10 Types Of Roof Vents For Houses

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

For most homes, the roof is the biggest form of defense. Roof ventilation permits air flow through the metal roofing system to keep your roof performing as best as possible. The proper roof ventilation system is crucial to extending the life of your roof, saving you money on your energy bills, and ensuring that your home is a much healthier environment.

After all, the last thing that you want is a roof space that is frigid in the winter and blazing hot in the summer. Both of these problems can lead to deeper and more expensive issues down the line. Roof vents come in all shapes, sizes, and types, with some being more effective than others. Though, each roof vent has the same task of either eliminating stale air from your attic space (exhaust) or bringing fresh air into the space (intake).

With so many different types of roof vents out there, how do you know which one to choose? That’s where we come in! Continue reading for our comprehensive guide on types of roof vents, that way you can determine which is best for your home.

How Does Roof Ventilation Work?

Having the appropriate roof ventilation in your attic operates by allowing air to flow through the attic space, preventing it from becoming overheated and producing moisture. Ventilation can only work when there’s air flowing and the two main methods to create airflow in an attic or roof space is:

  • Natural: When possible, natural roof ventilation is used. A stack effect and wind effect work together to distribute air naturally.
  • Mechanical: Needs a power source to produce airflow.

In speaking about natural roof ventilation, the stack effect happens when hot air rises and results in higher pressure at the high points in the attic. Then, the hot air that outflows is called exhaust. Though, the hot air cannot escape without an inlet for cooler, low-pressure air to get in. The cool air that enters is known as the intake.

On the other hand, the wind effect occurs when wind blows against the outside of your roof, increasing the volume of both intake and exhaust. The combination of intake and exhaust creates the natural flow of air in a properly ventilated attic.

Roof Ventilation Types

Roof ventilation systems are unique to each home and the roof vent that is best for your home will depend on the configuration and airflow in your home. Additional factors that must be considered when it comes to venting your roof include regional climate, local code requirements, and ceiling and roof designs. That said, the two main types of roof ventilation are as follows:

Exhaust Ventilation

When it comes to ventilating your attic space, the hot air is what you want to remove as this is what contains moisture. If you let the hot air remain stagnant, it can cause mildew and eventually mold growth. In fact, this is one of the main reasons that proper roof ventilation is so crucial.

Exhaust air vents allow this hot air to escape your attic. They are typically installed near the top of your roof line and the most common exhaust vent used is the ridge vent. Although they allow the hot, humid, stale, moist air leave your home, they are only the first half of an excellent roof venting approach.

Intake Ventilation

While ensuring that hot air leaves your attic space is important for your roof’s health and longevity, make sure it exits is not as easy as it sounds. Hot air will not leave without being forced out, which is why some sort of bouncer is required. Cool, fresh air, via intake ventilation, is the second half of an excellent roof venting approach.

This cool air enters your attic through intake vents installed at the lower section of your roof line. Since the cool air comes in under the hot air, the intake ventilation helps push the hot air out. In a perfect world, both the exhaust vent and intake vent work together in one cohesive cycle.

Types of Exhaust Roof Vents

The following are the most common types of exhaust roof vents available to choose from for your home:

1. Ridge Vents

Ridge vents are the latest and greatest technology for roof ventilation, and have quickly become the most common form of exhaust roof ventilation for modern roofing styles. If you are installing a new roof, this is likely the type of vent system that you’ll have installed. These vents are created to be mounted at the peak of a roof slope and are virtually invisible to the naked eye.

Though ridge vents are slightly more expensive than many other options, they provide an even distribution of air, instead of venting specific sections. For this reason, when properly installed, they are one of the most efficient roof venting options – which can offset the high upfront cost. Ridge vents are typically combined with soffit intake venting for best results.

2. Wind Turbines

Also known as whirlybirds, wind turbines are among the oldest types of roof vents out there. You’ve likely seen them spinning on older homes or apartment buildings. These roof vents do no use electricity; instead it functions solely on air movement. Powered by the wind, as the wind turbine spins, it pulls hot, humid, stale air out and removes it from your attic space and cools it naturally.

Wind turbines are ideal for areas where wind is a common occurrence. Though, the wind only needs to hit above 5 mph for the vent to be effective. These vents are both affordable and long-lasting.

3. Power Vents

Power vents, as their name suggests, operate on electric power and are often called electric-powered attic vents. They can be installed on your roof or gable and come in a wide variety of colors. These vents are small, round, and low-profile. The way that power vents work is that the motor turns a fan that pushes hot air out, reducing moisture and humidity in the attic. There are two main types of power vents:

  • Hardwired Power Roof Vents: The most common type of roof vent, hardwired vents are directly wired to your home and are connected to a thermostat/humidistat for operation. They can move a substantial amount of air and function efficiently and quietly.
  • Solar-Powered Roof Vents: Instead of being hardwired, these power vents are powered by the sun via a solar panel attached to the mount. They are ideal for roofs that get a lot of sunlight throughout the day.

4. Off-Ridge Vents

Off-ridge vents are a lesser-known option. The function similarly to box vents and require a cutout near the roof ridge to be mounted in. These vents are long and thin in shape and serve to remove hot air and moisture from your roof space. The drawback to these vents is that they are not effective for larger attic spaces.

5. Hip Vents

Designed similarly to ridge vents, hip vents are meant for hip roofs. These roofs are roughly pyramid-shaped and have steep slopes that don’t have ridges to use a ridge vent. A hip vent is installed over the side hip seams, then covered with shingles. They are well-designed, highly effective, and relatively inconspicuous.

6. Box Vents

Like ridge vents, box vents are another popular exhaust roof venting option. As their name suggests, they are shaped like a small box and are set in a hole cut in the roof. Depending on the size of your home, you may need several box vents spread out across the roof. These vents do not use electricity and function best with open attic plans so that they can work effectively alongside a soffit vent.

The advantage to box vents is that they come in a number of colors that can match your shingles and, as such, are somewhat inconspicuous.

7. Cupola Vents

Another older style vent, cupola vents are large and had the original purpose of allowing both light and ventilation in through one single source. These vents are installed right on the ridge of a roof to allow a constant flow of air. They are more common on barns, sheds, and other outbuildings rather than homes. The drawback to cupola vents is that they can be rather expensive, with some costing well over $1,000.

Types of Intake Roof Vents

Intake vents function best with another form of ventilation. Their purpose is to pull in air and cycle it through another system, cooling down the space. The following are some of the most common intake roof vents:

1. Soffit Vents

Soffit vents are a unique style of vent that is usually installed underneath a roof eave or peak. They are made of a flexible material that allows humid air to travel out. Although soffit vents can perform well on their own, they work best when paired with a type of exhaust roof vent. Regardless, these vents do an excellent job at reducing cooling costs and allow your air conditioning unit to cool more efficiently.

Pro Tip: Oftentimes, the most effective roof ventilation strategy is pairing a ridge vent with a soffit vent.

2. Fascia Vents

Fascia vents are the ideal choice for hip roofs, as these roofs don’t have much of an edge or eaves to attach any other type of intake vent. The work best when paired with hip vents. Although the setup may be different, they essentially function the same as a ridge vent and soffit vent system.

3. Drip-Edge Vents

Drip-edge vents are designed to work similarly to soffit vents, but not all homes have the space to accommodate a soffit vent under the eaves. This is where drip-edge vents come in. These vents are meant to be attached to a roof’s drip-edge, providing intake ventilation. They feature a netted design to facilitate airflow and are quite effective.

These vents can operate on their own, but are most powerful when combined with some sort of exhaust vent.

Final Thoughts

As you examine all the various types of roof vents to choose from, it’s important to keep in mind that may not be a clear-cut right or wrong solution. What may be an excellent choice for your neighbor, may not work for the configuration of your attic space or roofing system.

Ultimately, the best roof vent setup comes down to your attic and what is already installed. Moreover, the best option may boil down to personal preference than an exact requirement.

Related Guides

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

More by Jessica Stone