Best Solar Fans

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
462 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best solar fans

Last Updated September 2020

Solar fans have grown in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. These versatile fans can help ventilate anything from a room to a tent to a chicken coop. Anywhere you have access to sunlight, you can get a nice flow of cooling air without the use of electricity. A solar fan is a green choice for anyone who wants to minimize their use of electricity, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint. If you’re in an off-grid location where electricity is minimal to non-existent, a solar fan is particularly helpful.

When considering a solar fan for purchase, you will need to ask a number of questions. Is it the right size? Does it have enough power to meet your needs? What is the quality of the base materials? How much does it cost?

In this guide, we discuss the factors you should be considering when evaluating a solar fan. If you need help finding the perfect solar fan for your needs, we offer a few of our top recommendations, too.

Some personal solar fans also bundle radio or MP3 capabilities so you can listen to music while cooling off. Notably, this will drain more power than running the fan alone.

Key considerations

Purpose

The term “solar fan” actually covers a wide range of devices with different purposes. A solar fan can be an attic fan, roof fan, stand-up fan, car window fan, personal fan, indoor ceiling fan, chicken coop fan, or portable fan. There are even some solar fans built into hats for construction work.

In short, any kind of fan powered by a solar panel can be a solar fan. Your job is to know what specific type of solar fan you need.

Size

Solar fans come in a variety of sizes. Convenience and ease of use matter here. If you want a personal fan, for example, you probably don’t want something that eats a lot of floor space or is difficult to move. If you want a roof or attic fan, you probably don’t want something tiny and ineffective.

Carefully consider the physical space available to you before you select a specific fan size.

Weight

Similar to size, weight can be an issue when choosing a solar fan. If you want a solar fan for camping, for example, you will likely prefer something lightweight. If you want a roof fan, you will likely prefer something that’s not so heavy it requires added reinforcement to support the weight.

In general, solar fans range from under 1 pound to 30 pounds or more.

Power

The more powerful a solar fan is, the more air it can move around. This is particularly important if you’re trying to ventilate something like an attic. Residential solar fans generally run anywhere from 10 to 50 watts.

Noise output

A solar fan will make a bit of noise, even if it’s just a low hum. Some will experience this as white noise and not notice. Others may be bothered by the constant background noise. Before purchasing a solar fan, try to find out how much noise it produces, considering your own tolerance for such noise.

Fan noise may be more of an issue in an RV, workshop, or other small area as opposed to a non-living space like an attic.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some solar fans include a USB port for handy mobile device charging.

Features

Build quality

The solar panels and the fan itself should be of high build quality. This can be particularly important if you’re installing the fan in an attic or roof. The following fan characteristics often reflect good build quality.

  • A high-impact, commercial-grade solar panel
  • A durable fan motor with aluminum or steel blades
  • Rugged steel or aluminum housing, screening, and flashing
  • Powder-coating on surfaces exposed to the elements

Solar panel

The solar panel is an integral part of any solar fan because it powers the fan. In general, the larger the panel, the more juice it can produce. If you have a choice, opt for an adjustable solar panel so you can change the angle as needed to receive the most direct sunlight. This is particularly helpful for installed fans in areas where the height of the sun in the sky changes dramatically from season to season.

Battery

The majority of solar fans contain a battery so you can use the fan even in the dark … as long as it has a charge.

Blade size

The larger the blade size and the more blades there are, the more air the fan will likely be able to move. Note that fan size and the speed of the motor can also affect air movement.

Fan screen

While some solar fans do not have a screen, the majority of solar fans with exposed blades do have one. A screen can help to protect children and pets from injury. If the fan is to be used in the roof or attic, a screen can also help protect wayward birds and squirrels.

Solar fans may be pricier than traditional fans, but they are usually easier to install and require little maintenance. Over time, a solar fan will pay for itself in lowered energy costs.

Solar fan prices

Inexpensive: Solar fans in the $25 range are usually portable or personal fans. These smaller fans tend to have lower power and a small amount of battery storage — or no battery at all.

Mid-range: For $30 to $150, personal solar fans get larger and more robust. You will also find some less-powerful attic solar fans in this price range, as well as fans for sheds, chicken coops, and other compact structures.

Expensive: Solar fans that cost greater than $150 tend to be high-end attic fans and roof fans. The best of these may cost as much as $400 or $500.

DID YOU KNOW?

Solar fans aren’t just for hot weather. They can also play a vital role in the winter, helping dissipate trapped heat that can melt ice and lead to ice dams on your eaves.

Tips

  • In the U.S., some solar fans may qualify you for the Federal Solar Tax Credit. This can be a significant financial incentive. Visit Energy Star for more information.
  • Warranties for solar fans range from one year to 15 or even 25 years. Protect your investment by selecting a product with a great warranty.
  • Portable solar fans are great for camping. Consider bringing one along if you’ll be camping in a tent without easy access to electricity. You’ll appreciate the extra airflow.
  • A thermostat and fire safety switch can be attached to some solar fans to keep them from becoming too hot. These safety items are often included with purchase, but you may need to buy them separately.
  • Attic and roof solar fans are all over the place in terms of how much space they can vent. Your best bet is to measure your attic or other space and shop for a fan that can handle that square footage.
The solar industry is booming. Worldwide, solar installations are expected to grow at double-digit rates over the next few years.

FAQ

Q. We tend to have more cloudy days than sunny days where I live. Can I still use a solar fan?
A.
Absolutely. There are a couple of features to shop for that can help maximize your fan’s output. The first is an adjustable solar panel, which allows you to optimize the angle of the panel to receive the most direct sunlight possible. The second relates to voltage. Lower-voltage solar fans are able to draw more energy from low-light sources than high-voltage devices. In your situation, a low-voltage fan tends to be more effective.


Q. Do solar fans only work during the day?
A.
It depends on the fan. The majority of solar fans include a built-in battery so the appliance will run regardless of light conditions. Solar fans without batteries often offer an alternative way to power the fan, such as an AC adapter you plug into a wall or a DC adapter that plugs into a car cigarette lighter.


Q. Will I be able to install a solar fan myself?
A.
That depends on the fan and your level of comfort with installation. For something like a personal fan, a portable fan, or a stand-up fan, installation isn’t a concern. What’s more, these products often ship fully assembled, so little work is required on your part.

A solar fan to be installed in an attic or roof comes with a completely different set of challenges. For example, you may need to cut a hole in your roof. Your best bet is to read the instruction manual thoroughly and decide if you are up to the installation. If not, contact a professional. For a pro, this should be an easy job with a reasonable price tag.

If you do feel like tackling it, be sure you understand everything involved with installation. Verify that all necessary installation hardware has shipped with the fan and that you have all the tools needed to successfully complete the job.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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