Slashing the amount of sunlight that comes into your home is an easy way to cut cooling costs in the summer — and making the sun work for you to save money is even better. From solar screens to solar air conditioners, there are plenty of ways to not only harness the sun’s energy, but also stop the sun from heating your home.
Is a solar attic fan another great invention to make the sun work for you, or is it just a gimmick? Read on to learn more about how it works, the pros and cons, and whether it will really save you money.
How Solar Attic Fans Work
As the sun beats down on your roof, it heats the air inside your house — starting with your attic. That warmed air then circulates through your home, forcing your air conditioner to work harder to maintain a constant temperature.
A solar attic fan removes that heated air and releases it outside before it can radiate into your home. Smaller, secondary vents draw cool air into your attic, which lowers your home’s overall temperature.
When you don’t have a mass of superheated air in the top of your house, it won’t radiate through the rest of your home. Lower temperatures mean your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard to cool your house, which will save you money.
Solar Attic Fan Reviews
Even though electric attic fans can lower your air conditioning costs, they cost more money to run than what they save you. Meanwhile, solar attic fans are free to run, lower your electric bills, and have few costs beyond purchase and installation.
Here are some more benefits of getting a solar attic fan:
- Easy to install: A homeowner can install a solar attic fan in about an hour. A professional can do it in about 30 minutes, according to US Sunlight, who manufactures solar attic fans.
- Extend the life of your roof: When warm, moist air from your home collides with a cold roof during the winter months, it can cause condensation. Without proper venting, this moisture builds up, causing mold and mildew.
- Quiet: A solar attic fan is so quiet, you likely won’t ever be able to hear it.
Just as solar attic fans have many benefits, they also have drawbacks. Whether these downsides count as deal breakers depends on why you’re considering a solar appliance.
Here are some potential pitfalls of solar attic fans:
- Only work in direct sunlight: If a cloud drifts across the sky, your fan blades will likely slow down, if not stall completely. They also stop when the sun sets.
- Can’t store energy: Unlike the solar panels you install to power your whole home, the small collectors attached to fans don’t have the ability to store the electricity you generate.
- Slow ROI: A Florida study found that installing two solar attic fans in a house just over 1,000 square feet saved about 460 kWh, which amounts to about $50 per year. Depending on how much you paid for your system, it could take more than 10 years to recoup your cost. Many solar fan companies say the cost can be recouped in 1-2 years, however.
Solar Attic Fan Cost
Solar attic fans require a moderate up-front cost for purchase and installation, but few costs beyond that. Harnessing the sun’s power costs nothing, and less air to cool means your electric bills will drop as well.
If you choose to buy one from a home improvement store, a typical model costs $300-$400. Installation will push the total price tag closer to $600.
Most solar attic fans are protected by manufacturer warranties, typically lasting at least 20 years.
Solar Attic Fan Installation
Installing an attic fan can be a DIY project if you have the proper knowledge and basic tools. The most challenging part is making sure you won’t have a leaky roof the next time it rains.
Unlike working with electrical appliances, there’s no need to call an electrician or worry about electrical safety concerns.
If cutting holes in your roof isn’t your thing, you can always hire a contractor to install a fan you purchased elsewhere. Most companies who specialize in making solar attic fans also offer the appliance and installation as a packaged deal.
Is A Solar Attic Fan Worth It?
As with any purchase, determining whether it’s worth it to buy an appliance depends on your needs and motivations.
If you don’t already use an attic fan and you’re considering installing one for the sole purpose of cutting your electric bill, you’ll probably find more savings on a different project.
If you’re looking to replace your electric attic fan, installing a solar version is probably worth it. Solar attic fans are effective at cooling your attic and cost little compared to other home improvement projects.
Are you planning to install a solar attic fan? Let us know in the comments, and read more about how to go solar at home.