The Pros and Cons of Solar Attic Fans

Does your home get unbearably hot in the summer? Would you rather camp out at night to feel the cool evening breeze? You don’t have to. With the right attic fan, you can bring the hot air out and the cold air in!

Attic fans work by pushing out the superheated air in your attic, so that it can be replaced by cooler air coming from open windows inside the house.

There are different types of attic fans, but gable-end models seem to work much better than the roof-mounted ones. And of course, the best energy source is none other than the sun. If you are considering installing a solar attic fan in your home, here are the things you need to consider:

Pros

  • Solar attic fans are more cost effective. Line-powered attic fans may be cheaper (or not, depending on what brand and model you buy) than their solar counterparts when you purchase one outright, but your operating costs will balloon as time goes by. This is simply because line-powered attic fans add quite a lot to your electric bill, as compared to solar attic fans which operate using converted energy from the sun.
  • Solar attic fans are safer to operate. While it is true that line-powered attic fans have a higher operating capacity- meaning, it can pull more air in a shorter amount of time- cooling down your attic much faster, this very aspect of line-powered attic fans make them a bit dangerous, in the sense that they can:
    • Lead to negative pressure areas,
    • Bring conditioned air from the rest of the house into the attic, and
    • Bring toxic gas emissions such as carbon monoxide from combustion appliances into the house
  • Since solar attic fans do not operate at such high speeds and powers, they do not pose these problems.

Solar attic fans are environmentally friendly. Line-powered attic fans operate through electricity produced mainly from either non-renewable resources, or ones that harm the environment. This is where solar attic fans have the most advantage in- they get their needed energy to operate from the sun. No harmful emissions, no costs, no worries!

Cons

  • One solar attic fan is not enough. Since solar attic fans do not work as fast and strong as their line-powered counterparts, you need at least 2 fans if you want to actually feel a difference in the air temperature inside your home. The bigger your house is, the more fans you need- sometimes up to 3 or 4 fans, if your house around 1,600 or more square feet of air-conditioned floor area.
  • Solar attic fans are not for every location. By its name, a solar attic fan operates through getting energy from the sun. Therefore, it won’t work for locations that are always cloudy or see a lot of rain. They also need to be installed at specific angles and sides of your home so they can work best. Moreover, in the late afternoon when the sun is setting and your attic is at its hottest (and when you need an attic fan to work the most),solar attic fans slow down because there is simply not enough sun.