A Solar Powered Fan Makes Hay While the Sun Shines

Here’s a sun powered appliance that works best exactly when you need it–the solar powered fan. Think about it: no matter what type of fan you can think of, the time you would want it to be powered up and ready to go is when it is hot and sunny, right? With that perspective in mind, sunshine and solar fans are a perfect fit. How cool is that?

Most fans don’t take a lot of energy to run anyway, so using a small solar panel to juice them up makes a lot of sense. The cooling effect of a solar fan can be quite great, especially when it is trained directly upon your sweaty brow during a heat wave. Other types of solar powered fans include attic fans, car vent fans, window fans and good old table top fans. Attic fans are perhaps the most popular, so let’s take a look at them first.

The Solar Powered Attic Fan is Worth its Weight in Gold

This little item, whether solar-powered or conventionally run, has oodles of history behind it to attest to its productivity and utility. Attics are infamous for being storage facilities for hot air, much like old Uncle Charlie. While Charlie gets his chance to vent at the family reunion, many attics never do, due to building style, inadequate vents or insulation issues. This means that temperatures within the house can become uncomfortably warm during hot weather, decreasing temper thresholds or increasing air conditioning costs. Another problem with poorly vented attic spaces is that humidity can become trapped up there as well, causing mold, mildew or even fungus problems. This can be an expensive issue to abate and can wreak havoc with wooden beams, joists and roof supports. Winter time can be particularly tough, when ice dams occur because of poor ventilation. Nobody wants to have sections of roof replaced along with the shingles during the next roofing job!

When you shop for a solar attic fan, you will first need to know the square footage of your attic, since price usually depends upon how much air the unit will be required to move. From what I’ve seen, you should be able to get a very serviceable solar powered attic fan for a few hundred dollars, which you can install yourself (if you’re brave). There are both rooftop and gable models available. Warranties tend to hover around 20 years for the better ones.

A solar attic fan is more convenient than a traditional electric fan, since once it is installed, you can forget about it. Another great benefit, of course, is that it makes and uses its own electricity. These nifty items are also available in models specifically for use in greenhouses, boats and RVs.

Solar Powered Window, Desktop and Ceiling Fans

Although not as plentiful in the marketplace as solar attic fans, window, tabletop and ceiling fans that work on solar energy can be had, usually for a fraction of the cost of attic fans. For under $30, you can get your very own solar powered room fan, an interesting little item that looks like a small box fan with a small solar panel attached to the top. At five inches, it’s not huge, but at least you won’t have to worry about messing up your hair.

I found table and ceiling fans in an old (2000-2001) solar catalog I had in a file drawer, so these solar appliances have been around awhile. It seems that they can be run directly, using a 12v solar panel, or by recharging the battery using the panel. Either way, they are not that easy to find anymore, for some reason. I did see a couple of Youtube videos purporting to show you how to re-purpose a regular old fan into a solar powered one, though. Could be a fun project, I guess.

Solar Powered Car Fan

This unit reminded me of those accessory heaters that people who were crazy enough to drive a VW Beetle around in the winter (like my hubby) would plug into their cigarette lighters (remember those?) to try to stay warm. The solar powered car fan is marketed as a way to keep your parked car from becoming a solar oven by exhausting the hot air out through a window and bringing in cooler air via the air ducts. Right off the bat, I can see problems here: if you’re going to leave one window open, why not all of them, thereby keeping the car from getting hot in the first place? Sure enough, these products don’t get stellar reviews on Amazon. One critic said it all when he advised, “Get a window shade instead.”