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135 of 139 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watt's Up? Natural Light 20 Watt Solar Attic Fan
The product sold here is a 20 watt panel unit manufactured in Phoenix, Arizona by Natural Light Systems ([...]). Unless you have a small attic space, I recommend that you buy this version over the 10 watt model.

BACKGROUND
I have a house with a moderate pitch (I believe about 15 degrees or so), with a black asphalt shingle roof, located in Mountain View,...
Published on June 27, 2009 by Mike Hall

versus
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't work.
Doesn't work. Had it installed. I can't hear it running and it didn't help cool anything or reduce my electricity bill.
Published 11 months ago by Vicki Vore


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135 of 139 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Watt's Up? Natural Light 20 Watt Solar Attic Fan, June 27, 2009
By 
Mike Hall (Silicon Valley) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
The product sold here is a 20 watt panel unit manufactured in Phoenix, Arizona by Natural Light Systems ([...]). Unless you have a small attic space, I recommend that you buy this version over the 10 watt model.

BACKGROUND
I have a house with a moderate pitch (I believe about 15 degrees or so), with a black asphalt shingle roof, located in Mountain View, California. When re-roofing the house a few years ago, the contractor recommended installing several small "eyebrow" vents opposite each other along the ridges. They take advantage of the Venturi effect to exhaust hot air. They really weren't sufficient, though. Wind turbine ventilators were too small to retrofit and obtrusive, and over the years I've 1) installed (and removed) a gable fan (noisy and inefficient), and 2) finally re-engineered a large Vornado fan to direct exhause out of a leeward vent. But it was still a bit noisy and used electricity, of course.

Hence, the search for a low-profile solar attic fan, though, I did consider a new passive system from Aura ([...]). That company also has a solar panel version, though there are some features I don't particularly care for. I installed the solar attic fan on the leeward side of the house, facing due south, in place of an eyebrow vent, in the center of the house. I sealed up the opposite windward eyebrow. There are sufficient air intake vents (or soffits). Total attic volume is somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 cubic feet.

PROS
Simple and straightforward engineering. This unit comes with a single well-designed fan. One brand that I nearly bought, from Aura, is cluttered with several little CPU fans tucked inside the unit.

One piece heavy gauge stamped aluminum body with no seams. The seamless body is leak-proof with no additional caulking needed.

Aluminum and stainless steel hardware, so corrosion shouldn't be a problem.

High quality BP solar panel (the 20 watt panel appears to be the BP-SX320). I understand that most panels degrade in performance over time, so think it's better to start out with a more powerful panel. The solar panel is adjustable - great if you can easily get on the roof and want to pick up the rays from the low spring or fall sun. Out of the box, the solar panel rests flat against the top of the unit; the picture shows it in a raised position.

High quality fan motor and blade; easily replaceable if needed. Extremely quiet - I can't detect any noise from the unit inside of the house, and just a slight whooshing a couple of feet away outside on the roof.

Twenty-five year warranty, thought it's only as good as the company stays in business. I called customer support and found them friendly and knowledgeable. I think the only parts that could potentially need replacing are the fan motor and panel.

Low profile and neutral color helps it blend with many roofing materials and not stick out like a sore thumb.

CONS
Installation is, like, all such roof hardware, a little involved for an average homeowner like me. Just take it easy and, as they say, "measure twice and cut once."

The company provides a silicone sealant, which I regret having used since there are stainless screws holding the unit down. Probably needed for regions where winds get fierce, but I don't think for my area. The silicone gummed up the wires for the thermostat, though didn't do any harm (fortunately, I could clean them off after installation because I have access to the attic).

The solar panel is a bit tough to adjust. I would have appreciated wing nuts rather than Philips screw heads that could easily get stripped.

CONSIDERATIONS
I strongly recommend getting the thermostat, which is a [...] optional item.

Mount on a southern exposure, where there is sun all day (or at least from 10 am or 11 am onwards). In shade, the fan, which is continuously variable speed, will not operate. I believe it will operate, though at a low speed, on a cloudy day. Essentially, the more sunlight, the faster the fan will rotate, hence exhaust more attic air.

You will need to cut a 19" or 16" round hole in the roof (depending on your rafter spacing). 19" is actually fairly large (and what I cut) and will vent a lot of attic air.

Solar panels get dusty which can affect their performance; and birds do perch on them, so direct a little garden hose spray up to them occasionally if it doesn't rain a lot in your area.

DOES IT REALLY DO THE JOB?
I thought I'd conduct a simple test to find out how the unit performed in "passive" state (sans fan) and "active" state (with fan operating).

The set-up: I had one remote digital thermometer in the attic about 8-10 feet away from any vents and midway between the floor and ceiling of the attic, about 20 inches off the floor of the attic. Another thermostat was placed in a shady spot on the patio away from the house.

The test: I chose two comparable sunny, mild days (75 to 76 degrees F. on May 27 and 28, 2009) with a breeze out of the northwest at about 5 mph. On the first day, I covered up the solar panel, so the vent became passive. On the second, the panel was uncovered and the vent was active. I took measurements roughly every hour from noon to 6 pm. I found the patio temperatures peaked on both days at around 76 degrees from 3 pm to 4:30 pm.

The results: During the hottest parts of the day, the attic temperature was 39 degrees greater than the patio temperature when the vent was in passive mode. In active mode, it was 33 degrees greater. The fan, therefore, kept the attic up to 6 degrees cooler. On the first day, I removed the cardboard cover on the panel, allowing the fan to operate, at 4:45 pm (the inside of the house was getting a bit uncomfortable). Within 30 minutes, the attic temperature had fallen 5 degrees. On a day in the 90's, the 30 degree differential was still maintained.

Subjectively, the house seems cooler with the solar attic fan than even with the Vornado - and quieter. If you have a lighter color roof than mine, the reflective properties should reduce the temperature differential. Note that every roof and attic is unique in some ways - with different gable profiles, intake and exhaust vent arrangements and so on. I found these websites helpful: [...] )

CONCLUSIONS
Some experts think that solar attic fans are a waste of money because they're under-powered with unproven life-expectancy. I was hesitant to buy one, but felt this brand offered solid engineering and construction, an unobtrusive low-profile, a powerful enough solar panel, and a great warranty. After two months of living with the fan, I am completely satisfied and unhesitatingly recommend it.

UPDATE JUNE 2012
See my comments: The fan has a design flaw that I point out in a comment. Also, let me mention that some HVAC engineers question the usefulness of attic fans, and even, in some situations where negative pressure draws air up from the living quarters of a house to the attic, their overall economy and even safety. For my house in my climate (the peninsula in the SF Bay Area), the fan has been a solid investment, but I suggest an Internet search using terms like, "solar attic fan issues" before buying.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cool attic in Mesa Az, July 4, 2009
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
Yes, recently purchased Two 20 watt fans and had pro install these . Average high temp in Mesa Az in July and August is 107. The average temp in my attic was between 155 and 160 degrees. The square footage of my attic space is around 2800 feet. He installed one fan on the back (Southern exposure), the other one on the western part of my roof. Fan is well made ,complete with German made DC motor. Since it was installed my attic temp is now between 115 and 120 degrees at the hotest part of the day. Two bedrooms that were always hard to keep cooler are now cool. The a/c now during the day and night is working less. And when the a/c would come on before it would blast out a hot surge of air first (because a/c venting is in the attic)then start to cool down. Now when a/c turns on a little warm air comes out first then cool air.Also, fans are very quiet . I had an installer referred to me by the maker of this fan Natural light of Phoenix Az.It cost me more ,but this fan and installation is very good. I should have purchased this product years ago. Stay healthy and cool Retired Early.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solar + Powered = Peace of Mind, August 20, 2010
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
Length:: 0:57 Mins

I was unsure if a solar powered attic fan could sufficiently cool our attic during hot Atlanta summers. Last month our powered attic fan went out and on sunny 95 degree days, the FLOOR of the attic can reach 135 degrees and it becomes difficult to cool the upstairs bedrooms in the evenings. I originally found the 10-watt US Sunlight solar attic fan at Costco "on sale" for $270. Then I started reading that 10-watt panels are underpowered and 20-watt or above are more desirable. I've directly compared the 10-watt US Sunlight and 20-watt Natural Light fans (see my uploaded photos) and while it's tough to quantify just how much more air the 20-watt fan moves, I can tell you it is a significant difference...So I returned the 10-watt fan.

Next, I had to overcome my doubts of whether or not this 20-watt fan can do the job in our 1,500 sq ft attic with a 10/12 pitch roof. With 1,500 sq ft lower and upper living levels below the attic, a lot of hot air is generated inside the home during the day. The last thing we need is more hot air penetrating the attic floor into the living areas. While I wanted to Go Green and replace the powered fan with solar, what would happen if the solar fan just couldn't exhaust enough hot air? I'd have to replace the (expensive) solar fan or install another fan or consider some other undesirable option. Then it hit me!

PROBLEM SOLVED! How about installing the 20-watt solar fan near the roof ridge and at the same time install a powered fan in a lower, staggered location as "backup"? The solar fan would do the bulk of the work during the day from the moment the sun comes up until it sets and the powered fan would only come on during hot & cloudy days or just after sunset or on extremely hot days when the solar fan alone might not be enough in these situations. That's exactly what I decided to do!

I contacted a local "solar solutions" company (who normally supplies the solar attic fans they install, which start at $800 installed). I told them I already had my fan and just needed it installed. I contacted the installer directly and he did me right. He installed my 20-watt Natural Light fan for $175 and replaced my powered fan with an 1170 CFM Air Vent fan for another $50 labor and $80 for the fan cost. Total install price = $305 for both fans, plus the $395 I paid for the 20-watt fan (new on eBay, ship incl) put me at $700 total, most of which qualifies for the 30% Fed Inc Tax Credit. It's only the first day, but I am VERY PLEASED with the way this worked out.

On the first day after the install, the solar fan was already working early this morning when the sun was coming up from the East but it was behind clouds. In other words, it was moving at what I would consider "low speed" without any DIRECT sunlight. This performance exceeded my expectations for a solar fan. My goal is to monitor the attic temp during the day and adjust the powered fan's thermostat so that it keeps the attic at a desirable temp while turning on rarely (if at all). The other bonus with this setup is I now have a backup already in place in case either fan goes kaput in the future. As a side note, before these fans were installed and the temps were unbearable in the upstairs portion of the house, I set up a cheap 3-speed pedestal fan on the attic floor and pointed it toward the non-working attic fan hole in the roof. In the morning, I could open the attic door, point the remote up and turn the fan on high. At night, point the remote up and turn it off. Believe it or not, this made a huge difference in attic circulation until these fans were installed. Try this if your attic fan isn't working...Just make sure the pedestal fan can't tip over.

I'm also uploading some still photos of my install. I like the construction of the 20-watt Natural Light fan and it's 25-yr warranty. It's a simple and effective design. It's also impossible to say if this or any other solar powered fan will adequately cool your particular attic space, since your roof/attic is unique. I will say that during the first day of my tandem fans, around 2:15pm the sun was beating down and the floor temp in the attic reached 109 degrees. The powered fan thermostat was set to 120 degrees and it kicked on. I kept checking it until an afternoon rain shower hit around 3:30pm and the powered fan ran pretty much that entire time. In other words, it did what it was supposed to do during the hottest part of the day (official high temp was 92 degrees). The solar fan working since sunrise also delayed when the powered fan needed to turn on, and presumably reduced it's total run time during the entire day. Oddly enough, after sundown the powered fan didn't run at all but it wasn't super hot in the attic either. It was 99 degrees on the attic floor at 9pm and 77 degrees there again at 7am the next morning. I'll probably adjust the thermostat down some, since that 99 degrees at 9pm was still a little warm for the upstairs bedrooms. Good luck with your attic fan decisions...
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good product, with 2 (minor) complaints, April 28, 2011
By 
Home Improvement Guy (South Pasadena, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
I purchased the 20-watt kit along with the thermostat on March 19, 2011, and installed it on April 2, 2011. The install took 4 hours. For reference I live in a 1400 square foot home.

It works as advertised. A great product.

My 2 minor complaints:

(1) The finish of the product was below average, as one of the bolts that held the base together stuck out too much and would clip the fan blades. A simple fix (I hacksaw a 1/4 inch off the bolt), but quality control at the assembly plant should have never let this happen.

(2) The kit should have come with a roofing sealant to seal the "top" (exterior) of the install. The kit comes with a silicone sealant for underneath the base, but I ended up having to climb off my roof, and drive over to the Home Depot to pick up a tube of Henry's 209 mastic/sealant. I am confident that this extra step will prevent any water from leaking into my attic space.

I hope this review helps.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, October 28, 2010
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
I can only estimate how much money I spent with my old electric attic fan. This solar fan is supposed to install in 30 minutes, but it actually took about an hour. The fan was lighter than I expected but installation went smoothly. I purchased the optional thermostat and I am glad I did...it works extremely well. On the day of installation, the outside temperature reached 92 degrees. The attic temperature was well above 80 when the thermostat was plugged in completing the solar power circuit. The fan immediately began working to vent the attic.

I did encounter one problem which most fan manufacturers could only wish they had. This fan is SO QUIET you cannot tell if it is operating from inside or outside the house. On the day after installation I actually checked in the attic to make sure it was working! EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET! I will get a better estimate of savings next year when the San Antonio heat does its worst. For now, I highly recommend this product for the overall build quality, ease of installation and silent operation.

Update 11/3/2010: A few days after installation, our neighborhood in San Antonio experienced an extremely heavy hail and wind event. Hail was up to 3/4" diameter with wind gusts over 50mph. Yesterday afternoon we checked the fan and solar panel and all survived unscathed...not even a scratch on the solar panel. Fan with thermostat continues to work flawlessly. Outstanding product, superb build quality.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's keeping the attic and the house cooler, August 28, 2012
By 
DB (San Carlos, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
I wanted to measure how effective the fan is, so before installation measured temperatures in the attic, as well as in the house and outside. As well as the fan I bought the optional thermostat which means the fan only starts once the temperature in the attic is over 80F. I live in San Carlos, CA so we don't get super-hot temperatures, typical would be mid-80s on a warm day in summer. Before installing the fan this would lead to 120+F temperatures in the attic. With the fan installed I am now seeing peak temperatures of 100F. In turn this is lowering the temperature inside the house by 5F at the hottest point of the day (77 vs 82). Also, the house cools down more rapidly in the evening as a result of their being less of a heat build-up in the attic keeping the house hot longer.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fan of this Fan! --But take care on install., July 18, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
This fan works as advertised. I installed two weeks ago and it has been running (free solar power!) with no problems. It is VERY quiet, which is a plus. If you are a do-it-yourselfer like me, the installation can be tricky. Kudos to the person who provided the tip to take the top (solar panel and fan) off of the fan hood so that you install the hood buy itself first, then carry the panel and fan up. Made the install much easier. Also, remember to unplug the fan so that it isn't running during install. Note: paperwork that comes with the unit recommends putting screws through the shingle on the top, or 12 o'clock high, side and the online instructions recommend carefully peeling the shingle back and putting the screw under the shingle. You don't really want to put screw holes through the shingle on the high side and then try to put sealant over the screwhead as it may result in a future leak when the sealant weathers. Peeling the shingles back can be tricky in trying to get all the way back to the screw hole on the hood base. I wound up peeling the shingles back enough to get a new screw through the hood and that worked just fine. The thermostat is also a must. All in all, I highly recommend this product --just do the research on the installation tips found in the reviews.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Advertised, June 8, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
Ordered two 20 Watt solar attic fans from Big Frog Mountain on Thursday received them on Tuesday around noon. Prior to receiving the order I was debating on weather to install my self or hire someone. I did as much research as possible on how to install, looking at user reviews and of course good ole YouTube. I decided to go at it alone. As stated earlier I received the fans around noon and a just before 2:00pm the fans were installed and running. It was a piece of cake, just follow instructions provided and you should have no problems.

I live in NW Florida and the summers here are torturous. My AC in the house was constantly running and decided I had to do something. A friend told me about the fans and I considered it for almost a year..I decided on two 20 watt fans becouse of the size of my home. After installation I could immediately feel the hot air being pulled out of the attic:) I also noticed that a couple of rooms that were normally warmer than the rest of the house were as cool as the others now. So far so good, I'm happy with the ease of installation and can say the product works as advertised.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars use the sun to cool your attic, June 15, 2011
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
Outstanding product!!! I had to order by phone, because I wanted to double check in stock.
If you live anywhere where it is hot and sunny this is a must have!
I had my roof redone, and decided to mount 2 of these 20 Watt units (replacing the existing wirly birds).
They are quite sturdy, all of the gray housing is metal, no plastic.
The solar panel has a heavy plastic, that should be able to take a hail beating.
The solar panel is adjustable, it comes laying flat on top of the unit. Depending on the angle of your roof you may be able to leave it just the way it is, my roof has about a 30 deg pitch so flat was fine for me.
..
I was on the roof while they installed them, you could do it yourself, but I feel better having roofing experts do it. They basically made the existing hole bigger, about 19in diameter.
Unit came with a tube of glue sealant, placed that between fan skirt and wood on roof.
Make sure you screw the fan (not nail) to the roof.
Placed generous bead of glue sealant on top lid of fan skirt and shingles were glued to it.
..
I also ordered the thermostat, easy to install. Should come in handy during the winter.
..
The affect was instantly noticeable. I used a wireless digital thermometer. With the wirly birds 1pm sunny day 102 outside, 135 in the attic. With the solar fans the next day 2pm 103 outside, 112 in the attic.
What this means is the vents in the attic that are carrying the cold air from the AC unit have a little less heat to deal with so the insulation is able to keep the air a little cooler, which means your house cools quicker, less wear and tear on AC unit and hopefully lower electricity usage. I will update in a month and verify.
..
The fans started spinning slowly at about 8 am, were full speed at 10am and were still spinning at about 7 pm. Ohh and we had a thin overcast day, one week later...they were still spinning. So they still work in hot, bright cloudy days.
..
I LOVE that they are solar and cost me zero in electricity.
..
Like I said if you live in the hot sunny climates...put a couple of these up there your attic and AC unit will thank you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 30 watt fans w/thermostats installed in Orlando,FL, June 11, 2012
This review is from: Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty (Misc.)
This weekend we got 2 30 watt Natural Light fans installed on our 3800 sq ft(under air) roof; built in 2011. We probably have more like 5000 total sq ft of attic when you include 2 porches and a 3 car garage. We also purchased the thermostat for each.

On the roof we have 4 roof vents about 4 ft long. Before installing I put my hand under one of them and no air was flowing out of it. Now, with the fans installed, not only does the air pump out of the solar attic fan, but they are pulling so much air that the 4 roof vents have a steady flow of air through them too. Also, when the hole was cut we immediately felt the hot air pouring out of it.

Regarding the instructions, perhaps they work fine but our roofer did not follow them. Instead, he did it as he knows best. He removed shingles like a puzzle until he had enough removed then cut out the hole and installed the fan. Afterwards, he replaced the shingles into the same place they came from while installing more of the black roof paper (using the tar stuff too). He was also very impressed with the quality of the product and made positive comments regarding the flange and ease of installation regarding it.

Big Frog Mountain was great with the shipping, service and advice.

And, just for fun I tied ribbons onto the units so I could see the air flowing out of the fans:)
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Solar Attic Fan 20-watt with 25-year warranty
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