How to install a Solar Power Attic Fan

The solar power attic fan is a great solar device to have in your home. It’s most effective during the hot day – which is when you would really appreciate and need it. With no special licensing or permits required and a fairly simple install a solar fan is one of the best Do-It-Yourself solar projects that you’ll find.

Location is the key

It is obvious that when you are looking at installing any solar powered device the location becomes important, and it’s no surprise that the two most popular places for installing the solar power attic fan is on your gable or on the roof. The choice between the two really depends on the typical weather in your area. If you live in a rainy, wet area avoid installing the fan in the roof; the water may seep into the attic which is not good. The best bet here would be the gable. Conversely if you live in a dry area with no or little rain, roof is the perfect location. You’ll get the best ventilation with maximum sunlight to drive your solar power attic fan.

Figuring out the best ventilation solution

Installing any attic fan requires an understanding of your home ventilation system. It’s best to discover that good spot where you’ll get the maximum fan efficiency as well as a great ventilation effect. While this is not so simple, with some practice and looking around you’ll figure it out. Just like most things in life with a little due diligence you’ll be on your way to finding just the right spot for your fan. The most efficient setup is to simply place the fan at the apex of the roof. This is where the most heat collects due to the chimney effect.

Improve natural ventilation scheme

If you start analyzing your ventilation scheme you may think your house doesn’t seem to have the right “natural” ventilation scheme. The original builders weren’t energy conscious back in the day so don’t panic because this is fairly typical. You may need to overcome this problem by reworking your ventilation. Simple tools and hardware will help solve this problem. Cheap vents can easily be found at hardware stores. You can easily install them to help boost your chimney effect. .Remember we’re talking about the natural ventilation scheme here so you don’t even have to do this if you just want to install the solar power attic fan. You’ll save extra cash though if you redesign your current ventilation scheme and maximize the outlets on the roof. This will give you a chimney effect which is idea for any ventilation.

Nailing down the installation spot

You’ll find the right installation spot based on the analysis of the air flow through your ventilation system. Typically if your house has passive vents they would be designed to push the air out from the roof. If the fan fits you can install your solar power attic fan right into one of these locations. You need to place the fan at a place where the exposure to sunlight is at its maximum during the day.

Getting the perfect fan

A typicalsolar power attic fan is available in two standard options: the simple single system solution and the more complex distributed system solution. The single unit systems are relatively inexpensive and cost just around $300. All you need to do is fit them in a vent opening and you are done. However, if you can’t find a good vent, just cut a hole in the roof and install it there. Don’t forget the weather proofing to avoid moisture from entering your attic.

When installing the single unit system be careful not to cut through or touch the trusses. The best way to do that is to locate the position from inside the attic and drill holes from the inside out; this way when you climb the roof you know exactly where to place your solar power attic fan. The major drawback of the single system solution is that the solar cells and the fan are integrated. So the fan location needs to get ample sunlight for it to work, otherwise you will have a low efficiency fan. If you can’t find a good spot on your roof because of shading you’ll need to opt out for the distributed system solution.

The distributed system, as the name suggests come with two units: the fan and a remote solar panel. You can fit the fan in a position that’s ideal for maximum ventilation and the solar panel can be fixed at any location where there’s plenty of sunlight. This way you’re getting the best of both worlds. The only challenge here is that this is a more complex solar power attic fan solution that the single system one.

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