What are the best cooling fans?
If there’s one thing we can rely on, when the temperature goes up in this country, our homes become unbearably hot. With one of our best fans, you can stay comfortable during the hot weather, all without having to spend a fortune. Even better, fans are really efficient, so you won’t spend a load of money on electricity as you would with an air-conditioning system.
Although all fans work on the same principle (they push air around), they’re not all built equally. In this guide, we’ve fully tested all of the models that we’ve listed and have only included the best, and we can vouch for their quality.
We’ve included different types of fan in this round-up, too, including those that act as air purifiers, cleaning your air, and evaporative coolers that use water evaporation to lower the temperature of the air stream.
How we pick the best fans
A fan is an efficient way to keep cool in warmer weather, aiding the evaporation of sweat to reduce your body temperature. It’s for this reason that fans work best when humidity is lower; as humidity increases, less sweat evaporates leaving you with that hot and sticky feeling.
Air conditioning units combat this be acting as dehumidifiers, but you can also improve a fan’s performance by using a regular dehumidifier.
Assuming that you’re using a fan in a relatively low-humidity environment, it’s the air flow and airspeed that helps dictate how good a fan really is. And, this, in turn also dictates how big a room a fan can be used in. For example, a small desktop fan may have a blast of cooling air at close range, but on the other side of a room, you will barely feel the air movement.
To help you make a decision we test fan speed using an anemometer to measure airspeed in metres per second, testing fans at their minimum and maximum settings at a distance of 15cm and 1m.
While these measurements are important, we base our opinion on the type of fan reviewed: we’d expect large tower fans designed for whole-room cooling to push more air than a smaller personal desktop model.
To a certain degree, it’s easy to make a fan that can move more air by spinning its blades faster; this has the downside of making greater noise. To that end, we measure the sound that fans produce at the minimum and maximum speeds at a distance of 15cm and 1m. The ideal fan moves a lot of air quietly, so that you can use it comfortably at night while you’re sleeping. We also measure power usage at minimum and maximum speeds, to determine the most efficient model from the least.
In this guide, we’ve also reviewed some evaporative coolers, which cool the air using a tank of water. For these, we measured the temperature difference between the air input and output to see how well they could cool.
1. Evapolar Personal Air Cooler
Powerful and effective personal air cooling for when you’re working or sleeping
If you spend a lot of time at a desk or need something to keep you cool while sleeping, the Evapolar Personal Air Cooler could be for you. This sleek-looking cube is an evaporative cooler, which means it uses a tank of water, cooling via evaporation. In other words, it’s more effective than a plain fan, particularly in dry heat.
A neat LCD screen displays the current temperature and the output temperature, showing you how effectively the Evapolar Personal Air Cooler is working. Using the dial on top, you can control the fan speed.
Testing in a room with an ambient temperature of 22.8ºC and 53.2% relative humidity, I measured the output from the Personal Air Cooler at a cool 16.3ºC. The cooling effect is fairly narrow, so you can’t move too much if you want to keep cool. Noise isn’t too bad, either; I measured it at 53.9dB at 1m at max power
For the desk-bound among us, or for keeping cool while sleeping, the Evapolar Personal Air Cooler is a great choice.
Read our full Evapolar Personal Air Cooler review
Fan type: Evaporative desktop, Size: 174 x 170 x 170mm, Number of speeds: 20, Oscillation: No, Timer: No, Water tank: 750ml (four to six hours cooling), Heat mode: No
2. Dyson Pure Hot+Cool
The perfect fan and air purifier to use all-year round thanks to its heating and cooling features
If you want a device that you can use all year round, the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool is the product for you. As you can probably tell from the fan’s name, this model can heat in winter, can cool in summer and is also a whole-room air purifier, which is ideal summer for cleaning the air for those with hayfever. Although it’s one of the more expensive products on this list, it’s three-in-one approach more than justifies the price.
The main fan looks much like Dyson’s other models, with a clever bladeless fan head that you can stick your arm through. Magnetically attached to the top is the remote control, which you’ll need to control the fan as there are no onboard controls, although you can also use the Dyson Link App and Amazon Alexa.
On the front of the fan is a handy display that shows you the current air quality levels. You can see readings for PM2.5 (fine particles that can make their way into your lungs); PM10 (particles that can bring on asthma attacks and cause breathing issues); VOCs (volatile organic compounds, which are harsh chemicals that can be in anything from cleaning products to the glue used in old furniture); and NO2 (nitrogen dioxide, which is a gaseous pollutant from cars and fossil fuels that can cause respiratory problems).
Looking at pure cooling performance, the Pure Hot+Cool managed airflow of 1m/s at 15cm on the minimum speed with no noticeable noise; at maximum speed, the fan is still comparatively quiet at 57.6dB with airflow at 3.7m/s at 15cm and 1.6m/s at 1 metre. As with Dyson’s other fans, the Pure Hot+Cool produces a steady stream of air, rather than a rough buffeting. Measuring the Pure Hot+Cool from 1-metre away, I found that on minimum speed the fan was at 39.35dB (effectively background noise), and at maximum, the fan was just 57.6dB.
A capable air purifier, too, capturing 99.95% of ultra-fine particles, this is also a model that can clean your air. In the colder months, you can change the mode to heat to rapidly warm a cold room. As such, this is the perfect fan to use all year round.
Read our full Dyson Pure Hot+Cool review
Fan type: Tower fan and heater, Size: 205 x 130 x 248mm, Number of speeds: 10, Oscillation: Yes (350-degree), Timer: Yes (up to nine hours), Water tank: None, Heat mode: Yes (37C max)
3. MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator
Excellent performance with tonnes of movement from this powerful desktop model
If you want a powerful yet compact fan, then the MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator is the model for you. We found so much to like about this model, that it’s so easy to recommend. First, there’s the performance. Despite being a relatively compact fan, the MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator is capable of moving a lot of air. In our tests, we measured air speed at between 1.4m/s and 2.6m/s at one metre.
Impressively, the fan is quiet, too, with noise coming in at 43dB on the lowest setting and 56.1dB on the highest. For nighttime sleeping, the low noise and gentle blast of air is perfect. There’s oscillation built in, although we wish it were a little wider than the 70-degrees on offer. Our only other minor complaint is that the fan’s control panel doesn’t give you all of the controls on offer, although the remote control does.
If you’re looking for a desktop fan with the power to tackle a room, then this is the model for you.
Read our full MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator review
Fan type: Desktop, Size: 260x254x343mm, Number of speeds: 12, Oscillation: Yes (70-degree), Timer: Yes (Up to six hours), Heat mode: No
4. Dyson Pure Cool Me
Powerful personal cooling with air purification
Sliding the plastic disc up and down lets you point the air flow where you want it. There’s also a 90-degree oscillation mode, so you can sweep the air around. The benefits of the new system are three-fold. First, you can sit in a bubble of cooling air; secondly, on oscillation mode, the fan doesn’t blow bits of paper on your desk everywhere; third, the fan is far smaller than Dyson’s previous desktop models.
Performance is excellent, managing a blast of air at 6.2m/s from 15cm away on maximum speed, while minimum speed just delivers a gentle blast that wouldn’t measure on our test equipment. Noise levels are as low as you’d expect from Dyson, measuring just 37dB on the lowest setting, which is effectively background noise levels; on maximum, which is powerful, the fan comes in at 63.5dB.
Even better, the fan has a filter inside it, so as it cools you, it purifies the air. There’s no auto mode on this model, but as long as the fan is one it will clean the air it blows at you. As with previous models, all control is via the remote which clips onto the front of the fan. The only thing missing from this model is app control, which is a minor shame.
If you want powerful personal cooling and air purification, this clever fan is the model to buy.
Read our full Dyson Pure Cool Me review
Fan type: Desktop, Size: 401 x 254 x 247mm, Number of speeds: 10, Oscillation: Yes (90-degree), Timer: Yes (Up to eight hours), Water tank: N/A, Heat mode: No
5. MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator
Full vertical and horizontal oscillation make this a great fan for refreshing a room
The MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator looks completely different to the other fans on the list, thanks to its almost-round body. This isn’t just an aesthetic choice, but part of the design that lets the fan circulate air more effectively around an entire room.
While most fans have a simple left/right oscillation mode, the MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator has an up/down mode as well. Each can be controlled individually, but with both oscillation modes in operation the fan can bounce its stream of air off walls and ceilings, circulating more air. On a still day, in particular, the Air Circulator can help refresh the air in a room more effectively than a traditional fan.
The downside is that the MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator is quite large, at 305 x 308 x 425mm, so you’ll need a fairly big table to keep it on.
The MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator ships with a circular remote control that magnetically attaches to the front of the fan. It has all of the same controls as on the main fan body, plus the night-light control that toggles the integrated light on and off; it’s a shame that this control isn’t included on the fan’s main body.
Using the controls, you can toggle the oscillation modes; adjust the fan speed (there are 12 settings); set the power-off timer (this operates in hourly increments between one and 10 hours); and turn the fan on or off. There’s also an Eco button, which adjusts the fan speed automatically based on the temperature of the room: the hotter it is the faster the fan will run. Neatly, the current room temperature is displayed on the fan.
The MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator is a powerful fan. At minimum fan speed, I measured its airflow at 1.6m/s at 15cm and 1.4m/s at 1m; at maximum fan speed it was a powerful 4m/s at 15cm and 3.3m/s at 1m. These are the best distance results that I’ve seen. Impressively, the fan is quiet, too, measuring a whisper-quiet 43.5dB at 1m on minimum and just 57.2dB at maximum speed. Only Dyson’s Airblade fans are quieter.
If you want something that can shift a lot of air, circulating a stuffy room for better all-round cooling, the MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator is a great choice. The only downside is that it’s fairly large.
Fan type: Desktop, Size: 305 x 308 x 425mm, Number of speeds: 12, Oscillation: Yes (60-degrees vertical, 120-degrees horizontal), Timer: Yes (up to 10 hours), Water tank: N/A, Heat mode: No
6. Swan Retro Desk Fan
Great looks from this traditional desktop fan
Those who have a penchant 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 that 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.
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.
Fan type: Desktop, Size: 355 x 455 x 268mm, Number of speeds: 3, Oscillation: Yes, Timer: No, Heat mode: No
7. Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan
Great looks and lots of speed from this neat, traditional pedestal fan
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 enables 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.
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.
Fan type: Pedestal, Size: 1250 x 450 x 368mm, Number of speeds: 3, Oscillation: Yes, Timer: No, Water tank: N/A, Heat mode: No
8. Benross 42240 Portable Air Cooler
Cools the air with water evaporation and ice
If you want to cool down a room, you need something that will actually lower the air temperature. The Benross 42240 Portable Air Cooler 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; it 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 drinks bottle. With water consumption at 0.45 litres per hour, the 7-litre tank gives a runtime of 15hrs 30mins, 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 – 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. The small difference in fan speeds means there’s little difference in noise: 55.4dB at maximum from 1m and 51.9dB on minimum, so this isn’t the quietest fan.
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 tray and an ice pack.
In terms of running costs, the Portable Air Cooler uses just 53.8W at maximum fan speed, which is far less than an air conditioner; however, 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 42240 Portable Air Cooler will do a good job.
Fan type: Evaporative cooler, Size: 680 x 430 x 330mm, Number of speeds: 3, Oscillation: No, Timer: No, Water tank: 7-litres, Heat mode: No
9. Dyson Pure Cool Tower
Excellent performance and whole-room air purification for allergy suffers
As with Dyson’s other Pure models, the Pure Cool Tower is also an air purifier, cleaning your air as well as cooling it. This time around, Dyson has improved the filter design, making it easier to replace, and has introduced a new mode that blows air backwards, so you can use the purification mode without a blast of cold air. That’s great news if you want to use the Pure Cool Tower in Winter, too.
A screen on the front shows you the current air quality level, so you don’t have to dive into the app as with older models. The app is useful, though, giving you complete fan control, including choosing the oscillation angle: 45, 90, 180 and 350 degrees. And, there’s Alexa integration if you want to turn the fan on using your voice.
I measured air speed at 1.6m/sec at 1 metre and 3.7m/sec at 15cm. With the thin push of air from the fan head’s thin blade, this air is less intrusive and buffeting than with a traditional fan. Of course, this fan is very quiet: 40.2dB on minimum speed at 1 metre and just 62.2dB at maximum speed.
If you want to keep your air clean throughout the year, but have something to cool you in the hotter months, this intelligent connected fan is the model to buy.
Read our full Dyson Pure Cool Tower review
Fan type: Tower purifying fan, Size: 1054 x 117 x 206mm, Number of speeds: 10, Oscillation: Yes (350-degrees), Timer: Yes (up to eight hours), Water tank: No, Heat mode: No
10. VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan
A very powerful and well-priced tower fan that can cool across a room
At full power, the fan delivered air speed at 4.8m/s, which only dropped at 2.8m/s at one metre and an effective 1.6m/s at two metres. That’s enough air speed to keep you cool at distance, making the VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan a suitable fan to cool an entire room. Our one minor complaint about fan speed is that the lowest setting is still a relatively powerful 4m/s at 1m – we’d have liked a slightly lower minimum speed.
High fan speeds often come with noise, but that’s a trap that the VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan avoids. At 53.9dB on maximum, this fan is pretty quiet for the fan speed; however, at minimum, the fan is still 53.1dB, which is a little loud for sleeping with.
There is a remote control and a display that shows you what the current temperature and fan setting is. This display is a little hard to read, but we can forgive this minor issue, given how good the fan is. Even better, the VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan is one of the cheapest fans that we’ve tested, too. If you’re after a powerful tower fan at a great price, look no further.
Fan type: Tower, Size: 280x280x800mm, Number of speeds: 3, Oscillation: Yes (70-degree), Timer: Yes (Up to eight hours), Water tank: N/A, Heat mode: No
Read our full VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan review
11. Tors+Olsson Air Pod
A neat-looking personal cooler although its short range and loud noise may put some off
If you liked the look of the Dyson Pure Cool Me but don’t have the money to spend on it, the Tors+Olsson Air Pod may pique your interest. A bladeless design, as with Dyson’s models, this fan has a golf-ball-like head that blows air out of a small slit in the front of it. The design is fantastic and this is one model that we’d be proud to have out on display.
The main body has touch-sensitive controls for oscillation, fan speed and to set the timer, although you can use the small remote control for the same options. As well as horizontal oscillation, the Tors+Olsson Air Pod has vertical oscillation so that the fan can blow up and down, too, which is neat and helps circulate air around a complete room.
Up close, on maximum speed, the fan outputs air at a brisk 3.5m/s, which is enough to take the heat off on a very hot day. Step away from the fan and the airspeed drops steadily: at 2m, we couldn’t get a measurement. That’s a little disappointing and shows that this is a model for personal cooling, say sat on a desk next to you.
Noise is also more of an issue at high speed, with the fan a little annoying to listen to, although at 45.3dB on full power it’s not particularly loud. Ultimately, there are better overall fans on this list, but none that have the looks at this price. If you want something that looks flash then the Tors+Olsson Air Pod is a decent option but be aware that it’s only really good for cooling a single person and struggles over distance.
Fan type: Desktop, Size: 320x242x340mm (WxHxD), Number of speeds: 6, Oscillation: Yes (side 90-degree, up/down 100-degree), Timer: Yes (Up to eight hours), Heat mode: No
Read our full Tors+Olsson Air Pod review
How to buy a fan
Best fans – 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 in this instance, 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.
Best fans – Which fan type is for you?
Desktop fans are the traditional models. These let you tilt the fan to direct airflow; you turn on the oscillation mode to let the fan sweep from side to side.
Pedestal fans look like tall desktop fans, and are designed to stand on the floor. Typically, they 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.
Best fans – 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 will 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.
Best fans – Do evaporative coolers work?
Evaporative coolers use a tank of water and a pump. As water evaporates it cools the air, letting these fans blow out air that’s colder that the ambient temperature: think of how it feels if you spray yourself with water on a hot day. The good thing about evaporative coolers is that they’re cheaper to run than an air conditioner and work with windows open. The downside is that they don’t work very well where it’s humid and water can’t evaporate.
Performance also differs depending on the level of humidity: evaporative coolers work best in very dry environments where the effect of evaporation is to also increase humidity for a more comfortable environment. Fortunately, UK summers tend to be hot but not that humid, so evaporative coolers work fairly well. However, they don’t reduce the temperature of a room as air conditioning will and work best when you’re in the cooling line of the fan.