Heat and moisture build up in your attic can cause mold growth, structural decay, and other damage to your home, and just because they aren’t visible to the eye, doesn’t mean they aren’t present.
Installing a solar powered attic fan helps counterbalance high levels of humidity and expels heat, so your attic remains dry and cool, which offers greater peace and comfort throughout your home, while simultaneously extending the life of your air conditioner, attic materials and roofing, and lowers utility bills.
What Is a Solar Powered Attic Fan?
A solar powered attic fan causes air to flow in and circulate freely throughout your attic to reduce moisture and heat build-up, using clean abundant, Eco-friendly solar energy. Since a solar attic fan utilizes the sun’s power, it requires no electrical wiring, which means it costs nothing to run and is easy to install and maintain.
Solar attic fans are available in various model sizes and 3 mounting types: curb, roof, or gable.
The Advantages of Installing a Solar Powered Attic Fan
The main benefit of installing a solar attic fan is that it improves air circulation in your attic at low cost, and it works in sync with your passive vent system. Passive ventilation often lacks the force needed to pull air through the attic and outside; however, placing a motorized solar powered attic fan at the roof’s ridge helps pull air in from the outside and aerates it through the entire attic area and out through the attic vent, which can reduce the temperature in your attic up to 40 degrees.
Another benefit of installing a solar powered attic fan is that it requires no fuel, pollution, or waste, which enables you to earn points towards Green building, so you save on electricity costs. In fact, property owners save on average about $180 a year, depending on the climate and size of your attic etc., over traditional electric powered air ventilators. Furthermore, purchasers receive an additional 30% Federal Tax Credit on the purchase and installation costs of solar powered attic fans, for even more savings.
Lastly, a solar attic fan is an easy way to add a motorized venting system to your attic without the need for additional structural changes or electrical wiring. Many fans utilize high impact PV solar panels to operate the fan for free throughout the day, and they install in under an hour, at which time they are fully functional.
Tips for Installing a Solar Powered Attic Fan
Installing a solar powered attic fan can be a challenging task best left to the professionals; however, should you choose to install the attic fan yourself, the following tips will assist with a safe, effective installation.
Purchase a Fan That Is the Right Size for Your Attic
Be sure to purchase an attic fan that is the proper size for your attic, so that it is effective enough to remove plenty of air from the attic. If you have a larger attic, it may even require 2 solar attic fans. Also, be sure that your attic has enough soffit vents to draw cooler air in.
For maximum results, choose a solar panel with twice the output required for the fan used.
Determine the Right Installation Angle
Solar panels are best placed facing due south, which is typically where it will receive the most direct sunlight.
Placing the solar panel in shaded areas have a negative effect on the operation of the panel. In fact, even if a portion of the panel is shaded, that portion of the panel will stop working, which will significantly decrease the overall performance of the entire system. Therefore, when choosing a location for your solar panel, place it in an area that receives maximum sun exposure throughout the day, for best results.
When installing the attic fan in conjunction with ridge vents, the attic fan should be installed a minimum of 5-7 feet below the ridge vent, and no closer than 10 feet within an existing passive vent, to allow for even air flow through the attic.
Make Sure the Panel Is Securely Attached
When installing the panel, make sure it is securely attached to the rafters or studs on either side of the vent. If need be, use a hammer to detect the rafters.
Secure the panel to the roof by drilling Z-bracket mounts into the rafters, which will help raise the panel from the heated roof and make it work more effectively. Be sure to use stainless steel equipment to attach the Z-brackets to the inner edges of the panels, and add butyl sealant beneath each bracket prior to drilling the brackets into the roof.
If the rafters or studs are wide apart, securely attach two 2 by 4’s horizontally between the studs, then attach the fan to them.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Measurements to Cut the Right Size Hole
Unless you are utilizing a solar fan that is mounted in the gable end, in which case you will still have the solar panel on the roof, wired to the fan in the attic, you will need to cut a hole in the roof to fit the fan as well as the solar panel.
Follow the manufacturer’s measurements to cut the proper size hole, then install the fan. When installed properly on a roof with standard asphalt shingles, solar panel fans do not require roofing cement, caulk, or any other product to prevent leaks.
Test the Fan Wires
Once the electrical cable from the panel is ran along the roof and through the gable vent, and the fan is securely in place, remove the electrical insulation from the 14-gauge cable that was fed through the opening and connect it to the fan wires to test. Remember, negative wires connect to negative wires and positive wires connect to positive wires.
If sufficient power is being generated, the fan will begin to turn and air will be removed from the attic.
To continue to cool your attic after dark, opt for a solar powered attic fan that includes optional house power connection, which will cycle house electricity in set increments to continue to power the fan.