Pssst: Whole House Fans Get Quiet

Pssst: Whole House Fans Get Quiet

QuietCool plans on changing whole house fans’ noisy reputation.

Whole house fans have a reputation of being loud, but QC Manufacturing plans on changing minds with its QuietCool line.

The company says its QuietCool fans are a lot quieter than standard whole house fans, which operate between 75 and 85 decibels. QuietCool systems normally operate between 42 and 51 decibels. In comparison, a whispered conversation in the library is 30 decibels.

“It’s a moderate to very low hum,” says QC Director of Sales, Andy McIntosh, and it’s quieter than a bathroom or kitchen exhaust fan.

McIntosh hopes QuietCool, which is based in Temecula, Calif., will corner the California market, then follow suit with the rest of the country with its range of whole house fans that are manufactured and assembled in the United States.

While homeowners in all areas of the country would reap savings to their energy bills by installing the fans, it’s the California market, the largest economy in the United States, which benefits the most, thanks to the new requirements under its Title 24 building codes. McIntosh says business has grown significantly over the past three years, particularly in California where word of mouth and referral business has been, in his words, astounding. “We have a 98 percent total satisfaction, which translates into huge referral business, both in California and beyond.”

Whole house fans are prescriptive requirements for ventilation in new homes in California. Title 24 requires one net square foot of venting from the attic to outside for every 375 CFM blown by a system. The non-Title 24 recommendation is 1 net square foot for every 750 CFM. As for square footage, Title 24 minimums call for a 2:1 CFM to square foot ratio, assuming an 8-to-9-foot ceiling. Non-Title 24 recommendations are 2:3 in hot climates and 1:1 ratio in coastal and mountain climate regions.

Related story: Efficient HVAC Gets Stylish

As for the rest of the country, the question of whole-house versus exhaust fan remains.

McIntosh says the answer is in the system’s power, efficiency and loudness.

All fans are rated on the amount of CFM per watt of power. The most energy efficient QuietCool fans blow between 20 to 52 CFM per watt of power, while average exhaust fans blow 2 to 4 CFM per watt of power consumed. Exhaust fans blow only 50 to 90 CFM on average, compared to QuietCool systems that move between 1,250 to 6,400 CFM.

QC’s fans are independent of all other household mechanical ductwork. The fans work on the principle of “thermal mass cooling” by drawing cooler outside air through the system and into the attic and then out the attic vents. The process results in a cooler house (particularly the attic) at a fraction of the cost of air-conditioning. While windows need to remain open for the system to work in a one-story home, in a two story home the lower windows only need to be open if the homeowner desires cross ventilation to be drawn upwards from the first floor to the second level, according to McIntosh.

By operating the system in the evening and early morning hours, the cooler air prevents a home from reheating as quickly during the day, resulting in less air-conditioning usage and thus lower costs.

The fans take 30 minutes to install in new home construction, once the home is framed but before drywall is installed. The entire system consists of a fan motorhead and housing that hangs suspended in the attic, a 6-foot acoustical duct that acts as the chief sound-dampening component within the system, and a ceiling box and dampener system installed at the ceiling drywall grade. The dampener system relies on gravity, not a motor, to work and provides and R5 insulation value with zero blowback from attic to home (there is also a winter insert that increases the R value to R50).

Depending on the number of systems in a zoned configuration, the fans can be assembled in a single to quad stack with a plate. QC recommends using its digital countdown timer with an on/off switch and 1- 2-, 4-, and 8-hour auto-off increments. (A smartphone app is not available.)

The possible secret to a quiet system is the way the system is hung in the attic. The motorhead is located at a near 90-degree angle from the damper box. “Since sound travels in a straight line, the curvature and material of the duct together reduce the sound that emanates below the ceiling intake grille into the house below,” McIntosh says.

About The Author

Casey Meserve is a TecHome Builder Staff Writer, creating investigative and timely articles for its eMagazine and Special Reports. She graduated from Bridgewater State University with a master’s degree in English in 2011. She began her writing career in 2005 as a reporter for Community Newspaper Company and later GateHouse Media. From 2010 to 2013, she worked as an editor at AOL Patch.

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