Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2018
The average cost to install a whole house vent fan is around $350 for a basic fan and shutters, installed yourself with no other major needs. For a Handyman or electrician to install the same basic unit, expect to spend around $850 – $1,100. If you want a unit with more features, expect the price to go up accordingly

Estimated Cost Comparison Table

Low Estimate
$275 – $500

Average Cost Estimate
$600 – $1,200

High Estimate
$1,200 – $1,650

Type of Unit Direct Mount Direct / Indirect Direct / Indirect
Size of Fan Unit 3000-4000 CFM 3000-5000 CFM 3000-6000 CFM
Joist Modification DIY Yes Yes
Fan Features Basic Basic / Few Basic / Many
Availability of Power Easy Access New New
Existing Attic Vents Yes Yes / Install Install
Installed By Self / DIY DIY / Pro Pro
Tools & Supplies $0 – $75 $0 – $75 Usually Included
Permits or Inspection $0 – $150 $0 – $150 $0 – $150

Sections: Overview | Product Costs | Installation Cost | DIY or Pro | Web Compare | Shared Pricing

Overview of Whole House Fans

The cost of a whole house fan is much lower than central air conditioning and uses about 10% of the electricity AC requires. These factors make a whole house fan an affordable option for cooling a home in climates with mild, dry nights and lower humidity.

A whole house fan and an attic fan refer to the same thing when the terms are properly understood. Whole house fans are installed in the floor of the attic, hence an attic fan. To differentiate, an attic vent fan or attic ventilator is a different piece of equipment, usually installed in the roof or gable of the attic to pull, or suck out the hot air and draw in cool air through attic soffit vents, not through windows in the home below.

In basic terms, an attic vent fan cools the attic space, where a whole house fan cools the living area inside your home.

This Costimate page is about whole house fans. Details about the cost of the fan plus installation are included. Cost factors such as the size of the fan and scope of the work plus homeowner-submitted costs will assist you in developing an accurate estimate of what your whole house fan price will be.

Product and Supplies Cost Details

Fan Unit Cost Factors

Where on the cost spectrum shown above will your attic fan price fall? These factors help answer the question:

  • Type of Unit – There are two main types of whole house fans. Direct mount, and indirect. A direct mount fan is more like a box fan that mounts directly to your ceiling, drawing air from the living area. These are most common and lower cost. Indirect whole house fans install a vent in your ceiling that is connected to a large insulated duct with a fan unit on the end of it. These are more expensive but much quieter during use since the fan motor is located several feet away from the living area.
  • Existing Structure Modifications – If you have a home that has 16″ on center ceiling joists, they may need to be cut and a box built to mount your fan unit in place. Alternatively, there are fans on the market that are made to fit within the gap between joists, requiring no carpentry work.
  • Fan Size – Whole house fans range from 4,500 cubic feet per minute (CFM) to about 6,500 CFM. A quick rule is to double your home’s square footage to determine the required CFM. For example, a 2,500-square foot home is best served by a 5,000 CFM fan.
  • Fan Unit Features – Newer units have features such as automatic thermostats, multiple speeds, insulated doors on the attic side that can open automatically when in use, and close when not, to prevent heat or air conditioning from escaping the living area.
  • How Much Wiring is Needed –The National Electric Code does not require a dedicated electrical circuit for a whole house fan. However, an electrician will determine if existing attic wiring can support the 3-5 amps required for the fan. If so, Romex wire will be run from the nearest junction box, and an outlet will be installed. If not, the dedicated circuit will be installed. Some state electrical codes require a certified electrician to do the work. Check with your building code for details where you live. Note: Using an extension cord to power a whole house fan, though a popular hack discussed in online forums, is not a safe installation method. Have it done properly, and keep your household safe from the unnecessary risk of electrical fire and shock.
  • Whether Attic Vents are Required—Attics in most newer homes have enough soffit, gable and/or ridge vent area (NFA or net free attic venting, in technical terms) to exhaust the air being moved by the fan. If not, 1-3 vents might be required.
  • Who Installs the Fan – Per the US DOE, “Installing a whole house fan is tricky and should be done by a professional. An experienced pro should take your attic measurements and install your dedicated circuit wiring and, if needed, your new attic vents.” There’s more advice on DIY whole house fan installation at the bottom of this page.
  • Adding a Winter Cover and insulation –In cold climates, placing a cover over the fan on the attic side and covering it with insulation saves energy. One roll of insulation includes enough material for two or three layers of R13 insulation over the cover.
  • Amount of Touch Up After Installation – When a contractor cuts a 24 inch hole into the ceiling of your home, it may require a bit of painting or possible drywall work to repair the area, especially if you have popcorn ceilings.

Cost of Supplies

Here’s a price list for the fan and installation materials.

  • $195-$385 | Whole house fans, 24”-30”
  • $38-$72 | Fan shutters, if not included
  • $15-$28 | Attic-side fan cover
  • $15-$21 | R13 roll insulation
  • $55-$75 | 100’ roll of 14/2 Romex wire, 20-amp circuit and outlet

Permits, Inspection, , Related Costs and Installation Time

Permits and Inspection Cost

  • $125-$300 | The extent of the wiring to be installed determines inspection time and cost.

Related Costs and Installation Time

Whole house fan installation starts with cutting the fan opening in the ceiling drywall and framing the fan support within the attic joists.  The fan is mounted and secured, and the perimeter is insulated to stop drafts in winter and to eliminate potential vibration noise. The fan is wired into an existing circuit, or a dedicated circuit and wiring is installed. The wall switch is installed and wired. Attic vents, if needed, are cut, and covers are installed.

Most electricians will do the entire job or just the wiring, at your option.

  • $465-$815 | Installation using existing attic wiring
  • $965-$1,350 | Installation with a dedicated 120Volt, 15Amp circuit

Fan Installation Time Schedule

Installation is the costliest part of the job. Just how long it takes depends on the scope of project.

  • 4-10 hours: Installation in an attic with sufficient venting and wiring that can be used is a half-day job. Adding wiring and cutting vents add several hours to the job.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

steve-hansen

Depending on the availability of power and/or the need to cut into your ceiling joists, installing a whole house attic fan is not really a hard job for a handy homeowner. If you need to run power or cut thee joists, the skills and tools needed to complete the job go up significantly.  I’ve installed my own gable and roof attic vent fans, but not a whole house unit.

  • Requires electrical knowledge.
  • If you have to cut into your ceiling joists, requires basic carpentry knowledge.

Personally, I consider myself an 8/10 on the handyman scale and I would not hesitate to install my own whole house fan.

Is A Whole House Fan Installation a DIY Project? What do You Think?

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Whole House Fan Costs from Around the Web

Average
Cost Range
Costimates $925 $250 – $1,850
HowMuch.net $430 $220 – $815
Fixr.com $1,540 $1,250 – $1,830
HomeWyse $1,090 $715 – $1,408
CostHelper $835 $70 – $1,600
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Costs Submitted by Homeowners and Pro’s

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