When it comes to cooling off in the summer, there are few better options than a good solar-powered fan.
With the right type of solar panel, these fans can provide hours of cool air without having to worry about laying cables, charging batteries, or running up your electricity bill.
In this article, we’ve tried to determine what is the best solar powered fan and reviewed some of the best currently on the market, including our favorite choice – the Cowin Solar Fan System.
What is the best solar-powered fan on the market?
We’ve chosen the Cowin Solar Fan System as our best overall because of its effectiveness, low price, and ease of use.
Essentially, the Cowin combines all the functions you expect from a good fan, like multiple speeds and oscillation, with the functionality of a good solar device, such as good usage time, device charging, a light, and the ability to use AC power in a pinch.
Best solar powered fans reviewed
As usual, we’ve broken down the reviews by standout features and picked our ‘best in show’ that we think covers all the bases.
1. Best overall – Cowin Solar Fan System
We’ve chosen the Cowin Solar Fan System as our best overall because it does everything that you could possibly want from a solar fan.
The fan is powered by DC power from a 15W solar panel and you can power it with an AC adapter for mains power when there’s no sun around to charge up the batteries.
The built-in rechargeable battery comes with overcharge/discharge protection and can even be used to charge electronic devices thanks to its handy USB port.
It has three different speed settings, which range from 1000 RPM to 1350 RPM and oscillates automatically. With a full charge, you’ll get eight hours of use at low speed and four hours at high speed.
For camping use, the Cowin Solar Fan also comes with a handy built-in LED light for illumination at night.
What we like:
- Good usage time – It has a battery capacity of 2600mAh that provides up to four hours at high speed and eight hours at low speed after a full charge.
- Speed options – The Cowin Solar Fan comes with three different speeds for you to choose from.
- USB Charging port – The USB charging port allows you to charge your electronic devices, which is great for camping or emergency situations.
What we don’t like:
- Clicking noise – Some buyers report that the fan makes a clicking noise when oscillating, although others have reported that this is just dust in the gears and can be fixed with a burst of compressed air.
Overall, the Cowin Solar Fan is a great product with good usage time, multiple charging options, and a very handy USB port. With all of this in mind, it’s not difficult to see why we think it’s the best solar powered fan on the market.
2. Best desktop – Seddex 5W Desktop Solar Fan
If you’re looking for a more compact fan suitable for your desktop, greenhouse or motorhome, then the Seddex 5W Desktop Solar fan is a great choice. It’s definitely the best solar powered fan for desktop use, which is why we absolutely had to include it on our list.
The fan has a dimension of 4 x 4 x 4 inches, which is smaller than its solar panel, which is 8.7 inches x 7 inches x 0.1 inches.
This diminutive fan is very quiet, which is great for desktop use, and can easily be charged with the attached 5W solar panel.
What we like:
- Small and portable – The fan is small, light, and easy to both move around and find a place for.
- Simple –There aren’t really any bells and whistles on this model, but it does what it does very well.
- Waterproof solar panel – Unlike some of the other smaller solar fans, the solar panel on the Seddex is waterproof, which means it can be used in outdoor stations like a chicken coop, doghouse, or greenhouse.
What we don’t like:
- No battery – This fan runs directly from the solar panel, so if there’s no sun, it won’t run.
Given its size, the Seddex 5W Desktop Solar fan doesn’t have much in the way of functionality, but if you want something small and portable, this fan should be your go-to.
3. Best portable – Hereta Multi-Function Solar Fan
One of the best things about a solar fan is that you don’t need a socket nearby for it to work, which makes solar fans ideal portable solutions. But what’s the best solar powered fan in terms of portability?
The Hereta Multi-function Solar Fan is best for people who want a fan that can be used in the car, on hikes and camping trips. It weighs just 1.9 pounds and has its own carrying handle.
The fan comes with a 5-blade DC-powered fan that is capable of seven hours of continuous operation before the battery needs recharging.
It also comes with a number of other functions that make it ideal for camping, fishing cookouts, etc.
To help you find your way around at night, the fan has a 26 LED lap that will run for about 9 hours
To help keep your devices charged, the fan has a 5-volt USB output. To keep you entertained, it has an FM Radio and input USB and TF Card ports so you can play MP3 files through it.
On a full charge, the radio and MP3 player will run for around 6-8 hours and it also has a jack for your earphones.
What we like:
- The radio and MP3 player – Which is great for playing your tunes when you’re out fishing or camping.
- Device charging – Ideal if you find your phone is running out of battery.
- The lamp – Having a built-in lamp is always a great safety feature for outdoor electronics.
What we don’t like:
- Lots of power-hungry functions – Having a lot of functions is great, but using them all at once will drain the battery on this fan in just a few hours.
The Hereta Multi-function Solar Fan is a great option for a portable solar fan with a lot of different functions. The best feature of this model is the built-in radio and MP3 player!
4. Best solar gable fan – QuietCool 40 Watt Solar Powered Gable Mount Attic Fan
If you’re looking for something solar powered to act as a cooling solution for your house, the QuietCool 40 Watt Solar Powered Gable Mount Attic Fan is an excellent choice.
It can keep your entire house cool with just one fan, uses no electricity and best of all is almost totally silent in operation.
We’ve written before on how attic fans work, but as a brief reminder, hot air rises, gets trapped in the insulated attic of your home, and causes the house to heat up. Attic fans disperse that hot air and pull cooler air in from outside to circulate through your home.
The QuietCool solar attic fan comes with a 30 or 40 Watt Solar Panel (depending on model), a 15-year warranty, and a built-in preset thermostat. It also features easy plug-and-play installation.
Best of all, the 30% Federal tax credit for installing solar solutions has been extended through 2021, with potential state tax incentives for installing a solar attic fan in Arizona, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, and Utah.
What we like:
- Powerful and quiet – The fan really moves a lot of air, but not so much that you can hear it from inside your house.
- The fan is easy and quick to install – With all the parts you need and a simple plug-and-play installation method.
- There’s a 15-year warranty – So you don’t have to worry about faults for a good long time.
What we don’t like:
- Solar panel – The solar panels that are installed on all models of QuietCool aren’t the best quality and will eventually break down over time, although this is somewhat offset by that long warranty.
Overall, the QuietCool 40 Watt Solar Powered Gable Mount Attic Fan is best for people who want to save money on their electricity bills without sacrificing comfort. With everything we’ve said about this model, it’s easy to see why we’ve crowned it the best solar powered fan for whole-house cooling.
5. Best solar attic fan – iLIVING HYBRID Smart Thermostat Solar Attic Exhaust Fan
The iLIVING HYBRID Smart Thermostat Solar Attic Exhaust Fan is certainly well built, with a powerful 20W adjustable polycrystalline solar panel, IP68 water and dust-proof fan, and a quiet brushless motor that provides up to 2000 square feet of cooling capacity.
The ‘smart’ part of this smart fan comes from the smart thermostat, which has a wide control range of 65-130f and an enable/disable feature that allows you to have more freedom to control the fan the way you want.
As a hybrid fan, the iLIVING runs off solar during the day and then switches to AC power at night or during periods of low solar viability.
To top it all off, the fan comes with a 15-year warranty.
What we like:
- The smart thermostat – The smart thermostat gives you greater control over the function of this fan and saves on electricity.
- The quiet operation – Using a brushless motor keeps the fan nice and quiet.
- The quality solar panel – Unlike some other models, the iLIVING comes with a good quality polycrystalline solar panel.
What we don’t like:
- The installation process – Because it acts as an exhaust fan, if you don’t already have an exhaust vent in your roof, you’ll need to cut one to fit the fan.
The iLIVING HYBRID Smart Thermostat Solar Attic Exhaust Fan is an excellent smart hybrid solar fan that will help you save on electricity and stay cool. It’s definitely the best solar powered fan we’ve come across for attics.
Things to consider when buying a solar fan
When buying a solar power fan for your house or business there are a few important things you should consider.
- how long the battery lasts before it needs recharging
- whether there is an auto function which means they automatically turn off when not needed
- if they’re quiet enough that you won’t be disturbed by them
- what functionality you are looking for
The ideal solar fan is quiet, doesn’t use much energy, has a long usage period per charge, and can be powered by the mains when there’s no sun.
To help you find the right fan for you, we’ve put together this buying guide that contains all the information you need to make the best choice.
Charging time and capacity
A key factor to consider when buying any solar product is charging time and capacity. The best solar powered fan will be able to charge and hold a large capacity of energy so that it can run for as long as possible.
The best way to determine this is through the manufacturer’s specifications, which you should check before buying any solar product. You may need to do some research into your battery type or what inverter you have in order to find out how much power they use and their charging times.
For example: batteries like Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) are best suited for high drain appliances such as fans because they hold more charge but take longer to recharge than other types of batteries like Nickel Cadmium (NiCd).
All solar fans come with at least one or two small-sized solar panels. The best solar powered fans, however, have larger sized panels that are able to absorb more sunlight over a longer period of time – allowing you to keep the fan running for as long as possible.
Physical features, materials, and dimensions
The physical dimensions of certain types of fans are going to be more important than others.
If you are buying an attic fan, you are going to need a fan that is able to fit into an opening of your roof. Whereas if you’re just buying a desktop fan, you won’t need to make any structural changes to your home (hopefully).
When it comes to the materials that the fans are made out of, always prioritize anything with a longer manufacturer’s warranty and an IP rating.
The warranty is a good indicator of the manufacturer’s faith in the product and the IP rating means you can trust it to be water and dustproof.
Consider the fan’s primary purpose
Before buying a solar-powered fan, you’ll want to consider what exactly you want it for.
To best help you determine the best solar powered fan for your specific needs, here are some factors to consider when buying one of these appliances:
- Maximum airflow volume (CFM) – The first factor is airflow volume, which is typically measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). This indicates how much air can move through the fan at one time, which will help determine whether or not the appliance has enough power to serve its purpose.
- Energy consumption (watts) per hour/day – The best solar powered fan will have a low wattage and use this energy efficiently.
- Ease of installation – Solar fans should be easy to install for your convenience, so look into which models are the best fit before making any purchase decisions.
- Coverage area (square feet or meters depending on which you prefer) – The best solar powered fan will have a range that is able to evenly distribute air throughout your desired area.
- Noise level at full power/at low power/other speeds – A highly-rated solar fan will run quietly so you can enjoy a cool breeze without disturbing your peace and quiet.
- Maximum airflow height (feet or meters) – Look for a solar fan that is capable of reaching the highest parts of the room you plan to place it in so that air movement will be evenly distributed throughout. For example, if you are looking for a solar-powered fan for a greenhouse, you need to make sure that it’s powerful enough to ventilate the space adequately.
- Weight (pounds or kilograms) – Choose a lightweight best solar-powered fan if portability and ease-of-use are important to you as this allows you to install it in different locations.
Think about solar panel location
Not only do you have to think about how big the solar panel on your solar fan is but also where it will be placed and what kind of weather conditions it will face outdoors.
If there are heavy rains expected in your area, avoid placing panels under eaves or other spots that would increase the chances of water damage and look for solar panels with IP rated waterproofing.
To get the best from your solar panel, install it somewhere where it is best able to absorb sunlight for the longest period of time.
You should also make sure the unit isn’t in a position where other objects will obstruct its ability to get enough light by overshadowing or shading it from the sun, meaning you could lose out on power and efficiency over time.
To make sure you’ve got all the information you need to buy the right solar-powered fan for you, we’ve pulled together some of the most frequently asked questions on solar fans and answered them for you.
Q: Do solar powered attic fans work at night?
A: As a general rule solar-powered fans do not work in the dark, and will only run when they are exposed to sunlight. However, if you need your fan to work at night, you can always opt for a hybrid model that also runs on mains power or a model with a rechargeable battery.
Q: Are solar attic fans tax deductible?
A: Yes! The Federal tax credit for solar attic fans has been extended through 2021. A Solar powered attic fan is eligible for a 30% (up to $1,500) credit on the purchase price of the fan, installation and sales tax.
Tax incentives above and beyond the 30% Federal tax rebate are available for residents of specific municipalities and you can find a list of those municipalities here.
Q: How does a solar-powered fan work?
A: Solar-powered fans work exactly the same as any other fan, except they draw their power from a solar panel. Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity. Some solar fans come with a rechargeable battery included while others run directly from the DC power being produced by the fan.
The best solar powered fan
For us, the best solar powered fan for your money is the Cowin Solar Fan System. It’s simple to use, has great battery life and comes with some neat little extras, like a light and USB port for charging your device, that set it above the competition.
For more ideas on solar-powered gadgets, check out our guide to the best solar home products.