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Step away from that booster fan: Your home’s ductwork may have bigger issues

If an HVAC technician recommends a duct booster fan when you have major issues like these going on, it’s a cop out

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    I was driving the other day when I heard an ad on the radio about duct booster fans. I couldn’t help but laugh. On a recent job we did the homeowners was having trouble with their HVAC so they called us in. They’d had an HVAC technician look at it. What was their solution? A duct booster fan. Did it work? No.

    A duct booster fan — most people just call them booster fans — is a device that you can attach to your HVAC system’s ductwork. It’s supposed to increase airflow to rooms in your home that are far away from heating and cooling systems.

    Step away from that booster fan: Your home’s ductwork may have bigger issues Back to video

    That’s why most technicians or homeowners will install them on long stretches of duct. So if you have a room in your house that’s always cold in winter and hot in summer, the idea is that a booster fan can push air to that room.

    The problem is when these devices are used to solve issues that an HVAC pro should fix. For example, let’s say your home’s ductwork or furnace is undersized, or your furnace needs to be replaced or maybe flex line was used instead of proper HVAC ducts.

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    If an HVAC technician recommends a duct booster fan when you have major issues like these going on, it’s a cop out. Some people try to save money this way — it’s cheaper than a new furnace. But that’s a mistake.

    An HVAC pro should examine the entire system and find the deficiency. There could be a disconnection somewhere in your ductwork. Or maybe the seams aren’t properly sealed. It might be that it has nothing to do with your HVAC and actually with your insulation. The point is a booster fan isn’t a one-cure-fits-all solution.

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    Duct booster fans are consumer products — at least in my experience. I don’t remember an HVAC professional using or recommending a duct booster fan on any job I’ve worked on. The only reason you would want to install a booster fan is because the furnace is not blowing air to a specified area. But if you have a new furnace, do you need to install a booster fan? No.

    A booster fan is a good solution if you have a heating run that’s too long. Or if the exhaust venting for the dryer needs to make a long stretch to the exterior. A booster fan will give you that extra push so the air can get to where it needs to go.

    But if you want even distribution of airflow throughout your entire home, then having ductwork with even distribution is what helps. That’s basic and it makes sense.

    Ducts are like the veins of your house. They feed warm and cool air to all the areas in your home. You can’t expect proper airflow to every room if there’s no way of it getting there efficiently.

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    I’ve seen too many homes with 80% of the ductwork on just one side of the house. And then you wonder why some rooms are always cold. The problem isn’t airflow. It’s the ductwork. And if that’s the problem, not even 10 booster fans will make a difference — just a lot of noise.

    Booster fans are loud. They can sound like a jet engine is running in your basement. Some homeowners learn to cope with the noise. They’ll install the fan 20 feet from vents to minimize the sound from travelling. Other people can’t stand it.

    Some people love booster fans. Others think they’re a waste of money. I think you have to be smart.

    Booster fans are inexpensive. You can buy one for something like $60 or $70. I’ve even seen some for $25. Others can cost as much as $300. But like I’ve said a million times, you get what you pay for.

    I can understand why some homeowners opt for a booster fan. When you compare $10,000 to replace ductwork to $60 for a booster fan, it’s no surprise which one most homeowners are going to choose. Not everyone has $10,000 lying around, especially not for something that’s going to be hidden in the walls. But if a booster fan can’t fix the problem, I don’t care if it costs $2. It’s a waste of money.

    Bottom line: The systems in your home should do their jobs. No one said doing it right was easy or cheap. I’ll be the first one to tell you it’s not. That’s why there’s so much crap everywhere. But doing it right is worth it. Why live uncomfortably if you don’t have to?

    Catch Mike Holmes in his new series Holmes Makes It RightTuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.

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    If an HVAC technician recommends a duct booster fan when you have major issues like these going on, it’s a cop out

    CLOUDLINE S6, Quiet Inline Duct Fan System with Speed Controller, 6-Inch

    Product Description

    The duct fan system is designed to quietly cool AV equipment rooms and closets, and to ventilate various air circulation and exhaust projects. Features an inline speed controller utilizing PWM-technology. Containing an inline mixed-flow design, the duct fan can maintain airflow even in high static pressure applications. Contains an EC-motor for a quiet and energy efficient performance. The motor box containing the fan’s impeller and blades can be detached from the mounted frame for easy cleaning and maintenance. Complete kit includes one duct fan unit, one inline speed controller, installation manual, and all necessary mounting hardware.

    Precise Speed Controller

    The inline speed controller enables you to set the duct fan’s speed to optimal noise and airflow levels for various environments. Unlike common AC-powered duct fans that suppresses voltage to control fan speeds, this duct fan features an EC-motor that is precisely controlled using PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). This technology enables the fan’s motor to be able to run smoothly at extremely low RPM speeds without generating motor noises and heat as seen on variable voltage controllers. Eight speed options are available with power switch, and backup memory. This S6 model can be connected to the smart controller of the CLOUDLINE T6 model to share the same programming and power source.

    Quiet and Energy Efficient Design

    The inline fan features a mixed flow design using a stator blade and dual hydrodynamic wind circles. This gives it a high static pressure rating, enabling it to deliver airflow even in applications where air movement is being restricted. The motor houses dual ball bearings rated at 67,000 hours which allows the duct fan unit to be mounted in any direction. The unit is IP44 rated to be highly resistant to dust and liquids, and performs well even in harsh environments.

    Applications

    This quiet duct fan system is popular in a variety of applications including cooling AV equipment rooms, closets, racks, and cabinets. Due to its low noise and advanced control features, it’s also used in various air circulation and ventilation projects including hydroponic grow rooms and tents, exhausting bathrooms and attics, and other installations.

    • Product Description
    • Technical Specs
    • Reviews
    • Designed to quietly ventilate grow tents, transfer heating/cooling to rooms, circulate air, exhaust odors, and cool AV racks.
    • Features an 8-speed manual controller utilizing PWM. See T-Series for temperature and humidity controls.
    • Mixed flow design combined with a PWM-controlled EC motor for a truly quiet and energy efficient performance.
    • Kit also includes corded AC power adapter, installation manual, and all necessary mounting hardware.
    • Duct Size: 6” | Dimensions: 7.9 x 12.6 x 8.4 in. | Airflow: 402 CFM | Noise: 32 dBA | Bearings: Dual Ball

    Product Description

    The duct fan system is designed to quietly cool AV equipment rooms and closets, and to ventilate various air circulation and exhaust projects. Features an inline speed controller utilizing PWM-technology. Containing an inline mixed-flow design, the duct fan can maintain airflow even in high static pressure applications. Contains an EC-motor for a quiet and energy efficient performance. The motor box containing the fan’s impeller and blades can be detached from the mounted frame for easy cleaning and maintenance. Complete kit includes one duct fan unit, one inline speed controller, installation manual, and all necessary mounting hardware.

    Precise Speed Controller

    The inline speed controller enables you to set the duct fan’s speed to optimal noise and airflow levels for various environments. Unlike common AC-powered duct fans that suppresses voltage to control fan speeds, this duct fan features an EC-motor that is precisely controlled using PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). This technology enables the fan’s motor to be able to run smoothly at extremely low RPM speeds without generating motor noises and heat as seen on variable voltage controllers. Eight speed options are available with power switch, and backup memory. This S6 model can be connected to the smart controller of the CLOUDLINE T6 model to share the same programming and power source.

    Quiet and Energy Efficient Design

    The inline fan features a mixed flow design using a stator blade and dual hydrodynamic wind circles. This gives it a high static pressure rating, enabling it to deliver airflow even in applications where air movement is being restricted. The motor houses dual ball bearings rated at 67,000 hours which allows the duct fan unit to be mounted in any direction. The unit is IP44 rated to be highly resistant to dust and liquids, and performs well even in harsh environments.

    Applications

    This quiet duct fan system is popular in a variety of applications including cooling AV equipment rooms, closets, racks, and cabinets. Due to its low noise and advanced control features, it’s also used in various air circulation and ventilation projects including hydroponic grow rooms and tents, exhausting bathrooms and attics, and other installations.

    CLOUDLINE S6, Quiet Inline Duct Fan System with Speed Controller, 6-Inch Product Description The duct fan system is designed to quietly cool AV equipment rooms and closets, and to ventilate