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Types of Roof Vents: A Visual Guide

July 5th, 2024 | 4 min. read

By Louis Greubel

Six types of roof vents on a white background: a gable vent, a solar-powered vent, a turbine vent, a powered vent, a ridge vent, and a box vent.

Proper attic ventilation is essential. Not only will maintaining constant air circulation help to keep your home cool during the stifling summer months, but it will also prevent moisture buildup that causes mold and mildew, improving the lifespan of your insulation and roof shingles.

To achieve this ventilation, contractors install roof vents on a home’s roof. These vents are designed in such a way that allows air to flow while also ensuring rain, snow, and nuisance wildlife don’t end up inside your attic.

At HY-C, we manufacture several styles of roof vent covers that provide an additional layer of protection against nuisance wildlife. In developing these products, we’ve learned plenty about the types of roof vents our covers fit over. And in this guide, we’re going to take a look at those vents in depth.

We’ll lay out six common types of roof vents typically found on homes across the country. We’ll cover their pros and cons to help you better understand which type may be right for your home. And we’ll even offer some insight as to whether or not you should install roof vent covers over your vents.

Table of contents (click to jump to a section):

Roof Ridge Vent

A roof ridge vent installed on a roof with dark-gray shingles. The roof vent has hip and ridge shingles installed on top of it.

This type of roof vent has grown in popularity over the years. Manufactured by companies like Air Vent and Owens Corning, it’s sometimes called a roof crown vent because of its location on the roof’s peak.

A ridge vent runs along the entirety (or part of) a roof’s ridge. It spreads the venting surface area out into long, thin sections, resulting in a low-profile finish with efficient airflow. Ridge vents are covered with hip and ridge shingles, helping the vent to blend seamlessly into the rest of the roof.

Ridge vents are one of the most sought-after styles of roof vent due to their subtle aesthetic and effective circulation. On the downside, they can be difficult to retrofit onto older homes and can be expensive to install. They’re designed to keep out most nuisance wildlife, but smaller animals like bats can still squeeze past them if they’re warped or installed unevenly.

Power Roof Vent

A gray powered roof vent installed on a roof with gray shingles.

With popular models manufactured by brands like Maxx Air and Air Vent, power roof vents take ventilation to another level. These vents are hardwired to your home’s electrical circuitry. They contain a thermostatically controlled fan that kicks on when a set temperature threshold is met, pulling hot air out of the attic.

Power roof vents are popular for their customizability and level of precision-control. Some models are even smartphone-operated, adjustable in response to sudden weather changes at the push of a button.

As you might expect from vents with this much modularity, powered vents tend to be expensive. Because they’re wired, they may have an effect on your electric bill, too. Also, the fan is great when it works — but if its motor breaks, you’ll be out of luck.

Solar Powered Roof Vents

A solar-powered roof vent installed on a roof with light-gray shingles.

Solar powered roof vents work the same way as power vents but without the electrical wiring. Made by companies like Remington Solar and QuietCool, the fans in these vents also kick on at a preset temperature or humidity level.

Obviously the main appeal is that these vents are powered by the sun. As such, they don’t cost any money to operate. Some models even come with an adjustable hinge system to catch sunlight at the most optimal angle.

Solar powered roof vents tend to be very expensive — in some cases, more than twice as much as the already pricey power roof vents. Also, because they depend on the sun to work, a few cloudy days in a row may leave your attic air stagnant for an extended period.

Roof Turbine Vent

An unpainted metal roof turbine vent installed on a roof with gray shingles.

Also called whirlybird roof vents, turbine vents are clever in their design and execution. Produced by manufacturers like Lomanco and Air Vent, these vents spin on a ball bearing system, creating negative pressure that sucks hot air and moisture up and out of the attic.

Turbine roof vents are essentially an analog version of powered roof vents. They’re relatively inexpensive, and their frequent rotation helps to deter nuisance wildlife like birds, bats, squirrels, and raccoons from nesting in them.

This type of vent relies on winds above five or six miles per hour to work, so on low-wind or no-wind days, they won’t be very effective. Also, even though they tend to deter nuisance wildlife, critters can still get past them.

There’s also the aesthetic factor to consider. Turbine vents tend to stick up high off of roofs, and some homeowners may find the spinning distracting. Also, if the bearings rust out or go bad, they can become squeaky and noisy when they spin, which can be very irritating.

Box Roof Vent

A black box roof vent installed on a roof with gray shingles.

Also known as static roof vents, box vents are about as simple as a roof vent gets. Manufactured by brands like Broan-NuTone and Air Vent, these vents don’t utilize fans, thermostats, or bearings. They merely sit atop roofs passively allowing air to vent through their side slots.

Their uncomplicated nature makes box roof vents easy to install and even easier to maintain. They keep weather out, and they tend to have a low-profile appearance that homeowners prefer. They’re also very inexpensive.

On the downside, box vents are usually made from cheap, flimsy materials. This is fine from a ventilation perspective, but from a nuisance wildlife perspective, it’s a big disadvantage. Any squirrel or raccoon that finds its way on your roof can easily bypass a static vent and start living in your attic.

Gable Vents

The facade of a home with a white, round gable end vent installed over the beige siding.

While they don’t sit on top of roofs, gable vents operate the same way as the other vents on this list. Made by names like Fypon, Ekena Millwork, and American Louver and Vent Company, gable vents go on either end of an attic. In fact, they’re often called gable “end” vents.

Much like box vents, gable vents work passively, providing a spot through which air can circulate. Their downward-facing louvers help to prevent precipitating from getting in, and they often come built with a mesh bug screen to keep insects out.

Gable vents tend to look nice, often complimenting the aesthetic of the home on which they’re installed. However, they are a very common entry point for nuisance wildlife; their non-metal materials do very little to stop animals from getting in.

Roof Vent Covers

This has been a close look at six different types of common roof vents. Each of these vents does a great job at keeping out rain and snow, but all of them have one big issue in common: they’re all vulnerable to nuisance wildlife.

Roof vents are all made with some level of wildlife exclusion in mind, but whether through design flaws, lackluster materials, or both, critters of all kinds very commonly exploit roof vents to get inside attics, causing all kinds of environmental hazards and structural damage.

That’s why no matter what kind of roof vents are on your home, it’s always a good idea to add roof vent covers as an extra layer of protection against wildlife. They can save you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road and provide a priceless level of peace of mind.

Our roof vent guard guide dives into these covers, what types of vents they can help to protect, and what kinds of animals they help to keep out. Take a look to learn more about how you can keep your home safe, secure, and wildlife-free.

Louis Greubel

Louis earned a bachelor's degree in English with a focus in rhetoric and composition from St. Louis University in 2017. He has worked in marketing as a content writer for over 5 years. Currently, he oversees the HY-C Learning Center, helping HY-C subject matter experts to share their decades of home solution products experience with homeowners and sales partners across the country.