How Much Does It Cost to Install a Ventilation System?

Average range: $300 - $6,000
Average Cost
(demand control ventilation system)

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Reviewed by Irene Pomares. Written by

Having a home ventilation system keeps the air quality in your home where it should be for a healthy atmosphere. This is a vital part of keeping your family and yourself well and your home comfortable and safe. A ventilation system is necessary to keep harmful gasses, pollen, dust, and humidity under control. Homeowners with the correct ventilation system save money on electricity and still keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

There are several elements to a ventilation system as well as different types. To understand the costs involved, the average price for installing a ventilation system is $400 for a new attic fan. A low-end price would be $120 to replace roof exhaust fans. On the high end, $10,000 for a brand new installed hybrid system. The national average range of costs is $300 to $6,000.

Ventilation System Price

Cost to Install Ventilation
National average cost$400
Average range$300-$6,000
Minimum cost$120
Maximum cost$10,000

Ventilation Installation Cost by Project Range

Replace roof exhaust fans
Average Cost
Demand control ventilation system
A brand new installed hybrid system

Ventilation System Cost by Type

Ventilation systems cost from $120 to $10,000. A ventilation system can be one of several types. Unlike a mechanical system, a natural ventilation system uses natural forces such as wind to provide fresh breathing air into the home. Mechanical ventilation systems use fans to push the air into the house. The best type of ventilation system depends on the climate, availability of resources, home design, and human needs.

Cost to Install a Natural, Mechanical, or Hybrid Ventilation System

Cost to Install a Natural, Mechanical, or Hybrid Ventilation System

Type of SystemCost with Labor
Natural$120 - $8,500
Mechanical$500 - $2,400
Hybrid$700 - $10,000

Natural Ventilation

The cost of Natural ventilation systems varies significantly according to the type of ventilation method you choose, but typical costs are $120 to $8,500. For example, a wind turbine could cost as much as $7,000 installed, or a set of energy-efficient windows can cost $8,000. Lower cost items such as vents or small exhaust fans run around $150 to install. The method is achieved with energy-saving systems built into a home in purposeful windows, doors, wind towers, solar chimneys, and trickle ventilators. Although natural ventilation is a reliable form of airflow, it has some disadvantages. It relies on climate but may still be a good choice, especially when used in conjunction with mechanical ventilation or other mixed-mode systems. If installed, maintained, and managed correctly, the cost savings are high with a natural ventilation system.

Cost to Install a Single-Sided, Cross, or Stack Natural Ventilation System

Cost to Install a Single-Sided, Cross, or Stack Natural Ventilation System

Type of Natural VentilationCost with Labor
Single-Sided$120 - $400
Cross$700 - $3,000
Stack$1,000 - $8,500

Single-Sided Ventilation

The cost for single-sided ventilation is $120 to $400. Single-sided natural ventilation is where there are one or more openings but only on one side of a home or building. It is a method that is driven by wind speed and temperature. This is the type of natural ventilation you often see in apartments or condominiums because multiple units share the same building. It isn’t nearly as effective as other forms of ventilation due to the lack of cross ventilation. It is more energy-efficient than a mechanical ventilation choice.

Cross Ventilation System

To achieve cross ventilation, the cost is $700 to $3,000. Cross ventilation, otherwise known as wind-based ventilation, is accomplished by placing envelope openings within a building in at least two separate facades. Most modern buildings take into consideration a form of cross ventilation design. The concept is that cool air will be drawn in through one side of the building and the warm air pushed out the openings on the other side.

Stack Ventilation System

The cost for stack ventilation is $1,000 to $8,500. Stack ventilation systems are buoyancy-driven ventilation. This means that as the wind dies down, the system uses air pressure, temperature, and density levels from both internal and external air to ventilate. This is achieved by using a variable height for the openings that allow air in and out. Chimneys, atriums, and ventilation shafts assist with ventilation.

Mechanical Ventilation Cost

Mechanical air exchange systems cost $500 to $8,000. They use fans installed into windows, walls, or air ducts to remove or add air to the home. When warm air touches a cold surface, it creates condensation. This can be prevented with fans that either suck air out or add air to balance the air quality inside the room. A balanced mechanical ventilation system occurs when the air quality meets certain design specifications.

Cost to Install an Energy Recovery, Whole House, Supply, Heat Recovery, Exhaust, Balanced, or Demand Controlled Mechanical Ventilation System

Cost to Install an Energy Recovery, Whole House, Supply, Heat Recovery, Exhaust, Balanced, or Demand Controlled Mechanical Ventilation System

Type of Mechanical Ventilation SystemCost with Labor
Energy Recovery$500 - $1,700
Whole House$700 - $2,700
Supply$1,200 - $2,400
Heat Recovery$1,300 - $2,400
Exhaust$1,500 - $2,200
Balanced$2,400 - $4,600
Demand Control$2,400 - $8,000

Energy Recovery System

Energy recovery ventilation installation runs $500 to $1,700. This system can be operated by a timer or humidity sensor 1 in the home. This system differs from a heat recovery system in that it exchanges not only heat energy but also water vapor. This prevents humidity fluctuations within the home. Although you can save money with this system, ERVs are more suitable for locations prone to long, humid, and hot summers.

Whole-House Ventilation System

Whole-house air exchange system costs $700 to $2,700. This mechanical ventilation system uses a series of fans or a whole house fan and ducts to cool, heat, and improve the home’s air quality. All of the mechanical ventilation systems can be used to achieve whole-house ventilation. A combination of a couple of different systems makes an even better whole-house ventilation system. This type of ventilation utilizes both exhaust and supply systems.

Supply Ventilation System

The cost for a supply ventilation system is $150 to $300 per unit or around $1,200 to $2,400 for a typical three bedroom, two bath home. Building codes state that a unit must be used in each room used by humans over an extended period. For example, a closet does not need a unit. A supply-only ventilation system is somewhat similar to an exhaust ventilation system, only it pressurizes the home, pushing outside air into it. The difference is that a supply ventilation system also uses fan ducts, vents, and a filtering system to remove pollutants. Although this type of system is inexpensive and easy to install, it carries some concern for moisture retention.

Heat Recovery Ventilation System Cost (HRVs)

Heat recovery ventilators cost $1,300 to $2,400. Despite its name, the HRV also cools the home. During the winter, it takes cold outside air and heats it to a comfortable level before releasing it into the home. In hot weather, this system works hard to cool the hot air before it is blown into the home. It is an energy-efficient method but is more suited to northern climates.

Exhaust Ventilation System

Exhaust ventilation systems cost $1,500 to $2,200. An exhaust-only ventilation system is achieved by depressurizing the structure. The drawback to this type of system is that it should only be used in a colder climate. In warmer areas, depressurization can cause moisture to build up within the walls of the home. It is a fairly easy and inexpensive system to purchase and install as it only uses exhaust fans. However, there is also some concern about pollutants being drawn in from a crawlspace, attic, or garage. Fumes, molds, gases, and dust can be released into the home when using an exhaust-only ventilation method.

Balanced Ventilation System

The cost for a balanced ventilation system is $2,400 to $4,600. A properly installed balanced ventilation system is just that, balanced. It uses two duct systems and two fans to push equal amounts of fresh air inside and polluted air outside. Appropriate for all types of climates, this method uses filters to remove dust and pollen. A more expensive system to install, this method carries some risk for moisture. A balanced ventilation system helps keep your home air safe and comfortable.

Demand Controlled Ventilation Cost

Demand controlled ventilation costs $300 to $1,000 per room or $2,400 to $8,000 for a three bedroom, two bath home. The concept is that the DCV system contains a CO2 sensor that adjusts the air quality based on the number of people in the room. As more people enter a room, the amount of CO2 increases. The sensor kicks on the system when the air quality changes and needs to be corrected to an acceptable proportion. The wide range of costs per unit depends on the technology you choose.

Hybrid Ventilation System

The cost of a hybrid ventilation system varies depending on what you have installed. The costs can range from $700 to $10,000. Mixed mode or hybrid ventilation combines natural and mechanical ventilation systems for an energy-efficient, occupant comfort centered air quality. This results in a healthier environment inside the home and saves on utility bills. Having both systems will require a smaller mechanical system and savings on maintenance. It also allows for choices as the system automatically decides the best course of action.

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Ventilation Installation Cost

Airflow requirements are a delicate balance between comfort, health, and energy efficiency. A trained, licensed professional should always carry out a ventilation installation. There are so many factors that change and must be regulated for all involved. Most professional HVAC contractors can install a ventilation system within a few hours. Prices vary from state to state, ranging from $1,200 to $8,500+ for an entire system. The hourly rate is usually $50 to $150 per hour, and it generally takes one to two people to install. Cost factors include the type of system you have installed, the area in which you live, and the size of your home’s needs. Natural, mechanical, and hybrid systems can be combined with an air conditioning and heating system.

Ventilation System Inspection

The standard ventilation system inspection should be done in the spring and the fall or at least annually to keep the system working at a maximum level. An inspection costs $100 to $300. This involves cleaning, changing filters, lubricating, repairing any broken or worn parts, and testing for air quality and safety. If the homeowner notices any concerns such as condensation forming, any malfunctioning or noises that indicate a problem, or a drop in comfort of the temperature in the home, a professional should be called. This helps alleviate damage to the system or expensive weekend or holiday repair calls. Additionally, new systems may need to be inspected by a state or city official after installation, depending on government requirements.

Home Ventilation Requirements

Although home ventilation requirements are not set in stone, there are recommendations and new home building code ventilation requirements. A residential home’s ventilation system should offer safe, fresh air with comfortable temperature levels. Older homes may have unsafe proportions of gases, mold, or other contaminants if left properly unventilated. New homes must meet the current state or local requirements for each area, and these vary. Most locations require answers to the following questions about the ventilation system:

  • How much outside air is necessary?
  • How should it be distributed within the home?
  • How is the air cleaned or filtered?
  • How much moisture should be added or subtracted?

Builders should take care to answer these questions accurately and with professionally trained personnel. A home purchase should include information on the safety levels of the air in the home. This should consist of collaboration between engineers, ventilation install companies, and electrical companies.

Smart Ventilation System

Smart home ventilation systems take information from several different sources to determine the best course of action for ventilation. These factors include temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and pollutants in the outdoor air. Additionally, the number of occupants, humidity level, pollutants, and pressure inside the home influence ventilation regulation. Smart systems allow for predetermined schedules for HVAC, exhaust fans, and dryers or equipment that exchanges outside air and manages peak time electricity demand. Energy smart ventilation considers the price and demand of electricity and how to use energy to achieve the lowest costs.

These systems are becoming quite common to save energy and money for homeowners and business owners. The cost for a smart ventilation system that includes vents, zoning sensors, smart thermostat, climate control hub, remote install, and climate control app ranges from $2,750 to $5,000.

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Benefits of Ventilation System

Proper ventilation between inside and outside air is vital to the health, safety, and well-being of the occupants of a home or building. Using a proper ventilation system with a heating and air conditioning unit ensures your home is a safe and pleasant place to live. Additionally, damage can occur to the home’s interior without adequate airflow.

A home that lacks an operating, calibrated ventilation system results in harmful gases that emit from combustible appliances being locked inside the house. Obviously, this isn’t good for humans or pets. An unventilated area can lead to moisture build-up, mold, and mildew. These contaminants can cause allergies in the occupants of the home and damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and the contents of the home. Moisture also causes structural weakness.

Poor ventilation can cause an illness called sick building syndrome. This is where dwellers inside of a home or office experience symptoms such as headaches, irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat, dry cough, dizziness and nausea, itchy skin, issues with concentration, fatigue, and other discomforts.

Ceiling Fan and Windows Installed to Ventilate a Modern Living Room

Ventilation System Cleaning

Ventilation system cleaning is an important part of home ownership. Changing the filter is just the beginning of ventilation system maintenance. Cleaning vents, exhaust fans, intakes, and ductwork and proper lubrication will keep your system working more efficiently and free of dust, mold, and mildew. Many companies offer ventilation system cleaning services. This may be a wise route to take to ensure that your system gets the deep cleaning it needs. This service can help flush out any upcoming issues within the system and avoid future problems. A maintenance cleaning will cost you $75 to $150.

Active vs Passive Ventilation

There are two types of ventilation: active and passive. As you may have guessed, active ventilation is mechanical at $500 to $2,400. Passive ventilation is natural at $120 to $8,500. Active ventilation is the best option to avoid moisture build-up in high heat areas such as an attic or garage. Passive ventilation uses more natural methods such as windows, doors, vents, wind towers, or other envelope openings.

When comparing the two methods, it is important to remember the pros and cons of each. Passive, while less effective, is a more affordable option. It uses thermal buoyancy and air current to push stale air out and fresh air in. However, as it depends on wind and cooler air, it can be difficult to gauge how well it will work. Active ventilation is more expensive and requires more maintenance but is often the best choice to avoid questionable results.

Ventilation vs Air Conditioning

While air conditioning and ventilation both boost the quality of indoor air, they are two different things. Air conditioning simply blows cool air into the house, while ventilation removes the stale air and replaces it with fresh air. Ventilation is better for breathing purposes, while air conditioning keeps it at a more optimal temperature if it is particularly hot or humid. Air conditioning is considered recycled air that is cooled and dehumidified. The cost for air conditioning is an average range of $2,000 to $9,000 compared to a ventilation system average range of $300 to $6,000.

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Enhancements and Improvement Costs

Filter Installation

A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter uses mesh screens to filter out dust, mites 2, and other air particles from the air as it passes through your ventilation system. However, you cannot simply install a HEPA filter and expect the results needed to clean up the air in your home. A high-quality air purifier with a HEPA filter is installed within the home’s ductwork to provide cleaner, purer air. A professionally installed air purifier with a HEPA air filter costs $500 to $2,500 on average.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Permits. A permit may or may not be required for a ventilation system. State and local governments have different permit requirements. It is always best to use a licensed, insured contractor for any home improvements.
  • DIY. You could certainly try this as a DIY project. However, a wide variety of skills are needed, such as engineering, construction, and electrical. It is a wise decision to pay a professional.
  • Home value. Anything that makes a home more comfortable and safe adds home value. Homeowners should look at the cost of a ventilation system as an investment.
  • Building orientation and location. Many ventilation systems are either dependent or influenced by the building orientation and location. This is due to natural occurrences such as wind, heat, and airflow.
  • External elements. Trees or adjacent buildings may obstruct the wind and hinder natural ventilation. Pollutants in the outside air can also be a deciding factor in the best ventilation system to create fresh, clean air inside the home.
  • Climate. Climate plays a part in choosing the right ventilation system. Colder climates are better suited for a heat recovery system, while hot, humid areas will want an energy recovery system. This is due to various nuances in each system that control moisture.
  • HVAC. If your mechanical ventilation system includes heating, cooling, and humidity control, it is considered a Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. It typically costs $2,000 to $5,000 to professionally install an HVAC central air conditioning system.
  • Building Management Systems. Commercial buildings are generally equipped with a Building Management System or BMS. Building Automation System or BAS is a computerized method of controlling and monitoring the heating, air conditioning, ventilation, hot and cold water, electrical, steam, and sprinkler system 3 for fire safety. This control system constantly monitors and adjusts for variations in the building on a case-by-case basis.


  • What is the purpose of an effective ventilation system?

An effective ventilation system removes pollutants, pushes fresh air into the home or building, and makes air quality acceptable and comfortable.

  • What is a whole-house air ventilation system?

A whole-house air ventilation system means that every area where humans or pets reside for any length of time is ventilated. This includes pushing stale and polluted air outside and bringing clean air into the home in a uniform method. This is accomplished through fans, ducts, and vents.

  • What are the different types of ventilation?

The basic types of ventilation are natural, mechanical, and hybrid. From mechanical branches exhaust, supply, energy recovery, heat energy recovery, balanced, hybrid, and demand control. The branches of natural include single-sided, cross, and stack ventilation. Hybrid is a combination of natural and mechanical systems.

  • What is a ventilation system?

A ventilation system is a way to keep your home or office free of stale air and replace it with fresh air to benefit the health of the occupants. This can be accomplished through natural or mechanical means or a combination of both.

  • Why is ventilation needed?

People and the appliances in your home emit certain gases that can become trapped. Along with moisture and humidity, these gases become a recipe for illness, discomfort, and damage to the walls, ceiling, insulation, and structure of your home. Ventilation ensures that air quality levels are safe and reasonable for the well-being of all.

  • How much does it cost to ventilate an attic?

Having an attic exhaust fan installed will cost you around $300 to $600 for labor and parts. It depends on the fan you choose as there are different sizes, speeds, and locations to install. An attic fan keeps moisture under control and prevents dust from entering the home.

  • How much is a whole-house ventilation system?

You can expect to pay $700 to $2,700 for a whole-house ventilation system. This ventilation system uses a series of fans, ducts, and vents to keep the entire home free of contaminants, dust, and stale air.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Sensor 1 Sensor: Device that responds to a physical event or change in the environment by emitting an output signal
glossary term picture Mite 2 Mites: Small, often microscopic invertebrates that mostly live in the soil or water. Some mites are parasitic and live on plants and animals.
glossary term picture Sprinkler System 3 Sprinkler system: Set of equipment used to irrigate lawns

Cost to install ventilation varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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