Available in multiple sizes, so you can find the perfect amount of fan power required. Waterproof design allows it to last for several years. Solar panel angle is adjustable, allowing you to receive the maximum amount of sun.
Pricey. Only has 20 watts of power, so it may not be big enough for some jobs.
Runs quietly, so it's great for use in an RV or a workshop in a garage. Has enough power that it can generate the airflow needed to remove moisture from the attic area. Fan housing has less bulk than some other units.
Only a 14-inch fan with very small blades, so it is not made for big jobs.
Runs quietly, so it won't interrupt your activity. Solar panel charges 2000 mAh interior battery so efficiently that you can charge mobile devices from the fan. Lightweight unit at 2.2 pounds, so you can take it anywhere.
Kind of pricey for a personal fan. Size is only made for one person.
Includes an impressive 25-year warranty. Ships with everything you need for mounting it. Perfect choice for attic ventilation in areas where wiring is not easily accessible. Solar panel delivers 36 watts, which is plenty for most jobs.
Expensive. Solar panel's angle is not adjustable for best sun exposure.
Very low price for a solar powered fan. Made for small enclosures where you need a minimal amount of air movement, such as a treehouse or dog house. Runs quietly, so it won't spook pets or bother you while sleeping.
Only generates 10 watts of power. Not made to be carried by hand.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.