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What are the Types of Roof Vents? (Active & Passive Roof Ventilation)

April 2nd, 2021 | 7 min. read

What are the Types of Roof Vents? (Active & Passive Roof Ventilation)

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You can walk around any neighborhood, look at the roofs, and see different things coming through and/or sitting on the roof. These different roof penetrations all serve a certain purpose to help your roof and home function the way it’s supposed to. 

One of the more important penetrations is your roof vents. Roof vents come in different shapes and sizes, but all perform the same function: allowing your home to breathe correctly. 

When you get a new roof, you’ll choose what style of vent based on the look you want and the ventilation system your attic has. But what are the different types of roof vents to choose from? 

Because we want you to have all the knowledge to make the right purchasing decision for your situation, we’re going to break it down for you. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped the residents of Nashville with their roof vents and attic ventilation systems since 1990. We work with you to find the right roof vent that fits the look you want while staying on budget. And if there’s ever a problem with a roof vent we install, you’ll have our lifetime warranty to take care of it. 

By the end of this article, you’ll learn about the attic ventilation systems and the common types of roof vents. 

What is attic ventilation?

Your attic’s ventilation is a system that allows your house to breathe. It works by pulling fresh air through your attic and allowing the heat to escape through your vents properly. 

There are 2 types of attic ventilation systems: active and passive. Active ventilation pulls the air in from the outside and pushes it out from the inside. Passive ventilation means the air in the attic is moved around by natural sources, such as wind.

Both ventilation systems do their job, and one isn’t better than the other. But if your attic isn’t properly ventilated, it’s going to lead to problems.

What are the types of roof vents?

Now you know what attic ventilation is and the 2 types of ventilation systems. Each system comes with different styles of roof vents to choose from. 

The types of active roof vents

Active vents work by creating a drawing effect that pulls the air in with the intake vents and pushes it back out through the exhaust vents. There are 4 common types of active roof vents: turbine, power, ridge, and solar-powered vents. 

Turbine vents

Turbine vents (also known as whirly birds) work by using a drawing effect through convection (heat rising) to move the air in your attic around even when there is no wind.

active ventilation turbine vent

As long as this type of vent is installed properly, the air in your attic is moved around 10-12 times per hour. 

Because turbine vents have slats on them and are open-aired to the attic, there is a misconception that rain, snow, and insects can enter your home through them. However, they’re designed so that none of this occurs unless the vent is damaged. 

Power vents 

Power vents are circular-shaped vents with very low profiles you see on most roofs.

power vent

They’re installed near the ridge (top) of the roof and use electricity to pull the hot air from the attic. During the winter, you’ll want to run your power vents with a humidistat.

Otherwise, the humidity will build up in your attic, cause condensation, and shorten your roof’s lifespan. Be aware, power vent motors tend to fail, so be prepared to replace them at some point.

Solar powered vents 

Solar powered vents are like power vents, but they use the sun as their power source.

solar powered vent

These vents sound great from an energy saver standpoint, but the vent turns off when the solar powered battery is charging. 

The problem is that the solar panel won’t hold a charge long enough to run the vent all day due to the power needed to run the motor. So while the battery is recharging, you may wind up with your air conditioner running more, which will cause your energy bill to go up.

Ridge vents with a baffle 

Ridge vents are cut into the ridge of the roof and run the entire length of it.

RidgeVent (2)

This style of vent is popular because they aren’t noticeable from the ground. While they’re extremely popular, the downside to this vent is that if the vent doesn't have a filter, insects, debris, rain, and snow can enter the attic.

If a ridge vent doesn’t have a baffle (chutes that provide a channel for air to flow) to help move the air through your attic, then it’s a passive vent.

The types of passive roof vents

Passive vents use the natural forces of nature, such as wind and convection, to move the air through your attic. These vents have no moving parts, create no noise, and are virtually maintenance-free. 

The common types of passive roof vents are static, ridge vents without a baffle, and gable end vents. 

Static vents

Static vents look like little boxes on your roof.

passive ventilation box vent

They work by allowing the heat to escape out of the roof through the convection method.

This means as the heat in your attic rises, the hot air is pushed out through the vents. You might also hear static vents called turtle vents or box vents. 

Ridge vents without a baffle

Like the active version of this type of roof vent, it’s cut into the ridge and runs the entire length of the ridge. The only difference is that there’s no baffle (chutes that provide a channel for air to flow). 

The problem with ridge vents without a baffle is that it allows debris, rain, snow, insects, etc. to enter your attic.

Gable end vents

A gable end vent is a wooden vent installed on the exterior wall of your attic below where the 2 slopes of your roof meet. This vent relies on the wind coming from the outside to move the air in and out of your attic.

Why is attic ventilation important to your roof and home?

Now you know the most common types of roof vents. Which roof vent you choose depends on the look you want and the ventilation system.  

No matter what kind of roof vent you want, the most important thing is that your attic is properly ventilated. If it’s not, it will lead to a multitude of costly problems and headaches in the future. 

That’s why it’s crucial to know why proper attic ventilation is important to not only your roof but also your home. Because it’s so important, we already broke it down for you.    

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners in the Nashville area with everything roofing, including something as important as attic ventilation. That’s why one of the first things we check for during an inspection is proper ventilation.

To learn the importance of your attic’s ventilation system, check out this article on 3 Reasons Why Proper Attic Ventilation Is Important to Your Roof and Home.

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