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Barn roof accessories (ridge vents, cupolas, attic fans, skylights, etc.) PHOTO added

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  • Barn roof accessories (ridge vents, cupolas, attic fans, skylights, etc.) PHOTO added

    We are planning a southern barn. Wooden with an insulated metal roof. Horse area will be vaulted to the roof, the only ceiling would be over tack/feed area (with storage above) but the stalls, run-ins, and aisle would be open all the way to the roof. I'm trying to learn about which options we should consider for ventilation, light, low maintenance, etc. Plan on having overhangs running the long side of the barn, on both sides, so stalls will all have overhangs outside them and that should help keep the barn shaded and cool. Barn will have good cross ventilation at stall level. Aisle will probably run East/West

    Is a ridge vent running the length of the center aisle the best way to go? I will be looking at a barn that has a ridge vent with narrow skylights running the length of it, but I haven't seen it yet. I have seen one with a cupola with attic fan for ventilation that had wide skylights running the length of it, and I liked what I saw.

    I love the idea of the wide skylights (they were 18" or 2' wide on either side of ridge, running whole length of aisle) because I hate dark barns. I understand that either the narrow ridge skylights and the wide full-length skylights both are far more leak proof than the "skylight inserts" that are just panels cut into barn roofs (these I've seen in barns for years, and certainly have heard plenty of leakage complaints). I've heard a comment that you don't necessarily want too much light coming into a southern barn in the summer, because the darker the air the cooler it would be, and the better air will flow upward to vent if a skylight hasn't warmed the top air. Thoughts/comments/experience?

    On to cupolas. The idea of a cupola with an attic fan makes some good sense to get air moving. But I've been warned that cupolas gather dust, and fans have motors, and nobody but nobody cleans the dust out of cupolas regularly and therefore the fans inside make for an unreasonable fire hazard. Agree? If we have a ridge vent, would a cupola without fan help add to the additional ventilation and airflow? Cupolas DO look awfully nice and I am in want!

    We are planning on wall mounted fans in the corners of stalls and run-ins. Plus whatever roof ventilation (ridge vent and/or cupola) we go with. Should we be looking at ceiling fans instead of wall fans? Or should there be ceiling fans over the aisle to help move air up to vent?

    We want to do this right the first time but not get into overkill. Would sure appreciate feedback from those living with southern barns.

    Last edited by Badger; Feb. 25, 2011, 08:17 AM.
    Hindsight bad, foresight good.

  • #2
    If the design allows, have them do a RIDGE skylight. We had always had regular skylights, like what you are are talking about. But they can leak and in bad weather they can get broken (mind you I know live in OK, land of tornados and very large hail). The barns we built here in OK have the ridge skylights and we absolutely love them.

    Just my 2 cents.


    • #3
      Will you have exterior stall doors? If so, that, and open end doors, makes for a LOT of light inside, and no real need to worry about sky lights.

      How high is the peak of the roof? A ridge vent is great, as long as it's a good one. We had a metal ridge vent in our storage shed, and after about 5 years, the repeated heating/cooling, causing expansion and contraction of the metal, allowed water to seep in. It's been remedied with a new hard plastic ridge, no cost to us.

      I have a cupola that is purely decorative, so that's an option. I agree with you about fans and dust - I don't want a fan somewhere that's trouble to reach!
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        I'd like to keep this thread going because I'm planning to renovate a shedrow.

        I've never been a fan of skylights but I'm not familiar with a ridge skylight and will look into that.

        My shedrow is oriented to the prevailing winds. My ag fans are strung across the top, placed in line with the prevailing winds and not directed downward. I've read to keep the fans up, for the best ventilation and not stir up bedding. It provides a tremendous cooling effect just by circulating the rising hot air.

        I was looking at the solar powered roof ventilation fans. I did not consider they might present a fire hazard. I need to talk to a contractor but I did not think I'd put the fan in the cupola. I thought they'd go in the ridge cap. Do solar powered also present a fire hazard?


        • #5
          Skylights are great for brightness, but add heat in hot weather.

          Fans...they don't have to be in the cupola though. You can add them to the slant in the roof to shove the rising hot air out and pull a *lot* more fresh air in. Creates moving air through the barn and can do wonders in lowering barn temp, mold and improve air quality.

          I have a full ridge vent, a cupola, eave vets and 2 vent fans. I'm in CT, but we still get some hot weather in summer. Also my barn doesn't have shade over it during the hottest part of the day and doesn't get much in natural breezes due to surrounding high ledge. I had the fans put in when I had my mare, she had heart problems and had heat stroke during one particularly bad (and unusual for us) heat wave.

          Those fans can lower the temp in my barn by a good 20 degrees on hot days and at least 10 degrees on brutally nasty hot days. 2 18" fans set in the roof of a 24x40 barn, they turn over the air in that barn 100% every 90 seconds. On still days I can stand in the doorway with the fans on and feel the air getting sucked past me.

          Set where they are I can keep them clean by using a leafblower. I add one extra extension tube to the leafblower, stand on a muck bucket and put the nozzle right on the fan motor. Blast it on high and it removes all dust. I also keep a screen over the open fans, did it at first to keep from sucking baby sparrows in, but it also cuts down on the dust the fan gets. The screens can be popped on or off easily, or I can clean them with a long handled broom from the ground.

          The fans are made for outdoor use, so the motors are made to handle dust, damp, etc. Since I'm not handy, I had them put in by electricians. The fans, all the new wiring, the exterior fan covers, new fuse in the box and switches came to $1200. (the work was more than the fans) Going in during building is probably a lot cheaper, mine were put in a few years after the barn was built.

          They're temperature controlled so they switch on and off as needed to whatever I set them for.

          I do still use stall fans too, but now those stall fans are pulling cooler overhead air instead of sucking down the hot risen air and blasting that on the horses.

          Interior view without screen:

          Exterior locations:

          Exterior close up:
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!


          • Original Poster

            Meghan, you bring up a good point about the hail. The pop up fan in my dressing room works sort of like a skylight and has fallen foul of hail.

            It turns out that the indoor where I took my dressage lesson today has both a ridge vent skylight and three cupolas on the metal roof. Trainer said neither were expensive. The ridge vent skylight does let some light in, but nothing like the barn I saw recently with wide, clear skylight panels running the full length of the barn. That barn is less than two years old so the owners haven't lived with it that long. If I knew those skylights would perform as well as the ridge skylight, it would be my preference because they let in wonderful light and IMO looked good from both the inside and the outside. You can see the blue sky and clouds through them, much like a window.

            JB: there will be three dutch doors on one side, two on the other, plus two large (24') run-ins. That's in addition to the doors at the ends of the aisle. So it can be very open for ventilation at the stall level (and I won't be able to completely close it up in the winter as the run-ins will always be open). I'm still waiting for the detailed specs from the builders and don't have a measurement yet for the roof peak.

            Rbow, in the ridge vent skylight I saw today, basically the material that makes up the vented ridge cap is light permeable. So it's a cap that runs the full length of the ridge, is vented to let air pass under where it joins the two sides of the roof that meet under it at the top of the ridge, and it's an opaque white material that lets light in. But you sure can't see the sky and clouds through it the way you can in the clear aisle-length skylight panels. I definitely do not want the skylight panels inserted in the middle of the roof span which you and I have both known to leak. I can't answer your question about solar powered fans presenting a fire hazard, but I suspect that since it has a motor just like an electric fan that it is still suspect to dust+motor=hazard. Hopefully someone who knows more will chime in.
            Hindsight bad, foresight good.


            • Original Poster

              MistyBlue, thanks so much for the pictures, they really helped me understand what you are using. I'm told the stall fans from FarmTek that have temp controls do a good job. I didn't even temp controlled fans existed!
              Hindsight bad, foresight good.


              • #8
                An alternative to "proper" sky lines are the Solatube and similar

                Very little roof space is taken, and they provided an AMAZING amount of light even into the dusk and dawn hours because the light is magnified with mirrors. My Dad has a few in his house and it's very bright in those rooms during low light conditions outside.

                I have zero idea of their practicality in a barn setting, but it may be worth looking into.

                The 5 exterior stall doors and the 2 big end doors will be quite a bit of light, but obviously won't be lighter than the daylight LOL But it will be a lot lighter than if there were only the end doors.

                I didn't catch how long the barn is, but I'm assuming 36' - is it longer? Here is a picture of my barn, 36x36, just finished, and you can see how light it is inside with just the doors for lighting
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                • #9
                  MistyBlue, thanks so much for the pictures, they really helped me understand what you are using. I'm told the stall fans from FarmTek that have temp controls do a good job. I didn't even temp controlled fans existed!
                  No problem! I love my vent fans like whoa.

                  I would probablly have never thoought of them or would have approved of the cost of adding them after the construction had I not required them to keep my compromised mare comfortable. It was one of those "have to" jobs. After they were in and working...let's say had I known what a benefit they were I would have gladly spend the price even if I never actually required them.

                  I love the temp control...when my mare was alive I had it set at 70 degrees. So anytime the temp around the fans inside the building got to 70 degrees, the fans would turn on and run until the temp went below 70 again. So there was no need to run out and turn them on or off depending on weather. They'd turn themselves off overnight when temps dropped. Now I keep them set at 80.

                  They're not that expensive to run either...no more than the cost of running the heaters in my waterers in winter.

                  I'm a safety freak, so I had them installed with trips installed...if the fans ever overheat/whatever the electricity is cut immediately to the fans. There's a switch installed in the barn wall where I can also turn them on and off without using the temperature gauge.

                  They are a little loud...they produce a loud hum. Oddly the horses seem to love it though...they sleep through the hot part of the days in their stalls. They're not deafening though. You just have to raise your voice a little when they're on, not shout.

                  I forget the actual brand name, but they're similar to farmtek. They're made specifically for places open to weather like greenhouses, warehouses, sheds, pavillions, etc. Closed motor.

                  I'd have loved to have put them in the ridge or cupola for looks...but this works excellent. Having the two located where they are creates an overall indoor breeze as it pulls from all 6 windows front and back and the doorway. So while on it pulls a brisk breeze in through the stall windows, past the horses and up into the fans. A nice bonus, it's like having a window fan too.

                  Have fun planning your new barn. It's a ton of fun, but tough to make decisions too. Keep checking out other barns, call some places and ask if you can come for a tour. Lots of people like to show off their barns and they may have different ideas for you.
                  You jump in the saddle,
                  Hold onto the bridle!
                  Jump in the line!


                  • Original Poster

                    That solatube is really interesting! The tack room does not butt up to an outside wall (I thought the horse stalls needed that more than the tack room) and I want a ceiling on the tack to use for storage/loft space, and this solatube might get some natural light into the tack room. Will discuss with builder. Good suggestion. Thx! Oh, and the floorplan we are playing with is 72' (4 stalls plus two large runs which could convert to four more stalls, plus tack/feed/wash).
                    Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                    • #11
                      I have a solatube in my windowless laundry room. Love it!! I don't think they are recommended for metal roofs, but double check.

                      For a southern barn I wouldn't add sky lights, try to keep the heat out. My center aisle barn runs east to west and it has plenty of light and a great breeze. It is a wooden barn with a metal roof. The first four feet or so is solid wall and after that the boards are spaced about 2 inches apart. Walls separating the stalls are the same and makes for a cool, light barn and the horses can see each other. Each stall has a wall fan and the center aisle has 3 ceiling fans. 105 heat index and none of the horses sweating under the fans

                      Have fun planning your barn.
                      Attached Files


                      • #12
                        Our barn is nothing fancy, but it's never hot inside like it is outside, even when it's 100+ outside. It's always pleasant inside even in those conditions. The overhang over the 3' tall clerestory is 4' wide. I had originally planned to add drop down windows, but never have seen the need. The light colored roof helps too. It's Fabral metal over the aisleway up high, and architectural asphalt shingles over the stalls.

                        We're right on the Va./N.C. state line.

                        It started out as a small shedrow too. I'd do it a bit neater if I was starting over, but otherwise it works well.

                        Aisleway is 15' wide and its 18' to the bottom of the ceiling joists over the aisleway.



                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Badger View Post
                          We are planning a southern barn. Wooden with an insulated metal roof. Horse area will be vaulted to the roof, the only ceiling would be over tack/feed area (with storage above) but the stalls, run-ins, and aisle would be open all the way to the roof. I'm trying to learn about which options we should consider for ventilation, light, low maintenance, etc. Plan on having overhangs running the long side of the barn, on both sides, so stalls will all have overhangs outside them and that should help keep the barn shaded and cool. Barn will have good cross ventilation at stall level. Aisle will probably run East/West
                          I have a barn in MidTN very similar to what you describe. Although the roof is probably higher than what you are looking at at 36 feet. (It's a timber frame construction.) I have minimal venting. Just big doors at the aisle, plus doors on what would be at loft height. The eaves are screened instead of closed and I have dutch doors going to an over hang on one side (North side) and mature trees on the other (south side.) Insulated roof with a light reflective metal roof.

                          The aisle stall doors are open mesh screening and between the stalls there are only grills higher the 4 feet so there is a very open feel as well as air flow. Each stall has a fan. We are set up to have big fans (Big Ass Fans) from the ceilings but haven't needed them so never installed them. We were also prepared for a big square fan in the loft doors but don't need it either. Mr. subk keeps thinking he wants one of those big rolling 4' aisle fan--mostly because it's more cool stuff to own. (ok, I admit one would have been nice for a party we had last August... )

                          The secret is that we sighted the barn exactly on the foot print of a barn that was built there a hundred years ago. Even on the hottest, stillest days I have a breeze coming though my barn.

                          I have no skylights. Two 200 watt jar lights in each stall, and 4 in the wash room. Chinese hat lights coming over the aisle on both sides every 12 feet. While the barn can be dark with the lights off with the dutch doors open, because of the extremely high ceiling and the openness between the stalls it never feels dark and depressing. (The place actually feels like a cathedral.)

                          The negative is that it isn't the warmest barn I've ever been in, but the horses are much more likely to be stressed by 90° that we get much of the summer than by the 0° we get maybe once a winter.


                          • #14
                            FWIW, I had two solatubes in my last house, in my kitchen that didn't have enough windows. I loved them. It took a while to adjust to how much light they let in..at first I kept thinking I'd left lights on! And the installation was very quick, just a couple of hours.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by subk View Post
                              The negative is that it isn't the warmest barn I've ever been in, but the horses are much more likely to be stressed by 90° that we get much of the summer than by the 0° we get maybe once a winter.
                              This is my feeling as well with the barn I'm designing. It will not be a toasty winter barn but horses will be able to get out of the wind and will have turnout blankets when needed in the winter. The rest of the year there will be shade and ventilation, which is my primary concern for the South.

                              The Solatube website has an accessory that allows them to be used with metal roofing. I will talk to my builder about the possibilities in my specific application.

                              Tasia, your matted aisles are actually in my "barn folder" from a previous thread! Not sure how it will price out, but it's one of the things I'm talking to the builder about.

                              Tom, we are thinking of light colors for roof and sides, hopefully with enough uv reflective properties to go all Energy Star on the sun.

                              Thanks for all the thoughts and pictures about what has worked. Every comment helps me figure out where I have more tweaking to do, or confirms that I am on the right track with other pieces. I sure want to get this right the first time.

                              Anyone out there have skylights in their Southern barn and feel makes the barn too hot and regrets them for that reason?
                              Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                              • #16
                                The center aisle is just recessed so the mats are level. I think it was about $800.00 in mats. The rest is brushed concrete. Have fun and let us know how it all turns out


                                • Original Poster

                                  Tasia, how wide is your aisle and how wide is the matted part? Would you go wider still with the mats? I'm guessing you have a 12' aisle and 6' of it is matted, but maybe it's 8' or 9' matted?

                                  Back to the skylight:


                                  I can add this polycarbonate skylight to the entire 72' length of the barn for under $1,000. I truly love the look, the light, being able to see the sky. Some people worry that it will make the barn hotter, others are not concerned because of the angle and it would be heating the top air just below the ridge vent that would then rise, as opposed to heating down at ground level. I'm not sure how I can get a definite answer.
                                  Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                                  • #18
                                    Darn, I tried to open that skylight link twice and it's way too slow for whatever reason, but does it allow for a reflective film or other barrier? That'd cut your heat gain quite a bit.
                                    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                    Incredible Invisible


                                    • #19
                                      I board in a barn with skylights in a metal roof. They DO increase the heat in the summer - you can actually feel the difference when you are under them. Also, the panels have yellowed with age and are quite.... ummm....ugly? now.

                                      Maybe the materials have changed over the years, but most if not all of the barn skylights I have seen are yellowed and, if any mildew etc grows on it, you can really see it.



                                      • Original Poster

                                        The link should be working now: http://img522.imageshack.us/img522/4972/sskylight.jpg

                                        Supposedly the polycarbonate is a big improvement over the stuff used in the past that had problems with leaking and yellowing. I had nit thought of mildew, though!
                                        Hindsight bad, foresight good.