Since the energy cost of an average household can be pretty high, marketers are always trying to sell homeowners equipment that claims to help lower their energy bills.
At a glance, most said deals seem very attractive and can turn out to be worthy investments.
However, it is ok to be skeptical, especially if the equipment in question is very hyped yet seems too good to be true.
When solar-powered attic fans hit the market, many people jumped on the bandwagon, and now we have collected enough first-hand user information to help you make an informed decision on whether or not it is worth it.
So, are solar-powered attic fans worth it?
If you have a modern home, chances are that a solar-powered attic fan will not be worth it. The installation cost is a bit higher, and the performance is negligible.
Also, you can achieve the same results (or better) with other equipment. On the other hand, if your home is old-fashioned, a solar-powered attic fan can do you a lot of good.
What is a solar attic fan? And how does it work?
Scientifically, hot air is always at the top of the room, and cold air at the bottom due to convention.
The air will keep circulating in the same manner over and over until the room has a neutral air temperature. A solar-powered attic fan works by forcing the hot air out of the attic and drawing in cold air, and the cycle continues.
The bigger or more powerful the solar fan is, the more air circulation it will generate. This means your attic will be cooler.
However, you will not feel the difference per se because an attic fan does not replace the function of an HVAC system; rather, it aids in its functions.
Most times, if the weather is too hot or too cold, the HVAC system will work overtime to make sure the house is at the right temperature.
However, if you have a good solar attic fan, the HVAC system will not work as much, saving you a small amount from your energy bills.
Benefits of a solar attic fan
These are the benefits of using a solar-powered attic fan:
1. Environmental friendly
As the name suggests, a solar attic fan is powered by energy from the sun. This way, you get to reduce your carbon footprint instead of using an energy/battery-powered fan.
2. Reduces moisture in the attic
In the winter, the cold air in your attic will interact with the hot air that your HVAC has generated in the rooms below the attic.
This interaction can potentially cause condensation of moisture which damages the roof. A solar power attic fan will prevent moisture from forming.
3. A worthy investment
A solar fan will help reduce energy bills by at least 10%.
Also, the federal government offers a 30% tax return on all equipment powered by solar photovoltaic technology making the installment cost worth the expense.
4. Cools your attic
You will often find that your house’s first story is not as cool as the rest of the stories. This is because the heat from the attic radiates into the rooms there
It is beneficial to have an attic fan that cools the warm air before it reaches the rest of the house.
5. Supports attic insulation
Most homes have attic insulation that usually needs replacing after every few years.
Having an attic fan will increase the insulating panels’ life span, saving you replacement costs and aiding in temperature regulation.
Drawbacks of a solar attic fan
Here is a list of drawbacks of using a solar-powered attic fan:
1. Costly installment costs
Solar-powered attic fans are very costly to buy and install compared to older models.
Seeing that it will take you at least five years to see a return on your investment is not very economical.
2. Need a lot of space
To achieve worthwhile results, it’s either purchase a big fan with huge blades that will require a huge space or opt to purchase several attic fans, making it cost-intensive.
3. Require direct sunlight
A solar-powered attic fan to work at its full potential requires direct sunlight or a substantial amount of time, which is hard to get because of trees, obstructing buildings, and cloud covers, among other issues.
4. Can cause roof leaks
Contrary to popular belief, having an attic fan does not mean you stop checking your roof for leaks. Unfortunately, many people have made this mistake and had costly roof repair bills.
Also, since installing an attic fan requires making a hole in the roof, it can cause unnecessary damage. That is, if it was not installed by a professional.
Solar-powered attic fans FAQs
These are the most commonly asked questions about solar-powered attic fans:
Do attic fans make a difference?
Yes, they do, you probably will not notice it, but you can measure the before and after temperature just to be sure.
Should an attic fan run all the time?
Yes, if it is a solar-powered fan, you are losing nothing.
Can a solar-powered attic fan pull out cold air from the rooms below?
It depends. If you do not have an airtight seal between the house and the attic, or if your ceiling has cracks, then the answer is yes.
What are the alternatives to a solar-powered attic fan?
You can consider buying an electric-powered attic fan or installing standard air vents if your house has excellent airflow.
Does a solar-powered attic fan work at night?
No, it requires direct sunlight, so it will not work at night or when the fan’s sunlight view is obstructed by something, say a cloud.
Can you turn off a solar attic fan?
It depends on the model. Most brands do not include an on-and-off feature because it is hardly ever needed.
However, certain brands have a feature that makes the fan turn off automatically when the attic temperature hits a certain level.
Is a solar attic fan a worthy investment?
A solar attic fan is a significant investment, especially if you are looking at long-term benefits. However, whether or not it is worth your money depends on the budget, the size of your house, and the weather.