Extreme heat and extreme cold have devastating effects on your home and health. With the rising energy costs, you need forward-thinking to manage both your costs and the impact of extreme weather. Solar vents provide a workable solution.
Solar vents are a viable solution to tackling the problems caused by extreme heat and cold inside attics. They are an environmentally clean way to make the sun work for you in reducing attic heat. Technology continually comes up with better solar vent models with improved efficiency. Solar vents combine the ventilation benefits of a power ventilation fan without wired electrical power. Solar vents save on electricity bills and pay for themselves in roughly 3 years.
As conversations continue to address ways to reduce carbon footprints, going the solar way is one of the best ways to manage your home’s air conditioner. Summer temperatures might keep rising, offsetting a need to invest more in solar vents. Let’s get to the bottom of what makes solar vents a worthy investment.
Do Solar Roof Vents Work At Night?
A solar roof vent won’t work at night. Solar roof vents work under a simple premise. Is the sun out? If the sun’s out, the solar roof vent is working. Is there cloud coverage? If the clouds are obstructing the sun, the solar roof vent won’t work.
Here’s a quick rundown of how solar roof vents work:
Most homes have attics. Attics are the first accumulation point of hot air when temperatures rise. Once the temperatures get past the roof, the heat settles in the attic and circulates around the house.
Heat build-up is not just felt during hot months. There’s a reverse effect during winter, too. The hot air melts snow on the roof, converts snow to ice sheets, and plunges interior temperatures further. The result is an overworked temperature management system and escalating energy bills.
Solar vents are made to mitigate the effects of hot air and circulate that air, so your home maintains a normal interior temperature.
Your home has to have installed passive vents. However, these passive vents do not have the pressure to push hot air out of the attic to allow proper air balance. Therefore, a solar roof vent sucks hot air from outside, powers the fan, and creates the pressure that will make the air circulate. The balanced air is then pushed out through the vent.
Are Solar Roof Vents Worth It?
Solar roof vents are worth it due to their multiple benefits to a home’s ventilation. Those who bought one can attest to the amazing advantages solar roof vents provide.
Here’s one review from a happy customer.
Ruth Parks 5.0 out of 5 stars
Great Product for the long haul!
“I had this fan installed in my daughter’s home. It is working well. There is a 30-degree difference from last year to this year in the attic in the summer. Before we had the fan installed, temps in the attic were at 143 degrees in the attic at noon. Temps are now at 115 degrees at the same time of day. With the 25 year warranty added to this fan, I feel we are getting a good product for the money. (P.S.: It cost about $200 to install it from a contractor.) Hope this helps.”
Seeing as passive vents cannot maintain the home’s optimum interior temperatures, solar vents are worth the cost. Once you install the roof vent, you have a system that will serve you all year.
Let’s explore the pros of solar roof vents and why you need to install them.
Advantages of Solar Roof Vents
1. You’re using direct sun.
Of all the ways you could use to make your home comfortable during harsh weather, solar is the best. You are using the sun to fight the effects of the sun. And in places where the sun shines for most of the year, this is a big win.
The sun is a powerful renewable energy source. You have the guarantee that your system will always have a comfortable attic in terms of internal temperature as long as your solar roof vent is working at maximum capacity.
The solar roof vent is not hooked up to your electrical setup. Therefore, you are cost-cutting on your utility bill as you keep your home comfortable.
2. Solar vents work harder when its hotter
Solar vents are 100% reliant on the sun’s rays. Open skies and bright sun mean that your solar vent will be working its hardest when it’s hottest outside. However, there’s a dark side to that, too. A slight obstruction means the solar vents also slow down.
3. You’re promoting green energy.
Solar roof vents use the same principle as electrical fans. However, they are using natural resources to save you money. You’re saving money by installing energy equipment that does not increase the need for non-renewable energy sources.
Your home’s electrical HVAC systems are less strained. Since they are using less energy, there are fewer emissions to the atmosphere. You contribute positively to reducing the global carbon footprint while keeping your home energy efficient.
4. You don’t need an electrician to install solar vents.
Solar vents come as a fully assembled functional unit. All you would need is to know the layout of your attic so you can avoid compromising any support beams. Don’t get it wrong, though. Be prepared to put in work as you cut through the roof.
Your toolbelt will come in handy to secure the vent after you install it. Precision matters. You don’t want any holes left during and after installation. The hole you cut through the roof should be large enough to effortlessly fit the vent and not leave spaces where rainwater can seep through.
However, if you cannot DIY the installation, a qualified professional will be a worthwhile investment.
5. Do it for the tax credits.
Did you know you qualify for tax credits if you have solar-powered attic vents? In line with keeping up with the global goal of cutting carbon emissions, some governments worldwide incentivize their citizens who go green. The U.S. government has a program where you get a 30% tax credit on the cost of a solar fan plus the installation fee.
You would qualify for the program if you installed the solar vent as early as January 1st, 2006. Any system installed before December 31st, 2019, qualifies for up to 30%. However, systems installed from 2022 to 2022 are viable for up to 26%.
There’s more. There are more incentives in addition to the 30% according to your location. This guide should show you the additional incentives for which you qualify.
With the many advantages, of course, comes a few downsides:
- The panel only works at total efficiency when there’s sunlight. Cloud coverage will reduce or completely stop the solar vent.
- Heat gets trapped in the insulation. The attic is still hot by sundown and later into the night.
- During the hottest months, some solar roof vents only move about 800-1000 cubic feet of heat per minute. (CFM). You need to move double that amount to feel any change inside.
Do Solar Vents Work In The Winter?
Solar vents work during winter, too. However, you get less impact due to how the angle at which the sun’s rays hit the panel. During winter, the sun rises to a shorter degree than in summer.
You can get up to 63.44° angle at midday in summer, meaning the roof is more exposed to the sun. However, the sun’s angle at noon is only about 16.56° in winter.
The decreased exposure reduces the solar vent’s output. The solar attic vent is essential to balancing hot and cool air during winter. The attic during winter is a warm moist place. This makes the house susceptible to mold, mildew, and condensation damage.
The vent exchanges cool dry air from outside with the warm, noisy air inside to keep your attic cool. The ice on your roof doesn’t melt due to internal roof temperatures, and your home stays damage-free.
What’s The Actual Cost Of A Solar Vent?
A quick browse through e-commerce stores such as Amazon will give you a list of well-rated solar vents that cost up to $280. The average cost, according to HomeAdvisor, can vary up to $500 for a pricey unit.
Surprisingly, solar vents are not too capital intensive. The fact that you can DIY the installation could further reduce your costs.
There might be instances where an electrician and a roofer will make part of the expenses. You might need the electrician to wire devices to your solar-powered vent, so you harness the sun to run your household electronics.
You will also need a roofer to make sure your roof is cut professionally and sealed well afterward.
An electrician’s hourly fee ranges from between $60 and $85. Professional roofers charge up to $75 an hour. If you have a carpenter in the work team, costs increase by another $70 per hour. Installation of the solar unit takes approximately two hours. So, you’re looking at a total labor cost of up $500.
How Long Do Solar Roof Vents Last?
Cheaper roof vents will give you about 5 years before they bog you down with repair costs. However, premium units can go up to 15 years with proper maintenance.
Seeing as you have put in about $500 in unit purchase alone, you want a solar roof vent that will justify the cost. Some solar roof vents come with a 25-year warranty. Most solar roof vents won’t need too much maintenance. However, you don’t need the hassle of repairing leaky roofs and faulty fans.
Is Going Solar Worth The Money?
Going solar is worth it if you’re looking at a 25-year reliance on solar energy against a $25,000 investment in solar.
The truth is going fully solar depends on a few factors. See, if you’re going to power the entire house using solar, you’ll need a complete solar kit plus backup for the time when the sun’s not at its total capacity.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average energy cost is about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2021.
Here are the factors to consider before going solar:
- Your state’s sun exposure.
States such as California and Arizona might be some of the best states for going solar. They boast of longer hours of sun exposure.
- Your current electric bill
If your household electricity bill runs high, consider hooking some of your home’s biggest power consumers to a solar kit. You can also switch to all-solar and have extra storage for colder months.
- Current solar kit cost by state
The Average solar kit needed for a household has a 5000kwh output. On average, you’re looking at a $15000-$20000 setup and installation cost. The CSE sites the system will pay for itself in about six years. That’s worth the money if you consider the minimal maintenance cost over 25 years.
How Many Solar Roof Vents Do You Need?
You’d need more than two solar roof vents to move the hot air in a 1600-square foot home.
And you would need more than that number if your solar roof vents are not properly maintained. When not taken care of properly, solar roof vents won’t last as long as they are expected to.
To avoid needing to buy additional solar roof vents, here’s how you can maintain them and increase their lifespan:
Make sure the surrounding area around the roof is clean.
The roof is a collection point for falling branches and leaves. Keep the area clear to prevent accidental clogging in the solar roof vent’s fan blades. If debris gets into the fan blades, the mechanical damage could cost you more in repairs or force you to get a new unit if the damage is severe.
Windy season and the aftermath of storms is a great time to check the roof. Otherwise, debris clearance should be a biannual job.
Conduct damage checks.
The solar panels on the solar vents are exposed to taking all sorts of hits. They might get cracked, scratched, or chipped and sustain significant damage. Minor damage reduces the unit’s capacity to operate. If the solar vents are left unchecked for long, they might break down completely.
Periodically check for damages to ensure the unit isn’t taking minor hits that might accumulate and wreck the unit.
Keep the solar panel clean.
Dust and pollen might accumulate on the solar panel. The unclear glass might reduce the area exposed to the sun’s rays, lowering the solar attic vent’s ability to operate at 100% efficiency.
Cleaning the surface of the solar panel is straightforward. Wipe with a damp towel until it’s clean. The wet towel should clean anything that’s stuck on the surface.
There isn’t a specific rule as to how many times you should clean. Still, you will clean more frequently if your area has plenty of dust.
Align the solar panel directly to the sun’s exposure.
Angle the panel such that the sun’s rays directly and fully impact it. Use the sun to its full advantage at all times, especially in hot weather. Clean any trees that might obstruct the sun.
Control rodent damage.
Damage is not always exterior. Rodents are notorious for hiding in attics. Rats will chew through wire and fan blades, especially if the fan is not working. Exposed wire puts the house at risk if they cause a fire accident.
Make your solar vent rodent-proof from the inside. Place traps near the solar vent to reduce the chances of rats and mice attacking the unit.
Solar vents are a worthy investment if you’re playing the long game. It’s easy to fall for marketing gimmicks that promise to reduce your utility costs and make your home more comfortable. However, you must apply due diligence before going all in and install a solar vent. Consult a home inspector and get a deeper insight into whether you’re making a safe call to buy a solar vent.