Heating & cooling high ceiling house

kal2002May 5, 2007

Is it difficult to heat and cool a house with high ceilings of about 12'? Will ceiling fans and a whole house fan help? This one-story house is 4200 sq. ft. in size and it is located in northern California where the winters can be below 32 degrees and the summers are hot (can go up to 110 degrees) and dry. Thanks.

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A whole house fan as I define it is an attic fan that circulates the ait from windows thru the fan and exhausts the air in the attic. This will not work when using HVAC. It is only good when the windows are open.

IMO, 12 foot ceilings are perfect for whole house fans and very costly for HVAC. The rooms have more volume and need more HVAC capacity. Ceiling fans circulate air in a room and reduce stuffyness. It is less expensive to use a ceiling fan than the condenser. Moving air from fans simulates about a 3 degree drop in temperature. This means that a house that is kept at 75 degrees will feel like a house that is kept at 72 degrees. In a hot climate, the difference in electricity can be staggering.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 10:40PM
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Will ceiling fans do the same for circulating heat in the winter?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 11:29AM
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not exactly the same, but perceptively yes, the same. basically heat rises, so if you have a fan, the cool air is drawn up displacing the hot stagnant air, warming the lower levels of the home. (and your bodies)


    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 2:15PM
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The directional switch on the fan motor has to be moved to the other position in the winter time so that the air is drawn up instead of blown downward in summer mode.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 2:40PM
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Thank you for all you comments. This house also has a very tall ceiling in the foyer. Will this have any impact on the overall heating and cooling of the house? I would say it is about 20' in height or more. There is a light fixture coming down a few feet from the ceiling. I am wondering if will help if I replace it with a ceiling fan and light fixture.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 3:15PM
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"There is a light fixture coming down a few feet from the ceiling. I am wondering if will help if I replace it with a ceiling fan and light fixture"
- Yes, it will. Need a remote-control fan if it is that high up.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 4:02PM
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Which is more difficult to heat & cool: high ceilings or vaulted ceilings?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 9:08AM
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"Which is more difficult to heat & cool: high ceilings or vaulted ceilings?"

- High vaulted ceilings.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 11:21AM
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Kal, I do not have anwser for you, just curiosity as to where in nor cal you are. With that kind of temp range are you up in the foothills outside redding?

My and I were born and raised in Sacramento. We are now (building soon) in Burney.

We will have high vaulted ceilings at around 28' at the peak (18' or so in the master bedroom loft). We will be using ceiling fans during the winter and open windows in the summer. Summers get into the 90's but cool real fast at night. Winter is cold with highs in 20's and 30's. We will heat 100% with wood heat.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 11:46PM
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I have a recommendation for whole-house fans, and that is to go with the ones made by Triangle Engineering of Arkansas (made in the USA!).

These things move more air than any other brand. As an example: the 36" belt-drive model sold at Lowes & Home Depot moves 6,900 CFM on its highest speed. The 36" one that Triangle makes moves 10,600 CFM.

I just put one of these in last week and am so taken with it that I'm evangelizing for Triangle now.

These things are much higher quality than the other brands too -- these are made with very heavy-gauge solid welded steel (as opposed to the thin, flimsy metal - often aluminum - that other brands use). They use a very solid motor made by Emerson, the best of the top three motor-making companies (the other two being Fasco and A.O. Smith). They come pre-framed on a wood frame for installation, AND they have sponge-rubber noise-dampening material between the fan and the frame, so they are much quieter than the other brands. Also, Triangle holds a patent on an automatic belt-tensioning system these things use, so you don't have to worry about getting the tension right when you install the fan (or in the years thereafter as the belt loosens up).

Also, they come in more sizes than the other companies -- from 24" all the way up to 48" blade diameter (which moves a ridiculously whopping amount of air; no one else makes one that big).

They're sold online at Southern Tool amongst other places that ship nationwide, so they're available wherever you live.

Also, Triangle re-brands some of these as a private label for Dayton, which is the "store brand" of Grainger - so if you have a Grainger store near you (check your phone book or their website), you can buy one there. I will say this, though - Grainger/Dayton makes their own shutters, and those shutters are much better than the one Triangle makes. Triangle makes great fans, but crappy shutters. Luckily, they're sold separately -- so buy a Triangle fan and Dayton shutters; money can't buy better products.

They also re-brand some for a company out in San Francisco called "Fanman" (a/k/a "Delta Breeze").

A word to the wise -- these fans move a lot of air, so make sure to install at least the recommended minimum amount of attic exhaust space (gable vents, soffit vents, roof vents, some combination thereof, whatever works for you) - if you don't have enough, the fan will operate at reduced capacity, and there will be a backpressure which will cause the shutters to rattle when the fan is in operation (any time you hear whole-house fan shutters rattling, you know there isn't enough exhaust space). Oh, and one other thing -- only buy a belt-drive whole-house fan, don't EVER buy a direct-drive model...the direct-drive models are at least five times louder, they sound like standing on an airport runway next to an old prop plane getting ready to take off.

Several of the dedicated whole-house fan installing companies have chosen to use Triangle fans; that should tell you something. These companies want satisfied customers, so they use Triangle and only Triangle.

Refer to http://www.trianglefans.com/wholehouse.html for more info

Here is a link that might be useful: Triangle whole-house fans

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 6:41AM
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I also live in Northern California in Vallejo and have high ceilings in my family and living room which are very cold in the winter or it rains.

Years ago my father who was a sheet metal worker told me I needed to do something to my forced air heater to recirculate the air. Are you aware of what that might be and who I would contact to consult as to what I might do.

Or would the Traingle fan be better? What is an estimated cost to buy this and have it installed? I am also very interested in cost as I am retired and don't have a lot of money to throw away yet I do want to use my rooms in the winter.

Thanks. Susan

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 6:09PM
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