The best fans are capable of making a hot, sticky day that much more bearable. Giving you a breeze of fresh air into your home at a time when even opening the windows doesn’t seem to clear things up, almost any home could use a fan, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. (However, if you’re really hot, you may need a portable air conditioner instead of or in addition to a fan.)
A fan is not as easy to buy as one might think. You need to consider whether you want a bladeless design, a particularly quiet fan, a tower-length fan, or one that fits in the window, as well as whether power or aesthetics are more important to you.
As with any purchase, it’s also possible to spend a little or a lot on a fan – that’s where we come in. To help you know where to start, we’ve taken a look at all the best fans currently available. We’re also here to answer some key questions about what you may need to consider before hitting the buy button.
How do the fans work?
Fans can feel magical at times, but there’s a logic to how they work, even if it feels a little weird. This is because most electric fans add heat to the room, as expected of any electrical appliance. However, they create a wind chill effect rather than actually cooling the room. We all lose this through conduction, radiation, convection, and evaporation, the latter two being how fans work best.
Every hot day, we sweat to lose heat. By blowing air, a fan allows the air to more effectively evaporate the sweat on our skin. It may feel like it’s lowering the temperature, but it just makes us and the air around us feel cooler rather than actually being cooler.
The faster the fan, the more it moves the warmer air that is in direct contact with our skin, thus improving the rate of heat transfer by convection. A steady breeze from a fan is able to carry warm air away from you rather than making it uncomfortable.
Fans are more efficient in some types of heat than others. For example, when the air is above 35 degrees Celsius (or around 90 degrees Fahrenheit), you won’t lose heat through convection, but a fan will help your sweat evaporate faster. A damp heat wave occurs when a fan is most effective at reducing core temperatures, while a dry heat requires more water than air.
There is a lot of debate on whether your fan should also face the inside or outside of a window. You should place outward-facing fans on the warmer side of your home to push hot air out, while using inward-facing fans to draw cool air into the cooler side of your home . Upstairs in the house is likely to be warmer than downstairs, so plan accordingly.
As for window fans, they work best to handle the warm air in your home, so you should use them when it’s warmer inside than outside. When the outside is higher, close your windows and blinds to keep warm air out. Closing your windows may seem illogical, but it works.
What types of fans are there?
There are many different fans. They all perform very similar tasks, the main difference being their appearance. Ceiling fans are popular among people who want to mount a fan out of the way. Then there are table fans to place on a counter or cabinet, as well as tower fans to place standing next to other pieces of furniture. Pedestal fans are as freestanding as tower fans, but with a different look, just like floor fans.
There are also exhaust fans and wall-mounted fans, but we’ve mainly focused on those that require the least amount of installation.
Do I want a quiet fan?
Not everyone wants a quiet fan. It’s a very personal choice. Noise doesn’t affect how well a fan works, but you may find yourself preferring one over the other. Some people enjoy the noise a fan makes, treating it like white noise to stand out. Others may find a noisy fan irritating and disturbing their sleep or rest. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here.
What makes a fan powerful?
The power of a fan is measured by the airflow it generates in cubic feet per minute. Called CFM, the higher the rating, the more powerful the airflow.
Most fans offer more than one fan speed, so it’s possible to choose a setting that suits your situation. Sometimes you might want a gentler breeze than other times.
It is even possible to determine the CFM you need. You will need to know the size in cubic feet of the room you are cooling. From there, you can divide the cubic feet by the CFM rating of a fan. The result tells you how many minutes the fan takes to renew the air in the room. The lower the number, the more effective it will be at cooling your space.
Some guidelines suggest you may want a fan that can recirculate air 5-6 times per hour for a bedroom or a little more for a kitchen.
Another way to check power is to see which motor is being used. A DC (or DC) motor is more energy efficient because it uses less power, but an AC (Alternating Current) motor will give you the most power. Some fans also refer to their speed rather than CFM.
What features should I look for in a fan?
The features you need when buying a fan differ depending on what you need them for. One thing that will likely remain important to everyone is fan power. If you’re looking to cool down, you need a fan with a high CFM rating to provide superior airflow. It’s also worth determining if you need one that has blades or a bladeless design. The latter is especially useful if you have young children who might try to get too close to the blades of a fan. Auto-oscillation is also a good idea, as it means the fan automatically moves from side to side, widening its coverage and keeping hot air at bay.
From there, however, things can vary depending on your needs. For some users, variable speeds are a must with different useful speeds to handle cold air. For others, being able to use a remote control to manipulate the fan is handy if you don’t want to be physically near the fan at all times. Being able to adjust the height or the head of the fan can be useful but is not always essential. Likewise, some high-end fans offer more than just good airflow – they also include air purifying features. Finally, think about the designer fan you need. It can range from a pedestal fan, a box fan, a pedestal fan, a floor fan, a table fan or much more.