Our Top Pick for 2018: Durabuild 527S-DUB-106-BLK Roof Mount Solar Powered Attic Fan
Read our full review.
There are a couple of reasons why you might be considering the purchase of an attic fan. First, the temperature of the roof can reach over 160 degrees in the summer. This can lead to multiple issues. Shingles and your insulation have an average lifespan that the manufacturer advertises. However, higher attic temperatures can cause this to significantly decrease. The wood framing can be compromised, possibly resulting in its complete collapse. Siding and interior walls can also negatively be affected. Secondly, in the winter, the humidity caused by showers and cooking can cause moisture problems. The humid air will escape to a more arid space in the house, which could include many different rooms. However, these rooms differ from the attic in that the air is circulated within them. If the attic is not properly ventilated, mildew could grow. Health hazards including respiratory problems and infections can result if mildew is untreated in the home. There are a variety of fans that can be purchased and each type differs slightly in use and function. The following four fans are the best we found to improve attic ventilation.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Air Vent Inc. 24" Whole House Fan 54301 Attic & Whole House Fans||135 Reviews||$231.12||Buy on Amazon|
|Broan 355BK Roof Mount 120-Volt Powered Attic Ventilator, 1200 CFM, Black Dome||146 Reviews||$138.41||Buy on Amazon|
|Cool Attic CX1500UPS Power Gable Ventilator Fan||776 Reviews||$54.99||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Durabuild 527S-DUB-106-BLK Roof Mount Solar Powered Attic Fan
View it on Amazon: $241.28*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
The Durabuild Solar Attic Fan is a powered attic fan, and it is unique in that it is solar powered. Most of these types of fan are powered by electricity. This has two great implications for the consumer. One is that the electric bill will go down since no electricity is needed to power it. Electricity usage has been reduced by up to 250 kilowatt hours per month, even in warm climates such as Florida. This translated to an average of $35 a month if no other changes were made to electricity usage. Since it does not run on electricity, the fan may begin running while it is being installed, which has surprised more than one reviewer. They report that the wind it creates as it exhausts the attic is noticeable to the installer. There is no question that this fan moves a good amount of air.
Secondly, since the fan includes a solar panel, it may qualify for federal or state rebates. The federal rebate was recently extended to include the year 2016, offering up to thirty percent of the installation costs, purchase price, and sales tax. State rebates will vary and are currently offered in California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, and North Carolina. Within each state, the cities may have their own requirements and rebate limits for this product.
The fan is a black box measuring 23 X 9.7 X 26.2 inches and weighing approximately 20 pounds. The 24-volt motor is extremely quiet, with buyers reporting that they could not hear it running even when they stood directly beneath it. The solar panel is considered industrial grade at 20 watts. It senses when the space, up to 1850 square feet, reaches a temperature of 85 degrees and then runs until the temperature is reduced to 65 degrees. The attic temperature will decrease by about five degrees within an hour or so.
The panel as well as its shroud are adjustable to capture the most sunlight possible. The shroud resists UV rays and damage from impacts. The flashing has been coated to prevent corrosion and leaks. The fan also includes a wire mesh covering to prevent rats, squirrels, or birds from entering the home.
The fan itself has a five year warranty while the solar panel is guaranteed up to 20 years. The company will repair or replace the fan if it rusts or stops working.
Another nice thing about the fan is that an installer is not required. Most reviewers were happy (and pleasantly surprised) with how easy it was to install in their home. One person reported that it was more difficult to remove their old fan than to install the Durabuild.
It should be noted that this type of fan does not run concurrently with ridge vents, only vent grills. This is because the fan will pull air from the closest vent. In the case of a ridge vent, the air will be located on top of the house, where it is very hot. Once the fan brings in the hot air, the attic’s temperature will increase. Additionally, ridge vents create the possibility of moisture seeping into and remaining in the attic, which can create mold. When used with vent grills only, a wind tunnel will be created and no rain should get in, provided the shroud and the fan are angled correctly.
The installer should also consider where the fan will be located. Since it is solar powered, it needs to have access to the sun in order to work. Therefore, it should be placed in a spot that is unshaded throughout the day. The fan should be placed where there are no trees or buildings that can create a shadow. If it is incorrectly placed, the fan will run slower or not at all.
Some reviewers mistakenly stated that the fan did not work because it was always overcast. This is a myth though. Although the sun may not be seen through the cloud cover, the UV rays still penetrate the clouds to power the fan. (This is similar to the reason why people are able to get a sunburn on a cloudy day.)
It should be noted that the fan will not be flush with the roof; it is elevated in order to allow the solar panel to be angled. This may be an important factor for someone who lives in an area that faces high winds, such as in a tornado or hurricane, or heavy ice during the winter. These areas may have a higher chance of the solar panel becoming dislodged.
Overall, the Durabuild Solar Powered Attic Fan works well, installs easily, and does not detract from the look of the home. The decrease in power consumption is attractive as well and the change in the electric bill will be noticed immediately. The fact that the fan begins working even before it is completely installed indicates the quality of the product.
#2. Air Vent Inc. 24″ Whole House Attic Fan
Whole House Attic Fans are a great way to cool the house, provided you live in the right type of climate. This type of fan introduces cool outdoor air into the home while pushing out the hot indoor air through the fan. Therefore, to have this fan work properly, you should live in a dry climate in which the evening air’s temperature is less than 70 degrees.
Humid air can cause mold or mildew, which is not something most homeowners wish to deal with from a financial or health standpoint. Additionally, if an air conditioner is running during the day, which is not recommended, it will work harder if the indoor air is humid. Since the idea of using a whole house fan is to use less electricity, an air conditioner that works more than it did before the fan was installed is counterproductive. This is the reasoning behind needing an arid climate.
If the air outside is over 70 degrees, the home will not cool as much as it could. The fan can be used in geographical areas in which the outdoor air is up to 80 degrees. This would be a matter of preference on what temperature is comfortable for you. If the external air temperature is above 70 degrees, this also means that the house will take a longer period of time to cool off.
Provided that the fan is used in the right climate, a whole house attic fan could possibly cool the entire home within one hour. Once it is cooled, the fan is shut off, and the windows are closed in order to maintain the cool air within the home. These conditions will occur provided the fan is installed and angled properly and that the external air is dry and below 70 degrees in the evening when the fan is turned on.
The Air Vent fan measures 32 X 11 X 31 inches, weighing almost 34 pounds. It’s designed to work efficiently for a 1500 square foot area. The shutter is automatic and is approximately 24 X 29 inches. The fan moves 4500 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM). One feature that some reviewers were not crazy about is that it has a two speed pull chain. However, this is easily overcome by purchasing a wall switch that will allow you to change the fan speed without even being in the attic. The company offers a ten year limited warranty on the fan.
A requirement to use the fan is adequate ventilation. Unlike the solar powered fan, the whole house fan can use any kind of vents including ridge, soffit, and gable. However, the whole house fan normally requires more than the municipal building code requires. When installing the fan, you may need to also have extra vents installed. If you have an insect screen on your vents, it is recommended that the opening is 50 percent larger than normal to ensure proper air flow.
Energy usage is estimated at 10 to 15 percent of a central air system. Depending upon the speed chosen, it can use 180 to 335 watts. The noise it produces still allows for a conversation to be held, even when it is on the higher speed. However, there are ways to reduce the noise it produces through the use of extra insulation and the installation of a frame upon which it will sit. This prevents the fan from sitting directly on any ceiling joist, which would carry the noise throughout the house.
Installation can be done by the homeowner or a professional. Reviewers who were comfortable with the process were able to install the fan, the extra noise dampening insulation, and the wall switch. However, if you are not comfortable with wiring and cutting a hole in the ceiling, you may want to hire a professional.
#3. Broan 355BK Roof Mount 120-Volt Powered Attic Ventilator
This fan works best for homes with multiple floors. Often, the second floor is difficult to cool since heat rises. Therefore, when the first floor is cooled by the air conditioner, the heat will go to the second floor. The air conditioner then works overtime in an attempt to cool the entire house, or the floors are maintained at different temperatures. The Broan Attic Ventilator will pull the hot air from the attic and out the roof, interchanging it with cooler external air. Once the attic is cooled, the hot air from the second floor will naturally go to the attic. As a result, the air conditioner will work less than it otherwise would to cool the home as a whole. Reviewers have reported savings of $100 in the first month of use.
The Broan Attic Ventilator’s use varies with climate. In areas where snow is common, this fan is used to prevent icicles from forming on the edge of the roof. The vents keep warm air circulating through the attic to the outside, ensuring that the roof is kept warm enough to prevent the icicles. In hotter areas, the shingle manufacturers require that a fan ventilates the attic in order to ensure the shingles last the expected amount of time. Therefore, it follows that a cooler attic will increase the lifetime of shingles.
The fan measures 17 X 17 X 4 inches and weighs almost 18 pounds. The dome comes in the colors black or brown and is made of PVC plastic. The material is very durable and has fading protection due to ultraviolet rays. The fan itself has a 14-inch blade, and it pushes 1200 CFM. It is most efficient when used for 1715 square feet or less. The fan attaches to the roof between the rafters. Installation can be completed by nailing it in to the roof, tarring it, or with a mesh screen. The company does offer a warranty.
The fan comes with a thermostat that adjusts between 75 and 135 degrees. The fan will run until the temperature is ten degrees below the set point. Reviewers report that the thermostat is fairly accurate, within a degree or so of what it is set for. Since it has a thermostat, the fan will automatically turn on and off when needed.
The fan comes with installation instructions, and it can be installed by anyone who is comfortable with hooking up the electrical portion and with cutting a hole in the roof, if one does not previously exist. Professionals who install the fan report that the fan is highly reliable.
One complaint most people have with the fan is the noise, which comes from the motor. Those who mention this say that the noise emanates from the motor itself, not the moving fan blades. However, the fan’s efficiency overrides most people’s noise complaints.
One area of concern lies with homeowners who use gas appliances. The ventilator can cause a backdraft of toxic fumes, which can lead to carbon monoxide leaks within the home. The best way to avoid this is to only install this fan in a home where electric appliances are used.
#4. Cool Attic CX1500UPS Power Gable Ventilator Fan
The primary benefit of the Cool Attic Ventilator Fan is that it does not require that a hole be cut in the roof. It still must be connected to the home’s electrical system. However, if you are comfortable with this, you can definitely install it yourself. Some reviewers stated they created a frame in which it sat, but it is not a requirement. If the fan vibrates too much, movement can be reduced by placing weather stripping or other material between the mounting brackets and the surface its being mounted upon.
The fan is made of galvanized steel, measuring 16 X 16 X 9 inches. It weighs approximately twelve pounds. Although it only has one speed, it has an adjustable thermostat. The fan cools up to 1,850 square feet and has a 1,300 CFM rating. The company provides a limited two-year warranty.
Prior to 2012, reviewers stated that the fan did not last much more than a year or that it died after the warranty ran out. However, since that time, the company must have improved the construction as the majority of the reviews are now positive, saying that it lasts much longer than the two year warranty.
Another issue that some people had raised was that of noise, which was compared to the medium setting of a box fan. However, these concerns are drowned by the disproportionate amount of positive reviews regarding the amount of air that the fan moves and the effectiveness of it in resolving their cooling issues.
The most attractive part of purchasing this fan, outside of what has been mentioned already, is the price. Both the Durabuild and Air Vent fans cost a little over $200, with the Broan costing about half that. However, the Cool Attic Ventilator Fan costs around $70. With its ability to be installed in the attic, without the need for a hole in the roof, the cost of the Cool Attic fan is even more reasonable. Since there is no need to hire a contractor to install this fan, less money is required in order to install it.
Square and Cubic Footage
The first thing to consider is how much square footage you need to have cooled. In order to calculate this, multiply the width of the attic by the depth. Cubic footage is determined by multiplying the square footage by 0.7. Cubic footage will determine the minimum amount of CFM you need.
The fan must be correctly sized for the space. Otherwise, the fan will not be effective. Most fans circulate at least 800 cubic feet of air, so they will be adequate for most average sized homes.
DIY vs. Contractor
A contractor might be needed if a hole must be cut in the roof or if the wiring is not basic. This means extra money out of your pocket in addition to the cost of the fan. However, if you are able to do basic wiring, it will influence which fan you purchase. This will be cheaper out-of-pocket cost, provided you are able to do the job correctly. A job done incorrectly could lead to the hiring of a contractor in the end. Therefore, this is something that must be considered carefully.
The CFM rating determines how many times the air is changed out of the house. If the house is very humid, a higher rating may be more important to you. A hotter climate may also necessitate a higher CFM rating.
Noise may be a consideration depending upon where it is located. A garage or an attic below which there are no sleeping quarters may not require a low noise level. However, if the fan is located near these types of rooms, noise is something that you may want to be aware of. This could affect your guests’ ability to sleep for a portion of the night while the fan is working to reduce the air temperature in your attic or home.
Lastly, some of these types of attic fans require more ventilation than the city will require, meaning that you may have to pay more in order to ensure that the fan works correctly. Another thing to consider is that some fans only work with certain types of vents. You will need to consider what types of vents your home already possesses, and then see what types of vents are needed for the fan to work properly.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
A house is an important purchase that you want to protect against moisture and excessive heat. Both of these can reduce the lifespan of the insulation, the shingles, the siding, and even interior spaces. If affected, these can be expensive repairs. The purchase of an attic fan can ensure that these items last as long as they are supposed to. Lastly, your health can be affected if mildew grows due to excess moisture. A well ventilated attic can prevent this and ensure that your home remains a healthy place to live.