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Solar power is becoming more popular for everything from walkway lights to Power generators for entire homes. So it makes sense that homeowners looking for cooling solutions would turn to solar power as well, in the form of solar powered attic fans. Installing an attic fan can help cool you down and prevent moisture and heat-related structural problems in your attic and roof.
Still, there’s a lot to know when it comes to features and specifications. Therefore, here are the best solar attic fans on the market, along with our buyer’s guide on what to look for when purchasing one.
- 1 Best Solar Attic Fans
- 2 Buyer’s Guide
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Solar Attic Fans
1. Natural Light Solar Attic Fan
An easy-install fan that offers a quick solution to toasty attic problems, the Natural Light fan comes with a kit that includes all the tools you need.
From the hardware to the caulking, you’re ready to start installing the moment you open the box.
- 25-year warranty
- No wiring required (easy install)
- Hardware included
- Optional snap-on thermostat (sold separately)
- 36-watt solar panel
- 17 volts
Natural Light’s fan is a quick solution to soaring attic (and whole house) temperatures. The kit contains everything you need to install it—even a tube of caulking, although you might want to have extra on hand just in case.
It may not be the greatest to look at, aesthetically speaking, but the point of the fan is to move stale air around, and it does the job well. Whenever sunlight hits the solar panel, the fan will begin to turn. When the sun goes down, the fan will stop.
However, there is an optional thermostat (sold separately) which can control your fan’s movements regardless of whether the sun is out or not. After all, even on overcast days, temperatures can get high in the attic.
For even more intricate temperature control, you can modify (or hire a professional to work with) the wiring between the fan and the thermostat, but the functions of the thermostat are a bit limited otherwise.
For example, below a certain temperature, you cannot activate the fan, and unless you wire the fan to your home’s power, you lose power as soon as you lose the sun.
- Installation kit included
- Automatically turns on when the sun hits it
- Requires no wiring; self-contained
- Cannot adjust direction after installing; panel is attached to fan
- Makes a bit of noise
2. Amtrak Solar Fan
For roof and ceiling configurations that require the fan to be separate from its solar power source, Amtrak Solar has the solution. The attic fan and solar panel are separate pieces, making installation easier.
- 14-inch fan housing
- Installation kit with 25’ of wire plus brackets
- Up to 2,250 square feet
- 40-watt solar panel
- 25-year warranty
- 12 Volts
- Available thermostat (sold separately)
While some solar fans are all-in-one units, Amtrak Solar’s comes in two pieces. The fan is separate from the solar panels, and the installation kit includes wiring for up to 25’ of distance between the two pieces. With the fan separate, you can adjust the solar panel for better exposure if necessary. In other types of attic fans, this isn’t possible.
Like other fans, however, this one turns on and off with sunlight, so it will shut off if there is shade over the solar panel. It may also shut off on overcast days, even if the temperature is high. A thermostat is available, but you’ll need to rewire to include it in the setup.
Although there are benefits to the panel and fan being separate (such as being able to replace the fan or motor if something goes wrong), you will have to configure the solar panel for the best exposure. Adjusting the angle might require a frame or other positioning aid to secure the panel and ensure it gets enough sunlight to kick start the fan.
When it comes to the fan’s power to move air, it does produce some force. However, although the housing is 14 inches, per the manufacturer, the fan’s diameter is substantially smaller and the blades are shorter than one might expect from the size of the solar panel it comes with.
- Low-profile installation
- Automatically turns on/off with the sun
- Panel and fan are separate pieces; wiring connects the two
- No tilt control on the solar panel; may need to DIY a bracket/frame
- Fan is relatively small given the size of the housing
3. Broan 345SOWW Solar Powered Attic Ventilator
A self-contained attic ventilator with a durable plastic housing, Broan’s 345SOWW is an all-in-one solution to overheated attics. The unit requires a 14-inch opening in your roof but won’t be an eyesore once installed.
- 28-watt solar panel
- Five-blade fan
- 120 Volts
- LED bulb
- UV-stabilized color-dyed ABS plastic housing
- 14-inch diameter
- Optional thermostat (sold separately)
- One-year warranty
Broan’s solar-powered attic ventilator has a low profile and comes in two finishes to blend in with your roof. The durable plastic can also handle a coat of paint if you prefer, but at about nine inches high, it shouldn’t draw much attention on your roof.
However, with certain types of roofing materials, it may stick out more than some consumers prefer. Painting can help it blend in, but for most of us, if we can’t see it, it’s not an issue.
Besides, if the point is getting air circulating, Broan’s fan delivers. And, unlike other similar models, its solar panels don’t require direct sunlight to keep the fan going. Indirect sunlight will still spur the blades to spin, meaning even on overcast days you’ll still have a cooler attic.
At full sun (and therefore full speed), consumers can expect a bit of noise from the fan, but whether the sound will cause an issue depends on the size of your home and how far you are from the unit.
Highlights with this model include the fact that there is no wiring necessary unless you opt to add in the thermostat. However, the purpose of the thermostat is to cut power to the fan if the attic space falls below a certain temperature. Once the sun goes down, you don’t have the option to turn the fan back on.
- Works with indirect sunlight
- No wiring necessary
- Turns on/off with sunlight
- Fan sometimes produces a higher-pitched whine
- Plastic housing may deteriorate faster than metal
4. HQST Solar Powered Roof Mount Fan
HQST’s roof-mount solar powered fan is the answer to many consumers’ challenges with roof mounted solar panels: it has an angled frame to adjust the panel. That, along with the aluminum housing, makes it easy to place the panel in an optimal spot.
- 30-watt solar panel
- All-in-one unit
- 45-degree angle adjustment
- Rust-free aluminum
- One-year warranty
- 14-inch fan blade
- Available thermostat (sold separately)
- For up to 2,625 square foot homes
- Vent unit measures 20.9×20.9×9.8 inches
Although many consumers struggle to achieve full sun on their solar panels, HQST’s fan eliminates that problem. The 30-watt solar panel rests on a frame which you can angle to achieve the best sun exposure. It’s also detachable, giving you even more flexibility in installation.
Plus, even after you install the fan, you can still adjust the angle of the panel—without drilling or cutting. The panel moves up to 45 degrees, making it simple to move things around and achieve full sun coverage.
However, the adjustability of the fan means a higher profile overall, and it might appear unsightly to some homeowners. The tradeoff, however, is a more effectively powered fan, so for many consumers, it’s worth the slight blemish on their roof.
In terms of materials, the aluminum casing which holds the fan is durable and resistant against weather conditions, and the fan inside is practically noiseless. The materials help protect against rust and moisture damage, easing the worries of those who live in unpredictable climates.
There’s also a thermostat available for purchase, a benefit to homeowners in colder climates that want to cut off the fan when it’s sunny yet cold outside.
- Angled solar panel frame
- Removable solar panel
- Aluminum casing
- Runs quietly
- Sensitive; will stop running with slight shade
- Bulkier than other units
5. Remington Attic Fan
A hinged solar panel atop a powder-coated steel housing may look industrial on your roof, but this is one flexible attic fan. The panel can angle toward the sun for optimal exposure, and the fan is powerful and quiet.
- 30-watt solar panel
- Thermostat and humidistat pre-installed
- 24V motor
- Noise-dampening technology
- Up to 2,500 square feet
- 12-month manufacturer’s warranty
- Poly-vinyl blades
- Powder coated steel housing
- Measures 18 inches by 18 inches by 12 inches
Unlike other fan housings, Remington’s is powder-coated steel for durability and protection against damage and moisture issues. The blades of the fan are poly-vinyl for the quietest operation possible, but there’s also noise-dampening technology used inside the housing.
You can expect quiet and seamless operation as the fan activates whenever the sun hits the solar panel. And, achieving full sun exposure is simple, even after you install the fan, because the panel is hinged. You can tip the panel up to catch the most sunlight, ensuring that the fan will run as long as possible during daylight hours.
The unit comes with a pre-installed thermostat and humidistat to ensure your fan is working as efficiently as possible in removing moisture and hot air. The thermostat settings prevent the fan from coming on until the ambient temperature in the attic reaches between 80 and 85 degrees, ensuring you’re not wasting energy on cooling an already cool attic.
The humidistat function overrides the thermostat function, however, so if it detects moisture, the fan will turn on to dry things out.
- Included thermostat/humidistat
- Automatically turns on when it detects heat/moisture
- Noise-dampening technology and whisper-quiet fan blades
- Solar panel pivots but does not remove completely
- Thermostat/humidistat controls are not adjustable
Here’s what to consider before purchasing a solar attic fan, including pre-purchase considerations and FAQs on the subject.
Pre-Purchase Considerations :
Investing in a solar-powered attic fan can be a daunting purchase. Here’s what to consider before making a purchase.
- Square Footage
Some manufacturers suggest a square footage based on the whole house, while others specify attic square footage. Know your home’s square footage (total and attic only) so you can ensure the fan you buy will suit the space.
- Solar Panel Configuration
For many homes, the only feasible way to install an attic fan is to place the fan and panel separate from one another. But many attic fans are all-inclusive units with solar panels on top, making it impossible to adjust the panels.
Other types of fans have adjustable solar panels which do not detach but can pivot or angle to catch more of the sun’s rays.
Consider the angle and direction of your roof and how the sun hits it, then keep in mind how that will change throughout the seasons. An adjustable solar panel is ideal, but you can expect to invest more in an adjustable panel than a permanently fixed one.
- Thermostat Options
Most solar fans can accept a thermostat, and some come with a thermostat attached. What’s most important, however, is the setting option on the thermostat (or humidistat, if applicable). Many thermostats allow a user to manually override the fan’s settings, while others dictate the fan turns on at a set temperature or humidity level.
If you want to be able to turn the fan off and on at your discretion, you may want to consider alternative wiring rather than what the fan you purchase comes with. Or, you can look for a fan with more customization options when it comes to the thermostat parameters.
- Color and Style
Like any other home appliance or tool, attic fans come in different styles and colors. Many casings are plastic or metal, and the fan blades can be either plastic or metal as well. Some manufacturers offer specific color options, while you can apply paint to other units to match your home’s exterior.
Height is another factor which influences the overall style of a solar fan. A boxy or too-tall unit may be an eyesore to either you or your neighbors, so it’s important to look at overall measurements and not simply the fan measurements.
- Local Weather and Climate
Consider the weather conditions in your area and how that can affect the weathering of your attic fan, plus how inclement weather may affect the solar panel’s position. If your area receives high winds, for example, your solar panel may become damaged during a storm.
Similarly, if you live in very dry conditions, the fan casing may begin to crack, even if the manufacturer suggests it’s “weatherproof.”
Questions & Answers
Here are some commonly asked questions about solar powered attic fans.
How Does a Solar Attic Fan Work?
According to EnergyStar, attic ventilation can help cool hot attics and push hot air out. A solar fan placed in the attic helps to circulate air, pulling hot air out of the attic space and replacing it with cooler air.
By circulating the stuffy and stale air in the attic, the fan can help cool the rooms beneath the attic. Many homeowners notice a reduction in cooling costs due to installing attic fans. And going solar only enhances the savings, as there is no maintenance cost for electricity after installing a solar-powered fan in your attic.
How Do I Install a Solar Attic Fan?
You don’t have to be an expert to install a solar fan. However, you do need detailed instructions and likely a few tools, such as a screwdriver, saw, and drill, to complete the project. Many homeowners prefer to hire a professional to install their fan, which can help eliminate worries over user error when it comes to how the unit works.
Where to Install a Solar Attic Fan
Where you install the solar fan depends on the size of your home, its orientation, and the type of fan you buy. If you purchase a fan with a solar panel attached, you will want to choose a location with full sun to install the unit.
If you decide on a fan with a wired solar panel, you’ll have more flexibility on where you place the fan, as you’ll have around 25 feet or more of wiring to extend to the solar panel (or multiple solar panels). There are also fans with built-in solar panels with angle adjusters, which allow you to move the solar panel around even after the installation is complete.
Attic fans are a great tool to help homeowners reduce energy costs and make their homes more comfortable. But solar attic fans are becoming a more popular option since they have the potential to save even more money in energy costs. Solar-powered devices are also easier to maintain, as they operate according to the sun’s schedule automatically. They’re truly a set it and forget it type of appliance.
Overall, installing a solar fan is an excellent way to increase your comfort and prevent heat-related issues.