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How To Install Solar Attic Fan: In 5 EASY Steps

Solar-powered attic fans help cool down your attic or any upstairs room in your home. These fans work by pulling the heated air out of rooms and replacing it with cooler air, all without putting a strain on your utility bill and helping to protect your home from future damages.

The good news is that installing a solar attic fan only requires a few simple steps, so you can start reaping the benefits right away.

Three Solar Attic Fans Installed On A Roof

What You’ll Need

  • Ladder
  • Power Drill
  • Reciprocal saw
  • Roofing knife
  • Pry bar
  • Wrench
  • Hammer
  • Caulking gun
  • Chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Various hardware depending on your solar fan setup

Step 1: Choose a good location – Our #1 rule for how to install a solar attic fan

You should already know that a south or southwest-facing spot is the best place to install a solar panel. When you’re deciding how to install a solar attic fan, you’ll also want to consider other location factors, such as placing it about two feet from the peak of the roof. In most cases, this is the most energy-efficient way for how to cool your attic.

Energy.gov puts it like this,

Ventilation is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool buildings.

In addition, if you plan to install multiple solar-powered attic fans, space them as far apart as possible to enhance the air circulation in your attic space. This way, you’ll get the most out of your machines.

Step 2: Measure carefully

Measuring has its own step because this is the most crucial part of installing a solar attic fan. For new fan installations, find your ideal location inside the house. Once you measure the perfect spot, you can drive a screw through the location from inside. 

Then, you’ll have a screw point marking the center of the spot where you need to start working on the roof. 

Once your marker screw is in place, it’s time to measure the solar fan and create a template. You can use this template to pick the exact location for the fan and mark it out with chalk.

Step 3: Prep your installation spot

If you’re placing a fan in a new spot, prep will involve cutting a hole in the roof. You can do this (carefully) with a reciprocal saw. 

Cutting a hole in your roof can feel intimidating, so measuring properly and taking your time is a must.

In some cases, you’ll be replacing an existing vent and installing your solar-powered attic fan in its place. In that case, your next step is removing the old vent, and you can usually manage this with a pry bar. Then, you’ll need to carefully measure the existing space to determine whether your new solar fan will fit without modifications. 

Step 4: Make space for flashing

Loosening the shingles or other roofing material around the installation point leaves room for the flashing to fit in. This is a necessary step whether you’re replacing a vent or creating a hole for a new fan. You might need to remove roofing nails to allow the flashing to slide underneath the top layer of roof material.

Step 5: Place the fan

Here you’ll slide your new solar-powered attic fan into place, then adjust it per the manufacturer guidelines.

For some fans, this involves swiveling the solar panel to the perfect angle for maximum energy absorption.

Then, you’ll add caulking, secure the fan with the accompanying hardware, and replace any disturbed shingles. Make sure to read your user manual to determine whether your fan is auto-on (and turn any settings on or off as preferred), and make any other tweaks before climbing down from the roof.

Most solar attic fans have adjustable settings for ideal attic temperatures and humidity, but you’ll still have to ascend the roof again to make changes later.

To wrap all this up, for those who are more visual learners, check out this great video by Power Home summarizing how to install solar attic fan:

Now you have everything you need to create a happy attic!

FAQs

It takes anywhere from a few hours to half of the day to install a solar attic fan, depending on your skill level and your site. This includes how quickly you can work, and how easily accessible your roof and attic are.

Additionally, if you have additional wiring upgrades, you will spend more time connecting the wires as well.

The cost to install a solar attic fan can range from free (if you do it yourself) to a hundred dollars or so (if you hire someone).

 If you install this mini HVAC system entirely on your own and have a drill and saw on hand, the extra materials like Z-brackets and wood for the brace are relatively cheap and should be your only expenses, aside from the fan itself. If you hire someone to come help you, $30-$45/hr would be reasonable rates to look for.

The solar panel should be located in a spot that gets the most direct sunlight for the longest amount of time, daily. The solar panel should not be covered by any trees or shade and should face the south for maximum sunlight.

Then, it’s important to keep in mind how attic fans work to determine panel placement:

“Attic fans are intended to cool hot attics by drawing in cooler outside air from attic vents (soffit and gable) and pushing hot air to the outside.” – (Energy.gov) (2)

We recommend two feet from the pitch of your roof, as stated above.

You can make the installation process even easier by going with a trusted manufacturer, now that you’ve read our guide “How To Install Solar Attic Fan: In 5 EASY Steps.”

No matter what, the installation process for your solar-powered attic fan will take some time, especially depending on your site, but some fans are easier to install than others. When you think of the main pros and cons with solar attic fans, easy installation is one of the best traits to look for. If an easy DIY installation is a priority for you, here is our list of the top solar-powered attic fans.

  1. Ventilation Systems for Cooling. Retrieved from: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/home-cooling-systems/ventilation-systems-cooling
  2. About Attic Ventilation. Retrieved from: https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/do_it_yourself_guide/about_attic_ventilation
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