Is your attic hot and stuffy? Are you struggling to keep it ventilated and ensure the air is fresh and comfortable? If you’re reading this, then you certainly know an attic fan is one way to go.
An attic fan is a very useful appliance installed on the roof or wall of your attic to remove hot, stuffy and humid air from the area and replacing it with fresher, cooler outdoor air.
The result is better performance and efficiency of your HVAC system and an overall great environment for you and your loved ones.
But with so many options out there, you may be faced with making that all-important decision between a solar attic fan, such as the iLiving 14″ model and an electrical model like the Broan-Nutone 1,600 CFM model.
Before you go ahead and make that choice, you need to read this post and find out the similarities and differences between the two, as well as which type you should get for what situation.
Solar Attic Fans Vs Electric Fans
There are a number of points to be made concerning the similarities and differences between a solar-powered attic fan and an electrical attic fan. Let’s see some of them.
The first consideration for most people before they buy anything is comparative cost. Overall, solar-powered attic fans are more expensive than electric models, often ranging between $300 and $700.
This is way above the average cost of electric fans which currently ranges between $60 to $400. Understandably, solar units come with solar panels and built-in battery components which store solar power, and this costs a lot of money.
2. Operating cost
Another major consideration is the operating cost. Solar-powered units use solar energy which is basically free. You don’t have to pay electricity bills at the end of the month.
This may also explain why the initial capital is higher. On the other hand, an electric attic fan uses a lot of electricity. Some attic fans can use up to 300 watts of electricity per hour.
If you run it all the time, this will amount to 7,200 (7.2kW) watts per day and as much as 216kW per month. Using the average cost of electricity which is currently close to $0.15 per kWh.
When you do the math, you may be spending up to $32.4 per month. Using the unit for 4 hours- which is the case for most homeowners- would mean just above $5.4 monthly.
However, most electric models use up between 100 and 200 watts. If you run such for 4 hours daily, you’d be spending anywhere from $2 to $4 monthly. When you add a humidistat to this, the electricity running cost will go up significantly.
When you consider overall performance, electric attic fans perform better than solar units. For solar-powered attic fans to run well, a lot of sunlight is required.
Where this is absent or in a very small quantity, the fan will not perform so well. As for electric units, as long as the power supply is available, you should expect the fan to run smoothly, as long as the unit is in good condition.
The electric attic fan is more consistent than a solar unit. This is for the simple reason that solar power may not be consistent, especially in cloudy climates.
These disruptions will cause the unit to be inconsistent in cooling and performance. If you need a unit to work at optimum consistently, you should go for an electric unit.
5. Fan motor wear and tear
With an electric unit, you may have your attic fan running all day which may cause wear and tear. This is not the case with a solar-powered attic fan that can’t be on all day.
Hence, it tends to last longer because the fan motor works less. This is more a factor of workload than it is durability. But then again, newer models are equipped with brushless motors which tend to be very enduring.
6. Noise level
If you’re someone who’s big on quietness, you’d love the solar-powered attic fan more. The fact that they use “brushless” motors means they only give off a whisper. That’s how quiet they can be.
So, unless there are other factors causing the noise, you won’t have to deal with loud sounds when you use a solar unit. If you have your study or a home office in your attic, you may want to consider going for a solar unit.
When you consider solar attic fans vs electrical units, there is also the question of performance efficiency. Would you trust a solar unit to deliver in the heat of the very humid summer? Will it work better or as much as an electric unit?
Well, we would say it depends on the brand and its quality. Top-quality solar-powered attic fans will certainly do well compared to electric models. However, our money is certainly on an electric attic fan as far as consistent optimum performance is concerned.
Is Solar Fan Better Or Electric Attic Fan Better?
If you carefully pick the right quality fans, both the solar and the electric attic fan will do well. However, if you want to consider overall performance, the electric attic fan just tips its solar counterpart by more than an inch.
For you, energy efficiency and running cost may be the most important factors, and if you have to make a choice, a solar-powered unit should be the clear decision. No monthly energy bills on your attic fan are something every homeowner certainly wants.
There’s also the ethical question of energy source. Solar attic fans use renewable energy which is a proud idea for homeowners.
Besides, it gives a sense of environment and earth consciousness on the part of the solar attic fan user because they know their energy source is renewable. For some people, this can be a parameter to conclude that a solar attic fan is better than an electric attic fan.
When Should You Use a Solar Attic Fan? When Should You Use an Electrical Attic Fan?
A solar attic fan should be used when consistency and continuous running of the fan is not required. With a solar model, you can decide to run the unit for about 4-6 hours daily, when the sun is in full effect.
It is unlikely that your solar unit will be able to run continuously all day long because it needs the power of the sun to do that.
On the other hand, an electric unit should be the choice if what you need is an attic fan that can run continuously all day long. As long as it is connected to a power source, it will run.
There’s also the question of performance. A solar attic fan may not give you the optimum result you need, especially if you live in a very hot and humid region.
Here, an electric attic fan is preferred. You should also use a solar attic fan if you’re trying to avoid or, at least, cut down running costs because you won’t need to pay energy bills.
So, if you’re faced with a choice between a solar attic fan vs an electrical attic fan, you should know which to pick based on everything you’ve learned here. Whether it’s solar or electric, you can save yourself a lot of discomfort by deploying a unit.
However, we have seen that a quality electric attic fan will give you much better results than an equally top-quality solar attic fan. However, considerations like renewable energy and energy efficiency that solar attic fans offer are factors that you should also bear in mind.