During the summer the upper parts of the house can get exceedingly warm. This is due to a number of factors, such as the heat rising from the lower parts to the upper parts of the house, the amount of sunlight hitting the roof, and the fact that the roof is where all the insulation is. This can make it very uncomfortable, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. Many home-owners get round this by installing solar attic fans.
What are Solar Attic Fans?
Solar attic fans are basically a means of regulating the heat in your household. They work by drawing out the warm air that has been collecting in the attic and replacing it with cooler air from the outside through the roof. The solar part comes in because they’re powered by solar panels, which can be affixed to the roof above the attic.
This not only makes the upper parts of the home cooler, but also reduce the amount of work your conventional AC units have to do to regulate the house’s temperature.
Due to the complicated nature of installing them, solar attic fans should really be installed by a professional. A hole has to be made into the roof in order to accommodate the device, and while that can be done on your own, that can’t be recommended unless you have the necessary experience. Otherwise you risk doing even more expensive damage to your roof, or the fans not working properly.
So Are They Worth It?
It’s true that there’s a massive debate surrounding solar fans and whether or not they’re actually worth the costs and efforts. That’s why you’re reading this article after all. Many would argue that it’s actually easier and cheaper to install a conventional unit instead and not have to deal with the expense of solar-power. In this, however, they’re not strictly speaking arguing in light of actual evidence regarding the topic.
While there may indeed more initial cost to buying and installing attic fans, this is only a one off payment. Over time, however, the amount you save on electricity quickly makes this an irrelevant point. After a few years the solar powered fans will pay for themselves. This is because solar powered fans are completely off the grid and operate through their own independent power source, while more conventional cooling units must use power drawn off your main electricity lines. In effect, you won’t pay for them after they’ve been installed by a professional company, like Bob Heinmiller Solar.
Some have also argued that solar fans don’t cool as much as conventional fans, but that’s only because solar fans don’t draw in as much air. And that’s actually a good thing. When conventional attic fans operate, they actually create a space negative air pressure that draws in conditioned air from the rest of the house. This includes more dangerous gases from combustion produced by household appliances, such as carbon dioxide, which build up in the attic.
Another bonus behind solar attic fans is that they’re very simple to maintain. Because there are few complicated moving parts, the only maintenance that needs to be done for them is making sure the solar panel is clean and free of debris, and that the fan itself is able to keep spinning. This is in contrast to more complicated conventional fans, which are a lot less reliable and require far more maintenance costs.
If the attic fan is also over a guest bedroom, or the attic itself has been converted into a guest bedroom, you’ll also be pleased to know that the fans are much quieter than conventional models. So you don’t have to worry about being disturbed too much by them.
One thing to take into account is that solar fans don’t cool the air as much as conventional ones. You can expect a change in air temperature of around 7°C-10°C at maximum efficiency, which is significantly less than fans powered by the main power grid. However, as mentioned, this assumes that the fan is in top condition and that it’s getting a frequent supply of power. Which leads to the next point…
Some users have reported that the fans require constant direct sunlight to work properly. Whenever the sun is blocked, or it’s particularly low in the sky, the fans won’t work as efficiently as they can be. This can be mitigated to some degree by making sure the fan is in a place where it receives the optimum amount of sunlight possible, and that the panel is frequently cleaned. Otherwise, be prepared for the fans to be inconsistent with their efficiency.
Christian Mills is a homeowner and family man who is always on the hunt for living the best cost effective lifestyle. If you would like to learn more about Christian, check out his Google+ page.
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