Best Attic Fan Reviews & Buyer's Guide
Welcome to the Icy Spot website and thanks for taking the time to read out reviews and buying guide on attic fans. We guess the first question that needs answered is, "Do you really need an attic fan?"
If you already know that, then please just use the table of contents menu below to skip straight to the reviews. If you prefer to find out a little more information on the types of attic fans available on the market, then simply continue reading.
What Does an Attic Fan Do?
Powered attic fans or ventilators are usually mounted either on a sloped roof or on the gable wall of an attic. The vast majority of attic fans, are then controlled automatically by a thermostat which makes them turn on, when the attic gets hot.
Their key purpose is to exhaust or remove hot air from the attic. This exhausted air is then replaced by cooler and fresher outdoor air. This principle really only works when the outdoor air is cooler than the exhausted air. If that is the case then the effect of operating the fan will be to lower the attic temperature.
Hot air will always travel upwards as it is lighter than colder air. Most of the heat in your home will always be at the highest point, and that is of course the attic. If you can remove this hot air, then as a result the remainder of the home will also be cooler.
As a result your home can save energy by reducing the length of time that your air conditioner will run. An attic fan is simply a good affordable and effective choice of a cooling system in most circumstances.
They are not a cheap purchase, but they are certainly a great deal cheaper, then paying installation costs, and/or the ongoing running costs of an air conditioning system.
Even if you already have an air conditioning system installed, an attic fan can go a very long way to reducing the regular running costs.
Attic vent fans are designed to keep your house cooler in the summer by cooling your attic. Attic fans draw out the heat, that is trapped inside the attic, to create a buffer zone between the heated home and the outside air.
The closer the temperature in these buffer areas is to the outside temperatures, the less air loss you’ll have. This can help lower energy bills and prevent moisture issues that can lead to damages to building materials in your attic and even the electrical work.
How Do Attic Fans Work?
There are three steps as shown below:
- They create a breeze through the open windows and doors. If the fans are the right size they blow out the entire volume of air in the house in about 3 minutes.
- They blow the hot air to the outside from inside the house, especially upstairs
- They blow out the very hot air trapped in the attic.
By doing this, the attic fan is able to cool down the entire home within minutes. By combining these with thermostats and humidistats, you can create a very effective system.
So by simply installing an attic fan you can really improve the ventilation and help control the moisture within your home.
There are two main types of attic fans and these are:
- An attic fan that is fitted through the roof (Roof attic fan)
- An attic fan that is fitted to the gable of the house (Gable Attic Fan)
In this article we will be having a look at the best attic fans available in the market right now. There are certainly a good number of options available.
These include some well known brand names like Broan, Air Vent, Cool Attic, iLiving and Durabuild.
Top 3 Wall Mounted Gable Attic Fans
The top 3 wall mounted gable attic fans are:
- Iliving 12 Inch Variable Speed Shutter Exhaust Fan Wall-Mounted, 12"
- QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 Smart Attic Gable Fan
- Broan 353 Gable Mount 120-Volt Powered Attic Ventilator
Iliving 12 Inch Variable Speed Shutter Exhaust Fan Review
This one is available in 7", 10", 12", 16", 18", 20" and 24". The price will change slightly depending on the size of attic fan that you actually buy. This fan has automatic shutters.
This one uses 120 Volts, is a 1/20 HP, uses 0.55 amp,with 1680 rpm,and an 800 CFM
The wire guards are resistant to corrosion. Just be aware that the
variable speed functionality requires the purchase of the iLiving speed controller."
QuietCool AFG SMT-3.0 Smart Attic Gable Fan Review
You can cool your overheated attic by up to 30-50 degrees using this 2,830 CFM. This one comes with a built-in thermostat and humidistat.
This attic fan plugs into an electrical socket. This fan has a brushless motor which is highly efficient. It also comes with a very useful integrated mounting tab system to make installation a great deal easier.
QuietCool offers a 10‐year warranty
Broan 353 Gable Mount 120-Volt Powered Attic Ventilator Review
This one is from the very popular Broan brand. It runs off a 3.4 Ampere motor and has a CFM of 1,630 square feet of attic space.
Buyers say this is a quiet fan and comes with a 14” diameter metal blade for maximum air flow.
It also comes with a galvanized steel housing and mounting brackets. Finally it has an adjustable thermostat.
Top 3 Roof Mounted Attic Fans
Some homeowners prefer to have the fan mounted on the roof, rather than on the gable side of the home. We have shown below the top 3 roof mounted attic fans.
These do provide the option of solar power, which means they are more energy efficient and certainly cheaper to run.
Solar Attic Fan 36-watt Review
This one is the most popular choice. That is because it comes with an industry leading 25-year limited warranty on the entire fan unit.. It is extremely easy to install and the good news is that no wiring is required.
You have the option of a snap-on thermostat for use in colder climates which is sold as a separate purchase. This unit comes with all the hardware included for installation and use.
This unit runs off a DC motor which is powered by a 36-watt solar panel which sits on the roof of your home. It is adjustable from flat up to a 45 degree angle. This units is suitable for 3/12 to 12/12 pitch roofs. It can not be fitted on a flat roof.
It can move up to 1628 cubic feet per minute under full direct sun. These are made in the USA.
AIR VENT 53827 Roof Mounted Power Attic Ventilator Review
This option is cheaper but we should point out that it is made in China and does not get the same high buyer reviews as the previous one. That said, it is a great deal cheaper. The Air Vent brand also gets a very good name. You can get different color vents for this that include brown, black, gray and a weather wood finish.
It has a 25 inch diameter metal dome which is available in the colours we have mentioned above. It has a CFM rating of 1,170 and can ventilate up to 1650 square feet.
It comes with an adjustable thermostat with a range of 60 to 120 degrees. It also has a 2.8 amp motor, a 6 bladed fan blade, a 14-1/2 inch diameter opening. It comes with a 5 year limited parts warranty along with a 2 year limited labor warranty.
Broan 358 Roof Mount 120-Volt Powered Attic Ventilator Review
This attic fan is made from aluminum attic and can remove attic air in spaces up to 1000 sq. ft. at 1400 CFM. The housing is made of 23-gage metal flashing that allows for nailing and hot tar application.
It has a 14" diameter steel blade which is specially designed for maximum air movement. It is thermally protected.
It also has an adjustable, built-in thermostat.
Attic Fan Buying Guide
If you have never bought an attic fan before, then the buying guide below should really help you out.
How Much do Attic Fans Cost?
These do vary in price a lot from around $50 all the way up to $250 depending on the exact type of fan that you need to put into your home.
The average price of the actual attic fan itself is around $60-$100. The price will depend on the brand or manufacturer of the fan, the range of features on the fan and the way in which they are powered.
Typically you may also have to buy vents or shutters, vent covers or domes, and also a few types of piping and connections.
Roof Mounted or Wall/Gable Mounted
The first thing to know is that Attic fans can either be mounted on the roof of the home or alternatively on the gable of the home.
Most people opt for gable mounting as it looks neater from the outside. It is also easier for those that don't like heights or being on the top of a roof. Overall a gable mounted fan is the best choice, especially if you plan on doing this yourself.
The main reason that roof top installations are more expensive is because of the way you have to seal the roof to stop rain getting in. Usually that means you have to use shingles or an appropriate roofing material.
Almost always that will mean more labor and installation costs.
Installing a fan on the wall/gable is almost always a better idea and especially if there is an existing vent. If that is the case, then it is much easier to simply widen the vent and allow for the fan to move a larger amount of air.
The final decision for that is of course always going to be your choice and what type of finish you want to have on your home.
Buy the Right Fan for the Right Size of Space
Nothing in your buying decision will be more important than this. It is vitally important to get this right, and the reality is that most home owners get this wrong.
When you buy a fan it should tell you what space size it can comfortably cope with and the space it is designed to cool down. It should say something like "cools attics up to 2,000 square feet."
To find out the size of the attic multiply the length of your attic by the breadth of your attic and you will know the square footage size. For example a 50 feet by 30 feet attic would be 1,500 square feet.
Always buy a fan that is designed to deal with that size or even a slightly higher size. If you buy a fan that is too small, then it will struggle to remove the hot air. The motor also comes under pressure, and as it is working so hard, it will quickly burn out.
Likewise a fan designed to clear a much larger space is not an efficient choice. It will clear the hot air quickly, but the running costs will be too expensive for the attic space that you need cooled down.
Attic fans can either use a simple on/off switch to control the fan or more commonly they use a thermostat that automatically kicks in at whatever temperature setting is selected.
The thermostatic control is always the better option in our opinion. We would recommend buying an attic fan that has an adjustable thermostat. This allows the user to be able to set and forget the fan and allow them to control the temperature that you want to have.
As the weather and temperature changes you can then easily make a new setting quickly. We would go as far to say as this is a "must have" feature for any attic fan.
Electrical and Solar Installation
The most common method of wiring is to have an electrician hard wire these into the main supply for the home. Alternatively they can be plugged into a socket if any exist in the attic space.
Those who care for the environment, or want to have long term cost savings can also power these from solar panels on the roof.
As attic fans are metal then they must be fitted properly and we would recommend using an electrician or at least seeking advice. The attic fans must be grounded in case of lightening strikes.
Installing an Attic Fan
Here are the Icy Spot website we get many questions abut the various different types of fans. One of the most popular questions that we get asked is, "Can you install an attic fan yourself?"
The simple answer to this is yes you can. Now we do however have to put some caveats on that statement.
When considering installing an attic fan we would recommend getting it done professionally unless you are a very competent DIY person. If you decide to go ahead then you should read the instructions carefully and also follow them to the letter.
Attic fan installation costs between $300 to $600. When everything is added up the average home owner will spend around $550 -600 to install a fan and that will include the labor costs.
If you can do this yourself, this will be a much cheaper option. Have a look at the video below as that will give you a very good idea, of what a full installation of an attic fan will entail.
A gable installation is a much easier choice than a roof top installation. Either type of installation is equally effective.
Installing a Roof Top Attic Fan
Installing a Gable Attic Fan
Attic Fan vs Whole House Fan
Many home owners believe that an attic fan is the same thing as a whole house fan. The confusion is easy to understand though as they serve a similar purpose.
Whole-house fans are almost always installed on the attic floor and close to the center of your house. When the fan is turned on it exhausts hot air from the house. Cooler outdoor air enters through open windows, lowering the indoor temperature.
Whole house fans is designed to cool the temperature in the entire house but does not provide any fresh air. Whole house fans normally run at night or the early morning when temperatures are cooler. Ideally the temperature should be below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Attic fans use an electric source and act as a ventilation fan to control and remove the hot air that exists in the attic space of your home. There isn't any need to open windows to get the cooling effect in the attic.
Hot air in the attic is then exhausted either through a vent at the gable of your home or through a vent in the roof. In other words an attic fan will lower the temperature of the air in the attic by replacing hot attic air with outdoor air.
There is a lot of disagreement as to which system is the best. Manufacturers even disagree over which is best. The honest answer is that it really depends on the climate and how that changes.