Even if you live in a northern climate, you’ll find that on some days, you’ll open up your shed only to be greeted with a blast of hot air, especially if your shed has nothing to shade it. Of course, opening the door and any windows for a few hours to air it out daily is a great idea. However, most of us work and can’t just leave the shed open when we’re not home.
Any lawn chemicals or paints stored in the shed may deteriorate somewhat from excessive heat. Heat can also affect other things you have stored. Having good air circulation also helps prevent excessive moisture in your shed.
Another problem comes up if you don’t use your shed just for storage but also do some work in it, whether potting plants, building things, or the like. You’ll really feel the heat on a hot day if you spend a lot of time there.
Putting in an air conditioner may just not be in your budget, especially if you have no electricity already run to the shed. Fans also are powered by electricity or batteries. What you can get is a solar-powered fan.
Choose a solar powered fan that can meet your requirements and have enough capacity and battery power to operate when you need it. Research the various fans available to get the best one for your needs.
How to Choose a Solar Powered Fan
First, you need to decide where you want your fan. Do you want a fan that runs inside the shed? How about a gable fan? If you have air vents installed in both gables, you can install a fan on one end to draw cooler air through the vent on the opposite gable, through the shed, and then pull the hot air outside.
You might want to install an attic fan. Many homes are equipped with these. They are installed on your roof and draw the hot air up and out. They do need an air source to draw from for the best results. This is where the gable vents come in. Otherwise, they’ll only work well if you have a window or the door open.
There are many solar-powered fan models and styles on the market. You’ll need to consider the size of your shed and figure out the minimum airflow needed in your particular shed. One way to figure this out is to multiply the square footage of the shed by its height, then divide the total you get by 7.5.
If you have the usual peaked roof, measure the height at its greatest to get the numbers. This way you’ll get a figure that’s a bit bigger than the actual cubic footage, but you also will prevent getting a fan that just doesn’t do the job.
What to Look for in a Solar Powered Fan
How is it mounted? The roof-mounted fans are great and ventilating your shed and cooling your roof, but you may not want to cut into the roof to install it. There are also those that mount on the walls. This type will give you much more choice in just where to mount it while not being such a big project to install.
There are both those that mount in the wall and those that mount on the exterior of the wall. You can usually find a model that will easily replace one of the gable vents you may have.
What is the capacity? The number you came up with previously mentioned will play into this decision. Fans will usually state their rated capacity as CFM, or cubic feet per minute. This figure will help you decide which model is right for your size shed. Wattage is also a consideration, and the higher the wattage, the better the efficiency in moving air. You can check out Amazons full line of solar powered fans here.
What about the solar panels? Various models have different-sized solar panels. Usually, the models designed for sheds come with smaller panels than those meant for houses or other buildings, but the larger the solar panel, the higher the wattage will be. You don’t want a fan that’s going to struggle due to insufficient power.
Does it have a thermostat? Some models do come with a thermostat that will automatically turn the fan on when the heat or humidity level inside the shed reaches a point that you set. Other models come with manual controls that required you to turn the fan on and off yourself. Of course, the manual models will probably cost less, but if you want a fan that cools your shed when needed while you’re at work, you may want to consider a thermostat to be a priority.
Is it noisy? This may not be a consideration if you just use your shed for storage, but if you use it as any kind of workshop or spend periods of time there, a noisy fan can get on your nerves fairly quickly. Some models are designed to be quiet, while other models are only heard on the outside, leaving your shed relatively peaceful.
Those models that are wall-mounted and sit on the outside of the shed usually are the kind that is only heard on the outside, but many models of any style are made to be quiet.
Does it come with a warranty? Many models will warrant against malfunction caused by manufacturing defects for a year. Of course, those models with a longer warranty will give you more peace of mind. Be sure to check this out when purchasing a fan.
Does it have a battery? Some of the more expensive models will store extra energy collected during the daytime in a battery so that it will also come on at night if needed. These also come in handy on totally overcast days, which can still get plenty hot and humid even with cloud cover. If you live in an area with very warm, humid nights, you may want to consider one of these models.
Can a Solar Panel Power a Small Fan?
Solar-powered fans usually come with the appropriately sized solar panel to give the fan sufficient power. If you have any doubts about a fan with a small panel, you may be able to find the same sized fan with a larger panel.
It’s also possible to run a regular fan from a solar panel, but there is a major complication with this. The solar panel provides direct current or DC power. With a solar-powered fan, this is no problem, as the fan is designed to run on DC power.
Other fans are meant to run on alternating current or AC. This is the same power that runs the electrical gadgets in your home. If you want to run a regular AC fan from a solar panel, you’ll also need a solar inverter, which will convert the DC power from the panel to the AC power the fan needs to run.
Since there are so many solar-powered fans on the market, it really doesn’t make sense to go to all the trouble and expense to try to run a regular fan from a solar panel.
How Long Does a Solar Powered Fan Last?
Many solar-powered fans will last up to 15 years. If you install one in your attic, be sure to keep the solar panel free of debris, especially if you have trees overhanging your shed. You’ll also need to keep debris out of your fan unless it has a protective shield. The wall-mounted types won’t need as much inspection, but you’ll still need to take care of the solar panel.
What Size Solar Panel Do I Need to Run a Fan?
The solar panel that comes with a solar-powered fan should have its output expressed in watts. The fan itself should list what wattage it needs to operate efficiently. If you have doubts about a particular model, your supplier should be able to answer these questions.
Of course, the larger the fan, the more power it will need. If you have a large shed, you’ll need a larger fan and a larger panel to power it.
It’s a good idea to be mindful of the wattage of both, as some of the smaller and less expensive fans may come with a panel that barely does the job. If you are looking at fans with a battery backup system, you’ll need more power to enable the battery to store the excess. Make sure that the panel puts out more wattage than the fan and you should be safe.
Do I Need a Battery for a Solar-Powered Fan?
It’s a good idea to have a battery storage system to enable the fan to operate when there is no sun. If you live in an area prone to overcast days, a battery system can still run the fan even when it’s cloudy. It can also power the fan if you experience hot, humid nights. Models that come with a battery backup system are usually more expensive, but if you have many cloudy days during warmer weather, it’s probably a good investment.
Can You Use a Solar Powered Fan While Charging?
These fans can be used while charging the battery backup system. Some free-standing fans, such as a floor fan you might place in your shed, usually run on a battery system that needs the smaller solar panel to be set outside in order to charge the battery.
Most people who install solar-powered fans in a shed, however, opt for a more permanent solution, such as a rooftop or wall-mounted fan system that will have the solar panel mounted so that it can always catch the sun.
How Long Do Battery Operated Fans Last Without Sunlight?
This will depend on the capacity of the battery. Some battery fan systems are designed to allow the fan to run all night on a full charge. Of course, if you get the kind of fan that has a thermostat, you won’t need that much capacity, as the fan will run for only short periods.
How Much Will a Solar Powered Fan and System Cost?
Solar-powered fan kits may cost less than you think. They can run from around $30 for the smaller, wall-mounted or vent-mounted kits to over $200, depending on the size and power of the fan and size of the solar panel and extra features, such as a battery backup system and thermostat.
Where to Install a Solar-Powered Fan for Your Shed
For any wall-mounted or gable-mounted model, you install the fan into the wall of the shed or the vent opening, then a wire runs up to the solar panel, which you mount on top of the roof.
If you have a battery backup system, the panel is connected to the battery, then the battery to the fan. The location of the solar panel may dictate where you install your fan. You need to have the solar panel placed in a location where it can get the most available sunlight without having it so far from the fan that the wiring won’t reach between the two.
You also don’t want to install it near overhanging tree branches to minimize any chance of debris falling on the panel and damaging it or leaves blocking its access to the sunlight.
Many roof-mounted fans some with the solar panel attached to the top, either flat against the fan guard or on a slant for pitched roofs. The fan itself is located under the fan guard. This type has its pros and cons. You’ll need to cut a hole in your roof, but the good thing is that there is only one piece to install. The other consideration is the condition of your roof.
If you have an old roof on your shed that has seen many better days, it may not support the fan and panel as it should. If you have metal roofing, this will probably make the job a bit harder as well.
With a solar-powered fan in your shed, you can be sure that your shed won’t get too hot while you’re at work or on vacation, or when you’re in there working on staining a piece of furniture. While a good system will cost more than a fan run by household power, remember that the cost is all up front.
You won’t be paying for power for the life of the fan. Just do some research into the various types that are available, figure out what capacity of airflow you’ll need, and decide which features you want. Once you get it installed, you can virtually forget about it, and it will do the job for you.