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A good fan circulates fresh air and can help you feel cool and comfortable in a hot or stuffy room.
We purchased 31 fans in different shapes and styles and tested them in the Lab to see how they performed. We then spent hours evaluating their air speed, design, portability, effectiveness, and value.
Our favorite fan, the Better Homes & Gardens 40” 3-Speed Tower, is affordably priced, has impressive features, and is relatively quiet at its highest and strongest speed.
Backed by our testing, here are our best fans to keep you cool.
Best Overall: Better Homes & Gardens 40” 3-Speed Tower
Relatively quiet operation
Base wobbles slightly during use
Only effective in direct line of flow
After we tested over 30 fans in various styles and sizes, the Better Homes & Gardens 3-Speed Tower wins our title as Best Overall, based on its affordable price, unique features (almost too many to test!), and sleek design. This tower fan not only oscillates but also has three wind modes—you can select natural wind, sleep wind, and regular wind, each available in three speeds. The fan’s quiet operation impressed our tester, even while using the highest, strongest speed on the regular setting. As you may expect from its name, the sleep mode produced an even quieter sound at each speed, and the wind mode had a stronger airflow but still produced a relaxing sound.
On the top of the fan you can find thoughtful features, including a magnetic area to store the remote; an LED-lighted control panel that turns off after a minute, so it doesn’t disturb you at night; a 7.5-hour programmable timer; and a handle, so you can easily carry the fan from room to room. In fact, our tester noted it was so light, she could move it with just one hand. She did point out, however, that it wouldn’t be the best fan to travel with because it is not as compact as some other options we tested.
Regarding the fan’s effectiveness, our tester noted that it employs a direct flow and feels most cooling when it is relatively close up, with the airflow pointed directly at you. For example, while testing the airflow from different distances, our tester noted it was most cooling from 6 to 8 feet of its direct flow. Outside the direct flow (while the fan was stationary or oscillating), she could not feel it. So, if you are looking for a fan multiple people can feel in different parts of the room, this might not be the best option.
Tall and slender, this tower features internal oscillation: While the fan’s inside moves, the outside shell remains still. Although this product is designed to be more stable than a fan that entirely moves while oscillating (and provides more range of motion), the fan base wobbled a bit during use, as our tester noted. She did mention, however, that this may be due to the way the fan was assembled. Overall, this affordable fan should keep you cool, has unique and useful features, and looks sleek in any room, making it our top pick.
Best Desk: Vornado 660 Whole Room Air Circulator with Four Speeds
Who else recommends it? Bob Vila, Reviewed, and Wirecutter all picked the Vornado 660 Large whole room fan.
What do buyers say? 93% of 12,400+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Vornado 660 Whole Room Air Circulator is a powerful option for any room. Small enough to sit on a desk or dresser, this fan is designed to circulate air up to 100 feet. And although it doesn’t oscillate, our tester noted she felt the fan’s direct airflow up to 20 feet away. You can tilt it up to a 90-degree angle, from horizontal to vertical.
This fan lacks a handle and is a bit bulky compared with other desk fans, but it is powerful for its size and portable enough to carry from room to room. It also lacks a remote, but the push-button controls on the back of the fan, adjusting the speeds from whisper-quiet to turbo, are straightforward and easy to use.
Best Splurge: Rowenta Turbo Silence Extreme+ Stand Fan
Cools a large space
5 speed settings
Includes remote control
Heavy to move
For a fan that cools a larger space without being too noisy (and, on some settings, almost silent!), we recommend the Rowenta Turbo Silence Extreme+ Stand Fan. Although it’s not the most stylish or affordable option we tested, this powerful, sturdy, and effective oscillating fan is well worth its slightly higher price point.
We love how versatile it can be, with an adjustable height from about 43 to 57 inches and five speed settings so you can tailor it to suit your needs. Choose the powerful Turbo Boost setting when you really want to cool down, or Silent Night Mode when you need it to be as quiet as possible. In fact, while using this speed, our tester noted that the fan was almost silent. One note: This fan is heavy and takes two hands to move. However, our tester appreciated the sturdy base and noted it was not easy to tip over.
The airflow performance in front of and to the sides of the fan’s direct line impressed our tester—she felt the airflow from as far as 20 feet, as well as when she was out of the direct flow. She also noted that the fan oscillates about a foot in each direction, so the airflow can directly reach more parts of the room.
Best Quiet: Pelonis Ultra Quiet Oscillating Pedestal Fan
Quiet at highest speed
Powerful, strong breeze
A bit pricey
During testing, the Pelonis Standing Fan stood out for its quiet yet powerful performance and sturdy design. Even at the highest of 12 air speed settings, the fan was relatively quiet, with a strong breeze felt at 6 feet, and a noticeable breeze detected even at 20 feet. This product has tons of features, including wide, 85-degree oscillation; easily adjustable height; a digital display; a 12-hour timer; and a basic remote control. The head of the fan even tilts up or down.
Our tester noted that this fan is a bit heavier than expected, and with its handle a bit too close to the blades, it isn’t the easiest fan to carry. However, she still could move it with one hand. Our tester also noted she had to cycle through each speed to change speed settings, but it was still quick and easy to do.
Best Adjustable: Crane Oscillating Desk Fan with Remote Control
Tilts in three angles
Need to manually tilt fan
If you are looking for a compact and adjustable fan, look no further than the Crane Oscillating Desk Fan. We love that you can tilt this fan at three angles (straight up, 45 degrees, or 90 degrees) to reach different room areas. You select the three speeds and programmable timer options via the digital display or by remote control, although you need to manually adjust the tilting feature.
Our tester felt the breeze up to 20 feet, although it was strongest up to 6 feet. Our tester also found this fan fairly light and portable, with areas underneath you can use as carrying handles.
Best Budget: PELONIS PFB50A2BWW 3-Speed Box Fan
Does not oscillate
For a powerful fan at an affordable price, we recommend the Pelonis 3-Speed Box fan. While it lacks a digital display, remote control, or any high-tech features, it circulates the air, even in larger spaces. We also found this fan to be a great portable option since it is lightweight and has two handles (one at the back and one on the side).
You control the three speeds through a knob on the fan. At the highest setting, the fan is quite loud and powerful. In fact, our tester found the perfect distance to be about 6 feet from the fan, where she could feel a strong but not too disruptive breeze (although she could feel the fan at 20 feet away). She also noted that it would be hard to have a conversation in a small room when the fan is on its highest setting. But overall, this is an excellent option for the price, and you can easily move or lower it if noise becomes an issue.
Best Tower: Dyson Pure Cool TP01 HEPA Air Purifier & Fan
Fan and air purifier combo
9-hour timer with 15-minute increments
Could easily tip over
The Dyson Pure Cool Air Purifier and Fan is loaded with features that make it worth using all year long—and with its sleek, stylish design, you’d be happy to. This tower fan doubles as an air purifier (with HEPA filter), and claims to remove over 99.97 percent of pollutants and allergens as small as 0.3 microns. It also offers a blade-less design, a remote control, a nine-hour timer, an easily removable filter, and 70-degree oscillation.
Our tester noted they could feel the airflow as far as 20 feet on the highest setting. However, they noted it took the sixth setting (out of 10) before they started hearing or feeling the airflow; lower, they had to put a hand right up to the fan. They also noted that it is fairly quiet on its highest, strongest setting, so it shouldn’t disturb at night or while watching TV.
Best Large Room : Lasko FH500 Fan & Space Heater Combo Tower
Combined fan and heater
Tall, to reach higher areas
Tip-over safety feature
The Lasko FH500 Fan & Space Heater Combo Tower is a great value, with features that can help make a larger room feel comfortable year-round. This 1,500-watt combined heater-fan is ETL-listed, meaning it's certified as meeting the requirement of widely accepted safety standards. It features a blade-less design and tip-over safety feature, so it should automatically shut off if it falls over. Our tester found this four-speed fan effective at circulating the air, even as far as 20 feet. And at its highest setting, the sound is subtle enough to act as white noise. We also like that the unit carves out built-in storage for the included remote control.
Although it is not height-adjustable, this fan is tall enough to reach over a bed, so it would be good for bedrooms. Our tester noted that the cord is shorter than other options we tested, but since the airflow can reach relatively far, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. We also appreciate how easy the permanent filter is to access and clean—press the EZclick Filter button on the cover on the back of the fan to open, then use your vacuum’s brush attachment to clean.
Best Small Room: Lasko T42951 42" Oscillating Tower Fan
Blends with decor more than others
Remote control storage
Tall with carrying handle
Can’t feel it more than 10 feet away
For small spaces, the Lasko Oscillating Tower Fan is our top choice, with a relatively small footprint and its wood panel design, which blends into a room better than other options. Its features make it great to use at night, including a 7.5-hour programmable timer, and a nighttime setting that dims the display and gradually decreases the fan speed. We also appreciate the built-in, space-saving storage for the remote.
As far as performance, our tester noted that this three-speed fan was quite powerful and relatively quiet when she tested from 10 feet away. However, she noted that at 20 feet, she couldn’t feel the fan at all, which would be an issue only in larger spaces. Overall, this fan’s design and features make it a great option for small bedrooms or other compact spaces.
Best Window: Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Reversible AirFlow Fan
Each side can expand 6.5 inches
Intakes and/or exhausts air
Can be used freestanding with legs
Lacks a remote
When space is an issue, a great option is a window fan—this type of fan directly brings in fresh air or exhausts the room air without taking up valuable floor space. The versatile and budget-friendly Genesis Twin Fan is an excellent option in this category. You can expand it from 24 to 37 inches to fit your window, and its detachable legs permit it to be freestanding on a table. Our tester found this fan lightweight and easy to move with one hand, thanks to the built-in handle.
You also can select the airflow direction (in or out) of each fan individually. The unit also features three speed settings and five temperature settings (from 60 to 80 degrees F), thanks to its built-in thermostat. And while this window fan is not the most powerful fan we tested, our tester felt the airflow up to 20 feet, in front of it, as well as circulating the air around the room.
Our best overall pick is the Better Homes & Gardens 40” 3-Speed Tower, an affordable, sleek option that our testers found to be quiet yet powerful at its highest setting. We also loved all of its unique features and internal oscillation. If you are looking to splurge on a fan that cools a larger space, we recommend the Rowenta Turbo Silence Extreme+ Stand Fan. During testing, airflow from this sturdy fan could be felt from as much as 20 feet away, both in and out of the direct flow.
How We Tested the Fans
To compile this list, we tested 31 fans in various styles and sizes at The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa. First, we studied the air speed of each fan, looking at how many speeds the fan offered, how to control them, and if the speed designation lived up to its performance. We also measured the speed with an anemometer, recorded the results, and compared them to the manufacturer's claim, if listed. Our testers then evaluated the design of each fan, looking at factors including oscillation, adjustability, blade-less design, smart features, cord length, multiple color options, and more. Next, we evaluated the portability, noting if the fan had handles or an ergonomic design that made it easier to carry with one hand, as well as its sturdiness and footprint to determine its optimal placement. To determine its effectiveness, we taped a spot on the floor directly in front of the fan at a distance of 6 inches, 6 feet, and 20 feet and assessed the airflow at the highest setting, both in front of and to each side of the fan. With all of these results in mind, our testers finally looked at the price of the fan and assessed its overall value.
What to Look for in a Fan
There are several types of fans, so choose the one that will suit your room best. A powerful floor fan is usually most effective at moving the greatest amount of air in larger spaces, but anyone who needs to save space may want to look into a tower fan with a smaller footprint. Tabletop and desk fans have plenty of power for smaller bedrooms or offices, while window and box fans can help inject a blast of fresh outdoor air on a cool night.
CFM—or cubic feet per minute—measures the amount of air a fan moves every 60 seconds. Generally, CFM depends on the fan’s motor and blades (their pitch, length, and shape). The higher the CFM, the more air a fan circulates. Fans with low CFMs are suitable only for small spaces.
Some fans operate from a single position, and others oscillate (or swivel) as they circulate air. An oscillating fan is more effective at cooling since it’s better equipped to move air throughout the entire room. If you’d like your fan to focus on one spot—say, to dry a wet spot on a carpet—this feature isn’t necessary.
How do I clean a fan?
For a light, weekly cleaning, you can use a can of compressed air or a handheld vacuum to remove dust from your fan's blades, vent, and protective housing. For a deeper clean, you may need to disassemble your fan (although doing so might void its warranty). From there, spray down the blades and protective housing with a solution of dishwashing liquid and water; rinse, and let dry before reassembling.
How much electricity does a fan use?
This varies depending on the type of fan you purchase and how often you use it. In general, you can rest assured a fan shouldn't run up your electric bill to the same extent an air conditioner would. In fact, the average air conditioning system is 58 times more expensive to operate than the average portable fan. An online energy use calculator can provide you with a closer estimate, providing you know your fan's wattage and how long you intend to use it.
Where should I set up a fan?
Your fan should maximize the ventilation in the room, so set it up in or near an open window, and don't place any furniture in front of it. Beyond that, consider placing it across the room from where you spend most of your time (say, opposite the couch or against the wall that faces your bed).
Why Trust The Spruce?
Jenica Currie is the Associate Commerce Editor for outdoor, gardening, and home improvement at The Spruce. She has tested products at home and in the Lab, including artificial Christmas trees, clothing racks, bean bag chairs, and vacuums. Living in an older home without central air, she knows a good fan is essential in summer. For this article, she used our test results and researched dozens of top-rated fans to compile this list of the best available options.