Updated: Oct 12, 2016

Attic Fan Reviews:

Let's start with mentioning that an attic fan is actually different than a whole house fan. In our research we found that many homeowners get the two confused, although they are similar in function. Attic fans deal with only the attic area while the whole house fan by definition attempts to cool your entire home. If you have air conditioning in a two story home and the thermostat sits downstairs, you can always get the first floor to be 72 degrees but the upstairs constantly runs about 2 to 4 degrees warmer since hot air is naturally pushed up. You could buy a 2nd AC unit just for the upstairs but that doesn't make economic sense for many of us because we are almost always downstairs except for the evenings. We went to Home Depot to talk with an expert in the field and he mentioned buying an attic fan to help reduce the heat build up in our attic with some added ventilation. You may see attic fans referred to as roof fans or a powered attic ventilator (PAV). They are available in home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot as well as other retailers nationally.


Buying Guide - On hot days during the warmest months of the summer an attic can reach temperatures as high as 150 degrees fahrenheit. By adding an attic fan to your house you can reduce your cooling costs by almost 30% in some situations. The key is getting rid of the hot air trapped in your attic and replacing it with cooler air. An attic ventilation fan mounts on the roof and draws the warm air out the vents and replaces it with cool air from below. A thermostat will control the fan so that it runs only when necessary. Using less than 300 watts of power, a roof attic fan can reduce air conditioning costs while lowering the room temperatures in the upstairs area by 5 to 10 degrees. Most heating and cooling experts agree that an attic fan should pay for itself within 3 years time. Look for those that are made with metal materials versus plastic and as mentioned above a thermostat is essential. In some attic fan reviews we read online owners talked about noise issues related to the fan running. It's important to find a model that has a permanently lubricated motor so that the fan runs quiet and operates without much maintenance. Attic fans are either electric or solar powered and they can be installed on the roof or mounted in a gable wall. Electric attic fan kits run between $80 and $300 while the solar powered attic fans are priced between $350 and $600 but also have zero operating costs. We found several postings online from owners of the attic fans powered by solar energy and they were very happy with the results. Their homes were able to maintain a cooler temperature while using the suns energy to counteract the heat. Some fans come with a humidistat which can sense high moisture levels in your attic - the cost for that feature can be as high as $150 more. Savings on energy cost depend on your cooling system, your attic insulation, and the color of your roof. Overall, we found that the installation of an attic fan did help with our cooling costs during the peak summer months. We subtracted the $2 to $3 month that they say an attic fan costs to run to get our savings. Within 3 years I would say our initial outlay for the fan will be recouped in energy savings. You can browse the best selling attic fans here.


Solar Attic Fan:

We searched the Internet for the best deals on attic cans that are solar powered and Amazon.com carries a very popular model for just $340. RECOMMENDED - The Solar Attic Fan - which carries a 25 year warranty on the attic fan housing, solar panel, solar attic fan motor. The 10-watt solar panel is adjustable and comes assembled so installation is not too difficult. Solar attic fans are the wave of the future as technology learns how to take advantage of the suns rays. You can adjust the panel from flat to a 45 degree angle and it can be mounted on a roof pitch of 3/12 to 12/12. Natural Light is the manufacturer of this solar powered attic fan and reviews are very positive from homeowners. Some recommend purchasing the thermostat option for the extra $20 and consider looking into the 20 watt model. It runs quiet, is pollution free, and costs nothing to run.

Attic Fan Installation:

The attic fan design will dictate where the fan is installed. The real question is whether you can install it yourself or do you need to hire a professional. I'm not a DIY homeowner so I hired a contractor to do the attic fan installation for me. He charged $50/hour to install the fan and I feel like it was well worth it. The roof fans will be mounted on your roof using sheetmetal or plastic bases (we say avoid this kind) as flashing. You'll need to cut a hole in the roof where the fan will go and then shingle around the vented region. A gable attic fan is easier to install since no shingles need to be taken out and hopefully you can save time by eliminating structural changes to your roof line. The potential for water leakage is an issue with a roof mounted attic fan so the install should be done by a professional. I think the gable mounted fans are probably the type that a handy homeowner could attempt. The only issue that arises is having to install an automatic shutter for better venting. Need help installing your new attic fan? There are lots of websites with both animated images to help you in the process and even some with video footage. Check out Popular Mechanics or This Old House for installing both a gable mounted fan and a solar attic fan. I think if I had to choose all over again I would go with the solar powered roof fan and just do the step by step instructions as given by Tom Silva on This Old House.

Attic Fan Cost:

The cost for installing an attic fan is not that high given your long term payback with lowered energy costs and overall energy efficiency. The powered attic ventilator will cost you between $70 and $300 for the electric models. If you can swing it, we recommend the solar powered variety that are more expensive at $350 to $600 (see above). Many of the electric models we saw come with a thermostat like the NuTone RF49BR ($180) which cools attic up to 1400 square feet. We found an attic exhaust fan on Atticfan.com for about $250 but the site seemed like it was aimed at selling higher end whole house fans that not everyone needs. The Solar Star attic fan is priced at $385 and can be found on several websites. Installation - the cost to hire a professional - could be up to $500 but we would say no more than $250 is probably fair in most instances. Cost to run a roof fan in your attic is very cheap - about $2-$3 a day and the solar powered variety don't cost a penny as they run on the suns natural power.