Electric vs Solar Attic Fan: Pros and Cons

Solar panels on a terracotta roof.
  • 1-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-500

You may be considering a fan to rid your attic of hot, stuffy air. This is probably a good idea because when the attic is cooler, so is the rest of the house. The question is what kind of attic fan to get. Below is a guide that will help you make that decision. It discusses the strengths and weaknesses of both the electric and solar varieties.

Pros of Electric Attic Fans

Because it isn't dependent on the sun being out, an electric fan gives you constant attic cooling with no disruptions. Electric attic fans also cost much less than the solar variety.

Cons of Electric Attic Fans

Electricity is largely generated by non-renewable, polluting sources. Therefore, an electric attic fan is not the best choice for the environmentally conscious. You also have to pay for electricity, while the sun's rays are free. Moreover, the wiring involved with an electric fan calls for professional installation—also not free.

Pros of Solar Attic Fans

Solar attic fans exhaust hot air for free, using the sun's rays. No costly power bills to incur there. They're also cheaper to install than electric fans because you can do it yourself. Last, don't forget the green benefits associated with solar fans: they are a responsible use of energy that will keep your conscience clear.

Cons of Solar Attic Fans

The solar fan does have its downsides. It will only function when direct sunlight falls on the panel. When sunlight is blocked, for whatever reason, the fan comes to a halt immediately. That means tough luck if your attic is still hot when the sun goes down.

Other factors also affect the operation of the solar fan. If the angle of the sun is not high enough, the fan will spin more slowly. Furthermore, solar fans cost considerably more than electric attic fans to purchase.