Best Fans 2017: Desktop and tower coolers

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.

Fans come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. If you know what you want already, you can scroll down to our list of the best fans below; if not, here’s some advice for getting the perfect model for you.

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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. 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.

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

1 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • 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.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of review, the Swan Retro Desk Fan was available for £45

Fine Elements Oscillating Remote Control Tower Fan

2 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • Oscillation
  • 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

Score

Key features:

  • Oscillation
  • Sleep timer
  • Purifier with HEPA filter
  • Ten speed settings
  • 221 x 152 x 632mm

The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link is more than just a traditional fan. As well as blowing cold air, it can heat up the air, and monitor air quality, too, automatically purifying it. And, best of all, the fan is completely controlled via the Dyson Link app.

Dyson’s Pure Hot + Cool Link looks fantastic. It has the traditional Dyson bladeless design, giving the floor-standing fan a central hole through which you can stick your head – if you wish.

The front of the fan is home to only a power button, leaving the remote control – which attaches magnetically to the top of the unit – for most features and settings. From here, you can adjust fan speed (ten settings), set cool mode or heat (up to 37oC), toggle oscillation and set the sleep timer.

With so many fan settings, the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link goes from almost silent, with a gentle breeze, to a full-on rush of air. Even at the maximum setting, the fan isn’t too intrusive, and there’s little noise from the motor itself. It’s more air movement that makes the sound. Thanks to Dyson’s Air Multiplier technology, the airflow from this fan is far smoother than that of a traditional fan. Heating is impressive, too, quickly bringing the temperature of a room up to a comfortable level.

You can control every feature of the fan through the app app, and it also lets you monitor your home’s air quality. Dyson claims the Pure Hot + Cool link can remove about 99.95% of allergens and particles down to 0.1 microns. The fan is sensitive, kicking into life when we started cleaning and spraying chemicals. This soon turned our air quality from ‘moderate’ to ‘good’.

Yes, this fan is extremely expensive, but it’s also exceptionally good. If you need a fan that you can use all year round, and you want to improve the quality of air in your home, this is the ultimate model.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of review, the Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link was available for £500

Read the full Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Link review

Fine Elements Mini Tower Fan

4 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • Oscillation
  • 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.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of review, the Fine Elements Mini Tower Fan was available for £30

Dyson AM09

5 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • Pivot and oscillation
  • 10 speed settings
  • Heat and cooling
  • Sleep timer
  • 595 x 153 x 113mm

The Dyson AM09 is a floor-standing model that can output heat as well as cold air, making it a model designed for use all-year round. As with Dyson’s other fans, the design is stunning, with the clear, bladeless opening making it stand out from traditional fans.

The base offers a tilt function so you can point the fan in a more comfortable direction. There are no fiddly thumbscrews; simply push the fan in the desired direction. An oscillation mode allows the fan to sweep air across the room.

Aside from the power button, the fan’s base is bare of controls. Instead, everything is set via the remote control, which attaches magnetically to the top of the fan. With it you can select the fan speed (ten settings), cool mode or temperature (up to 37oC), set the sleep timer and toggle oscillation.

With so many fan speeds, the AM09 can output a gentle breeze almost silently, or a full-on rush of air. Thanks to Dyson’s Air Multiplier technology, air is delivered smoothly, making this fan extremely comfortable to sit in front of.

Even at its maximum setting, the AM09’s noise isn’t annoying, with very little sound from the motor. Heat performance is impressive, with the fan soon making a cold room feel more comfortable. If you want a fan for all year round use then the Dyson AM09 is a brilliant choice.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of review, the Dyson AM09 was available for £400

Read the full Dyson AM09 review

Logick 16" Gun Metal Pedestal Fan

6 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • 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

7 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • 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.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of review, the Benross Portable Air Cooler 60 Watts (42240) was available for £59

Dyson AM08

8 of 8

Score

Key features:

  • Pivot and oscillation
  • 10 speed settings
  • Sleep timer
  • 1110-1410mm height adjustment
  • 450x280x1110mm dimensions

It’s so easy to spot a Dyson fan, with the bladeless head sticking out immediately – there’s something exceptionally cool about being able to stick your head through the gap. The design doesn’t just look good, it’s practical, too. With no blades on display, cleaning is just a matter of wiping a cloth around the edges. More importantly, the design uses Dyson’s Air Multiplier technology, which creates a smoother jet of air than a traditional fan produces.

It certainly works, and the AM08 is far more comfortable to sit in front of than a regular fan. At a distance 15cm, it’s harder to take an air movement reading, as the fan creates a thin blast of air from around the outside of the head. Even so, I measured air movement at 3.5m/s on the max setting and 0.8m/s on the minimum setting. Moving to 1.5m, the air flow dropped to a reasonable 1.8m/s at the max setting. Bladed fans typically have a larger drop, showing the power of the Air Multiplier system.

As the AM08 has ten speed settings, it’s more flexible than a lot of fans, too, and can be adjusted for a gentle breeze to circulate air, up to a full-on gust to cool on the hottest day. Such a range in fan speeds means that the AM08 is often a lot quieter than a traditional fan. On the lowest setting, I measured sound at just 40.08dB. In simple terms, you can have this fan on at all times, and it definitely won’t disturb your sleep. So many fan settings gives a great range of power usage, ranging from just 5.1W up to 50.7W.

The base has a power button only, with everything else controlled via the remote. This attaches to the top of the fan magnetically, making it easier to keep track of. From the remote, you can adjust fan speed, toggle power, turn on oscillation mode and use the sleep time (from 15 minutes to nine hours). The AM08 is height adjustable and has a pivot. In both cases, you just pull or push the fan where you want it to go, and there are no fiddly controls or thumbscrews. If you want the most flexible pedestal fan, this is the model to buy, but it is quite expensive.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of review, the Dyson AM08 was available for £269.

Read the full Dyson AM08 review