Whirlybirds are one of the most popular roof ventilation options in Australia. Immediately recognizable by their dome shape on top of a building, they are popular in Australia because they use no electricity to cool homes, an advantageous ventilation option in the hotter climate.
Several interesting facts might convince you to use whirlybirds on your roof, but there are also things to consider that suggest other options may be better for your ventilation needs.
Let’s first establish what they are and how they work.
What Is a Whirlybird?
A whirlybird, also known as a turbine ventilator or wind turbine, is a device that is installed on the roof of a building to extract hot air and moisture from the attic and roof space. It usually looks like a cylindrical dome sitting atop a roof. It consists of a turbine-like structure with vanes that rotate when the wind blows, drawing hot and moist air out of the roof cavity through a vent.
Whirlybirds work to keep the attic cool and dry, which can extend the life of the roof and reduce the energy consumption of the building. In summer, they work to remove warm air to keep a house cool. In winter, they provide adequate ventilation and remove the risks associated with moisture-laden air.
Do Whirlybirds Work? 7 Interesting Facts
Whirlies’ design aims to save you money by minimising excessive temperatures. It does this by removing rising heat and moisture-laden air, offering an effective electricity-free roof ventilation system. However, just how energy-efficient and cost-effective are they? Let’s explore this further through some interesting whirlybird facts.
1. They offer passive, energy-efficient ventilation
One interesting fact about whirlybirds is that they can be used to ventilate buildings in a passive, energy-efficient way. Since they rely on wind power to operate, they do not require any electricity to run. This means that they can help to reduce the energy consumption of a building, as well as lower energy costs.
2. But, they need a lot of wind
If the vents don’t spin, the ventilation system doesn’t work. Australia does not offer the windiest of climates. Therefore, on those still, hot, sticky summer days, a whirlybird may not offer the relief a residential home requires. Also, don’t forget that a whirlybird is not an air conditioning system, meaning it cant significantly lower the internal house temperature.
3. They are low-maintenance
In addition, whirlybirds are relatively low-maintenance and can last for many years with minimal upkeep. The products themselves are relatively cheap compared to other ventilation options, and installing them on your roof is a painless experience.
4. They minimise mould
One of the significant advantages of whirlybirds is that they remove excess moisture, meaning less chance of dampness and the hassle and potential health risks associated.
5. They can be noisy
Whirlybirds work best when there are high winds to turn the vanes, ensuring you get proper insulation to cool down hotter homes and better circulation to improve the air quality of your home. However, many whirlybirds can be very noisy when spinning fast, making a bit of a distracting racket, especially when installed in residential homes. This can depend on the brand you choose, much like air conditioning units that can range from silent to a constant hum.
6. One won’t be enough
The number of whirlybirds that you need for a three-bedroom property will depend on the size of the property, as well as the climate in which you live and the type of roof that you have. As a general rule, you should aim to have at least one whirlybird for every 150 to 200 square meters of roof area.
For example, if your three-bedroom property has a roof area of 300 square meters, you should consider installing at least two whirlybirds. If the roof area is larger, you may need to install more whirlybirds to ensure adequate ventilation. You’ll also need to supplement the whirlybirds with vents in your eaves to improve thermal performance.
7. They are ideal for industrial buildings
In larger industrial buildings, whirlybirds are a fantastic option because they can cheaply occupy plenty of roof space to offer a much cleaner, more cost-effective ventilation system than other options like air conditioning. They can also last for many years with minimal upkeep. This can be especially useful in industrial buildings, where maintenance budgets may be tight.
Natural ventilation offered by whirlybirds helps to improve the indoor air quality of an industrial building by removing stale, stagnant air and bringing in fresh, outside air. Finally, many homeowners prefer to avoid the look of whirlybirds – this aesthetic quality is not an issue for industrial buildings.
Is Whirlybird Installation Easy?
The process of installing a whirlybird or roof ventilator typically involves the following steps:
- Choose the location for the ventilator: Select a location on the roof that is well-ventilated and has good airflow, usually at a high point on the roof. Avoid placing the whirlybird in a location that is prone to strong winds or other weather conditions that could damage it.
- Cut a hole and install flashing and mounting brackets
- Assemble the whirlybird: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble the ventilator, including attaching the base, blades, and any other components.
- Install the whirlybird: Place the ventilator on the roof and attach it to the mounting brackets using screws or bolts. Make sure the ventilator is securely fastened and aligned properly.
- Test the whirlybird: Turn on the ventilator and make sure it is operating properly. If the ventilator is not working as expected, check for any loose connections or other issues and make any necessary adjustments.
It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and observe proper safety precautions when installing a whirlybird or roof ventilator. While relatively straightforward, if you are unsure about any part of the process, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a professional.
Other Roof Ventilation Options
Whirlybird ventilators have both advantages and disadvantages, but whether you should choose them over other solutions primarily depends on other circumstances.
Whirlybirds are much better for the environment than other ventilation options because they are inexpensive and require no electricity. Yet, according to some, whirlybirds only serve a purpose if they are a part of a more extensive system that includes other kinds of vents, like our own RapidRidge.
RapidRidge integrates all the advantages of a dry fixed roof with added ventilation benefits. To lessen heat transfer through the roof and ceiling into the living space, it makes it possible for a passive natural cooling system to be installed throughout the entire roof.
What’s more, much like whirlybirds, RapidRidge reduces energy costs, is easy to install with no maintenance, and prolongs the life of the roof. Generally speaking, while whirlybirds offer minimal real benefits, our RapidRidge system provides a more expensive but much more efficient ventilation system for your home.
Read more about the benefits of RapidRidge.