Solar Attic Exhaust Fans: How Do They Work?
Solar attic ventilation may be the right answer for the rising temperatures around the US. As you may have noticed, summers are getting sunnier and hotter. Complaining about the heat and turning down the temperature on the AC may not always be the right solution, especially with rising energy prices, but installing a solar fan may be the environmentally-friendly way to expel the attic heat and keep rooftop space at a comfortable temperature.
As warm air rises, it penetrates the attic space of your home and is stored there. All the outside heat that hits your roof shingles also increases your attic temperature, making the whole area unlivable and not the best place to store your belongings. The warm air can also penetrate back into your home, making your air conditioner or HVAC unit work much harder – and spend up to 30% more energy.
Considering that around 16% of US residential electricity goes for keeping the space cool, that would mean that you could save as much as 5-6% on your electricity bill. If you live in an apartment, this is not an issue, but if you live in a big house, you will pay extra money for your electric bill, especially during the summer.
To counterfeit this, you could install a solar attic fan. The solution is so simple that it is borderline genius – the hotter the attic gets, the stronger the fan blows, all without using the precious kWhs coming from your utility company. They are small and practical – even for RV ventilation. Although these fans are a bit more expensive, many homeowners readily install them, as they are quiet, efficient, and last long enough to pay off the investment.
What is a Solar Powered Attic Fan?
A solar-powered fan is exactly what the name says it is: it is an attic fan that has a built-in solar panel, that is small in size, and that uses solar power to turn its blades. As the sun starts shining in the morning, the attic fan starts blowing the warm air out. The stronger the sun shines, the hotter the attic space gets, and the stronger the attic fan blows. This way, you keep your home at a very comfortable temperature day and night. You will also be able to extend the life expectancy of your roof and make the attic space a better storage space.
One natural question that crosses everyone’s mind is what an attic fan does in the winter. This is not a time you want the fan to be expelling the hot air out. This is the time you should be spending saving as much of that warm air as possible. Solar attic fans have built-in thermostats, so they will only work during summer.
Average Installation Cost
The installation of a solar fan normally costs. You want to hire good contractors or a good, certified installer, who will be able to install the fan without damaging your roof structure. You also want someone who will be able to close the gap between the fan and the roof in such a way that no draft or water can get in.
If the water does get in, it can damage the roof structure, the insulation materials, and the ceilings in your home. A runny roof is a very bad thing, and should rather be prevented than mended. For this reason, be prepared to pay a professional. You will generally have to pay around $675 for a good fan and the installation. A portion of this investment may be eligible for a tax break, federal tax credit, or another form of solar rebate or incentive.
As a solar fan can save up to 30% of the money you pay to run the air conditioner, let’s see how much you can save over time:
|||Cost Without Solar Attic Fan||Potential Savings|
|AC Bill in a Month - LE||$14.00||$4.20|
|AC Bill in a Month - HE||$210.00||$63.00|
|AC Bill per Year - 5 Months a Year, LE||$70.00||$21.00|
|AC Bill per Year - 5 Months a Year, HE||$1,050.00||$315.00|
|AC Bill Cost - Year 10 - LE||$700.00||$210.00|
|AC Bill Cost - Year 10 - HE||$10,500.00||$3,150.00|
|AC Bill Cost - Year 20 - LE||$1,400.00||$420.00|
|AC Bill Cost - Year 20 - HE||$21,000.00||$6,300.00|
- HE – High End
- LE – Low End
- The high and low end depends on the electric rate in your area, your home size and insulation properties, and summer temperatures in your area
Pros of Solar Attic Fans
As the cost is negligible compared to the savings that you could make, installing a solar attic fan pays off within 10 years in a low-end setting, and within a year (5 months of AC-on season) in a high-end setting. Installing a solar attic fan is a sane decision, especially considering the rising energy prices. There are more pros of going with a solar attic fan:
- It helps keep your home cooler in summer,
- It reduces moisture build-up in the attic,
- It is an environmentally-friendly solution,
- It reduces your energy costs and bills, and
- It is a good investment that could increase your property value and cash flow.
Keep Your Attic Cooler in Summer
A fan with a solar panel can push attic heat out, keeping your attic cooler in the summer. A solar attic fan is a form of proper ventilation, and it can save money and keep your home cool for the whole summer. All of this is done with no additional electricity. Here are the benefits of keeping your attic cooler in the summer:
- Lower utility bills, as the air conditioning unit, has to work less,
- Increasing the life expectancy of your roof,
- Increasing the life expectancy of your insulation materials, and
- Keeping the moisture out of your attic.
Reduce Moisture in the Attic
When it comes to reducing moisture, having good ventilation in the attic area will mean that your roof and the home will take less moisture damage. This has multiple benefits, as it will:
- Increase the life expectancy of your roof structure,
- Increase the life expectancy of your ceilings,
- Keep the insulation materials in a healthy state, and
- Prevent any allergies. As moisture can help mold and mildew propagate, keeping moisture at bay will have a beneficial impact on your health.
Running solar fans to cool your attic is also very environmentally friendly. First of all, you will be able to enjoy a prolonged life in your home, reducing the environmental impact and your carbon footprint. Secondly, as the air conditioning unit will have to work less, it will use less energy to keep the living spaces at a comfortable temp all summer.
This means that you will use less energy, even if you do not live in one of the high-solar states, your utility bills will be lower, and you will be able to reduce your carbon footprint even further. In extreme cases, 1 kWh of electricity can release up to 2 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. Not bad for a small investment into your home.
Reduces Energy Costs
Reduced energy use means that your air conditioning will cost less to run. As you can save up to $6,300 over a 20-year period, it becomes clear that running solar attic fans can help you reach your financial goals. Reduced humidity and mold also mean that your AC will have to work less during winter, to keep your home warm.
Overall, solar attic fans are a good investment. With reduced humidity, lower cooling bills in the summer, and increased energy efficiency of your home, you will be using less power to do the same job. As ventilation of the rooftop area is crucial for your and your home’s health, it may be the time to consider installing solar attic fans to do the job the way it should be done – in an eco-friendly way.
Cons of Solar Attic Fans
However, not everything is fun with solar attic fans. Most units will do the job just the way they should, but, as it goes with most solar devices, there are some cons to consider as well. Here are the three most commonly reported cons of a solar attic fan:
- Higher upfront costs,
- Need two or more units in most US homes,
- They need direct sunlight and may not work well in shaded areas.
Solar fans cost more to produce. Therefore, the price you pay for these fans will always be higher than with regular attic fans. In fact, they can cost twice as much, but many US homeowners still decide to go for solar ventilation to help them reduce energy costs. The good thing is that they can be placed in existing fans.
Needs Two Units in Most Houses
As US homes are large, you will need two units in most US homes. If you live in a particularly large home, you may even need more. The thing is that solar fans are not as strong as conventional, AC-powered fans. However, as most contractors suggest, you will need more than one unit in most US areas. For this reason, going with two solar units can still pay off.
Needs Direct Sunlight
Solar fans need direct sunlight to work the best. If you live in a heavily wooded area or have a rooftop surface that does not face south unobstructed, you may want to know that a solar fan will not work as well as conventional wood. Attics around the US are hot, so you will need a lot of sunshine to keep them cool during summer.
Top Solar Attic Fans in the Market
The solar attic fan market is still small but fast to develop. There are dozens of models on the market today, so we tested those we liked. Here are the top 10 solar attic fans in the US today, with some technical data that should help you decide.
|Solar Attic Fan Name||Wattage||Area Covered||Warranty|
|Amtrak Solar Attic Fan||50 W||2,250 sq. ft.||25 years|
|Blaster Solar Attic Fan||30 W||600 sq. ft.||N/a|
|Broan Solar Attic Fan||28 W||530 sq. ft.||6 years|
|Eco Worthy Solar Attic Fan||28 W||3,200 sq. ft.||1 year|
|iLiving Solar Attic Fan||20 W||1,750 sq. ft.||15 years|
|Natural Light Solar Attic Fan||48W||2,800 sq. ft.||25 years|
|Pumplus Solar Attic Fan||30 W||3,200 sq. ft.||5 years limited warranty|
|QuietCool Solar Attic Fan||40 W||790 sq. ft.||15 years|
|Remington Solar Attic Fan||20 - 40W||2,000 sq. ft.||Lifetime|
|YellowBlue Solar Attic Fan||20 W||900 sq. ft.||Lifetime|
Amtrak Solar Attic Fan
The Amtrak Solar Attic Fan is a great investment for any home. It is a 50W solar-powered attic fan that is suitable for 2,250 sq. feet of roof space. It comes with a 25-year warranty, making it a very reliable product.
Blaster Solar Attic Fan
This attic fan is great for solar-powered houses or anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint. It’s suitable for 600 sq. feet of roof space, making it perfect for most houses. The product is easy to install and works well, circulating air and keeping the attic cooler.
Broan Solar Attic Fan
This 28W solar-powered attic fan is great for 530 sq. feet of roof space and really helps to keep the home cool. The 6 years of warranty is also a huge plus. Broan attic fans are also very stylish and will not compromise the aesthetics of your roof.
Eco Worthy Solar Attic Fan
The 28W Eco Worthy solar attic fan is a great way to keep your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. This attic fan is powered by the sun, so it is environmentally friendly and cost-effective. It is also very easy to install. The fan comes with a 1-year warranty, so you can be sure it is a quality product.
iLiving Solar Attic Fan
The iLiving Solar Attic Fan is a great choice for anyone looking for a solar-powered attic fan. It is suitable for 1750 sq. feet of roof space and comes with a 15-year warranty. The fan is easy to install and is very effective at keeping your attic cool. It is a great choice for anyone looking for an attic fan that is powered by solar energy.
Natural Light Solar Attic Fan
If you’re looking for a powerful and efficient solar-powered attic fan, the Natural Light Solar Attic Fan is a great option. With 48W of power, it’s suitable for up to 2800 sq. feet of roof space, and comes with a 25 year warranty. It is great for saving money and keeping your home cool during the hot Florida summers.
Pumplus Solar Attic Fan
The Pumplus solar attic fan is an excellent product for anyone looking to improve the ventilation in their home. This 30W solar-powered fan is ideal for 3,200 sq. feet of roof space and is capable of helping to reduce energy costs by keeping the attic cooler. Installation is quick and easy, and the Pumplus fan comes with a 5-year warranty, making it a great investment for the long term.
QuietCool Solar Attic Fan
If you are looking for a reliable and durable solar-powered attic fan, the QuietCool Solar Attic Fan is a great option. With a 40W power output and a 15-year warranty, this fan is suitable for 790 sq. feet of roof space. It is easy to install and comes with all the necessary hardware. The fan is also very quiet, making it ideal for use in attics or other rooms where noise might be an issue.
Remington Solar Attic Fan
The Remington Solar Attic Fan is a great product for anyone looking to ventilate their attic space. It comes in three different sizes (20W, 30W, or 40W) to accommodate different size attics, and it has a lifetime warranty. It is great at keeping the attic space cool and saving you money.
YellowBlue Solar Attic Fan
The YellowBlue Solar Attic Fan is a great choice for those looking for a reliable, solar-powered attic fan. This fan is suitable for 900 sq. feet of roof space and comes with a lifetime warranty, making it a great investment for your home. The fan is easy to install and is very effective at removing hot air from your attic, keeping your home cooler in the summer months.
Do Solar Attic Fans have Thermostats?
Solar fans have a built-in thermostat that can tell them when to come on an off. Most of them will run the whole day, especially during summer, to expel all the extra heat that builds up in the roof. Attic ventilation may need to run even after the sun has set: for this, you will need a battery and an inverter.
Do Solar Attic Fans Make Noise?
Most solar attic fans have very low noise levels. This is thanks to efficient blades, that can expel more hot air with a lower RPM. You should note that your solar attic fan may blow at different speeds during the day, depending on how strong the light shines on them.
How Long Do Solar Fans Last?
A solar attic fan can last upwards of 20 years. Beware that they may need occasional cleaning, especially if you live in a dusty area. This is so as to help keep the blades clean and to help your fan operate more efficiently.
Are Solar Powered Attic Vents Worth it?
Yes, solar attic fans are worth it. Fans generally do not consume a lot of electricity, but considering their long operation time, switching to solar power to cool your home can pay off over time. In addition to this, your AC will also work less, which will save you a lot of money in the long run.
The installation of a solar attic fan does not cost much more compared to installing regular fans. The increased airflow and energy efficiency of your home will boost the value of your home, all while using old vents and existing structures. You may even see benefits to your health, as mold and mildew will not propagate as easily in a well-ventilated attic area.