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How to Choose Between an Attic Fan and a Whole House Fan

How to Choose Between an Attic Fan and a Whole House Fan

Home Depot has everything you need to maintain your home from small things to large things like whole house fans. With a Home Depot Money Saving Coupon from We Are Coupons you can save money on everything. Can't decide between a whole-house fan or an attic fan? Lowe's has all the resources you need to make your decision.

Fan Terminology

The terms whole-house fan (sometimes abbreviated house fan) and attic fan are often confused and used interchangeably. However, they’re, in fact, different products used to accomplish different ends. In short, attic fans remove heat from your attic — as the name suggests — and are intended to run on hot days. Whole-house fans are designed to run overnight, exhausting hot air from your entire home while the sun isn’t baking your home’s exterior.

Types of Fans

Whole-house fans ventilate your home and your attic. These products are designed to run during the evening and early morning (the coolest parts of the day). The purpose of a whole-house fan is to rid your home of heat that builds up while the sun is out. Typically, a whole-house fan shouldn’t be run during the day because doing so would heat your home instead of cooling it. However, it can be run for brief periods of time in certain situations if you need a complete air exchange, for example, on an unusually warm winter day.


Attic fans are designed to only cool your attic rather than your entire home and are used in combination with roof vents. With proper use, attic fans can keep the temperature in your attic within 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit of the temperature outdoors during the summer months. Ridding your attic of excess heat can do a lot to keep the second floor of a home cooler and lower your energy bill. Attic fans are also sometimes used during the winter months to help prevent moisture buildup.


In some situations, it makes sense for a home to have both an attic fan and a whole house fan. An HVAC professional can perform an inspection and help you decide what kind of ventilation system you need based on your home’s structure and location.


Whole-House and Attic Fans Compared

Whole-house fans:


Only operate during the evening and early morning when the temperature is lower

Cool the entire building

Are installed between the attic and your home’s living space

Work by pulling fresh air into your home through open windows and venting stale air into the attic and out through roof vents

Attic fans:


Operate during the day when the outdoor temperature is highest

Cool the attic only

Are installed in the attic and exhaust heat using roof vents

Are typically not as efficient as whole-house fans but may be suitable for certain locations

Are usually less expensive to install than whole-house fans

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions asked related to attic and whole-house fans.


Can you run a whole-house fan all day?

Generally, it’s not recommended to operate a whole-house fan during the daytime. Whole-house fans are only intended for use during the evening or early morning.


Should you leave a whole-house fan on all night?

It’s best to run a whole-house fan all night. Overnight operation will help cool the home’s structure in addition to the inside air.


Should I turn off my attic fan in the winter?

In many situations, it’s recommended to run your attic fan during the winter. Although there’s no need to worry as much about heat buildup during the cooler months, running your fan in winter will help remove excess moisture, which can lead to condensation and mold growth.

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