Attic fans are used to reduce the air temperature in attic spaces. These fans extend your roof’s life and inhibit the circulation of moldy bacteria-infected air throughout your home.
Inadequate ventilation can lead to a buildup of heat and moisture in your attic, leading to higher operating costs and a toll on your roof.
Installing an attic fan will help protect the exterior and interior of your home by reducing temperatures and humidity levels in your attic space. They push hot air out of your home while drawing cool air into your attic. Fans are installed on the roof or wall of your attic and are electric, turbine, or solar-powered.
Even if your roof already has ridge vents and plenty of built-in ventilation, installing gable fans or roof fans is an excellent idea to help blow hot, humid air out of the attic.
Before buying a fan, you must decide whether a powered or turbine-style one is best for you. Turbine fans use no energy and rely on the heat rising inside the attic and gentle winds to turn it and vent the attic space.
Powered attic vent fans need an electrical source of energy that comes either from your home electric system, a solar panel that is mounted on top of the roof unit, or a separate panel for gable-mounted solar attic fans.
- Fan Energy Source – Electric, solar or turbine.
- Mounting Location – Roof-mounted or gable-mounted.
- Controls and Features – Some fans have a built-in thermostat, others have a thermostat, and a humidistat, which monitors the humidity level.
The size of the unit you purchase is based on the size of the attic space itself. Larger attics will require more significant, more powerful fans. The measure of a fan’s power is called CFM or cubic feet per minute. For example, a 1,000-square-foot attic may only need a fan rated at 700 to 800 CFM, while a 2,000-square-foot attic would need double (1,400 to 1,600 CFM). The higher the CFM, the higher the price.
Types of Attic Fans
Passive Attic Vents
A passive attic fan can cost as low as $20.00 for the unit. You can expect installation to cost about $75-$250. Passive attic fans don’t draw on electricity or any other power source, making them highly cost-effective. However, you can’t connect a passive attic fan to a thermostat, which means you have no control over when and how it operates and can’t accurately regulate the temperature in the attic.
Electric-Powered Attic Fans
Electric-powered fans connect to a thermostat giving you control over the attic’s temperature. However, it needs to be installed by an electrician. The cost typically runs from $100-$1000, depending on your unit and where it’s to be mounted. The thermostat tells the fan when to start/stop so your home stays comfortably cool, even on the hottest days. Because it draws power, an electric fan can increase your electric bill, so look for energy and cost-efficient options.
Solar-Powered Attic Fans
The typical solar attic fan installation costs about $300 to $1,300, fully installed. While more expensive than electric ones, they cost nothing to operate once installed. Solar-powered attic fans also qualify for federal tax credits. While this is pricier than many other attic fans, solar models are super efficient because they use the sun’s energy instead of electricity. A solar attic fan pays for itself quickly in energy savings and is a good choice if you live in a sunny area.
Dual-Powered Attic Fans
Dual-powered attic fans combine electricity and solar power for high-efficiency operation. Depending on the unit, you’ll spend between $300 and $1,300 for installation. The unit primarily relies on solar power, but the electrical option allows it to run with limited or no sun exposure. This premium attic fan uses the sun’s energy as its primary power source. But, if there isn’t enough sunlight to adequately power the fan, it switches to electric power—the best of both worlds.
Roof turbines are more efficient than passive fans and cost $100 to $150 to install. They work with your home’s airflow and spin based on air pressure. Because a roof turbine fan doesn’t use electricity, it’s more energy efficient, but again there is no thermostat, so the temperature cannot be controlled. The one drawback is that the water may enter the attic through the turbine in severe rain. If your area is prone to heavy rain or snow, there may be better options than his
Humidistat and Thermostat
Most powered attic fans come with a thermostat, which controls when the fan turns on and off based on reaching a pre-set temperature. These run around $100 to $300 each, and installation costs around $100. Electric units without a thermostat run between $80 and $100.
You can buy a separate thermostat/humidistat controller for $40 to $50. Since attics account for up to 20% of the average cooling bill, fans that turn on and off automatically (with the help of a thermostat) are a worthwhile investment. More expensive models include a humidistat as well.
Attic fans with thermostats protect the home against mold, mildew, peeling paint, decaying shingles, and warped beams/floorboards.
Attic Fan Cost Factors
The Attic Fan
For the fan unit itself, you can estimate the following:
- $50 – $100 | Non-Powered Turbine Style Vent
- $65 – $150 | Electric Powered Roof or Gable Mounted Fans
- $120 – $500 | Solar Powered Roof or Gable Vent Fans
Cost of Fan Installation Supplies
Regardless of your chosen model, you will need certain supplies to install it. You will not need electrical supplies for a turbine or solar-powered model.
- $35 – $100 | Electrical wire, junction boxes, and an on/off switch. (For electric-powered fans)
- $10 – $20 | Roof cement or sealant to seal around the mounting location and prevent roof leaks.
- $15 – $100 | For gable-mounted vents, you’ll want an automatic shutter mounted on the exterior of your home to open when the fan is on.
- $15 – $50 | Miscellaneous installation supplies like 2×4 wood, screws, nails, wire staples, plywood, etc.
Permits and Inspection
Powered attic fans are often subject to local laws or regulations and require electrical inspections. This is a safety precaution to ensure that the power is connected correctly and that there is no risk of electrical fires or a circuit overload. Typical inspections cost $75-$200.
Some companies charge a fixed price for installing attic fans, while others charge an hourly rate per person. Installation may also require the expertise of more than one type of contractor, for example, an electrician and a roofer.
Labor rates vary based on the type of fan to install, the features of your attic and roof, and the contractor’s experience level. A licensed, experienced roofer typically charges between $45 and $150 per hour and will need about 2-3 hours to complete the work.
If your attic doesn’t have a vent or needs modification to fit a gable-mounted unit, you will need to hire a carpenter. Carpenters charge between $10 and $150 per hour, depending on their experience level. They charge around $70 per hour and need only 2-3 hours.
You may also need to hire an electrician to connect your electric or solar unit to your home’s electricity source. Wiring takes about an hour at approximately $50 to $150 per hour.
The condition of your attic will also contribute to the installation cost. Contractors may increase their hourly rates if it’s difficult to access your attic. It’s wise to clear some space if you have things stored up there. Areas with a higher cost of living will generally have higher labor costs for attic fan installation.
If moisture has wreaked havoc on the floorboards, your contractor will have to take extra precautions during the installation, potentially making the project take longer and more expensive.
Most pros will perform an initial inspection before they quote the work.
To estimate the time it will take for the installation, use the following guideline:
- 1-2 hours: Replace an existing unit with the same or similar one.
- 2-4 hours: Typical installation time for replacements and new attic fans, without needing to add electrical service, wiring, etc.
- 4-8 hours: Difficult installations or where new electric service needs to be run to the fan. This may require cutting a hole into the roof or the side of the gable.
Final thoughts: No matter how you look at it or how expensive it is to install, attic fans are significant cost savings and essential to the overall maintenance of your home, inside and out.