Are solar attic fans worth it? That type of question seems to be around not only with solar fans but also with about anything related to solar. For some people this seems like a great way to improve the home. For others, the idea of a sun powered attic fan just isn’t as convincing.
These aren’t obvious products like solar panels or a portable power station with portable panels. So what is the story behind sunlight powered attic fans? Are they worth the cost or not?
The major benefits of solar attic fans are comfort related, not financial. If you’re looking at a solar attic fan for utility cost savings, they are not worth the add. If you’re looking to make an attic space (especially renovated) more comfortable then solar attic fans can be a great option for keeping air moving.
Whether or not it’s worth considering one of these fans as an addition to your house can very much be a situational consideration.
Looking at the Solar Attic Fan
Usually I’m all about solar gear right off the bat. While my research and talking to several local solar installation companies has convinced me there are times where a solar attic fan could be a good option.
That said, these are much more situational as an option than most solar. This means that it’s not always the slam dunk that the decision might be for other types of solar improvements.
To decide if it’s the best option for you, it’s important to look at your specific situation and decide whether it’s the best fit for you are not. Once you look at the pros and cans of solar attic fans, as well as your particular situation, you will then know whether or not these are a good home or office improvement for you.
Pros of Solar Attic Fans
There are several potential positives with installing a solar attic fan. Keep in mind that the effectiveness can depend on the strength of the fan, the amount of direct sunlight it receives, and the overall environment around your home or building.
Solar Usage Is Good
Since the solar attic fan is directly powered from sunlight, you’re not adding to your electric bill. Now this won’t cause you to save on utilities seeing as how you’re adding the solar fan, it’s not running off what’s already there (unless you’re replacing electric attic fans with solar attic fans – then there might be a minor reduction in utility costs).
There can be slight savings in some rare cases if your central air ducts in the house run through the attic since the solar fan reduces the heat up there, meaning your central air doesn’t have to work quite as hard to cool the air it pumps throughout the house.
This is probably going to be a negligble benefit if it’s there for you.
However, the use of solar energy means you’re not adding to your carbon footprint which is a definite plus. Depending on setup, this can also keep the fans going during the day if the rest of the power goes out.
Don’t Require an Electrician
Solar power fans are actually pretty easy to install and setup. Since they are self-contained versus requiring the set up of storage batteries, most decent DIY individuals will be able to install the solar-powered attic fans themselves.
There are many of us who might just choose to have the professionals do all the installation and setup work anyway. I’m probably among that group.
I like my time and I’m happy to pay a professional to install the solar attic fan so I don’t have to worry about it. But you don’t need a professional electrician to install these.
Very Quiet While in Use
I was impressed with just how quiet these fans tend to be. They move a decent amount of air, and are often quieter than my laptop cooler. You can tell this is a feature that wasn’t ignored during design.
Cons of Solar Attic Fans
While there are some things to really like about what solar attic fans bring to the table, especially compared to non-solar attic fans, there are some drawbacks that you need to be aware of to make an informed decision.
Only Works with Direct Sunlight
The solar panels on these fans aren’t going to “pull” power from indirect sunlight or through shade. These only work with direct sunlight, which means even on a very cloudy day the fans can slow down and stop.
Because of this these are at their best during bright sunny days, which is a good thing, but they can fall completely flat when that’s not the weather. And that’s a legitimate criticism.
Relatively Low Area of Air Movement
This is a problem of all attic fans, not just those powered by solar. These are not big commercial models that are going to instantly clear out an area. The air movement is noticeable and the cooling effect can definitely be noticeable.
Even if the temperature drop isn’t huge, a minor temperature drop along with direct air moving over you can make the space so much more comfortable.
However, it’s not going to be earth-shattering, especially if you have a really large open attic space.
Not the Best Pure Cooling Option
If your goal is straight up dropping the temperature to make an attic office more comfortable or an attic room rentable, then there are better options than adding an attic fan.
Adding insulation, opening air flow from a central air conditioner, or even adding a portable air conditioner in the room are all options that will likely produce better options.
Can an attic fan be used in conjunction with any of these methods to make things better?
Sure. But if a dramatic temperature drop is your main goal you may be disappointed with the results here.
Solar Attic Fan Vs. Portable Air Conditioner
One of the major comparisons that come up is whether it’s better to go with installing a solar attic fan or two, or if you should go with a portable air conditioner, instead.
From the standpoint of green energy and reducing your carbon footprint, unless your entire house is hooked up to be off the grid then a solar attic fan is a better option than a portable air conditioner.
However, if your main focus is cooling an area the portable air conditioner is probably a better option than the attic fans.
They will take more energy and add to the electric bill, unlike a solar attic fan which will not, but also won’t produce the same amount of cooling.
What your main priorities are should determine which of these options is best for you.
Important Note: Make sure if you go the portable AC route you go with a top notch one like this unit, as really cheap portable AC units tend to be junk.
Is Using a Solar Attic Fan Really Green Friendly?
If you’re tracing all the way back to the cost of making and manufacturing these in a factory until they come to your home, it’s really hard to say. To be honest, I’m leery of those comparisons as it’s asking for many measurements in a closed system that have a lot of potential inaccuracies.
That being said, when it comes to whether or not these are a good step for going green, they are a self-contained solar system which means if you’re replacing an electric attic fan or need just a small little boost to that space of the house then these are a great option.
If not covered, consider seeing how room is used or if it can be turned to a rental or if fanning upstairs helps minimize how often the AC kicks on. – All off the top of the head considerations.
Best Attic Fan Options
There are many good attic fans out there. The truth is there’s a half dozen that I would feel pretty safe about recommending. Like many areas of solar products, there are many great options from companies passionate about solar energy.
But there is one that sticks out as being the best option out there.
Introducing the original Solar Attic Fan which comes with a 25 year warranty because they actually back up their production (picture is linked to up to date Amazon pricing).
This is one of the premium options in the space and there is a reason it is consistently one of the highest rated solar attic fans out there.
This model does tend to be priced at a premium rate, but you know you’re getting a quality solar attic fan that works when you buy this one, and finding someone willing to offer a 25 year warranty is a rare thing.
So if you’re convinced, that’s the order we’d recommend.
Other Solar Attic Fan Options Worth Checking Out:
Solar Attic Fan FAQ
Q: Are solar power attic fans any good?
A: Solar attic fans work just as good as their electric counterparts and arguably can be slightly better thanks to being eco-friendly and having a contained power source. While there are legitimate potential negatives to going with a solar attic fans, they function just as well as any conventionally powered models (as long as the sun is out).
Q: Are solar attic fans tax deductible?
A: In most places these do not enjoy the same tax cuts or credits as solar panels added to a home or business however, in some states and municipalities solar attic fans may offer some type of tax rebate so make sure to do the local research to see if there is an additional bonus to going this direction.
Q: How many solar attic fans do I need?
A: This will depend on the amount of space you are trying to move air through. Most renovated attic spaces tend to be relatively small so there’s a good chance that one is going to be enough.
If you have a large attic space then two will cover it in most cases. If you want a more direct answer measure the space of the attic and look at the specific solar attic fan specs to see how much square footage their good for.
If you’re pushing up against the top of their ability then it’s usually good to go with a second to be safe. Keep in mind both need to be able to get sunlight so they often need to be on the same part of the roof. Outside setup may limit your options.
Q: Will an attic fan keep your house cooler?
A: Depends on the situation. In almost all situations they will bring a direct nominal improvement. How much additional cooling happens depends on how the direct sunlight, insulation, and centralized air conditioning in your home all work.
Are Solar Attic Fans Worth It – What’s the Final Verdict?
Generally we love everything that is solar power related, but solar attic fans are actually quite a mixed bag. I feel like most pieces of solar gear are a pretty quick thumbs up, but things are a bit more complicated when it comes to figuring out if a solar powered attic fan is a good choice for your particular situation or not.
That’s the thing about these: they are far more situational than most pieces of solar gear out there.
Some people will find a solar attic fan or two to be the perfect addition to their home. Others will find that maybe another solution works better for their specific needs.
With the information in this article on solar attic fans you will be able to decide if they are the best solution for your needs or if you need to consider another direction.