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A top-quality attic fan helps regulate temperature and humidity levels while maintaining proper ventilation. To find the most effective options, we evaluated dozen of models on temperature control, operating capacity, and installation.
We chose QuietCool’s Smart Gable Mount Attic Fan as our top overall pick because it’s easy to install and control, thanks to a convenient mobile app.
Here are the best attic fans.
Best Overall: QuietCool Smart 2830 CFM Power Gable Mount Attic Fan
QuietCool’s Smart Gable Mount Attic Fan is our top pick for its ease of use, simple installation, and maximum energy efficiency. The Smart model is a gable mount, meaning it simply mounts, plugs in with its attached 20-foot power cord, and it’s ready to go. This model can efficiently ventilate spaces up to 4,800 square feet.
The unit features a variable-speed ECM motor (electronically communicated motor) and a convenient, built-in thermostat and humidistat, both which self adjust depending on the temperature and humidity of your attic. When your attic is at its hottest, the fan can run at speeds up to 3,000 cubic feet per minute while only using 140 watts of power, which is very low compared to other models. As the attic cools, the smart fan will automatically cycle down to lower speeds (the lowest being 1,000 CFM which only uses 15 watts of energy) resulting in a cheaper air conditioning bill and cooler home temperature (temperatures can drop as much as 50 degrees.) These two factors make it an excellent energy and cost saver.
Best Budget: iLIVING 800 CFM Shutter Exhaust Fan
For well under $100, iLIVING’s Shutter Exhaust Fan gets you an efficient ventilation system at a fraction of the cost of average units. This model is admittedly a bit noisier than others, but that’s only when you’re in close proximity. This fan can easily remove excess heat, moisture, and odor from any space up to 1,200 square feet. The Shutter Exhaust Fan comes in eight different sizes and features aluminum blades, automatic shutters that open and close in tandem (at two speeds—variable and single), and OSHA-compliant wire guards.
All those factors combined, you get a great, affordable unit that can be used in more than just your home; the iLiving Exhaust Fan is also equipped for use in commercial buildings, restaurants, factories, and warehouses. Its motor is enclosed and thermally protected and permanently lubricated. It’s also conveniently ready to use straight out of the box with the only installation requirement being the electrical hardwiring.
Best Heavy Duty: MaxxAir IF24 Powerful Industrial Exhaust Fan
For larger spaces, an industrial-sized fan will be your best bet for efficient ventilation. MaxxAir’s Heavy Duty Exhaust Fan comes in a handful of different sizes—14, 18, 24, 30, and 36 inches. It’s made of galvanized steel to prevent rust and is designed to tackle bigger jobs with tough operational standards like garages, barns, and greenhouses, for example.
While this fan does not ventilate hazardous chemicals or fumes, it is best suited to properties with heavy dust, odors, allergens, and humidity. It has automatic shutters that open and close and is powered by a thermally protected PSC motor, making it extremely powerful. It comes with pre-drilled holes for easy mounting and because it is OSHA compliant, it includes a safety grille and fully enclosed motor.
Best Solar: QuietCool 30-Watt Hybrid Solar/Electric Powered Gable Mount Attic Fan
Solar fans are powered by sunlight and are therefore great for eco-conscious consumers. Solar is one of the most energy-efficient options on the market especially for those who need their fan running constantly. True to its name, QuietCool’s Solar Attic Fan is one of the quietest and most highly energy efficient fans you can find. It features a 30-watt solar panel with 60-degree tilt for optimal sun exposure, a preset thermostat, and an ultra-energy efficient DC motor. It also includes an AC/DC converter which allows the fan to run 24/7—even without sunlight.
When there's sunlight the fan runs on solar, and when there's not, it switches to AC power so you get daily cooling regardless of daylight. This fan and solar panel are easy to mount to your gable vent and it also includes mounting tabs to install the solar panel to either the side of your home or roof.
Best Roof-Mounted: Master Flow ERV6 Roof-Mount Power Attic Vent
Roof-mounted attic fans require a vent hold near the top of the roof where the fan can sit over the vent on a plastic or metal base. We like Master Flow’s model for its easy installation and efficiency.
Designed for attic spaces up to 2,088 square feet, Master Flow’s unit can remove a large volume of hot air at a rate of 1,500 CFM. This unit uses 15 percent less electricity than other competing models and it can easily help bring down the cost of heating and cooling your home. The unit features a heavy duty internal screen to prevent animal infestation. Although this system does not include a humidistat, a small device that helps monitor and maintain preferred humidity in the air and track you moisture level, you can purchase it separately as an add on.
Best with Cover: Broan 355BK Gable Mount Attic Ventilator
Broan’s 355BK Gable Mount Attic Ventilator is a high-quality ventilation system that’s roof-mounted and features a cover. The fan is constructed from 23-gauge galvanized steel for added strength and durability and it utilizes a unique black dome cover which provides UV protection.
This unit comes in three different models each varying in size and capacity. The 355BK model, which we think is the best of the three, is able to remove hot air at an impressive 1,200 CFM in spaces up to 1,715 square feet. It features a built-in, adjustable thermostat that can control temperature and the speed of the thermally lubricated motor. This covered unit is great for consumers in extreme climates.
Best Quiet: Ventamatic Cool Attic 1300 CFM Power Gable Mount Attic Vent
If noise is a pressing concern, then Ventamatic's Cool Attic ventilation system is your best bet. It uses precision-balanced blades and bracing for quiet and efficient ventilation. It’s best for use as a supplemental ventilation system in homes with air conditioning already installed and in mild to moderate climates.
The unit's built-in PSC motor is highly durable and features two-speed technology (high/low). This model is super quiet due to its four-blade assembly which allows it to maintain precise, balanced rotation and lower vibration. The fan is able to accommodate anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet of attic space. It’s perfect for reducing cooling costs as it pulls fresh air from outside and expels warm attic air out through the exhaust vents.
Best Gable Mount: Air Vent 18-Inch Dia Electric Gable Vent Fan
Gable vents are installed on the exterior wall of an attic to create air circulation. Most ventilation systems are strategically placed on unseen areas of a roof, but gable vents offer an interesting accent to a home’s exterior plus all the functional benefits of other exhaust openings. Like others on our list, it's also easy to install and cuts down on utility costs.
We like Air Vent’s Electric Gable Vent Fan because it’s 30 percent quieter and 35 percent more energy efficient than other comparable gable-mounted units. Most gable fans have a cylindrical shape, whereas this unit is encased in a patented series of rings which allow the motor to move air more efficiently. The Air Vent unit measures 15 inches in diameter and it's outfitted with six blades which measure 14 inches in diameter. Air Vent’s unit can effectively ventilate spaces up to 1,900 square feet and move air at 1320 CFM. It’s electric powered and uses a thermostat and humidistat to control temperature and prevent moisture buildup.
The best attic fan for you will depend on a number of factors including how large your space is, how you'd like the unit to be powered, how you'd like it mounted, and whether or not you want an included thermostat and humidistat. For spaces up to 4,800 square feet, we recommend the QuietCool Smart 2830 CFM Power Gable Mount Attic Fan (view on Amazon) as it's easy to install, simple to use, and extremely energy efficient. If budget is a concern, the iLIVING 800 CFM Shutter Exhaust Fan (view on Amazon) is our top choice. This unit comes in under $100 and can handle spaces up to 1,200 square feet.
What to Look for in an Attic Fan
Attic Air Flow
Before deciding to get an attic fan, it's necessary to inspect your attic to determine how well the space is sealed off from the rest of the home. This includes attic doors, windows, hatches, and any gaps that are exposed to the floors below. The reason for this inspection is that, if the attic isn't properly sealed, an attic fan won't just pull the air out of the attic: It will also pull air-conditioned air from the rest of the home, which could lead to an increase in heating and cooling bills instead of a reduction in these costs.
Ideally, the attic will be relatively sealed off from the rest of the home, allowing an attic fan to work efficiently and pull hot air out of the space, exchanging it for cool air from outdoors. Similarly, in the winter the fan draws cool air in and pumps hot air out for the purpose of equalizing the temperature between the attic and the outdoors in order to prevent ice dams that can occur when the snow comes into contact with a warm roof and melts. The melted water runs into the freezing cold gutter system and quickly turns to ice, but an attic fan can help avoid this problem entirely.
Air Volume and Attic Space
Air volume is measure in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and is typically used to determine the power of a fan. The more powerful the fan, the higher the CFM, allowing the fan to push a greater volume of air out of the attic space. However, having the highest air volume possible isn't necessary. You need to find a fan with an air volume rating that is appropriate for the size of the space.
Consider the size of the attic and take basic measurements of the length, width, and height of the room in order to estimate the volume of air within the attic. A fan will usually run for about 15 minutes to clear the air, so the CFM for an attic fan needs to be high enough to remove all of the air from the attic within this time frame. However, if the fan is too powerful, it will begin to pull air from the rest of the home, reducing the efficiency of the heating and cooling system. A fan that isn't powerful enough will have minimal effect on the heat within the attic. Take the time to measure properly and select your attic fan carefully.
An attic fan is going to be placed in one of the most remote parts of the home and will likely be left untouched for months or even years, so it's necessary to ensure that the attic fan is made of tough, durable materials that can stand up to excessive heat, freezing cold, and airborne moisture.
Some attic fans are made with plastic components that can be susceptible to both high and low temperature extremes, despite having superior resistance to moisture. Due to this vulnerability, most attic fans are made of galvanized or painted steel because these materials have no problem withstanding the blazing heat of summer or the frigid temperatures in winter. As long as the protective surface of the metal isn't damaged, these materials also hold up well in rain, sleet, ice, and snow.
What is an attic fan?
An attic fan is a type of fan that is installed in the attic for the purpose of moving hot air outside and pulling cool air into the attic. This keeps the attic cool and dry in order to prevent moisture damage and mold infestations.
How do you install an attic fan?
An attic fan needs to be installed through the top of the roof in the attic or through the walls of the home. Make sure that the sides of the fan are properly secured under the shingles or under flashing to prevent leaks. Don't forget that the electric power supply will need to be connected inside the attic.
Alternatively, some attic fans can be powered by solar panels, though these kits are more difficult to install. Keep in mind that while some experienced DIYers may be able to handle this installation, it's a task that is usually better left to professionals.
How do you use an attic fan?
Install an attic fan in the attic and turn it on remotely when necessary or invest in an attic fan that automatically turns on when the temperature within the attic reaches a set point. The attic fan will pull cool air from outdoors into the attic space and push hot air outside, reducing the amount of energy necessary for the air conditioner to cool the home.
How often should an attic fan run?
An attic fan should run for at least 15 minutes at a time to ensure that the warm, moist air inside the attic is fully exchanged for cool, dry air. However, many products can be connected to a thermostat, allowing them to turn on whenever the heat inside the attic space reaches a set temperature. This set-it-and-forget-it method is a great option to ensure that you don't forget to manually turn the fan on.
Can you use an attic fan with blown-in insulation?
You can use an attic fan with blown-in insulation, however, you do need to make sure the fan is designed not to blow the insulation around your attic. To remedy this, you can build a box or sides around your fan to make sure the air is flowing up towards the roof and won't catch insulation into the airflow of the fan.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Additional research for this article is provided by Timothy Dale, a long-time home improvement expert specializing plumbing, construction, and product recommendations, among other topics.