Are Ridge Vents or Turbines Better for Attic Ventilation?

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated July 22, 2021
A turbine ventilator on top of a roof
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Ridge vents and turbines are two popular choices for attic ventilation, but there are pros and cons for each

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Your attic is more than just a storage space for your camping gear and artificial Christmas tree. It plays a key role in your home’s energy efficiency—and can majorly contribute to your bills if it’s not properly ventilated. Ridge vents and turbines are both effective for attic ventilation, though each has its own set of pros and cons.

What Are Ridge Vents?

As the name suggests, ridge vents run the length of your roof’s ridge, right where it peaks. These vents perfectly fit around the apex, disguised with matching shingles for a sleek and subtle look.

Ridge vents cover the most square footage when it comes to attic ventilation. With proper installation, they provide better passive airflow than other roof vents. Note the emphasis on the word “passive” here: Warm air rises and will leave the attic space naturally, but nothing is actively drawing it out.

What Are Turbines?

Turbines are also aptly named, as they are small wind turbines that live atop your roof. They don’t blend in as ridge vents do, but they’re not an eyesore by most people’s standards.

Like ridge vents, turbines don’t use any power. However, turbines aren’t passive—they work with wind energy to actively move warm air up and out of the attic space. In most cases, two or three of these get installed across the rooftop to get the best possible attic ventilation.

Pests: The Problem With Most Roof Vents

Anytime you’re leaving an opening in your roof, as you would with turbines or most other roof vents, you’re also creating a revolving door for pests. Small animals like birds, rats, and squirrels can enter your home through the gaps. Pests can even enter through dryer vents and other types of vents as well.

One major benefit of ridge vents over turbines is that they don’t create a secret entryway for pests. While there are options for blockages, these might hinder the turbine’s performance. Depending on the wildlife situation in your area, this might play a significant role in your decision.

Comparing the Cost of Ridge Vents vs. Turbines

A ridge vent on a roof
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The cost to install a ridge vent is higher than what you’d pay for a few turbines. Again, this is because the vent spans the entire length of the roof rather than just a few specific spots. Still, homeowners who value a more subtle look might find the extra cost worth it.

Ridge Vents and Turbines Together: Better Attic Ventilation?

It seems intuitive that ridge vents and turbines together would lead to better airflow. After all, more vents must mean more ventilation, right? Surprisingly enough, this isn’t the case.

In actuality, mixing two different types of exhaust vents—which include ridge vents, turbine vents, gable louvers, and several others—is counterproductive. This is because it disrupts the circuit of your attic’s airflow. Existing gable vents need sealing for the same reason if you’re going with a ridge roof vent.

If you want a more effective pairing, supplementing ridge vents with multiple small soffit vents is a more efficient way of moving warm air up and out.

Ridge Vent vs. Turbine: Which Should You Go With?

If you value a more subtle look, the ridge vent wins in that category. Ridge roof vents also don’t create openings for pests, which is another bonus.

Still, despite running the entire length of your roof, ridge vents are static and won’t move air the same way turbines do. As long as there’s a healthy amount of wind to power them, turbine vents will provide superior ventilation for your attic.

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