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Solar Attic Fans Pros and Cons: Top 15 to Know

Attic fans are an excellent option for attic cooling in summer and removing roof moisture in winter. Solar attic fans offer even more advantages than powered versions. Our list of the top 15 pros and cons to know can help you decide if solar attic fans are right for you.

Solar Attic Fan

Pros

If you’re considering buying a solar attic fan, they have many outstanding qualities. In the debate between solar attic fans pros and cons, here are the bright spots.

#1 Practically No Costs After Installation

After you install your solar attic fan, there are no operating costs unless something breaks. Also, solar attic fans won’t add anything to your power bill.

#2 Lower Attic Temperature

Attic temperatures can reach upwards of 130°F in summer (1). The Florida Solar Energy Center says solar attic fans,

have the potential to reduce measured peak summer attic air temperatures by over 20oF.

Twenty degrees can be significant on a hot day.

#3 Won’t Steal Cool Air From The Rest of Your House

Powered attic fans are powerful enough to siphon some your home’s cool air, making your air conditioner work harder.

Solar fans won’t steal cool air from your home (1).

For more information on how solar attic fans work, you can check out this guide.

#4 Noise Is Not an Issue

Solar attic fans are almost silent compared to the noise of powered ones.

#5 No Electrician Needed

There is no need to hire an electrician to wire a solar attic fan into your home since a solar attic fan’s power comes from the sun. Electric fans on the other hand, have been know to burn out and even become fire hazards as mentioned in this great video by HomeShowRadio:

As you can see, deciding how to cool a hot attic between electric fans, solar fans, and simple vents are still up for debate.

#6 No Danger From Carbon Monoxide

The strength of powered attic fans can create negative-pressure zones that pull carbon monoxide from combustion appliances into the attic. 

Solar attic fans don’t carry carbon monoxide risks.

#7 Save Your Roof

In the winter, heat rises to the attic.

A solar attic fan pulls the moisture in and the heat out of the attic to help prevent roof damage from mold, wood rot, and ice expansion.

It can also prevent ice damming (2).

#8 Keep Adjacent Areas Cooler

Rooms closer to a solar attic fan feel noticeably cooler.

#9 Good For the Planet

Solar energy is good for the planet, and choosing a sustainable energy source over other types of power makes a difference for our future. For more sustainable energy resources, you can check out our homepage.

#10 Visually More Appealing

Solar attic fans have a lower profile than powered attic fans. They are closer to the roof and not as distracting as their alternative. When you look at solar attic fan pros and cons, this is a huge motivator for many homeowners.

Cons

Solar attic fans have many advantages, but they do have some problems. When you look at solar attic fans pros and cons, here are the negative aspects of these machines.

#1 Less Efficient if Overcast

Unfortunately, solar energy isn’t always ideal, especially when the sun goes down. After all, a house can be hot whether the sun is out or not.

[Solar fan] efficiency diminishes significantly in cloudy conditions and even more significantly in overcast and rainy conditions.

If you live in an area with often overcast skies, solar energy may not be a flawless solution for your attic cooling needs.

#2 Low Monetary Savings

A 1000-square-foot air-conditioned house with two solar attic fans saved 460 kWh of energy in a yearlong solar attic fan test. (1) That is only a savings of about $40 a year. 

#3 May Cause Roof Leaks

Solar attic fans may cause roof leaks (unless they’re done by a professional attic fan installation company and they know how they) especially with improper flashing. Then, you have to think about proper maintenance. Lastly, consider the chance of water damage decreases if installed on a vertical gable wall instead of the roof.

#4 Pricey

A single solar-powered attic fan can cost around $600 with $150 to $300 in installation costs. You might also need multiple solar attic fans for your home.

#5 Low Air Movement

Solar attic fans move less air than powered attic fans. So, solar attic fans may not have enough power to move as much air out of your attic as powered versions.

FAQs

When asking, “Which is better?” between a solar or electric fan, the answer depends on the situation, as there are pros and cons to each.

Solar attic fans are usually better than electric attic fans because they’re quieter, costs nothing to run, and they don’t pull cold air away from your air-conditioned house.

On the other hand, electric attic fans don’t require sunlight to work properly but demand energy from your grid to function.

The number of solar attic fans you need will depend on your attic’s temperature and size, along with your roof’s slope. Every case is different, but generally speaking, here’s what we recommend:

Low-sloped roofs: one solar attic fan per 1200 sq ft
Medium-sloped roofs: one solar attic fan per 800 sq ft, plus one fan per additional 400 sq ft after 2000 sq ft
High-sloped roofs:  two solar attic fans up to 1200 sq ft, plus one additional fan per extra 400 square ft

(4)

Solar attic fans last around 20 years long on average, in our experience, as that’s what a typical solar panel will last for (5). However, some units from manufacturers like Remington Solar can last for much longer. They offer a lifelong warranty on their solar attic fans’ parts (labor not included) (6).

In addition, you can help your unit last longer by learning how to install solar attic fans properly from the beginning.

  1. Performance Assessment of Photovoltaic Attic Ventilator Fans. Retrieved from: http://fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/html/FSEC-GP-171-00/index.htm
  2. Dealing with and preventing ice dams. Retrieved from: https://extension.umn.edu/protecting-home-rain-and-ice/dealing-and-preventing-ice-dams
  3. Hybrid Solar Attic Vent. Retrieved from https://patents.google.com/patent/US8915778B2/en
  4. two things to know to maximize benefits | Remington Solar. Retrieved from: https://remingtonsolar.com/let-us-help/
  5. Warranty and Returns Policy. Retrieved from: https://remingtonsolar.com/warranties-and-returns-policy/
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