As part of our Home Technology Demonstration Project we installed the home theater equipment in an enclosed cabinet to keep it out of sight. My background in HVAC engineering led me to investigate the marketplace for a ventilation solution as I knew from experience that heat would build up in the cabinet and could cause equipment damage, fire hazard or at the very least an unpleasant waft of hot air when the door is opened. Don’t forget that all audio and video equipment gives off heat … especially amplifiers. In our case I find that the digital cable box is one of the worst offenders … even when it’s idle.

Howell Technologies sent us a Cinema Fan to use for our application. This is a specially designed axial fan in a sound attenuating enclosure that can be mounted in any position. It draws only 32 watts when operating and is rated at only 55 dB noise level. Here are some of the features of this unit:


– Runs on 32 watts –

– Energy Efficient –
(less than a 40w light bulb)
– Brushless Motor –

– Long Life –
(rated 15,000 – 20,000 hrs. of operation)
– High Performance Motor-

– Powerful Airflow –
(238 CFM)
– Weighs 4 lbs. –

– Lightweight –
(easy to mount in attics, crawl spaces, or false ceilings)
– Convertible Design –

– Versatility –
(can be mounted to blow or exhaust, even in- line)
– Aluminum and Polyvinyl Chroride Construction –

Lifetime corrosion perforation warranty
– 5 – polycarbonate blade wings –

– Quiet –
(55 dB) Doesn’t have to be mounted too far away

For our application we mounted the fan in the attic space about 20 feet away from the cabinet location. An exhaust outlet in the top of the cabinet is ducted to the fan inlet. The fan discharges through a vent cap directly into the attic (which is ventilated to the outdoors). To allow room air to be drawn through the cabinet we drilled a series of 1″ diameter holes in the bottom of the cabinet as well as the kick plate. The exposed holes on the exterior of the kickplate is covered with a wall grill. Thus … when the fan is on … room air is drawn from the cool floor area of the room into the bottom of the cabinet. The warm air from the top of the cabinet is drawn out and exhausted into the attic. Works like a charm!

To control the fan we installed a Temp. Sensor Unit (CA1200). This little black box sits in the top of the cabinet. The cinema fan plugs into the box and the box plugs into a 120V wall outlet. A remote temperature sensor is located near the top of the cabinet where the heat builds up the most. This sensor connects to the black box. The unit comes pre-set from the factory at 85º F and is designed to turn the Cinema Fan on when the sending unit reaches that temperature and turn it off when the temperature drops below setpoint. It is adjustable for different temperatures.

Control4 Home Automation
Overall I must say that the system is working very well for us. There is virtually no noise from the fan at all (if you open the cabinet door you can hear a slight air flow sound from the outlet). The sensor controls to setpoint without a problem. 32 watts is less that a light bulb in power consumption so that’s not an issue either. 15,000 hour lifetime … lets see … that’s 30,000 episodes of stupid sitcoms or 7,500 sometimes decent movies. If you watch the tube 2-3 hours a day the fan should last about 15 to 20 years. Doubtful that your sense of humor will hold out that long so it should suffice 🙂

My only small beef with the system is that the temperature sensor came without a power cord and sensor wire (RCA). A spare power cord is not something that most installers will have in the truck so that could be an expensive trip back to the jobsite.

MSRP for the Cinema fan is approx. $600 and the sensor unit is $475. Accessories can add a few more dollars to the installation depending on what you need.

Whatever you do though … don’t enclose all that expensive Home Theater equipment in a cabinet unless some method of ventilation is provided.