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Best Fan: Cooling and purifying fans to beat the heat

Trusted Reviews ranks the best fans on the market for keeping you cool on the hot summer nights, including desktop and tower fans

With more of us forced to spend time at home, the up and down weather is probably having a bigger effect, making our houses unbearably warm on one day, and cold the next day. For those hot days, one of the best ways to keep cool is with one of our best fans. An efficient way of cooling without using huge amounts of electricity, fans are flexible and easy to move around.

All fans work in the same way: they move air at speed. This helps with circulation, pushing hot air out of open windows, and aids with evaporation, making you feel cooler when the air stream is on you. While the principal may be the same for all models, the quality is different between each one: some can move a lot of air quietly; others are loud and ineffective.

Fortunately, we’re here to help with our guide to the best fans. We’ve tested all of the models that we’ve listed for air flow, sound, features and build quality. And, we’ve included different types of model, taking in traditional fans, air purifiers and evaporative coolers that use a tank of water to cool the air coming out. Our full list below goes into more detail on each chosen product and you can click through the full reviews. However, for convenience, we’ve listed the best fans below for you.

A superb and powerful fan that oscillates horizontally and vertically to fully circulate air through your home

MeacoFan 1056 Pedestal Air Circulator hero


  • Powerful air projection
  • Horizontal and vertical oscillation
  • Very quiet


  • A little short

Why we liked the MeacoFan 1056 Pedestal Air Circulator

A fan isn’t just about direct cooling, it’s about shifting stuffy, stale air around and refreshing a room. There’s no fan that can do that better than the MeacoFan 1056 Pedestal Air Circulator. A pedestal version of the desktop model, which is still available, this large fan has horizontal and vertical oscillation, so that in push air all around, giving full-room recirculation.

Its power helps a lot: we measured air speed at 4m/s from 15cm away making this one of the most powerful fans that we’ve tested. Fortunately, this fan is very quiet, moving between 43.5dB on the lowest fan setting up to an acceptable 57.2dB on maximum setting. With a neat remote control giving you easy access to all of the fan’s features, this is a top-quality fan for keeping you cool and your room feeling fresh.

Read the full review

MeacoFan 1056 Pedestal Air Circulator Techincal Specs

  • Fan type: Pedastal
  • Size: 820 x 320 x 339mm
  • Number of speeds: 12
  • Oscillation: Yes (60-degrees vertical, 80-degrees horizontally)
  • Timer: Yes (up to 12 hours)
  • Water tank: No
  • Heat mode: No

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The perfect fan and air purifier to use all-year round thanks to its heating and cooling features

Dyson Pure Hot+Cool hero


  • Quiet, automatic operation
  • Smooth air output
  • Reversible airflow
  • Detailed display
  • Excellent warming


  • Few onboard controls

Why we liked the Dyson Pure Hot+Cool

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 the full review

Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Technical Specs

  • 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)

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A powerful and smart purifying fan that will also keep your home at the ideal humidity

Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool hero


  • Cools, purifies and humidifies
  • Powerful app and Alexa integration
  • Excellent performance


  • Few onboard controls

Why we liked the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool

With the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool you get a fan that’s designed to be used all-year-round, keeping your home environment at the healthiest of levels. First, this fan is a proper air purifier, sucking in allergens and other noxious elements to keep your home air clean. It works brilliantly, and was one of the quickest fans to clean our test environment. Thanks to the onboard sensors, the fan can do this job automatically for you.

Next, this model is also a humidifier, adding moisture to the air when needed. Again, it’s a fully automated system that will only add moisture when it’s needed. This helps improve the home environment and can help with dry skin and make it easier to breathe.

Working around both technologies is a very powerful fan, capable of pushing air at 4.4m/s from 15cm on maximum speed, down to a gentle trickle on the lowest speed. As this is a Dyson fan, it’s also extremely quiet: on the lowest speed you really can’t hear it at all. Air comes out of the two rotating barrels on the side, which give this fan a unique Breeze mode that accurately simulates real wind.

In winter or when you don’t want cold air, you can redirect air out the back of the fan, with the air barrels rotating all the way around. There’s a remote control that connects magentically to the top that lets you control every feature, but you can also use the Dyson Link app for remote control. Alexa integration is supported, including using Routines to automatically control the fan. If you want a fan that can keep your home air clean and improve the environment, this is the model to buy.

Read the full review

Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool Technical Specs

  • Fan type: Tower fan with humidifier and air purifier
  • Size: 312 x 312 x 925mm
  • Number of speeds: 10
  • Oscillation: Yes (90-degree)
  • Timer: Yes (up to eight hours)
  • Water tank: 5-litres
  • Heat mode: No

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Excellent performance with tonnes of movement from this powerful desktop model

MeacoFan Air Circulator 650 side


  • Powerful air circulation, even at low speeds
  • Quiet – barely audible at minimum speed
  • Comprehensive remote control
  • Useful Eco mode
  • Very low power consumption
  • 2yr warranty


  • No vertical oscillation

Why we liked the MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator

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 the full review

MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator Techincal Specifications

  • Fan type: Desktop
  • Size: 260x254x343mm
  • Number of speeds: 12
  • Oscillation: Yes (70-degree)
  • Timer: Yes (Up to six hours)
  • Heat mode: No

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Powerful personal cooling with air purification

Dyson Pure Cool Me hero


  • Very quiet
  • Pinpoint control of air direction
  • Simple control


  • Few on-board controls
  • No automatic mode

Why we liked the Dyson Pure Cool Me

Dyson fans all look so distinctive with their bladeless heads that you can put a hand through that the Dyson Pure Cool Me immediately looks different thanks to its ball head. The reason for the design change is that the fan uses Dyson’s Core Flow technology, which lets the convex surface direct a fine stream of air exactly where you want it, making it perfect for personal cooling.

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 the full review

Dyson Pure Cool Me Technical Specs

  • 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

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A handy fan that you can take everywhere, running it from its integrated battery

MeacoFan 260C Cordless Air Circulator hero


  • Light and small
  • Long-lasting internal battery
  • Powerful air movement


  • No oscillation

Why we liked the MeacoFan 260C Cordless Air Circulator

If you need a fan where cables won’t reach, say to a garden on a hot day or in a tent when you go camping, the MeacoFan 260C Cordless Air Circulator is the model for you. Thanks to its integrated battery, charged via USB, you can run this model for up to 14 hours without having to go anywhere near a power socket.

We’ve seen small, portable models before, and they’ve usually been a bit rubbish. Not so with the MeacoFan 260C Cordless Air Circulator, which has a lot of power, reaching a maximum air speed of 2.3m/s from 15cm away. That’s enough air to give you a cooling dose of air. There are four fan speeds in total, with the lowest running at 49.7dB, or quiet enough to sleep through.

As this is a portable model, you lose out on some features that bigger models have: you don’t get a remote, there are only four fan speeds and there’s no oscillation. If you need any of these options, look elsewhere, but if you want a flexible fan you can take everywhere this is the best model that we’ve reviewed.

Read the full review

MeacoFan 260C Cordless Air Circulator Techincal Specs

  • Fan type: Cordless desktop
  • Size: 268.5 x 166 x 140mm
  • Number of speeds: 4
  • Oscillation: No,
  • Timer: No
  • Water tank: No
  • Heat mode: No

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Great looks from this traditional desktop fan

Swan Retro Desk Fan

Why we liked the Swan Retro Desk 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.

Swan Retro Desk Fan

  • Fan type: Desktop
  • Size: 355 x 455 x 268mm
  • Number of speeds: 3
  • Oscillation: Yes
  • Timer: No
  • Heat mode: No87. Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan

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As smart as tower fans

Logick 16" Gun Metal Pedestal Fan

Why we liked the Logick 16″ Gun Metal 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.

Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan Techincal Specifications

  • Fan type: Pedestal
  • Size: 1250 x 450 x 368mm
  • Number of speeds: 3
  • Oscillation: Yes
  • Timer: No
  • Water tank: N/A
  • Heat mode: No

Cools the air with water evaporation and ice

Benross Portable Air Cooler 60 Watts

Why we liked the Benross 42240 Portable Air Cooler

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.

Benross 42240 Portable Air Cooler Technical Specs

  • 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

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Powerful and effective personal air cooling for when you’re working or sleeping

Evapolar evaChill EV-500 LED


  • Small
  • Power efficient
  • Cools air quickly


  • Expensive replacement cartridges
  • No indicator to show you need a new cartridge

Why we liked the Evapolar evaChill EV-500

The times that you most notice the heat are when you’re sat at a desk or are sleeping. It makes sense, then, to get a device that can cool you in these positions, such as the Evapolar evaChill EV-500. A cheaper version of the original Evapolar Personal Air Cooler, this model is actually more effective, easier to use and looks neater, too.

As with its predecessor, this model is an evaporative cooler, using its integrated tank of water and cooling via evaporation. This makes it more effective than a traditional fan, as it blows air at you that’s colder than the ambient air temperature. With this model, as the tank is integrated, it doesn’t leak water when you move it, which was an issue with the original.

There’s no LCD screen to show you the settings and this model has fewer fan speed settings at just four, and the first one is so weak as to be virtually useless in our tests. However, ramp up the fan speed and the quality improves.

Measuring at 53.7% relative humidity with an ambient temperature of 28C, the Evapolar evaChill EV-500 managed an air output of 23.5C – a 4.5C reduction. Measuring at 43.7% humidity with a temperature of 32C, the fan’s output was 25.2C, a reduction of 6.8C.

Impressively, the fan uses just 6.2W of power, provided by the USB-C cable in the box. This means that you can even run it from a power bank, making this model useful for campers.

The lower price the original make this a better choice than the original, although the replacement cartridges are still comparatively expensive.

Read the full review

Evapolar evaChill EV-500

  • Fan type: Evaporative desktop cooler
  • Size: 172 x 170 x 170mm
  • Number of speeds: 4
  • Oscillation: No
  • Timer: No
  • Water tank: 800ml (three to five hours cooling)
  • Heat mode: No

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Excellent performance and whole-room air purification for allergy suffers

Dyson Pure Cool Tower



  • Quiet and automatic operation
  • Smooth air output
  • Reversible airflow
  • Provides lots of information about air quality


  • Comparatively expensive
  • Few onboard controls

Why we liked the Dyson Pure Cool Tower

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 the full review

Dyson Pure Cool Tower Technical Specs

  • 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

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A very powerful and well-priced tower fan that can cool across a room

VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan


  • Powerful air circulation
  • Reasonably quiet performance
  • Ioniser, three wind modes, and a remote
  • Comparatively narrow base
  • Two-year warranty (with registration)


  • Could do with a lower fan speed

Why we liked the VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan

Tower fans are a great space saver but they often sacrifice power to get a slimmer body. Not so with the VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan, which manages to deliver some of the best fan performance that we’ve seen, both up close and 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.

Read the full review

VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan Technical Specs

  • 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

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Best Fan Round Up

  1. Our overall winner: MeacoFan 1056 Pedestal Air Circulator
  2. Best fan for flexibility: Dyson Pure Hot+Cool
  3. Best fan for allergies and health: Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool
  4. Best fan for circulating air: MeacoFan 650 Air Circulator
  5. Best portable fan: MeacoFan 260C Cordless Air Circulator
  6. Best personal fan: Dyson Pure Cool Me
  7. Best value desk fan: Swan Retro Desk Fan
  8. Best pedestal fan: Logick 16″ Gun Metal Pedestal Fan
  9. Best evaporative cooler: Benross 42240 Portable Air Cooler
  10. Best mini evaporative cooler: Evapolar evaChill EV-500
  11. Best purifying fan: Dyson Pure Cool Tower
  12. Best tower fan: VonHaus 35″ Tower Fan

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. We also measure power usage at minimum and maximum speeds, to determine the most efficient model from the least.
  4. 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.

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.

How does humidity affect cooling?

Fans make you feel cooler by helping sweat evaporate from your body. How effective a fan is, depends largely on how humid it is. When there’s high humidity, it’s hard for sweat to evaporate, so a fan doesn’t do much to help cool you. This is why on humid days we tend to think of them as being hot and sweaty. Conversely, when humidity is lower, it’s much easier for evaporation to happen, which is when fans feel the most effective.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage and purchase a dehumidifier for those sweltering days. With a dehumidifier sucking moisture out of the air, the effectiveness of fans goes up. A dehumidifier will also make an evaporative cooler more effective, too.

Air conditioning units can also operate as dehumidifiers. So, if you have a portable unit but find it too loud to sleep with, you can run it before you go to bed in dehumidifier or cooling mode, and then switch to a fan at night. That way, you get the best of both worlds: a cool and less humid environment to go to sleep in with a fan to keep you cool during the night.

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.

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.

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.

Should I buy a fan that’s also an air purifier?

Air purifiers are a good way to boost the internal comfort of your home. They’re designed to filter out impurities in the air, including pollutants, allergens, dust and, in some cases, gasses. By filtering these out of your air, you get cleaner, purer air inside your home, which is beneficial to all but particularly those with respiratory problems or allergies.

While you can buy standalone air purifiers, it means that you end up with multiple boxes around your home. Having an air purifier built into a fan gives you a dual-purpose design. The main thing to watch out for is whether or not there’s a diffuse mode, where air can be directed out the back of the fan: that way, you can use the purification features in the colder months, without getting a blast of cold air.

Are smart features worth it?

Smart features don’t change what a fan is a capable of, but they do let you control them automatically via an app and, possibly, via voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Home. The benefit, for most people, is one of laziness, as you can control your fan without having to stand up and move. However, some models let you do some clever things. For example, with Dyson smart fans, you can programme automatic routines, such as automatically turning the fan off when a motion sensor detects that nobody is in the room, helping save energy. The downside of smart fans is that they’re typically more expensive. A cheap workaround is to use an old fan with physical controls connected to a smart plug: this won’t let you choose the fan speed but will let you turn the fan on and off remotely.

What should I look for with fan speed controls?

All fans can adjust the amount of air that comes out of them by adjusting how fast their blades spin: the slower they go, the lower the air flow. Having control over the air flow is very important for different situations, and where you sit. So, as our tests show, the slower the fan speed, the less the impact is at distance, so if you sit further from the fan or want to cool more people, you need a higher fan speed. Conversely, if you’re sat at a desk and want to cool just yourself, then you can get by with a lower fan speed, which will also mean that you don’t blow papers around on your desk.

There’s also a difference in noise at different fan speeds, with lower fan speeds quieter, and faster louder. This is important at night, where you may want a slower, more gentle and quieter fan speed, rather than roar of full cooling power.

Generally speaking, the more fan speeds a fan has, the greater the difference between minimum and maximum power, giving you a greater range of options for cooling. Some fans, on the other hand, have few cooling speeds, so you get little difference between full power and low power.


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