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Whether you’re still sporting a work-from-home setup or are one of the millions of Americans returning to the office you will likely want to keep cool in the upcoming summer months while you work — especially as heat waves sweep the country.Desk fans — also called table fans — are standard, personal fans that sit on top of a desk or table. They’re typically about 2 feet high and compact, so you don’t have to sacrifice a chunk of your work space to accommodate them.
Desk fans, along with stand-up fans and tower fans, can be good to have when a space doesn’t have air conditioning or a central air system. They’re especially useful in homes that only use ceiling fans or just need air to be circulated, experts previously told us in our explainer on the best fans. Fans can also be an energy-efficient and more cost-effective alternative to air conditioning units, desk fans especially. As Brandi Andrews, founder of National Air Warehouse, noted, a desk fan “is great to have at eye level, can be bought at an affordable price and is a standard way of cooling you while sitting at a desk, lying in bed or even sitting on a couch.”
When shopping for a desk fan or any other fan for your space, experts recommended looking for a few key features. These include filters, which can help remove allergens from the air, a remote control feature that lets you get a cool breeze without having to move, and oscillation, which rotates the fan and promotes air flow around a room.
Best desk fans in 2021
Keeping in mind our past guidance, we’ve compiled some highly rated desk fans from popular retailers like Amazon, Target and Best Buy, along with Shopping favorite brands like Vornado and Honeywell.
This tabletop fan from Honeywell is a high-performing and affordable option for cooling off in the summer. It’s compact enough for a desk or wall mount, and features three speed settings and a 90-degree pivoting head. It’s also relatively quiet, so you can use it during work hours while avoiding the distraction. The fan earned a 4.6-star average rating from more than 12,000 reviewers on Amazon.
The Flippi V6 from Vornado lets you personalize the air flow using its 2-speed manual control, along with an adjustable tilting head and manual swivel base to direct it wherever you need. It has a compact, sleek design and comes in seven colorful options to brighten up your workspace, all while allowing you to fold down the top when it’s not in use for a more subtle addition to your table. It has a 4.4-star average rating from over 12,500 reviews on Amazon.
If you’re looking for a desk fan but have limited space, this SkyGenius mini fan can clip onto the edge of a table and features 360-degree vertical and horizontal rotation. It has two fan speeds — low and max speed — and includes rechargeable batteries that can last up to 6 hours depending on the fan speed plus a USB cable to power it. This fan earned a 4.5-star average rating from more than 20,000 Amazon reviewers.
The Holmes Lil' Blizzard fan is portable, lightweight and relatively small, standing at about 9 inches tall. It features multi-directional oscillation and two speed settings for high or low airflow that can be adjusted using a rear dial. It also has a removable front grill for easy cleaning and maintenance. It holds a 4.3-star average rating from more than 200 reviews at Bed Bath & Beyond.
At about 4 pounds for the Small size, this powerful yet compact globe fan delivers a cooling breeze for coverage in rooms up to 157 square feet. The fan offers three speed settings and provides the option to direct airflow or oscillate from side to side. This fan earned a 4.5-star average rating from over 3,000 reviewers on Amazon and comes in both a Small and Large size.
This flat desktop fan has a 4.5-star average rating from over 10,000 Amazon reviewers and features a convenient built-in handle for portability. Its 10-inch blades work at two speeds — either low or high — while the fan itself, which stands at 13 inches high, can run on batteries or be plugged in using the included AC adapter.
This modern desk fan is both stylish and powerful, featuring a pivoting axis for multi-directional airflow and three different speeds. At just six inches tall, it’s compact enough to use atop a work desk, a nightstand or a kitchen counter. Plus, it comes in four different contemporary color combinations, from Copper to Champagne, letting you complement your aesthetic.
For a mini fan that can complement your crowded workspace, this highly rated option — which has a 4.7-star average rating from over 17,000 Amazon reviewers — measures about 4 inches high. It features a handle that can fold up to 180 degrees and can connect to a metal stand to keep it upright. You can recharge it using a USB port or power it directly with batteries.