Breather Vents vs. Power Sidewall Roof Ventilation

Looking down an unfinished attic toward a single window.

Roof ventilation is important not only for your comfort, but for the safety of your home. Read on to learn the difference between breather vents and power sidewall roof ventilation.

Breather Vents

Breather vents are placed on top of the roof slant or peak. They are usually covered by shingles, but still allow air to flow. They do not use any power or fans, but that doesn't mean you can't place fans nearby if you need extra air flow. They can be used anywhere and are easy to install. On top of that, they come in enough different varieties that you're sure to find one that fits your situation.

Power Sidewall Vents

Despite having the word, "Sidewall," in its name, power sidewall ventilation is also on the roof. It runs on electricity, which allows faster air flow and better temperature control. These vents cannot be used in areas with high dust or wind ratios, however, and some states and cities prohibit their use. Finally, power sidewall vents work best in combination with soffit vents.


Breather vents cost less than power sidewall vents, as they do not require power to work. Power sidewall ventilation can be worth it, though, for people who live in humid areas or just want more control of their temperatures. Their higher cost comes not only from the electricity they use, but also from the extra work that needs to be done to the attic before they can be installed. Breather vents, on the other hand, can be installed right away.


As mentioned before, not all states or cities allow the use of power sidewall ventilation. This is for safety reasons. Since they require so much power to run, some consider them a hazard. Before investing in one, read as much about the safety of it as you can and find out if your state even allows them.

Breather vents are considered very safe all year round. However, you should still do your homework before buying them.

Which Vents Should You Use?

The type you use depends on your needs and personal opinion. If you live in area that is dry and has a lot of dust or loose dirt, power sidewall ventilation is not a good idea. If you live in area that gets a lot of ice or rain, having breather vents may not work so well. If neither one seems ideal for your home, don't despair! There are plenty of other types of ventilation on the market.