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Innovative Products: iSolar Solutions Solar Attic Fan

Solar power and a maximum fan speed of 400 cfm are key to this easy-to-install replacement fan

July 05, 2017
fully installed isolar solutions solar attic fan

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need an attic vent. The roof plane would be insulated and air-sealed, and attic heat buildup wouldn’t be an issue. But it’s not a perfect world and attics in most homes are either uninsulated or poorly insulated and nowhere near airtight. On a sunny day, the roof transfers heat to the attic and ultimately into the conditioned spaces below, putting a strain on the AC system.

iSolar Solutions claims it can solve this problem with its Solar Attic Fan, which is designed to replace the innards of existing passive roof vents, but which contains a fan powered by a small solar array. The fan speed is calibrated to the electrical output of the solar panel so that the stronger the sun is, the faster the fan runs, to a maximum of 400 cfm.

The argument against powered roof vents is that they create negative pressure, which draws more warm air into the building and conditioned air into the attic, both of which increase the AC load. But the manufacturer claims that the Solar Attic Fan is “right-sized,” and independent testing by Building Knowledge Canada supports that, for two reasons: The fan is designed to work in conjunction with soffit vents, which control the incoming airflow, and the fan’s peak draw of 400 cfm per 1,000 square feet of attic area isn’t enough to create negative pressure in the attic.

Although the one-piece fan assembly and gasket are designed for retrofitting into an existing passive roof vent housing, the fan can be mounted behind a gable vent with the solar panel on the roof. It can also be installed into a new opening cut into the roof. Retail cost is $229.

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So, just exactly how is this positioned behind a Gable Vent, and if the vent is large, would it need to be reduced? What prevents it from drawing air from the outside, on large gable vent? There are no soffits on this roof, only ridge vents.

You will need to block the hole on an existing gable vent. If you only have ridge vents and no soffit vents, your attic may be considered unhealthy - and we suggest you install some. If there are no soffit vents the air will not get drawn up over roof sheathing, minimizing the washing effect and distribution of fresh air into the attic space. An attic fan requires input. So, if the house has gable ends, putting a SOLAR ATTIC FAN on one end and standard vent on the other will allow air to flow through.

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