Ridge Vent vs. Attic Fan for Attic Ventilation

The hole for a ridge vent on a partially-shingled roof.

Installing either a ridge vent or an attic fan can be a good way of getting adequate ventilation in your home. You naturally want to choose the very best one for your situation, though. First-timers may find it difficult to decide between different types of vents, such as a ridge vents or attic fans. They both work, but do so by different means. This guide lays out the features of both, so you can make a well-informed decision.

Ridge Vent

Like attic fans, ridge vents are designed to exhaust air that is already inside the attic. This is different from soffit vents, which allow air to travel into the attic. Ridge vents are a passive system, simply allowing hot air to rise up through them rather than pushing it out as a fan does.

Attic Fan

An attic fan is an active system that actually forces air out. Unlike ridge vents, attic fans use electricity and need regular maintenance to keep working properly. Attic fans can also make a lot of noise.

Choosing a Ridge Vent or an Attic Fan

When you are deciding between a ridge vent or an attic fan, consider the needs of the attic. If you have suitable intake venting, a ridge vent might be a better choice, while larger attics and those with poor ventilation might be better served by an attic fan.

One other thing to consider is that, if you already have a ridge vent, placing an attic fan too close to it can cause the vent to start drawing in air, rather than letting it out. This will reduce the quality of your attic ventilation rather than improve it.