans draw in fresh air from the outside, they evacuate stale air from the inside, along with pollutants and allergens. This feature benefits everyone, especially homeowners with allergies or asthma and kids and pets who may be sensitive to indoor air pollutants.
Air-conditioning systems recirculate indoor air, which can lead to a buildup of indoor air pollutants. If not properly maintained, air-conditioning systems can also become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria, which can then be distributed through a home’s ductwork.
Finally, better indoor air quality can create a more comfortable and inviting environment for home residents and guests, especially when paired with one of the best whole-house humidifiers.
Whole-House Fan Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
When considering a whole-house fan installation, it’s essential for a homeowner to weigh the pros and cons of doing it themselves versus hiring a professional. While a DIY installation may seem like a way to save money, it can be difficult and time-consuming, especially for a homeowner who’s never taken on this type of project.
The following are some reasons a homeowner may want to consider a professional installation over a DIY approach:
- Permits: Permits are often required for a whole-house fan installation. A professional contractor can take care of this process for the homeowner.
- Electrical work: Installing a whole-house fan requires electrical wiring and connections. A licensed electrician should handle this part of the installation to ensure it’s done safely and up to code.
- Structural modifications: A whole-house fan may require cutting a hole in the ceiling, which can involve removing drywall, moving ceiling joists, and modifying other structural elements. A professional installer has the expertise and tools to do this correctly without causing damage.
- Warranty: Many whole-house fans come with a manufacturer’s warranty that requires the installation to be completed by a professional. A DIY installation can void the warranty, leaving a homeowner responsible for future repairs or replacements.
A whole-house fan installation can be a complex and potentially dangerous project for inexperienced homeowners to tackle on their own. Hiring a professional ensures the job is done safely, up to code, and in compliance with any required permits. While professional installation may cost more up front, it offers long-term benefits and peace of mind not always found with a DIY approach.
How to Save Money on Whole-House Fan Cost
Installing a whole-house fan is an excellent way for homeowners to reduce their cooling costs. While the initial cost of a whole-house fan can be a significant investment, there are a few ways homeowners can save money and maximize the benefits of a whole-house fan, including the following.
- Work with a knowledgeable contractor. Working with a professional who has plenty of experience installing whole-house fans may cost more labor but should result in a quicker, safer, and proper installation that can prevent financial headaches down the road.
- Look for rebates. Many utility companies offer rebates for homeowners who install whole-house fans since it’s a more energy-efficient approach to cooling.
- Choose the right size fan. Installing a fan that is too big can unnecessarily eat into an installation budget, while choosing a fan that’s too small can inadvertently boost energy costs as the unit struggles to keep up with cooling demands.
- Use the fan strategically. Running a whole-house fan when outside temperatures are cooler and making sure windows are closed, including curtains or blinds, when the sun is directly overhead can help maximize energy savings.
- Keep up with maintenance. Regular maintenance can help extend the lifespan of a whole-house fan and minimize repair costs.
Questions to Ask About Whole-House Fan Installation
As with any home improvement project, asking the right questions can help ensure the experience meets expectations. When it comes to installing a whole-house fan, homeowners will want to consider asking potential contractors a series of questions before choosing one that best meets their needs. The following are some questions to consider asking before, during, or after the installation process.
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Can you provide references from past customers?
- What type of whole-house fan do you recommend for my home?
- Should I know of any potential expenses beyond the installation quote?
- Do you offer a warranty or guarantee on the whole-house fan and installation?
- How long will the installation process take?
- Will you need to make any structural changes to my home?
- What areas of my home will you need access to?
- How do you handle cleanup during and after installation?
- How do I properly use and maintain my whole-house fan?
- How do you handle any issues or concerns after the installation is complete?
- Do you offer any maintenance or repair services?
A whole-house fan can be a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution to improve indoor air quality and cooling in a home. While installation costs vary based on considerations such as home size and fan type, many homeowners find that the long-term savings on energy bills make a whole-house fan cost a reasonable investment. For more information on whole-house fans, homeowners can review the following FAQs.
Q. Can a whole-house fan cool the entire house?
Yes, cooling with a whole-house fan is an effective way to cool a home while also improving indoor air quality. When used as intended, whole-house fans can help reduce moisture and pollutants from indoor air, lower energy bills, and cool an entire house to create an atmosphere that’s more refreshing than air conditioning.
Q. Can I run the whole-house fan all day and night?
Yes, a whole-house fan can be run all day and night if a homeowner chooses. However, whole-house fans tend to work best in the evening, overnight, and early morning when outside temperatures are more likely to be cooler than the inside temperature of a home. During the day, hotter outside temperatures can make it difficult to adequately cool a home using a whole-house fan.
Q. Where should I place my whole-house fan?
Whole-house fans are typically installed between the living space and the ceiling in a home’s attic. This placement allows a fan to pull cool air into the living space and evacuate hot air from the attic as intended. Another ideal location for a whole-house fan is a central hallway, depending on the home’s layout. This placement also allows for easy air distribution.
Q. Does the whole-house fan use a lot of electricity?
Compared to an AC system, a whole-house fan typically uses less electricity. A whole-house fan may cost between $5 and $25 per month to operate, depending on how often the unit is run. Overall, using a whole-house fan alone or a combination of a whole-house fan and AC system as opposed to an AC system alone is a great way to reduce energy consumption and save money on utility bills.
Q. What is the average lifespan of a whole-house fan?
The average lifespan of a whole-house fan is typically between 10 and 20 years, assuming that it is properly maintained. Many models come with extended warranties that last between 5 and 15 years, providing homeowners with added peace of mind. It’s important to note that the more a whole-house fan is run, the higher the risk for a shorter lifespan, especially if routine maintenance is overlooked.
Q. Is maintenance of a whole-house fan expensive?
No, whole-house fan maintenance is not typically expensive. The fan’s oil ports may need basic lubrication every few years, but beyond that, maintenance is fairly simple. It’s ideal to clean the fan shutters and wash the fan blades occasionally, but this is more of an investment in time than money. It’s important to remember that regular maintenance can help extend the lifespan of a whole-house fan and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr, Boggs Inspection Services