Is A Solar Attic Fan Worth It? Ask The Electrician

KB Electric LLC installs quite a few attic fans each year. If you need more information about the importance of attic fans and the role they play in cooling your home, you can learn more here and here. The market for everything solar-powered is expanding. From pathway lights to deck lighting, the solar sector of the electrical industry is on the rise, and has been for quite some time. Today we want to highlight some disadvantages we see with solar-powered attic fans so you can make a sound decision on your new attic fan purchase. You may be asking yourself: Is a solar attic fan worth it? Should I stick with a standard electric attic fan? These questions may be stirring the mind when choosing your new attic fan, so let’s dive deeper into why KB Electric LLC recommends electric-powered attic fans vs solar attic fans.


What Is A Solar Attic Fan?

A solar attic fan is a fan used in an attic that is powered by the sun. Plain and simple! No electric required, just the pure power of God’s sunny rays. 


Is A Solar Attic Fan Worth It?

Obviously you would think an electrician wouldn’t recommend an attic fan powered by the sun because we as electricians wire and install standard electric-powered attic fans for a living. But there are different reasons we would say no, a solar attic fan is not worth it right now during this time. Maybe a few years, or 10 years down the road technology will look a little different for solar-powered attic fans. But today, we as electricians would not recommend them for a few different reasons:

  • Solar attic fans have NOT been around long enough to prove themselves worthy of purchase and reliability.

Just like with anything “new” to the market, it’s best to hold off on the purchase of a solar attic fan until the kinks are worked out by the manufacturers, and the technology improves for such a product. Initially, solar and hybrid solar attic fans are more expensive to purchase and to install. In addition, they cannot compare to your standard electric-powered attic fan simply due to the other points mentioned below…

  • Most solar attic fans don’t draw nearly as much power as your regular electric-powered attic fan. 

Upon research, there are a few solar attic fans out there that have high CFM (air flow output) like your regular electric-powered attic fans, but in general most do not come close to what an electric-powered attic fan can do. You’ll want a high CFM dependent upon how big your attic space is, and for that reason, the electric-powered attic fan is the way to go right now.

  • Solar attic fans CANNOT be turned to an OFF position.

If you want control over your attic fan, solar is not the way to go. There are hybrid models (mentioned below) that can be controlled because they are both electric and solar, but a pure solar attic fan has no ON/OFF switch, so it will run as long as the sun is beating down on it. Which brings us to our next point…

  • Any switches/thermostats added to most solar attic fans voids the manufacturer warranty on the unit.

If you wanted a licensed and insured electrician to install a switch or thermostat for your solar attic fan to control the temperature so that it isn’t constantly running during the daytime, you are out of luck in most cases. We found that one of the brands of solar attic fans (Natural Light Energy Systems) clearly states on their website that if you do not have a thermostat for one of their particular models, the fan will run all of the time. It cannot be turned off unless with an ON/OFF switch, but if an electrician does install one, it would VOID the entire warranty of their solar fan. Gee, thanks.

  • Most solar attic fans work less efficiently on cloudy and overcast days.

If you have a lot of trees surrounding your home and the sun isn’t always beating down on your roof, your solar attic fan will not run. Cloudy and overcast days will not run your attic fan efficiently either, which will keep your attic hot, humid, and stuffy. The point of an attic fan is to draw out the hot air to preserve the integrity of your roofing structure, shingles, and to keep your second floor cooler. If the solar attic fan isn’t continuously working on an overcast day but it’s still hot enough in there to fry an egg, than what’s the point of the solar fan?

  • Solar and hybrid models (both solar and electric) would be more expensive to install than your standard electric-power fan.

Hybrid model attic fans are nice because they come with an AC/DC inverter that will turn ON the attic fan at night with electric. The cost of these fans are initially higher to purchase compared to your standard electric attic fan (more than double), and they will be more expensive to install by a licensed and insured electrician.


Call A Licensed and Insured Electrician For Attic Fan Installation

Are you a homeowner in need of an attic fan? KB Electric LLC recommends installing an electric-powered attic fan not only to protect the integrity of your roof and to cool your upstairs, but also because they are reliable, easy to maintain by swapping out the motor when it’s time for replacement, they draw out a lot of hot air (high CFM capacity), and they can be easily be turned ON/OFF with a flip of a switch and controlled with a thermostat. Plus, the initial cost of the product and installation are much lower than the solar option.

Just because we don’t recommend solar attic fans doesn’t mean we can’t help you install them (disclaimer: we can’t warranty the solar fan or provide it for you). If you love the solar aspect and want to try a hybrid model (which we recommend over a solar-only attic fan), KB Electric LLC can help with the installation. We know the ins and outs of wiring, and the most up-to-date NEC (National Electrical Code) for safety and compliance. Whether it’s a solar, hybrid, or electric attic fan, trust us for your new attic fan installation today! (267) 467-3178