Solar Fan Installation Wood Roof

Solar Fan Installation Wood Roof

See the process behind the installation of yellowblue solar attic fans when they’re used on a wooden roof home. Engineer Dennis Grubb and installer Eric Mortenson walk us through the placement, installation, and end performance of the yellowblue solar attic fan.


We’re going to go up on this roof and install a solar-powered attic ventilation fan. This is the shingle roof. Eric’s going to completely explain the entire process so you’ll understand how to place it, how to install it, and what the end performance will be. So Eric, let’s go ahead and get that done.

Now we’re on the roof of the home where we’re going to be installing our low profile solar-powered attic fan. We want to make sure that we locate the fan directly in the center of the two framing members so we want to make sure we’re in between both of the rafters going down the roof.  I want to show you a couple different ways that we can determine that.

The first way is to measure the overhang on the building. So if I just reach over and measure my overhang, I’ve got a 16 inch overhang to where my framing starts, so if I come back here and measure 16 inches in — that’s where my common framing would start. I can go every two feet from there, and there would be a framing member. If I went 2 foot, 4 foot, 6 foot, 8 foot and so on, that will help you establish the layout and help you understand where to put your fan.

Now for those of you with a little bit more experience, there is an easier way and we can tell just by the sponginess of the roof. It gives as I bounce on it. If I come over here, it doesn’t do that at all and that’s because I’m standing directly over one of the rafters. Does that make sense? So what we’re going to do is apply both methods to double-check ourselves to make sure that we’re accurate. We’re going to go ahead and do that. The other thing I’d like to show you is this — at the moment, the roofers have located two passive vents on this roof. Now, we would like to center our fan over this living space so we’re going to locate our fan in between these two passive vents and then we’re going to have to go back and make sure that we block these vents so that the fan will draw intake from the lower end of the roof. This is strictly for aesthetics to make sure that we look like we’re centered.

We want to check that 14 feet between them so 7 feet would be the center. We’ve confirmed that that’s between two roof trusses, so we’re going to go ahead and establish our point down from the roof or down from the ridge which will be two feet.

Make sure that when you’re taking your fan out, you can use some of this cardboard. Just set the fan back down and keep it nice and protected. That’ll help protect the surface in this nice beautiful embedded solar panel.

That’s going to be just enough for me to slide my tape measure in here. I’m going to slide it in here to the point where I know it’s hitting. I might need to make my own just a little bit bigger. Okay. We’ve got our inspection hole. I’m just going to stick my tape measure in here and find the next truss. We’re 8 1/2 inches from my inspection hole. There’s 8 1/2 inches. That means my truss is right here. So what we’re looking for is your inside diameter of your pattern to be inside this line. So long as this edge is inside 8 ½, we’re going to be well in the center of this cavity.

The next step here is to take our razor knife with a hook blade and remove these shingles. The reason for that is these asphalt shingles can be known to gum up your blade. You can see that they’re already going up our sawzall blade. I can make it a whole lot more difficult. I’m cutting a hole in here a whole lot easier just to remove these shingles with a hook blade. I’ll show you how to do that now.

Okay. As you can see, we’ve removed all of our asphalt shingles from our roof decking and now we’re ready to go ahead and cut our hole with our sawzall. It can be a whole lot more helpful to get a pilot hole on the perimeter so you don’t have to make a cut and turn with your saw. And it can be helpful to make a couple. That allows you to go a couple different directions with your saw.

Now make sure that you guys have a screw in this so you have something to hold on to if you don’t have a hole in here and it’s nice to have a partner to help you catch this. If this were to fall into the attic, it could potentially cause a hole or damage to the drywall.

There we go. Jason did a great job cutting a nice perfect circle. You want to make sure that you cut perfect 16 inch diameter circle just exactly. That’s on the pattern to allow as much air to go through the fan as possible. Now the next step that Jason’s doing here is he’s going to go ahead and start breaking the power strip on these shingles. The reason we’re doing that is there’s a tar strip that seals these shingles down at the bottom of every shingle.

I’d like to show you guys a method to break this tar-strip without causing damage to the shingle. It’s nice to use the your hand or a hammer to just lightly tap on this tar-strip. Now, you really have to watch what you’re doing as you’re going and you may need to change your point of attack occasionally to make sure that we’re not coming up through this shingle. It’s always necessary to keep a downward angle on your flat bars. Once we get it started, typically they come up pretty easily. What we’re looking for is to come about 6 inches on each side so that our flashing will slide up in here.

So we’ve appropriately broken or tar seal. Now, when we go to slide are flashing in here, there’s going to be roofing nails sporadically around the diameter of our hole, so what Jason’s going to do is change to a metal tip blade and slide that blade up under here. He’s going to go just like this with this sawzall around the radiu, and we’re going to buzz those nails off so that they’re not impeding the flashing from getting up and underneath our shakers. When you’re doing this, it’s highly important to make sure that you keep your blade flat with the roof so that the light doesn’t come and cut through your operation.

Once you go all the way through, you know you’ve got all the nails back. The next step is to go ahead and make sure our fan’s going to fit.

So Jason’s going to open up our shingles there and you want to be nice and careful slide it up. Jason’s checking the reveal on his side, and we’re looking to make sure that the reveal is the same all the way around the shingles that we cut to make sure that the fan is centered directly over our whole. So we’re going to pull this back out. Jason’s going to prepare a caulk gun and apply some sealant to the bottom of this flash. Another thing that’s highly important is to make sure you guys keep the roof clean as you go. Roofs can be very windy places. If any of this were to go blowing off the roof, you could see this could be very dangerous if we were to allow that to blow off the roof so make sure you keep your roof clean.

Now this next step is definitely easier with two people. I’m going to be responsible for my side and Jason’s going to be responsible for his side, and the goal here is to be able to slide this fan in without smearing our sealant all over the roof. What each of us is going to be doing is holding up the shingles where we broke our tar seal and very carefully sliding this fan in while maintaining a slightly upward angle.

Jason’s getting ready to apply our fasteners. These are hex head nut driven screws with washers on them. So we’re going to have Jason put one screw in each bottom corner. As you can see, we’ve got this tar sealed up — that’s a great place to put a screw and we’ll let that shingle roll back over that and shed water. The last step before we come back after all these fasteners is to make sure that we apply some new sealant and redo the seal that we’ve broken. After you’re done applying your sealant, it’s important to  relieve the pressure. Otherwise, your tube of sealant will continue to expel sealant and it can end up smearing all over the roof and creating a big mess.

Make sure that you get a good seal — a nice good polyurethane sealant. That took us maybe about a half an hour. Most fans should be able to do inside an hour barring any unusual circumstance

Let’s go over the details because all solar fans are not created equal. There’s a huge difference in terms of performance and quality from this particular product and every other product in the market, so let’s look down here closely at the actual construction of the material. 100% of all the parts you can see are all made out of aircraft-grade aluminum.That prevents the fan from rusting. The big problem with plastic on the roof is it will degrade rather typically, especially here in places like New Mexico and Texas and South America.

It’s going to be looking at the Sun without any protection for 12 or more hours every day in the sun. If we don’t make this out of really high quality material, it’s just not going to last. So there’s no steel components in here. This is all made out of aircraft-grade aluminum so we’re never going to have a rusting problem. The solar panel on the top is the highest grade polycrystalline solar panel and is made in our own factory. This is a super high quality solar panel. It makes an excess amount of energy so that this system can actually operate and we know we’re going to get a long life cycle.

The projected life cycle of this product is between 42 to 45 years. The average competitive product is typically one to three years. Iif they put a thermostat in their unit, they can sometimes extend the life to 5 to 7 years, but then you’re not operating in the some of the most important climate which is the cold climates, so we typically will not put a thermostat in these units and that’s so that the unit will operate in the winter and in the summer.

There’s another very important component underneath the hood here and what that component does is helps to deflect the light so that the light will exit out of the unit more efficiently. The motor is one of the most important parts of the system. It’s a brushless d/c motor with built-in MPPT technology which helped it to harvest more energy with lower amounts of sunlight. It’’ll start working earlier in the morning and it’ll work later in the afternoon. Under certain circumstances, we do offer a tilt model which is very applicable in certain conditions. As you can see, it’s aesthetically very beautiful. These are all hand-made in our factory in New Mexico — all-american-made, and we’re real proud of that.