Some new hole-house fans may cost 5 to 10 times more than more traditional fans. But do these newer fans deserve their price? Probably not…
Look at what the Energy Star program says about whole-house fans, and the reasons why there isn't an Energy Star rating for them: «EPA does not label whole-house fans because all of the products perform about the same».
Obviously, that doesn't mean that there aren't differences, or new features that you should consider. It only means that newer units aren't very different or necessarily better than more traditional models.
If shopping for a whole-house fan, prefer a 2 or 3 speed whole-house fan and do not oversize.
Traditional units are noisier and should be installed on rubber or other similar material, to minimize noise.
Buying a new or a traditional model
As mentioned before, the claims of some manufacturers about their newer house-fan units are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least. Their technology is not very different from traditional models.
New units can be better insulated or have quieter motors, or better balanced blades, etc., but there is little evidence that overall they are significantly better than traditional models sold at a fraction of the price.
Traditional models – either with fan blades attached directly to the motor (direct-driven whole-fan technology) or based on a pulley and belt system to operate the blades (the belt-driven whole-fan technology) - are tested, reliable and cheap options.
Customer reviews also do not suggest any superiority of newer fans. The only thing that we can say for sure is that some “traditional” house-fan models have good or very good ratings, and that there is very few customer reviews on more expensive models.
Online prices and manufacturers
Prices vary significantly, with the most popular models - two speeds, a 10 year limited warranty, 24" direct drive, 4.500 CFM, for homes up to 1.500 square feet - being sold at prices slightly above $200. See, for customer reviews and prices at Amazon: Whole house fans.