Did you know you can lower the cost of your air conditioning expenses significantly simply by installing a solar attic fan in your home? Your attic traps and retains heat, especially in the summer, and temperatures can reach up to 150 degrees (Fahrenheit). This trapped air acts like a blanket of heat around your house cancelling out all the hard work your air conditioners are doing to try to keep you comfortable. It’s like putting on a winter parka in the summer to try to cool off. An expensive parka. You might consider a traditional electrical fan unit, but then consider this: if you’re installing an electric attic fan to reduce the cost of running the AC, your cost for running an electric fan unit will cancel that savings and you’ll have spent as much or more. The only smart solution is a solar attic ventilation system that works on free power from the sun.
But savings is only the beginning. Have you ever considered how dangerous it might be in your attic as the temperatures rise? If you’re storing electronic items or batteries, these items can become damaged just by sitting in the stagnant 150-degrees of your attic. Damaging your expensive equipment is bad enough, but how many aerosols, paints, glues, varnishes, and other chemicals do you have stored in your attic? When stored in high temperatures, these items can become very dangerous, noxious, or volatile and cause individuals to quickly experience poisoning through fumes, or worse, a combustion or fire hazard. You may wish to consider combining a solar attic fan with a solar shade or blind.
Without the proper ventilation in your attic, it’s prone to another serious danger: mold. Not only is mold dangerous to breathe, but it’s invasive, spreads quickly, and does serious and expensive damage. You can install a solar air ventilation kit to proactively stop any mold from growing. Plus, because they’re solar powered, you don’t have to hire an electrician to install them. In fact, other solar fans might be a valuable addition to avoid this issue.
Don’t worry about these concerns any longer, by installing a solar ventilation unit in your attic.
Check out our reviews below for several popular options.
GBGS Solar Attic Fan
Natural Light 36-Watt Solar Powered Attic Fan
Amtrak Solar 70-Watt Attic Fan
- 1 Best Solar Attic Fans – Top Reviews of 2020
- 2 Choosing the Best Solar Attic Fan
- 3 Compare and Choose the Right Solar Attic Fan for You
Best Solar Attic Fans – Top Reviews of 2020
As you read on for 2020’s top reviews of solar powered attic fans, you’ll find there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution. Each individual’s roof and attic has certain requirements. Perhaps you can’t make any structural change to your roof but you still need a solution. Circumstances vary widely, but there’s no need to worry because there happens to be a wide range of solar solutions, too. (Looking for a quick explanation of how solar technology works?) We’ve compared the price, power, installation, quality and durability, solar panel functionality, and supplemental accessory items like a thermostat sensor, highly recommended. Check out the following five solar options for your attic.
1. GBGS Solar Attic Fan
This solar ventilation unit from GBGS is our selection for Best Attic Fan because of the features and functionality, including an adjustable solar panel and a temperature-sensing monitor. This unit runs on a 24-watt DC motor which is whisper quiet, and provides up to 1750 CFM (cubic feet per minute) of ventilation. DC motors are highly efficient, which means they can typically still run, even if the solar panel is not operating at maximum efficiency due to some cloud cover.
The solar panel of the GBGS model is hinged onto the top of the fan, and has a bracket system that allows the panel to be positioned at several different angles. This can help you get ideal placement for your solar panel for maximum photon absorption. Additionally, this model has an internal thermostat that prevents overheating of the motor. The sensor cues the fan to start automatically when the temperature in your attic reaches 77 degrees (Fahrenheit) and to run until the attic has cooled down to a much more pleasant 65 degrees.
Consumers who tested this model reported a difference of up to 20 degrees in their attic before and after installation. Others reported that the runtime of their air conditioning had drastically dropped due to cooler attic spaces. The GBGS fan is made with a steel exterior, and high-grade aluminum fan blades so that the system will remain durable & functioning through many seasons. There is even a 20-year warranty on the solar panel, so you can expect that this attic fan is one that will be helping you save money and lower your energy use for a long time to come.
- Temperature sensing for optimum performance
- Quiet, efficient motor
- Durable steel and aluminum construction
- High profile on roof may not be aesthetically pleasing
2. Natural Light 36-Watt Solar Powered Attic Fan
This attic vent fan is one of the best solar powered attic fans on the list because of its popularity online. It has a high efficiency fan and an adjustable solar panel which makes it very popular among Amazon consumers. Like the GBGS model, it has a hinged solar panel with a bracket for adjusting the angle. This helps to make the device more efficient, by allowing you or your installer to gauge the ideal angle for the solar panel to collect maximum sunlight.
The sunlight collected allows the 36-watt motor to power the fan and vent the attic of hot, moist air. This cools your home and lowers the amount of money you’ll spend on air conditioning, but it also lowers the humidity of your attic, which can prevent mold or mildew growth, and help prolong the life of your roof and make your whole home safer and healthier.
While this Natural Light model does not have a thermostat or temperature indication system built-in, there is a separate thermostat unit made by the manufacturer that can be purchased separately. This can promote the ventilation of warmer air through the house during the cold winter months. If you live in a climate that frequently has very cold winters, this is a top recommendation for you. The Natural Light fan also includes a whole-unit warranty of 25 years. This is one of the best advertised warranties for one of the best solar attic fans. This can give you peace of mind that the system will function well, and if issues arise, the company will stand behind the product.
- Adjustable solar panel
- 25-year warranty
- Durable, weatherproof construction
- Thermostat must be purchased separately
3. HQST Solar Attic Ventilation
The HQST model is a great addition to our list of the best solar attic vents. It’s a slightly lower cost alternative to the two top rated solar attic fans, but it still provides efficient power, and many of the same features, albeit in a slightly pared-down framework. This fan has a 30-watt solar panel with an adjustable bracket. The bracket doesn’t adjust as far as other fans, but it still has a 45-degree range which will be suitable for most needs. This unit is made with sturdy aluminum construction which helps it weather the elements and temperature extremes of your rooftop. Similar to the higher-rated products, it has a straightforward installation system with no wiring or electrical work needed.
However, the company only offers a 1-year warranty on this model. Additionally, some consumers complained about the lack of built-in temperature sensing, which caused the system to run at inopportune times. There is a thermostat available, but it must be purchased separately. In our solar powered attic fan comparison, we determined that this is a quality solar vent fan, but the lack of temperature sensing and the narrow warranty keep it from being the best of the best.
- Adjustable solar panel
- Durable, weatherproof construction
- Less expensive
- Limited 1-year warranty
- Thermostat sold separately
4. Natural Light Ultra Low Profile Attic Fan
Another top-rated item from Natural Light is the low profile attic vent that provides a solid option when the aesthetics of your roof and home are your primary concern. This fan has an array of solar cells mounted directly on the flat, circular, vent hood. This keeps the profile of the fan low, and can offer some additional protection from the solar panel becoming disconnected or damaged in extreme weather. The solar panel has a 24-watt capacity and the parts are made of powder-coated commercial grade aluminum. The venting capacity is about 1350 CFM, which the manufacturer claims will provide sufficient coverage for an attic space up to 2100 square feet.
Like the other Natural Light model, it does have an optional thermostat and fire-safety regulator, but these are not included and must be purchased separately. The fire safety cutoff and the thermostat are available online, and cost around $25 each. Additionally, while the solar panel positioning keeps the fan from standing out, its lack of adjustment capability means that it may not run optimally if you don’t take care to install the fan in a south-facing area of the roof.
This solar attic fan has a 25-year warranty which covers all parts, including the motor. This is one of the best warranties available for all comparable products. This is a brand, and a model which will likely last as long as the rest of your roof, and will provide positive savings and conservation year-over-year.
- Low profile aesthetic for subtly and low visual impact
- Excellent 25-year warranty on all parts including the motor
- Durable aluminum construction
- Solar panel is not adjustable
- Thermostat sold separately
5. Amtrak Solar 70-Watt Attic Fan
This option from Amtrak Solar is a bit different than competing products, but it may be the exact solution you need. This is perfect for a renter or individual who cannot make holes or installations in the roof. Most solar attic fans are installed by sawing through the shingles and plywood of your roof to create a hole for the fan apparatus. The Amtrak Solar fan fits into an existing gable vent, and the solar panel is mounted outside the vent to provide power. This is unlikely to provide as efficient or as consistent a solution as the others on this list, but it does offer a realistic option to lowering your home’s electrical costs and increasing attic safety. It also works as a stopgap if you cannot currently afford the cost of installing a typical solar attic fan, but you do want to start saving money and practicing safer home responsibility. It’s also a perfect system to install in an unconventional building such as a greenhouse or shed.
The solar panel is powerful, at 70 watts, and can be installed with relative ease. The necessary additional wiring (so you can mount the panel outside & run the cord inside to the fan) and brackets are included. Plus Amtrak Solar boasts a 25-year warranty, again, likely the best warranty you can find on similar products. You can also request a free thermostat attachment through the manufacturer, but it doesn’t come included initially.
- Inexpensive solution for attic ventilation
- Perfect alternative for renters who cannot make structural changes to home
- Convenient model for other buildings such as greenhouses, sheds, RVs, and treehouses
- Made from less-durable plastics
- Thermostat sold separately
- Thermostat is free, but you have to request it and receive it in a separate shipment
Choosing the Best Solar Attic Fan
When you’re thinking about purchasing a fan for your attic ventilation, you’ll want to carefully consider which model will work best with your home and your resources. It’s the same as if you were purchasing a new solar panel for your home. Now that you have read through our solar powered attic fan reviews, shopping, comparing, and deciding should be easier for you. To simplify the process even more, check all of these key specifications on the top 3 models you narrow your choice to. Comparing these factors will ensure you’re getting everything you need at a value you want.
Installation of the Solar Attic Fan
Most of the fans on this list are installed by cutting a hole in your roof and installing the device so that the flashing is below your shingles and above your roof’s deck. It doesn’t necessarily take a professional roofer to install this type of system, but there are a few specific tools (like a jigsaw) that are needed, and cutting a hole in your roof is not an ideal first home DIY project if you have little experience. If you are inexperienced in home repair or remodeling, then it’s best to either hire a qualified installer, or choose one of the models that hook into the existing vents on your roof gable. An installer can help you prepare your site and might be able to certify or warranty their work. In fact, in certain areas, you can purchase installation through major retailers like Amazon when you order your fan. There’s an additional charge, but it’s nice to have a pre-vetted installer lined up. That way you don’t wind up with a solar fan hat wired to your attic!
The advantage of a solar fan is that whether you install yourself, or get the help of a professional, you don’t have to worry about positioning the fan near an electrical outlet, or running cords or wires throughout your attic. The power source is attached directly to your fan. This means the job is simple enough for a handy homeowner to complete, and it’s a reasonably cheap installation for a homeowner who prefers to outsource to a professional.
Your Home’s Roof Construction
As the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at FIU learned, the construction of your roof can affect your available choices. Most of the solar attic fans in this article are designed to be installed on a pitched roof with asphalt shingles. If you have a different roof configuration, you will want to carefully verify the specifications for your selected attic fan to make sure it is compatible with your roof type.
We suggest that prior to making a purchase, you go up into your attic (if possible) and inspect it to get a feel for where the fan would be ideally placed. You can check the distance between your rafters and compare it to the size of the fan you are planning to purchase, as well as getting a feel for the size of the attic.
If your home is particularly large (and especially if it’s all on one story) you may need to purchase two attic fans. As recommended by the Spokesman-Review, check the measurements of your space and compare those to the specified capacity of the fan. Most top-rated solar powered attic fans will take care of an attic space of around 2,000 square feet, but individual capacity varies between models.
You may also want to consider the aesthetic or visual appearance of your roof once the fan is installed. If you have a strict neighborhood or municipal code against anything protruding from the roof, you may need permitting, or you may need to choose a model that has a low profile. Always check with your local municipality or neighborhood association before installation to make sure you have the necessary permissions or permits.
And remember, for best results, you should install your solar panels to face the south. This allows them to absorb maximum sunpower throughout the day.
Motor & Moving Parts of the Fan
The more powerful and high-quality your motor, the more likely it is to last for the lifetime of your roof, running efficiently and consistently. Construction of the fan and casing, or vent hood. High-quality steel and powder-coated aluminum are some of the most durable materials commonly used in these fans. Fans that have a limited number of plastic parts are more likely to go the distance, as the owners of these solar-powered car fans already know.
Sensors and Shut Off Features of the Fan
A high quality solar powered attic fan will have either a built-in or an optional temperature sensor. If a fan runs 100% of the time, it can impact the air flow of your home and burn the motor quickly. On long summer days, the fan could be venting relatively cool air, but the long runtime may stress or overheat the motor. In this case, a thermostat would notice the cool temperature, and stop the motor, extending your ventilation unit’s lifetime and efficiency indefinitely. Having a temperature sensor helps to alleviate these concerns, and we recommend that you choose a fan that either has a thermostat installed, or purchase a thermostat to go with the solar fan. This is especially important if you live in climates with cold winters.
Compare and Choose the Right Solar Attic Fan for You
Now that you’ve considered your own attic situation and you’ve learned about the smart solar solutions available to you, and for a very fair price, you’re able to make the best decision for your attic. Enjoy a cooler summer without the stress of a high electric bill by upgrading your home’s ventilation system to include one of these solar fans. Rest easy knowing you’ve made your attic space much safer. Plus, you’ll be on your way to lower utility costs like electricity for air conditioning. The clean, green, solar power generated by your new fan will help you conserve energy and become part of the solar revolution. You may even want to consider adding a solar air-conditioner to cool things down even more.