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The 5 Best Solar Attic Fans
While attic fans help lower power and maintenance bills by removing excess heat and humidity in the attic, the best solar attic fans accomplish this using natural light. However, we know choosing the best solar attic fan can be a hard choice to make. Read our solar attic fan reviews & ratings to find the best solar powered attic fan today.
In This Article
Best Choice: GBGS Solar Powered Exhaust Fan with AC Power Backup
The GBGS Solar Powered Exhaust Fan with AC Power Backup is the best solar attic fan because it is adjustable, generates 20 watts of power, and continues to cool during the night using AC power.
As our top pick, the GBGS Solar Powered Exhaust Fan with AC Power Backup provides the best of both worlds. It cools your home using sunlight as a power source during the day, yet continues to work at night using regular AC power. On a cloudy day, this high-quality fan will run as needed using as much solar power as the panel receives, and supplement it with regular power from a wall socket to assure continued efficient functioning. Because the function is controlled by a thermostat, it saves money by simply not running as much when the weather is cool and sunlight isn’t available to provide power.
The solar panel generates 20 watts of power. It is adjustable vertically and horizontally, allowing for roof or wall setup according to the design and orientation of your house. When it’s producing 14 or more volts of electricity, the fan runs directly off solar power, when at zero volts the fan automatically switches to full household AC power. When the panel is producing electricity but less than 14 volts, the system automatically regulates how much household power to draw to make the fan run efficiently.
- Provides ultimate control and efficient use
- Uses sunlight during the day and AC power during the night to continue cooling
- Can be difficult to install and often requires a professional electrician
Premium Pick: iLIVING Black 14 Inch Smart Solar Roof Attic Exhuast Fan
The iLIVING Black 14 Inch Smart Exhaust Solar Roof Attic Exhaust Fan is the best solar attic fan because it is easy to use with its smart thermostat and remote control. The fan is waterproof and the motor is quiet.
For a premium pick, we’d like to highlight the iLIVING Black 14 Inch Smart Exhaust Solar Roof Attic Exhaust Fan. It’s rated for a 2,000 square-foot attic, which to put in perspective, is more than enough for a typical single-story home with three bedrooms and two baths. The smart thermostat allows you to easily change the temperatures at which it turns on and off as needed between seasons. Available yet sold separately for the unit are a manual on/ off switch and a household AC adapter, which allow for even more flexibility toward how you want the unit to run.
The fan is waterproof with a quiet brushless motor, and it includes a 15-year warranty. The solar panel is adjustable with four different positions, and produces 20 watts of DC (direct current) power. Available accessories include a power cord with plug for an outlet instead of using a permanent household cord, a humidity sensor for more control over when and why it runs, a screen to cover behind the louvered panels, and a remote control unit.
- Easy to install and use
- Includes a 15-year warranty
- Requires extra purchases if additional accessories are needed to run in your home
Best Value: Amtrak Solar Power 40-Watt Galvanized Steel 14in Attic Fan
The Amtrak Solar Power 40-Watt Galvanized Steel 14 inch Attic Fan is the best solar attic fan because it is versatile and easy to use. It is an all-purpose fan that is easy to install.
As our budget pick, we recommend the Amtrak Solar Power 40-Watt Galvanized Steel 14 inch Attic Fan, which is versatile for use in the attic, garage, outside storage building, or even an RV, eliminating the need for an RV vent fan. Unlike our first two picks, this fan does not use household AC power as a backup, and is not designed to use a thermostat for control, although one is available for free if you prefer its use.
When sunlight hits the panel, the fan starts moving. On a bright and sunny day when the fan is most needed, it runs at full power. Cloudy days with less sunlight tend to be cooler, and the fan runs at lower power according to how much electricity the panel can produce. At night when the fan isn’t typically needed, it simply doesn’t run.
As the name suggests, the panel runs 40 watts of power, which is sufficient for 2,250 square feet of typical attic space. The fan is easy to install as a do-it-yourself project, and the 14-inch fan uses oversized high-efficiency blades. The simplicity of the unit makes it a great all-purpose fan for an economical price.
- Easy to set up and use
- Runs on 40 watts of power, sufficient for 2,250 square feet of attic space
- Doesn’t have a backup power source for rainy days or nighttime use
Runner Up: GBGS Solar Attic Fan with Brushless DC Motor & Adjustable Solar Panel
The GBGS Solar Attic Fan with Brushless DC Motor & Adjustable Solar Panel is the best solar attic fan because it adjusts to receive the most efficient sunlight throughout the day and comes with a warranty.
The GBGS Solar Attic Fan with Brushless DC Motor & Adjustable Solar Panel is a smaller GBGS fan, which has the panel attached directly to the fan in a one-piece rooftop unit for runner-up recognition. The motor uses a thermostat to come on when the temperature hits 77 degrees, and automatically turns off at 65 degrees, offering easy control of attic temperature. The solar panel adjusts to receive the most efficient sunlight through the day, according to the pitch of your roof as well as the location and position of your house.
The solar panel produces 20 watts of electricity and is warrantied for 20 years. The fan is designed to run using the 20 watts or at slower speeds with less power when less sun reaches the panel, and is warrantied for 10 years. At full efficiency, the fan moves 1,750 CFM (cubic feet per minute.) The unit is designed to work with regular pitched and shingled roofs or with flat roofs. The unit comes with appropriate paperwork for tax credit toward eco-friendly home design.
- Simple installation as a one-piece unit is efficient
- Turns on at 77 degrees and automatically shuts off at 65 degrees
- Doesn’t feature accessories if you prefer versatility in how it runs
Honorable Mention: Broan Surface Mount 28-Watt Solar Powered Attic Ventilator
The Broan Surface Mount 28-Watt Solar Powered Attic Ventilator is the best solar attic fan because it is a small but efficient unit. It includes a screen to keep bugs out and the aluminum fan blades won’t rust.
As an honorable mention, the Broan Surface Mount 28-Watt Solar Powered Attic Ventilator deserves recognition as a smaller, simple unit, which can be extraordinarily efficient under the right circumstances. The unit is designed for cooler environments with heavy weather patterns such as hail and sleet. The compact design and use of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic makes it extremely durable while maintaining a low profile on your roof. The 28-watt solar panel provides enough power to move 537 CFM of air, meaning it won’t work for larger attics in warm climates as well as other solar fans.
The fan is 12 inches in diameter, a bit smaller than other fans, but is designed to run efficiently for its size. The aluminum fan blades won’t rust, and specially designed internal screening keeps bugs out. The smaller self-contained design is fairly easy to install.
- Easy to install
- Small and durable
- May not move enough air for larger attics
Features to Consider for the Best Solar Attic Fan
The best solar attic fans are available with a variety of features according to what is needed for the house itself and its location. By location, the term can mean where the house is on a map considering latitude, which determines solar panel angles and how it is positioned in the community. The house has to have an appropriate place to mount the solar fan, facing south or perhaps a bit southwest for afternoon sunlight. Therefore, the first feature to look for is whether the solar fan has enough adjustment to fit discreetly on either the roof or a wall and receive sunlight.
AC Backup System
The next feature to consider is whether you need the household air conditioning backup system so the fan will continue to run without sunlight. If you live in an exceptionally hot and humid climate and need the fan to run at night or during a rainy day, this is a feature you’ll need. Remember, even though solar panels cut down on your electricity bill, houses have traditionally used AC power attic fans before solar technology reached what is available today. It costs less to run the fan to cool the attic than pay for the extra run time of an air conditioner to cool the house when the attic is steaming hot.
Another feature most people find useful in the best solar attic fan is the thermostat control, which automatically turns the fan on and off as needed. The importance of the feature isn’t that it really matters whether the fan is still running after the attic has cooled down, other than it will extend the life of the fan motor. Although for the sake of simplicity a warranty is expressed in terms of years, the fact remains a fan motor is designed to last a certain amount of hours. By turning the fan off for a few hours every day when it isn’t really needed can add up to a few extra years of use before replacement of the solar attic fan is needed.
Additional Features and Considerations
Other useful features include an on and off switch, as most areas don’t need the fan on during the winter when you want the hot air to remain inside. In some areas, humidity might be a reason to run the fan when the temperature is cooler, so a humidity sensing bathroom fan might help to keep it running as needed without concern for temperature. A remote control can be nice if you need to change settings throughout the year, and might be essential if it’s located in a place you can’t reach. A final feature is cosmetic, the colors the fan is available in (or if it can be painted) and the profile it takes. Obviously you don’t want an eyesore on your roof or wall, so the solar energy unit needs to look nice and match the rest of your house.
Benefits of Using Solar Attic Fans
The benefit of any attic fan is they remove heat and humidity from the attic. Humidity can damage the attic’s internal structure over time, and cause anything stored in the area to become moldy. Heat causes your air conditioner to work overtime, which is more expensive in terms of electricity use and puts more stress than intended on the unit, causing the need for repairs and replacement.
A solar attic fan provides the additional benefit of cutting down electric bills by using a free source of sunshine to power the fan. The fan doesn’t use much electricity, but uses a fairly constant power draw, which adds up over the course of a month. The solar panel further becomes useful when you consider the device is running more often, and when the sun is out, providing a free source of energy.
An additional benefit concerns fire safety. If you aren’t using an AC backup, you aren’t tapped into a main household circuit.
Precautions of Using Solar Attic Fans
Even an attic fan running solely on solar panel is using electricity. If the fan isn’t self-contained but runs a wire from the fan to the panel (even though the system should have this built in), it can be a good idea to install a separate GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) device to assure it shuts down if something goes wrong.
Solar Panel Placement
Another precaution is the placement and alignment of the solar panel. Ideally, it should be at the same angle as the latitude where the house is located, and should face due south for maximum sun exposure during the day. That’s not always possible, but the panel should be as close to such position as possible. This holds true for a unit with the AC backup feature, at least. A unit that runs full power with direct sunlight and lesser power under averse conditions might be better set to the southwest, so it will run strongest in the late afternoon when it is most needed.
Whether your house needs a replacement attic fan or you’ve realized you need one, a solar fan is well worth considering. You can rest assured you’re doing your part toward being environmentally conscious while saving money on power bills with a roof mount solar attic fan. Our top pick is the GBGS Solar Powered Exhaust Fan with AC Power Backup. You’ll not only find the fan to make the house function more efficiently when the power bill arrives, but you’ll likely find the house to be more comfortable during the heat of summer. There will be less heat and humidity in the attic, helping the home to feel cooler even as the air conditioner runs less often.