Our round-up of the best fans has something to suit every budget. We’ve tested dozens of models to bring you the best desktop, pedestal and tower fans.
If you’re on this page, then it’s definitely that time of year in the UK when the temperature soars and our homes become unbearably hot. If you’re looking for a way to freshen up a stuffy room by circulating air, and keeping yourself cool, then a fan is a cheap, convenient and quiet way to do so. A proper air conditioning unit will cool a room faster, but you have to pay more and deal with louder operation, but a fan is a cheaper, easier way for personal cooling. Our list of the best fans is below, but you can read on first to find out everything that you need to know about buying the right model.
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Can a fan cool a room?
A fan can’t change a room’s temperature; it merely circulates air. However, the breeze from a fan on your body aids sweat evaporation, which makes you cooler. In humid environments, fans don’t work so well, as less sweat evaporates. For this reason, you may want to think about buying a dehumidifier, too, which will improve a fan’s performance and make your room feel more comfortable. The increased air circulation can also stop a room from feeling stuffy.
To actually cool a room, you need something that can lower the air temperature. Air conditioning is the main option there, but a second option is to use an evaporative cooler. These feature a tank of water, which slowly evaporates to help cool the air, and work best in dry, hot climates.
Which fan type is for you?
Desktop fans are the traditional models. These let you tilt the fan to direct airflow; turn on the oscillation mode to let the fan sweep from side to side.
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Pedestal fans look like tall desktop fans, and are designed to stand on the floor. They typically have larger blades, so take up more room, but this makes them more powerful. With most models offering height adjustment, in addition to pivot and oscillation, pedestal fans are easier to configure for the perfect cooling breeze.
Tower fans take up very little floor space and blow air out of a tall column. For the reduction in size you do sacrifice some power, and you don’t get height or pivot adjustments either, just oscillation. As a result, you may need to use a tower fan closer to you, but they’re a great choice where space is at a premium.
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What other options should I look for?
Noise is important, particularly if you want to sleep with a fan turned on. We’ve measured every fan’s sound levels at both maximum and minimum to help you decide.
A fan with a remote control can be a good option if you want to adjust settings on the fly; this is particularly true in the bedroom, where you may not want to get out of bed to turn off your fan. On that note, look for a fan with a sleep timer so that it can shut off after a set time.
More advanced options on high-end fans include air filters to help clean the air, or heating elements so that you can keep warm in the winter.
Swan Retro Desk Fan
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- Pivot and oscillation
- 3 speed settings
- 140mm height
- 350 x 265 x 470mm
Those who have a perchant for 1950s styling will appreciate Swan’s 12-inch Retro Desk Fan. It’s certainly one that you’ll be happy to have out on display. Available in nine colour options including cream, blue, orange, black and red, it will be easy enough to find a model to suit your decor.
As is typical for this type of product, some assembly is needed. Aside from the single screw that holds the metal cage together, the rest of the fan uses plastic thumbscrews. I had my sample built and ready to go in only a few minutes.
The bottom of the fan sits 140mm from its base, which is just about right for desk use. Height adjustment is possible, plus there’s an oscillating switch, too, which makes directing air comfortably simple.
This fan has three speed settings. The minimum speed produced airflow of 2.9m/s at 15cm and 1.2m/s at 1.5m; at maximum, the fan produced 4.1m/s at 15cm and 1.8m/s at 1.5m. If anything, the Retro Desk Fan could do with having a slightly slower bottom speed for more gentle cooling.
Noise wasn’t too much of an issue, and is more a result of the whoosh of air moving rather than the fan motor. I measured the fan as producing 56.8dB on the minimum setting at 15cm and 63.9dB at the maximum setting. This fan is quite power efficient, too: it drew 41.4W at max speed and just 32W at minimum.
If you want a stylish fan for your desk, available in a decent selection of colour options, then the Swan Retro Fan is a great choice.
At the time of review, the Swan Retro Desk Fan was available for £45
Fine Elements Oscillating Remote Control Tower Fan
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- Sleep timer
- 3 speed settings
- 902 x 476 x 246mm
Tower fans are a great choice where space is at a premium. The large Fine Elements Oscillating Remote Control Tower Fan (model ES2017) is designed to cover a room. Built from grey and black plastic, this smart-looking fan looks great and should blend in with most people’s decor.
It offers a smart design, too, with a large LCD showing the current time. All of the fan’s controls sit beneath a flap at the top, which also houses the remote control (no batteries supplied).
With either set of controls, you get the standard options: you can turn the fan on or off; choose between the three speed settings; and toggle oscillation. There are some more advanced settings, too. Using the Timer button, you can set the sleep timer in increments of 30 minutes up to 12 hours.
There’s also a Mode button, which adjusts the fan’s output. In General mode, fan speed is constant. In Natural mode, fan speed is occasionally ramped up to make it feel more like the ‘real’ wind. Sleep mode dials down fan speed, before cycling back to the preset speed. I have to say that the constant speed mode is the best option; I found the other modes a little distracting.
At 15cm, I measured airflow at 4.2m/s at maximum and 3.2m/s at minimum. That’s an average range for a fan of this size, but I’d like to see a more gentle minimum. At 1.5m, I measured fan speed at 1.4m/s at maximum. That’s a bigger drop-off than with a blade fan, which will be more powerful. As such, this fan is better suited for close-range operation or slightly smaller rooms.
Noise wasn’t too much of an issue, at 60.4dB at maximum speed and 56.2dB at minimum speed from a distance of 15cm. The Oscillating Remote Control Tower Fan doesn’t produce an annoying sound, with air movement being the main culprit. Power consumption is good, ranging between 27.9W and 38.3W.
If you want a room fan that won’t take up a lot of space and offers lots of options, this is a great choice.
Buy Now at Amazon
At the time of review, the Fine Elements Oscillating Remote Control Tower Fan was available for £47
Fine Elements Mini Tower Fan
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- Sleep timer
- 2 speed settings
- 380 x 120 x 103mm
Tower fans are a great choice where space is limited, and the Fine Elements Mini Tower Fan is the smallest model that we’ve seen. Its tiny column is ideal for a desk, since the fan doesn’t take up anywhere near as much room as a traditional bladed model.
Although it has a plastic body, the Mini Tower Fan feels well made, and its matte finish makes it quite unobtrusive. Three simple controls sit on the top of the fan; the power button cycles through the two speed settings before it turns the Mini Tower Fan off. A blue LED indicates which setting you’re currently using; it’s quite bright, so you may want to put a bit of tape over the light for use in a bedroom.
It’s nice to see a sleep timer. Tapping the button lights up the indicators underneath the 1h, 2h and 4h labels. Fine Elements has used a binary system, so the sleep timer goes 1h, 2h and then 3h (1h and 2h), and so on up to a maximum of seven hours. Finally, there’s a button to toggle the oscillation mode on and off. As is usual for tower fans, there’s no height or pivot adjustment.
I measured the air speed of the fan at 3.4m/s at 15cm on the max setting. Moving to the lower setting, this dropped to 3.1m/s. A little more variation in fan speed would have been nice. Moving to 1.5m away, airflow dropped to 1m/s at the maximum setting and a similar 0.9m/s on the slower setting.
The Mini Tower Fan is relatively quiet. While not reaching Dyson levels, fan noise at maximum was 61.5dB at 15cm; the slower setting produced a similar 59.2dB. I didn’t find the sound annoying either, with the whoosh of air responsible for much of the noise, with little sound from the motor. This is an efficient fan, too, using 26.9W on maximum power and 19.6W on the minimum setting. You get more control and airflow from a desktop fan, but if space is at a premium, then the Mini Tower Fan is a great alternative.
At the time of review, the Fine Elements Mini Tower Fan was available for £30
Logick 16" Gun Metal Pedestal Fan
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- Pivot and oscillation
- 3 speed settings
- 930-1250mm height adjustment
- 1250 x 450 x 368mm
As smart as tower fans and Dyson’s models can be, there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned pedestal fan. This is particularly true when the fan looks as good as the Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan. With its dark metal finish, this fan has a smart art-deco look to it, making it an object to appreciate in a room, not one to hide away.
Some assembly is required, but I found that the Pedestal Fan went together easily enough. The four fan blades feel a little thin to the touch, so handle them carefully as you assemble. A height adjustment between 930 and 1250mm means it’s easy to line up the Pedestal Fan, no matter whether you’re sitting at a desk or on a low sofa. A pivot option enable the fan head to be tilted down, too.
Three speed settings are available. If anything, the minimum speed is still a little fast, pushing air at a considerable speed of 3.2m/s at a distance 15cm; the max setting is only a little faster at 4.1m/s. At 1.5m, I measured the minimum setting at 1.1/m/s, and 2.3m/s at maximum.
Such high fan speeds have an impact on noise, and the Gun Metal Pedestal Fan is quite noisy: 61.5dB on the minimum setting. Power consumption is good, ranging from 37.2W to 47.6W.
Given its great price, top looks and adaptability, the Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan is a top choice for hot days when you need plenty of air movement; a slightly slower minimum speed would have been nice, though.
Buy Now at Currys.co.uk from £29.99
At the time of review, the Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan was available for £60
Benross 42240 Portable Air Cooler
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- Swing mode
- Sleep timer
- 3 speed settings
- 690 x 436 x 328mm
If you want to cool down a room, you need something that will actually lower the air temperature. The Benross Portable Air Cooler 60 Watts can do just that. It’s an evaporative cooler that uses a 7-litre tank of water to turn dry, hot air into wet, cool air.
Since evaporative coolers are most efficient in dry climates, the Portable Air Cooler has two additional cooling methods. First, it ships with four freezer bottles that you fill with water. You can attach any bottle to a cord, and drop it into the main reservoir to cool the water before it’s evaporated. Second, there’s an ice cube tray on the rear: when full, air is expelled through the ice, cooling it further.
The Portable Air Cooler is about the same size as a bit of carry-on luggage and looks like a portable air conditioning unit. It’s a lot lighter, though, particularly when it’s empty of water.
Filling up is a little fiddly, as you have to pour water through the spring-loaded flap on the side. I found it easiest to use a 2-litre drink bottle. With water consumption at 0.45-litres per hour, the 7-litre tank gives a run time of 15h 30m, which is enough to get you through a hot night.
On top of the cooler are the controls. The speed setting dial is a little confusing as it has the numbers 0 to 3 written twice; all this means is that you can turn the dial in either direction to get your speed setting. The fan vents at the front are manually controlled, letting you direct air up or down, and there’s a swing button to activate a mechanical sweep. A sleep timer lets you automatically shut off the cooler, stepping up in 10-minute intervals up to one hour.
In basic mode, it’s only the fan that operates; you need only turn on the Cooler switch to engage the evaporative cooler. I measured airflow at a speedy 5.5m/s at 15cm on maximum power, and a fast 4.6m/s on the minimum setting. Moving back 1.5m, the Portable Air Cooler managed 2m/s on the maximum setting and 1.8m/s on minimum.
Performance depends on the relative humidity. Measuring in a room with relative humidity at 50%, with an ambient temperature of 20oC, the Portable Air Cooler output air at a temperature of 16.8oC. This was using water, ice in the ice tray and an ice pack.
In terms of running costs, the Portable Air Cooler uses just 53.8W at maximum fan speed. An air conditioner will cool a humid room faster and further, and a fan is a good choice for cooling your body. If you want something low-cost to output colder air to keep the temperature of a room under control, the Benross Portable Air Cooler 60 Watts will do a good job.
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At the time of review, the Benross Portable Air Cooler 60 Watts (42240) was available for £59