All about attic fans (What are they, Best Picks & More)

What Is An Attic Fan? How Does It Cool A House?

Attic fans are exhaust fans which are installed on the attics of houses to lower the temperature by pushing out hot air and replacing it with cold air from outside. They are also called power attic fans, attic ventilators, and attic exhaust fans. They are mostly used in the United States, and Canada, you won’t find them much in any other countries.

In summer it is the attic of a home that first gets hot. And it stays hotter than the whole house throughout the day because the hot air inside it is trapped. The problem here is that the temperature difference between the house and the attic may drive some heat into the house. This will cause the air conditioning to work harder ultimately costing you more in electric bills.

By using an attic fan you can properly vent the attic so this hot air will get replaced by the relatively cool air from outside. With a cool attic, the air conditioning unit won’t have to work that hard. And attic fans consume only a fraction of the energy used by these units so it is a more economical solution for keeping the house cool.

Types Of Attic Fans

There are three types of attic fans that are used worldwide. Have a look below to get familiar with them.

Types based on power

Based on teh source of power there are three types of attic fans;

  1. Electric
  2. Solar
  3. Wind
  4. Hybrid

#1 Electric Powered Attic Fans

Electric ones the most common type of attic fans, they work with electricity. They are also cheaper and are available in many sizes and models.

They are also called power attic fans or power attic ventilators since they use electricity. They are equipped with AC motors. Some of them are belt-driven and some are direct drive.

#2 Solar Powered Attic Fans

Solar attic fans work using solar energy. These attic fans are the great approach towards minimizing electricity consumption and electric bills.  The power of solar powered attic fans depends on the availability of sunlight.

Solar attic fans are usually costly and are mostly roof mounted. The come with DC motors so it is possible to control their speed using a speed control mechanism. If you are planning to make a ‘smart fan’ these are good choices.

Read more about solar attic fans.

#3 Wind Powered Attic Fans

They are also called turbine ventilators. These fans work with the help of wind, even a small breeze is enough for them to work. Turbine attic ventilators are all roof mounted. When compared to the other two types of attic fans their performance is very poor. But on the other hand, they are very cheap and have zero running costs.

#4 Hybrid attic fans

Hybrid attic fans work using electricity as well as solar power. The main con of solar attic fans is that they don’t work at night and in low light conditions. A hybrid attic fan is a good choice to counter this problem.

Types based on where they are mounted

Based on the location of installation there are two types of attic fans;

  1. Roof mount attic fans
  2. Gable mount attic fans

1. Roof mount attic fans

These type of attic fans are mounted on roof tops. They usually come with a dome, and are a little harder to install than a gable mount fan (and more likely to leak if installation went wrong).

2. Gable mount attic fans

These types of attic fans are mounted on the gable of the house. thy usually come with a louvre, if not you have to buy one.

Other than the location of their installation I don’t know of any differences in their performances or advantages of one over the other. For some houses, the roof mount fans may look ugly while for some it is the gable mounted ones. If your house does not have a gable then your choices are limited.

Things To Look For When Buying An Attic Fan

Now if you’ve planned to buy an attic fan, have a look below to invest wisely. Consider all the below-given points before you invest, it will help you to pick the right attic fan.

1. Size Of The Attic

Your attic size plays an important role, and you should never overlook the size factor. Fact is, attic fans are not made to work efficiently in every condition, several factors affect the effectiveness and efficiency of attic fans. Size is one of those factors. Before you invest in an attic fan, make sure you’ve analyzed the respective area where you will install it. The more significant will be the area, the more powerful attic fan will be required. If you do not consider and analyze the respective area before investing, probably you will end up with an attic fan that will not be performing as per your expectations.

2. CFM Output

CFM (cubic feet per minute) defines the ability of an attic fan to move the amount of air in defined time. CFM is an essential factor that you must calculate for your space before you invest.

For example, if total floor area of your home is 2000 sq feet with 8 feet high ceilings, probably you have 1600 cubic feet total volume. However, if you have 10 feet high ceilings, then the area will be 20 thousand cubic feet (or +25%).

Now according to the general rule of thumb, you will need an attic fan that can move at least 2 to 3 CFM per square feet of individual space. This statement is valid for standard 8 feet ceilings. Now if you have 20,000 square feet space then multiply it by 2 to 3 CFM, and you will get the result as 40,000 to 60,000 CFM. That’s the ideal CFM requirement for your space.

Similarly, you can analyze your space and calculate the required CFM power.
Attic fan products usually have the CFM range mentioned in their box and detail plates. So, go through the details of particular attic fan and match the CFM power of the attic fan with CFM power required for your attic space. It will help you to get the right attic fan for your attic space.

3. Mounting Type

Considering mounting type is another significant factor while picking the right attic fan with the more natural installation process.

Gable mount attic fans are known to perform great when it’s about moving much heat from your house. When it’s about roof mounting, most of the people don’t agree with cutting a hole in their roof. However, it’s effortless to install a roof mount than a gable mount.

So, before you invest get familiar with these essential things. What matters the most for you, your comfortability or performance of particular attic fan?

4. Power Source  And Consumption

There are three types of attic fans that operate using electrical, wind and solar energy respectively. If you’re planning to pick an electrically powered attic fan, probably you will have to pay more. Electric fans are usually costly than a wind powered and solar powered attic fan. Also, with electric powered attic fans you may have to pay more electricity bills.

If you want to reduce the electricity consumption and bills, wind-powered and solar powered attic fans are the best.  However, they both operate using natural energy ( wind energy and solar energy), and that’s why their performance and efficiency is entirely dependent on environmental factors. The efficiency of a wind-powered attic fan and solar powered attic fan depends respectively on the speed of the wind and the amount of sunlight available. Thus, before you pick any attic fan, make sure you can afford the power bills or if the fan is operating using natural energy sources then make sure wherever you’re installing the attic fan has the supportive environment.

5. Ease Of Installation

Now that’s another critical factor to be considered while buying an attic fan. If you’re not willing to pay extra and hire a profession attic fan installer, always opt the one that is easy to install following the manual guide provided with the product. Before you invest, make sure the fan you’re buying has a straightforward installing process. Check whether any additional equipment is needed to install the attic fan. Check the mount type and whether you’re comfortable with it or not. Considering all these factors will help you to pick an easy to install attic fan that doesn’t involve any complex or complicated procedure.

Best attic fans you can buy

I selected these best attic fans based on consumer reports, wattage, cfm and reliability. I hope my list will help you select the right attic ventilation fan for your home.

Best attic fans;

  1. Cool Attic CX1500UPS Power Gable Mount Ventilator Fan
  2. QuietCool AFG S MT-3.0 Smart Attic Gable Fan
  3. BROAN 355BK 120-VOLT ATTIC VENTILATOR
  4. SOLAR ATTIC FAN 36 WATT | NATURAL LIGHT
  5. Solar Powered Attic Fan – 12 Watt | Natural Light
Best attic fans

Given below is my review of the best attic fan available in United States. I picked this after considering many popular choices; this is the best one.

Cool Attic CX1500UPS Power Gable Mount Ventilator Fan

1. Cool Attic CX1500UPS Power Gable Mount Ventilator Fan

If you’re Looking for a powerful and cost saving attic fan, CX1500UPS can be the best one for you. This attic fan is the ultimate solution for your overheated attic. CX1500UPS provide efficient power attic ventilation that minimizes the heat production and maintain overall temperature of an attic. Its 1300 CFM power attic fan equipped with 2.6 Amp motor (thermally protected), a steel flange (galvanized), and an automatic thermostat (yes, this is an attic fan with thermostat) that performs really well. It efficiently cools attic up to 1,850 square feet.

Another great thing about CX1500UPS attic fan is, you can mount it effortlessly in the gable of your house. You can mount it almost everywhere, behind the existing louvers or any others louvers that you want. It offers ventilation without disturbing the roofline. Overall, it’s one of the most exceptional attic fans to keep your house cooler and minimize the air-conditioning costs.

This is also the best gable mount attic fan I came across.

PROs

  • Easy installation
  • Powerful performance
  • Instant Cooling (within 30 minutes)
  • Auto adjustable thermostat
  • Cost Saving
  • Maintain temperature inside and outside attic very efficiently
  • Value for money
  • Affordable

CONs

  • You may need to add rubber isolation to make its operation quiet.
  • The shroud is roundish instead of round, and you may face some difficulties while installing it.

Check Price & Reviews in Amazon

Also please note that the quietness of an attic exhaust fan depends a lot on how well they are installed. While installing use dampers to reduce chances ofvibrations. This is because most ofthe noise coming out of an attic fan is caused by unwanted vibrations, not by its motor.

Quiet Attic Fan

2. QuietCool AFG S MT-3.0 Smart Attic Gable Fan

It is the quietest attic fans I could find.

It is also called Smart attic fan. Why is it called ‘Smart attic fan‘?

Because it is the first attic fan that comes with a built in thermostat and a humidistat. It auto adjusts its speed depending on the temperature and humidity readings, that’s why it is considered smart.

QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 is equipped with Electronically Commutated Motor that knows when to speed up and when to slow down without needing any manual interventions and use of external sensors. The motor works to maintain the temperature by varying its speed concerning the attic temperature. Overall, QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 is the world’s first smart attic fan.

It’s one of the most powerful attic fans that can cool your overheated attic up to 30 degrees to 50 degrees.

According to California Energy Consumption Charts, QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 is one of the most energy-efficient attic fans that assist in maximum energy savings. It’s 2830 CFM power attic fan that can cool up to 50,000 square foot space. Another great this is its a plug and play technology-based product, that means there is no need for wiring. Overall, if you’re looking for an advanced attic exhaust fan with great features, QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 has everything to impress you with its performance.

PROs

  • It can pull maximum air
  • It’s easy to install
  • No wiring need
  • Auto-Variable fan speed
  • It comes with 10 years of warranty
  • Quality Product and value for money

CONs

  • It may transfer vibrations to your wall.
  • An insulator is needed to minimize the operational noise.

Check Price & Reviews in Amazon

Broan Attic fan

3. BROAN 355BK 120-VOLT ATTIC VENTILATOR

If you’re living in a home with multiple floors, BROAN 355BK is the best roof mounted attic fan to have. It comes with an auto-adjustable thermostat that maintains the temperature of attic between 75 degrees to 135 degrees. The fan of BROAN 355BK keeps operating until the space temperature goes below the set temperature by at least 10 degrees. It ensures that temperature is maintained appropriately. With the auto-adjusting thermostat, its fan automatically turns on and off by the requirement.

This fan is made of durable material with anti-fading characteristics. Thus, this roof mount attic exhaust fan last long even despite its long exposure to sun and ultraviolet rays.

BROAN 355BK has 1200 CFM capacity and performs very efficiently in 1715 square feet or less space.

Overall, this is a quality roof mount type attic fan that will not disappoint you at any stage and will help you to save on your air conditioning bills.

PROs

  • Value for money
  • Auto adjustable thermostat
  • Cost saving
  • Efficient performance
  • Made of good quality material
  • 1-year warranty

CONs

  • It has a PVC cover, a metallic one would be better.

Check Price & Reviews in Amazon

Given below are my best picks of solar attic fans.

Solar attic fan

4. SOLAR ATTIC FAN 36 WATT | NATURAL LIGHT

This is the best solar powered roof mount attic fan.

It’s another best attic fan that deserves the investment. It has many features and aspects that may excite you to invest. It has the exceptionally sleek design that will look very clean and tidy on your roof. Also, its rated 36 watts that mean its energy efficient and offer compelling performance. Its CFM power rating is 1628 and can efficiently cool up to 2625 square feet of attic space.

Now if you are looking for warranty terms, Natural Light provides 5 years of warranty with this product to ensure healthy investment. Installation is very straightforward and doesn’t include any complicated procedure. Wiring is not necessary with this product, and a thermostat is included within it. What else do you want in an attic fan? Isn’t that good enough to invest? Go and grab it.

Pros:

  • Sleek Design
  • 5 Years of warranty
  • Made of quality material
  • Powerful performance
  • Easy to install

CONs

  • The product has nothing to disappoint you. It has everything to make you wow.

Check Price & Reviews in Amazon

natural light attic fan

5. Solar Powered Attic Fan – 12 Watt | Natural Light

This is the best solar powered gable mount attic fan.

If you’re looking for a simple and environmentally sensible solution to cool your hot attic and save money at the same time, this one can be the best choice. Its operation is wholly based on solar energy. It has the sleek design and performs very efficiently. It can exhaust approximately 893 CFM and up to 1260 square feet space of an attic. Also, the installation doesn’t require any wiring.

“Best solar attic fan with 25 years warranty”

The company offers 25 years of warranty with this attic fan to ensure healthy investment for customers. Invest if you want to minimize your electricity consumption using a high quality solar powered attic exhaust fan.

PROs

  • Easy installation
  • Solar Powered
  • No wiring required
  • Excellent performance
  • Reduce electricity consumption and bills
  • Value for money product
  • 25 years of warranty to ensure healthy investment

CONs

  • Cowling is quite more significant than it should be

Check Price & Reviews in Amazon

 

Are attic fans worth it?

There are certain benefits in using an attic fan, the most important one being lower energy costs.

  • It’s an energy efficient approach towards cooling a hot attic.
  • It reduces ice damming chances on the roof.
  • It reduces the humidity level of an attic and thus offer protection from mold and mildew.
  • Easy to install
  • Reduce energy cost
  • A great alternative solution to your Ac

Wholehouse vs Attic Fans

Usually, peoples consider both an attic and whole house fan as same ventilating devices with similar features. However, they both are different and used for different purposes. Here we have elaborated the difference. Have a look below to know.

Attic Fans

These fans are usually installed on the roof of a building or house to push out the hot air and draw in the cold air. In other words, attic fans work as an air exchanger that replaces the hot air available inside an attic with the cold air available outside in the open environment. Efficiency and effectiveness of these fans are limited to particular attic only, that’s you can’t use them if your purpose is to maintain the temperature of entire living space. An attic fan can effectively reduce the temperature on the floor of a home by 10 degrees on hot days. Attic fans are considered as energy saving ventilation devices that boost ventilation and reduce energy costs.

Whole House Fans

Just like an attic fan, the primary function of a whole house fan is to eliminate hot air from a building or home. However, these fans work to remove hot air from the entire house instead of attic only.  These fans are inexpensive and considered as an efficient approach to cool buildings and houses. A whole house fan draws cold air through windows and force up warmer air into the attic and then push them out of the house. These fans are also energy efficient and cost saving as attic fans are.

So, the key differences between both these fans are the purpose and effectiveness. Attic fans are for cooling attic space only, on the other hand, whole House fans are for cooling the entire house. Both these fans are equally effective and useful for separate purposes.