Customer Service Hours
Monday - Friday 8:30AM - 5:30PM CST
Solar Attic Fans 101
You've got questions, we've got answers! Everything you have every wanted to know about solar attic fans courtesy of our customer's inquiries. If you don't see your question below, Contact Attic Breeze and our customer service team will be happy to assist you.
Karen of Phoenix, AZ writes...
"Living in Arizona, we get a lot of sun and our home gets extremely hot during the summer. It seems like our air conditioner runs constantly and sometimes cannot keep up. Will your solar attic fans help?"
During the summer, attic temperatures can soar to over 150°F, keeping your attic hot throughout the day and well into the night. The higher the temperature of your attic, the less effective attic insulation will be at stopping heat from entering your home. While attic insulation slows this process, it does not eliminate the heat transfer process entirely. Furthermore if the insulation is old or the attic is not very well insulated, it will do very little to stop heat from entering your home.
Installation of an Attic Breeze solar attic fan helps to minimize the amount of heat entering through the attic by reducing your attic temperature. By minimizing the amount heat entering your home, your air conditioner will run less and your home will feel more comfortable.
Tim of West Palm Beach, FL writes...
"How durable are your solar attic fans relative to hurricanes?"
Attic Breeze solar attic fans are designed to be the most durable solar powered ventilation products available. Rated for hurricane force winds of over 170 MPH (wind load pressures of ±115 PSF), our solar attic fans are both Florida and Texas windstorm approved. Click Here for windstorm details!
Fred of Dallas, TX writes...
"We receive a lot of hail storms in the DFW area. How well do the solar panels on Attic Breeze solar attic fans hold up to hail?"
Attic Breeze uses commercial grade solar panels with high-strength tempered glass on all of our products. These solar panels feature an anodized aluminum frame for added strength and protection, similar to the solar panels that are used by your local state highway department. Our solar panels are designed to withstand mild to moderate hailstorm conditions and are factory tested to comply with impact resistance industry standards.
Jennifer of Marble Falls, TX writes...
"We purchased an Attic Breeze solar attic fan (AB-252A) for our home last year and absolutely love your product! I could not believe how much cooler our house felt. My husband would like to install one of your solar attic fans on his workshop to help keep it cool during the summer, but the workshop doesn't have an attic. Do you have any type of product for this application?"
The application you are describing is know as "whole house or workspace" ventilation and we can absolutely help. In this application, air is moved through the entire house, workshop, or warehouse space to generate a continuous breeze. Fresh air is brought in through open windows, doors, or intake vents and exhausted through the solar powered fan. Attic Breeze has both wall mounted and roof mounted solar fans available for this type of application. Please note that sizing of the fan(s) for the application will depend on how the workspace is being used (amount of ventilation needed) and on the actual dimensions of the workshop. Click Here for sizing details!
Kevin of Ames, IA writes...
"How quiet are your fans?"
Attic Breeze solar attic fans are designed for whisper quiet operation. Using a proprietary five wing aluminum fan blade adjusted to optimum pitch performance, our solar attic fans will produce <1 sonne (<30 decibels) of noise during operation. In real world terms, this is less noise than a quite library.
Angela of Houston, TX writes...
"I have heard good things about Attic Breeze from one of my neighbors that has installed your solar attic fans. I would like to install a solar attic fan on my home as well, but my roof has ridge vents and I am concerned that these may not work well with the fan. Can your solar attic fans be installed on a home that has ridge vents?"
Yes, you may install our products with an existing ridge vent. However please note that while the solar attic fan is operating, the ridge vent will work in reverse acting as air intake vent. In fact, every passive vent on your roof will act as an air intake vent while the fan is operating. This is not a problem, it is simply a different method of operation for your roof's ventilation system.
Ridge vents operate on the principle of natural draft air convection. This means that as the attic heats up, hot air will rise to the attic ridge and naturally flow out from the ridge vent. For ridge vents to work properly, the attic temperature must be in the range of 130-140°F. During normal operation, ridge vents typically produce 3-4 attic air exchanges per hour, not enough to adequately cool the attic and minimize heat transfer into your home.
Attic Breeze solar attic fans operate on the principle of forced draft air convection. Our fans create an air draft through the attic many times more powerful than that of natural draft air convection or wind powered turbine vents. Attic Breeze solar attic fans work the hardest when you need them the most creating a self-regulating ventilation system; the more solar radiation (sunlight) your roof receives, the faster our solar attic fans operate to remove heat. During normal operation, Attic Breeze solar attic fans have the capability of exchanging hot attic air 10-20 times per hour, typically keeping your attic temperature between 5-15°F of ambient outside temperature.
When installing our products in conjunction with ridge vents, the solar attic fan unit should be installed a minimum of 5-6 feet away from the ridge vent to allow for balanced air flow through the attic. Experience shows that this distance will typically allow enough space for proper balancing of air intake ventilation from both the ridge vent and other roof vents. When the solar attic fan is not operational, the ridge vent will function as normal.
Linda of Redwood City, CA writes...
"I had two Attic Breeze solar powered gable fans installed last summer by your dealer here in the Bay Area. I was very impressed with the reduction in my electricity bills! However, I am concerned that the fans appear to still be running even though it is 65°F outside. The gable fans were ordered with thermal switches included, so I'm wondering if they are operating properly?"
Yes, your solar gable fans are operating within normal parameters. The thermal switches included with all Attic Breeze solar powered ventilation products function within a nominal range of 65-75°F. Please note that these mechanical thermal switches are not "thermostats" and have a much more course range of operation, which is appropriate for this type of application.
In general, given a home with typical attic insulation, heat transfer into or out of the home will only begin to occur when the temperature difference between the attic and inside of your home is greater than about 15-20°F. For example, assuming the inside temperature of your home is roughly 75°F, you will find that heat loss is negligible when your attic temperature is as low as about 55-60°F. Likewise, any heat gain into your home will be negligible when the attic temperature is as high as about 90-95°F. Please note that your attic temperature will always be higher than that of the ambient outside temperature. So no worries, your fans are working properly.
Keith of Naperville, IL writes...
"I have researched solar attic fans on the internet and in my opinion it appears that Attic Breeze is the best. You guys don't use plastic parts, the product is made here in the USA, and you have a lifetime warranty. However, I noticed that Attic Breeze doesn't make the same 30-40% savings claims that I saw on other manufacturer's websites. What kind of savings can I expect if I were to purchase your product?"
Attic Breeze strongly believes in the concept of "truth in advertising" and in doing so will not publish any claims that cannot be substantiated. No solar attic fan manufacturer can actually guarantee how much a customer will save by installing a solar attic fan. In general terms, the more air a solar attic fan moves, the closer the attic temperature will approach that of the outside ambient temperature. Reducing the attic temperature helps to minimize the amount of heat transferred into your home. Actual savings from installing a solar attic fan are realized by reducing the amount of heat your air conditioner must remove.
As you can imagine, older homes with poor or degraded insulation may benefit more than newer homes. Likewise, homes with poorer quality air conditioning systems will benefit more than homes with high efficiency heat pumps. Factors such as electricity cost, total attic area, roof slope, roof color, age/efficiency of attic insulation, and the age/efficiency of your air conditioning equipment all play a role in determining your overall savings. Annual savings can range from as low as 5% to as high as 40%; everyone will see some benefit by installing a solar attic fan, but everyone’s situation is different.
We can say that if properly sized for your application, installation of our products will typically reduce attic air temperatures to within 5-15°F of the outside ambient temperature. Experience shows that installations on older homes typically have a pay back of 1-2 years. Newer homes will have a slightly longer pay back period based on their designed energy efficiency. And of course, depending on your location, federal, state, and local incentives will all have a huge impact on further reducing the typical payback period.
Dave of Neptune City, NJ writes...
"Is there any electrical wiring required to install your solar attic fans?"
No, Attic Breeze solar attic fans ship assembled and ready for use. Our solar attic fans are stand alone solar powered units and are not tied to your home's electrical grid.
Thomas of Medford, NJ writes...
"I have two whirlybird vents on my roof, but we are re-shingling next week and I'm considering replacing these with your products. Are your solar attic fans more effective at cooling the attic than the vents I currently have? Would I have to replace the whirlybirds or can I keep them and install your products as well?"
The effectiveness of any ventilation product is based on the physics of thermodynamic heat transfer. As this applies to cooling an attic, the more attic air exchanges you can achieve in a given amount of time, the closer the attic temperature will approach that of the outside ambient temperature. Therefore, cooling effectiveness really comes down to how much CFM the ventilation product can create.
A typical "whirlybird" turbine vent generally produces about 500-800 CFM of air movement when the wind is blowing good. The actual CFM generated by your turbine vents can most likely be found on the manufacturer's website. While this amount of air movement is respectable, the technology is limited in the fact that it only works when the wind blows, not necessarily when the sun is beating down on your roof.
Attic Breeze residential model solar attic fans can move up to 1550 CFM of hot attic air. The real advantage of using our solar attic fans is that they operate faster as your roof receives more direct UV radiation. In this respect, the technology is "self-regulating" in terms of cooling efficiency; our solar attic fans work the hardest when you need them the most.
You can leave your whirlybird vents in place and simply add our solar attic fans. The only requirements are that the solar attic fans must be installed at least 10 feet away from the whirlybird vents and you must provide enough attic intake ventilation to support both the solar attic fans and the existing whirlybird vents. If aesthetics or intake ventilation requirements are a concern, you may easily replace the whirlybirds with our solar attic fans.
Jim of Lakeland, FL writes...
"I am interested in solar attic vents, but have some concerns over attic depressurization. I recently read an article that suggested attic fans have the potential to pull air from inside the home and into the attic. Is this a possibility with the Attic Breeze fans as well?"
Attic depressurization occurs when there is not enough attic air intake ventilation to support the volume of attic air being removed. While depressurization can occur naturally (i.e. the sudden cooling of your roof during a rainstorm), it may also occur when using powered ventilation. Since airflow follows the path of least resistance, for any powered ventilation system to create depressurization and pull conditioned air into the attic, it must have enough power to overcome both any attic intake ventilation present, as well as that of frictional effects created from pulling air through the small cracks and opens between the attic and living space of your home.
Although by appearance they may seem the same, AC powered attic fans and Attic Breeze solar powered attic fans are distinctly different. AC powered attic fans have a very large source of grid power from which to use, as well as a constant speed AC motor. When an AC powered fan does not have enough "free" air intake to support the motor's operating speed, the fan simply uses more power in order to maintain motor speed, thus pulling more air from any air intake source available. If the AC powered fan is not installed with enough attic air intake ventilation, attic depressurization may occur.
By contrast, Attic Breeze solar attic fans have both a limited source of solar power and use a variable speed DC motor. Given the same situation, our solar attic fans will simply reduce in speed rather than pull more air because additional power is not available. Additionally, our proprietary UltraFlō™ technology also helps minimize any chance of depressurization by virtue of our unique airflow dynamics. If installed properly with the recommend amount of intake ventilation, attic depressurization will not be a problem with Attic Breeze solar powered ventilation products.
Debbie of Oklahoma City, OK writes...
"My sister in Foley, AL bought an Attic Breeze solar attic fan last summer. She is very happy with her fan and has convinced me to buy one as well. I see from your website that I can either have the solar attic fan with or without a thermal switch. Why would I not want the thermal switch?"
The Zephyr™ series residential model solar attic fans include a thermal switch as part of our standard package. This mechanical thermal switch is factory preset to operate within a nominal range of 65-75°F. The thermal switch allows the solar attic fan to automatically shut down when attic temperatures fall below the preset range. This reduces winter heating bills and extends the life of the motor.
You may consider removing the thermal switch if you will be using our products to ventilate a warehouse, workshop, or garage where you would want the solar fan operate continuously, regardless of temperature. Additionally, in tropical climates you may also choose to have the fan operate continuously if used as a whole-house fan (very common in Hawaii).
Solar attic fans are also used in northern climates to control attic moisture and humidity problems which occur during the winter. If your home experiences ice damming, then operating a solar attic fan through the winter may be a good option. For any of these applications, it would be appropriate to operate the solar attic fan without a thermal switch.
Misty of Portland, OR writes...
"Will Attic Breeze solar attic fans operate on cloudy days? Do the solar panels store energy so that they can operate when the sun goes down?"
The high efficiency monocrystalline solar panels used on all Attic Breeze products allows our fans to even operate on cloudy days. Our solar attic fans work the hardest when you need them the most; the more direct sunlight the fan receives, the faster the fan moves. On cloudy days the fan will move more slowly, on rainy days the fan will not move at all... which is exactly the operation that you want with regard to your attic ventilation.
No, the solar panel transfers all power to the fan and there is no battery back up included with our products. However, if sized appropriately for your application, running the solar attic fan at night should not be necessary. The majority of all heat gain to your attic occurs between the hours of 11AM to 3PM, so the real key to proper attic ventilation is removing the heat from the attic as it is received. If sized and installed properly, Attic Breeze solar attic fans will keep your attic cool throughout the day and eliminate the need for additional night time cooling.
Mike of Pacifica, CA writes...
"I am a contractor in California and have installed 10 watt solar attic fans for about a year now. I can see there is a clear need for something more powerful, so I found Attic Breeze on the internet. I am impressed by the various options Attic Breeze offers as this is not the case with the attic fans I currently use. Since the 10 watt fans I use now are plastic, I do have a question about the corrosion resistance of the natural zincalume finish. Does the zincalume finish need to be painted to avoid rusting?"
For most applications painting or powder coating is not necessary to prevent rusting. All Attic Breeze ventilation products are manufactured from corrosion resistant zincalume alloy (45% zinc; 55% aluminum). Zincalume has all the corrosion resistant properties of aluminum, but is much stronger and of course will not crack or degrade over time like plastic.
In the case of salt air environments (such as Hawaii), it is recommended to choose an Attic Breeze product featuring a powder coated finish (roof mounted products only). Our powder coating process meets ASTM standards for marine environments and adds an extra degree of protection against salt air corrosion. Powder coated models are available in your choice of black, brown (bronze), gray (weatherwood), terra cotta, or white.
Julie of Metairie, LA writes...
"Which direction does a solar attic fan need to face? Our home faces west and I want to make sure I buy the correct Attic Breeze model. Can you help please?"
For optimum performance in locations throughout North America, the solar panel on your Attic Breeze solar attic fan should always be installed facing toward the south. This will give the solar panel the best average sun exposure throughout the day (see below).
Determining the optimum angle of inclination will depend on your specific location and time of year. As a general rule, the solar panel should be inclined to the same angle in degrees as your latitude coordinates. For most locations in North America, this angle will be between 35-45 degrees from horizontal for obtaining the best average performance throughout the year. If the solar attic fan will be operated mainly during the summer months, you may subtract roughly 10-15 degrees from this angle to obtain maximum seasonal performance.
Since your home faces west, you will most likely want to install the solar attic fan on the rear exposure of your home (east side). In order to get the proper southern orientation, there are two Attic Breeze model options to consider: models featuring an attached solar panel with the optional pivot bracket or models featuring a remote mounted solar panel with optional universal bracket. While either option will work, we do recommend the universal bracket for areas prone to high winds such as the Gulf Coast region.
Ken of Honolulu, HI writes...
"Can Attic Breeze solar attic fans be installed on a flat roof?"
Yes, we offer models featuring curb mounted flashing designed to work with flat roofing designs. Curb mounted models are available ranging from 20-60 watts in power for either residential or commercial flat roof applications.
Terri of Commerce City, CO writes...
"I came across Attic Breeze while looking for a way to lower my electric bills. Your solar attic fans seem like a great way to do this. If I need more than one solar attic fan for my home, how should they be spaced on my roof?"
When installing multiple solar attic fans, the units should be located on the roof to maximize cross-flow ventilation through the attic and balance airflow from all air intake sources. Spacing between solar attic fan units should be at least 10 feet apart for optimum performance.
Dale of New Castle, DE writes...
"I have a very low pitched attic with only 3-4 feet of attic space and blown insulation. My attic gets very hot during the summer and I need a solution. Will the Attic Breeze solar attic fan work with blown attic insulation? Will I have to crawl through the attic to install the fan?"
As long as the blown insulation is at least two feet under the solar attic fan, there should be no issues. The Zephyr™ series roof mounted solar attic fans may be installed from the top of your roof, so no need to crawl through your attic.
Glenn of Molena, GA writes...
"Does your solar attic fan require any annual maintenance?"
Attic Breeze solar attic fans are virtually maintenance free. The solar panels are typically self-cleaning, but may require an occasional wash if you live in a dusty area or only get small amounts of annual rainfall.
Raul of Orlando, FL writes...
"Some manufactures claim that their gray colored solar attic fans perform better than black colored competitive fans. Do you find that the lighter colored Attic Breeze solar attic fans perform better than the dark colored fans?"
While it is a fact darker colors do absorb more heat than lighter colors, this will not affect the performance of our ventilation products. Attic Breeze solar attic fans are designed to be self-cooling, so all of our products perform equally well, regardless of color.
Attic Breeze solar attic fans featuring a unit mounted solar panel are designed with an air gap between the solar panel and fan unit. This air gap functions to keep our solar panels well ventilated, allowing the panel to operate at peak efficiency and provide more of its rated power over a larger ambient temperature range. Other manufacturer's solar attic fan products without this feature (flush mounted solar panels) may lose rated power as the panel temperature increases, resulting in less air flow from the fan than claimed.
Carey of Toronto, ON Canada writes...
"I have a small warehouse I wish to ventilate, with many trees surrounding the building. Will shade from trees prevent your solar attic fans from working?"
Shade trees and shadows in general have a very negative effect on the operation of solar panels. While our high efficiency solar panels do work given cloud cover, they will not work in the shade. When choosing a location to install your solar attic fan, make sure to consider the sun exposure profile your roof receives throughout the day.
For optimum performance, you may consider an Attic Breeze model fan which features a remotely mounted solar panel. These models come standard 15 feet UV/weather resistant cable. If more cable is needed to achieve maximum daily sun exposure, Attic Breeze also offers an extended 40 foot cable option.
Copyright © 2013 Attic Breeze, LLC. All rights reserved. Attic Breeze®, Breeze Mate®, UltraFlō®, and Sun Effects® are registered trademarks
and may not be used without the express written consent of Attic Breeze, LLC.
Attic Breeze is your manufacturer for solar attic fans, solar attic fan, solar gable fans, solar gable fan, attic fans, attic fan, attic vents, attic vent, roof ventilation, attic ventilation, roof vents, roof vent, solar powered roof vents, solar powered attic vents, solar powered attic vent, solar attic vents, solar attic vent, solar powered attic fans, solar powered attic fan, solar powered roof vent, solar roof vents, solar roof vent, solar roof fan, solar roof fans, solar powered building products, 20 watt solar attic fans, 25 watt solar attic fans, 40 watt solar attic fans, cooler attic, hot attic solutions, attic heat removal, cooler house, solar powered gable fan, solar powered gable fans, warehouse ventilation fans, warehouse fans, commercial ventilation fans, greenhouse ventilation, livestock ventilation, whole house ventilation, and the best solar powered ventilation products available!