Types of Roof Vents

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 12, 2024

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Roof ventilation systems are vital to your roof’s function and help your home stay dry and comfortable. There are many types of roof vents to choose from, though, and the options can get confusing. Read our guide to learn which one is right for you, how much each vent system costs, and how nailing down proper roof ventilation could save you money on energy bills.

Importance of Roof Ventilation

Roof and attic ventilation are critical factors in making your home energy efficient and keeping all occupants healthy. Attic ventilation systems affect the life of your roof and help your heating and cooling systems to function. Improper roof ventilation can lead to poor air circulation, an overworked HVAC system, mildew and mold growth, or a buildup of ice dams in cold climates.

Active Roof Vents

Active roof vents harness wind with either nonmoving or moving parts to regulate the temperature of your house’s roof and attic. Read more about the different types of active ventilation below.

Hardwired Powered Attic Vents

Hardwired powered attic vents are popular for use in barns and along gable-style roofs. These types of vents can extend the life of your roof by removing moisture, excessive heat, and stale air, and allowing fresh air to enter. You can connect these vents to your thermostat, which can automatically let cooler air inside if the temperature gets too warm.

Solar-Powered Vents

These attic air vents perform similarly to hardwired powered vents but use solar power as their form of energy. While they are typically meant to function without electricity, some solar-powered air vents come with batteries or the ability to connect to a home’s power source.

Roof Turbine Vents

Turbine vents, which are also known as whirlybird vents, harness wind to spin a turbine that pulls air out of the home using suction. Turbine vents are ideal for attics and crawl spaces and can save homeowners money since they use no electricity.

Passive Roof Vents

Passive ventilation, or natural ventilation, allows naturally rising air to move through an attic space and escape from it. Passive vents are stationed on the highest part of the roofline to allow hot and humid air to head outside. These are the most common types of roof vents in the U.S. Read more about different varieties below.

Box Vents

Their small, square shape makes box vents  ideal for a variety of house types. They appear in clusters across roofs and help with ventilating small areas not suited for ridge vents. Other common names for box vents are turtle vents and louver vents.

Cupola Vents

Cupola vents can either be small and delicate or wide, and they’re popular among homeowners seeking something stylish. These vents are inspired by Italian architecture and can be relatively energy efficient. Cupola vents are pricier than other types of vents and may be tricky to install.

Drip Edge Vents

Consisting of malleable material, drip edge vents help drain water into gutters. This type of roof vent includes small holes in the drip edge and its installation is best left to professionals.

Gable End Vents

Gable vents work best along gable-style roofs and function partially as exhaust systems. While they come in many shapes and sizes, the most popular gable end vent model forms a triangle just below the peak of the roof system.

Ridge Vents

Roof ridge vents sit at the peak of a roof and run across the roof’s ridge line. These vent types allow warm air to escape from the attic space and are especially popular along the East Coast.

Soffit Vents

Soffit roof vents feature small holes that expel hot air from the attic and allow cool air to flow inside. These vent types are available as continuous soffit vents or individual soffit vents. Continuous soffit vents are long and wrap around the eaves of a home while individual soffit vents are small and more spaced out.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Roof Vent

Carefully consider which roof vents are right as you build a home, perform a renovation, or redo your roof. Pay particular attention to the variables below.

Don’t rush the process of choosing a new roof vent style. Be sure that the model you choose matches your needs, budget, and tastes, and carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option.

Our Recommendation

Roof vents are vital to the ventilation, safety, and comfort of your attic space. There are models to suit every house style and design, but not every type of roof vent will suit each home. The age, condition, and type of roof on your house will play roles in which options are best for you. Consult with a professional roofing contractor when making your choice and consider your budget, aesthetic preferences, and area’s climate. With proper planning, you’ll be able to pick a model that will extend your roof’s life span.

Types of Roof Vents FAQ

What are the different types of roof ventilation?

The two primary types of roof ventilation are active roof vents and passive roof vents. Active roof vents use air intake vents and exhaust vents, while passive roof vents rely on wind and convection.

What kind of vents do I need for my roof?

The kinds of vents needed for your roof depend on the style, age, and condition of your home. Consider how much attic space you have, the climate in which you live, and how many roof vents you’ll need.

What are the vents on a roof called?

The vents on a roof are called roof vents and manipulate the air flow inside an attic. Roof vents will keep your home comfortable and mitigate risks of mildew growth, excessive condensation, roof damage, sagging or missing shingles, and water spots on your ceiling.

What are the two kinds of attic ventilation?

There are two main types of attic ventilation: intake vents and exhaust vents. Intake vents allow cool air to enter the attic. They’re located at the lowest part of the roof under the eaves or on the side of the house within a gable. Exhaust vents are usually located at the peak of the roof and are designed to let hot air escape from the attic.

How do I know if my roof is properly vented?

You’ll know your roof is properly vented if there’s consistent airflow in the attic. Your home will stay cool in the summer months, and there probably won’t be mold or mildew in the attic. There’s a good chance that your home isn’t properly vented if you notice a sagging roof, discoloration in the attic, loose shingles, or issues with your HVAC system.