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What is an Attic Fan and What They Can Do For Your Home

An attic fan replaces the air inside of your attic with the air outside using the existing attic vents. Attic fans are usually installed on a gable vent or into the roof of the home. 

With energy costs higher than ever, many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their bills while still keeping the whole house cool. Choosing a more energy-efficient air conditioner is one solution but for many homes, an even better solution is an attic exhaust fan.

How an Attic Fan Can Help You; are They Really Worth It?

Attic ventilation is crucial to homeowners because attics can be like an oven on top of your home, heating up your living space from above. When mid-summer comes around, a typical attic can reach temperatures of over 160 degrees! In a two-story home, this heat can make the top floor unbearable! Installing an attic fan helps to lower those outrageous temperatures in the attic, thus helping the home stay cooler. For this reason, an attic fan alone can help homeowners feel more comfortable.

If living more comfortably is not enough to attract you to an attic fan, perhaps saving money on your electric bill while preserving your most expensive home appliance will. All homeowners dread running their air conditioner. Families often fight over the thermostat, weighing the pros & cons before reluctantly turning their A/C system on, knowing their electric bill is steadily rising.

An attic fan’s ability to cool down the attic, something that the A/C can’t, will equate to a home that is cooler and an A/C unit that gets far less work than it usually does, which could save money on upsetting repairs further down the road.

Other A/C related anguish includes homeowners being frustrated by the apparent delay period for their A/C system. For the first few minutes, homeowners can hear their A/C system running but the home does not feel any cooler. The reason for this is the duct work for the air conditioner is surrounded by extreme attic temperatures. These temperatures obviously heat up the duct work so when the system is first turned on, it begins at a deficit. The duct work must first cool down before homeowners feel any noticeable difference in the living space. This is where the attic fan comes in! As we said before, attic fans greatly reduce the temperature in the attic which means your duct work will also stay cooler! This translates to your HVAC system reaching the set temperature much quicker, allowing it to run more efficiently, thus creating a more comfortable living environment, all while extending the life of your most expensive home appliance!

Difference between Attic Fan and a Whole House Fan

Attic fans are often confused for whole house fans. Back in the 1960s when whole house fans were invented, they were very popular in the South and were, incorrectly, called “attic fans” since they were installed in the attic. This confusion remains very prevalent today.

A whole house fan is used for cooling both the home and attic. You typically run a whole house fan during the evening through into the early morning – basically any time it is cooler outside. This cools, ventilates, and exhausts all the hot, stale air in your home and attic. You would never run your whole house fan during the middle of the day when it is the warmest. This is where an attic fan comes in.

Attic fans ventilate and exhaust your attic only. You use them primarily during the day but they work well in the evening and night as well. Attic fans pull air from the outside through existing vents in your attic. This allows your attic to stay within 10ºF of the outside temperature at all times when the fan is running. Without an attic fan, your attic can get up to 150ºF during the summer, which can ruin the integrity of your home and cause high electric bills. 

The best system combines an attic fan and a whole house fan to cool, ventilate, and exhaust the entire home, day and night, and year-round.

3 TYPES OF ATTIC FANS

There are three types of attic fans. All three types of attic fans have units that can be installed on a gable end or roof mounted application.

TRADITIONAL ATTIC FANS

Gable applications available

Traditional Attic Fans are what most homeowners have in their homes when it comes to attic fans. These fans push a lot of air, are powerful, and reliable. These fans often come with a thermostat and are single speed only typically that can be set to when you want your attic fan to run and can push air at up to 2,000 CFM. These attic fans are typically less expensive and perfect for anyone who wants a cheap alternative to their high A/C costs.

SOLAR ATTIC FANS

Roof and Gable applications available

Solar Attic Fans are ideal for any homeowner who wants attic cooling but does not want to use any more electricity. This helps the homeowner save the maximum dollar amount on their electricity bill every month.

These fans operate solely by using solar power to push air from the attic vents, throughout the attic space, and back outside. Some solar attic fans come with an AC/DC Inverter, which allows you to run your solar attic fan throughout the day and night by switching from solar power to electricity automatically.

If you only want to use solar power, you can choose to have the inverter disconnected on install. Solar attic fans are ideal for any homeowner looking to keep the world green and their home cool and healthier.

SMART ATTIC FANS

Roof and Gable applications available

Smart attic fans are the newest revolution in the attic fan industry.

A smart attic fan features a built-in thermostat and/or humidistat that directly controls the motor speed based on the conditions in the attic. By self-adjusting to the attic conditions, the fan is able to maintain an optimum year-round attic climate while minimizing energy consumption.

In the summer months, a smart attic fan will prevent the attic from reaching scorching hot temperatures that, in turn, transfer into the living space below.

Smart attic fans typically feature a smartphone app that offers the ability to control all parameters of the attic fan from temperature settings, humidity settings, and it even allows you to see the current conditions in the attic. 

Studies have even shown that a smart attic fan can keep your attic within 10 degrees of the outside temperature, even during the peak heat of the day.

WHY USE A GABLE FAN?

Rather than bringing in fresh air from the inside of the home like a whole house fan, for instance, a gable attic fan is a specific type of fan designed to remove the hot, stale air from the attic of a home. You will feel the benefit of this fan mostly on your cooling bill. Since gable attic fans remove the hottest air in the home, your air conditioner will be more efficient and you may be able to run it less while still effectively cooling your home.

USING ATTIC FANS IN COLD CLIMATES

Attic fans are very popular in cold climates because they can help to prevent ice damming in attic during the coldest months of the year.

A typical attic can build up a lot of moisture during the winter due to the warm temperature in the home and the cool temperature outside and in the attic which can cause serious problems to appliances in the attic or even the structure of the home. By ventilating the attic, an attic fan can help mitigate that humidity build-up.

With a smart attic fan, customers simply go into their smartphone app and change the climate setting to Winter; no climbing up into the attic needed!

No need to enter the attic during winter to operate or adjust

Prevent ice damming in winter months

Reduce attic damage

Using an Attic Fan to Increase Attic Ventilation

So you got a whole house fan but need to add more venting. Sometimes that’s easy! Just add a gable and a few O’Hagins. But other times, it can be much more difficult. One area that can address the lack of venting is called “power venting.”

Power venting is the process in which a whole house fan is powered on and the attic fan is powered on as well to help move the air out faster.

We recommend using an attic fan to boost the ventilation when you are 1 to 2 square feet shy of the venting requirement.

Attic Fan FAQs

Do attic fans keep the house cooler?

Have you every noticed your A/C cycling on and off during the summer? That is because your house is heating up almost instantly after the A/C turns off because of all the heat that is built up in your attic. By running an attic fan, your attic temperature will be up to 50 degrees cooler meaning your A/C won’t have to work as hard to keep the home cool.

Which is better attic fans or whole house fans?

Both work well, but they serve different purposes. Attic fans simply cool and ventilate the attic while a whole house fan cools and ventilates the entire homes, including the attic. A whole house fan should only be used during the cooler times of the day while an attic fan can be used 24/7.

Do attic fans use a lot of electricity?

The amount of electricity used will depend on the type of attic fan that you install. 

Traditional attic fans typically use less efficient motors and move less air meaning they are less efficient. 

Smart attic fans typically use much more efficient motors and move more air meaning they are more efficient.

Solar attic fans are the most efficient as they will use no electricity when there is sunlight available.

Electric powered attic fans use between 20 and 400 watts, depending on the speed the fan is running on and the model chosen. Compare this to an A/C system that can use upwards of 3000 watts.

Can you run an attic fan while running air conditioning?

Yes, there will be no negative effects when running them both at the same time. You can run the attic fan with or without the A/C running.

Where should the attic fan be mounted?

Depending on the type of vents you have in your attic, you can choose to install a gable mounted attic fan or a roof mounted attic fan.

Smart Attic Fan FAQs

How often do I need to connect to my smart attic fan?

The only time you need to connect to a smart attic fan is to see the current conditions of the attic or to make parameter adjustments. 

How many phones can I have connected to my smart attic fan?

For typical Bluetooth products, only one device can connect at a time, however, you can have as many devices as you want paired to the Bluetooth product.

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