Attic Vent Fan vs. Ridge Vent: Which is More Effifient?

Comparing the efficiency of an attic vent fan versus a ridge vent has been an age-old question and debate in the world of attic ventilation. Proper attic ventilation is essential to your home and required by building codes. It manages the build-up of heat throughout the summer months, and controls moisture than can potentially accumulate and damage components of your house. Attic vent fans and ridge vents providing natural ventilation are the most common methods to ventilate the attic, but which is more efficient?

Attic Vent Fans

This method of ventilation involves a fan that’s typically installed on the roof that’s known as an attic vent fan or a power ventilator. Its function is to actively pull hot air out of the home. As a result, low pressure is created, which promotes increased air movement. The fan must be powered and will be part of your energy costs, but the advantage is that the machine doesn’t rely on the wind movement outside of the house. Furthermore, you can depend on its strength to lower the temperature of even the hottest attic. To save on energy costs, some use a solar attic fan, although it would be ineffective on days without sun.

Ridge Vents

These types of vents are considered a natural way of ventilating your attic, exchanging the air inside with the fresh air outside of your home. Since they require no outside power source, you can save on energy costs with these vents installed. Hot air in your home rises to the attic area and causes a change in pressure. This pressure change initiates or takes advantage of existing wind movement to ventilate the space through soffits. Ridge vents even function when it’s not windy outside of the home; the build-up of hot air in the attic space simply and gently flows outside through the vents. These vents work best in conjunction with adequate attic insulation (R-19 or above).

Comparing Attic Vent Fans and Ridge Vents

As attic vent fans pull air out of the home, it’s logical that they not only cool down your home by powerfully sucking out hot air, but they also draw out the cold air-conditioned air during the summertime. This parallel functioning of attic vent fans, equally affecting both hot and cold air in the home, is actually an inefficient process. You will be spending both for the attic vent fan and your home air conditioner to run as it counters the attic vent fan’s work. Furthermore, as air-conditioned air moves to the attic, more hot air enters your home, forcing your air conditioner to labor more intensely.

Another concern to take into account is the combustion gases that can potentially enter your home due to attic vent fans. These machines are so powerful that there is the likelihood that they could suck dangerous gases from home appliances such as hot water heaters and back-draft them into the home. It can’t be considered an efficient unit if there’s the possibility of endangering the air of your living space and of added costs to keep your air clean, safe, and breathable.