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The best fans to keep you cool at home and on the go

We talked to experts about types of fans you may want to consider investing in and rounded up options across style and price point.
Illustration of four fans
Fans come in a variety of styles to cool off rooms, and you can also purchase smaller models to bring with you on the go.Amazon ; Dyson

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Whether you don’t have an air conditioning unit at home or want to cut down on how much you use the one you do have, investing in a fan may be on your mind. The devices circulate the air around you to create a breeze and cool down a room. And their benefits extend beyond helping keep you cool, said Carl Prouty, tech expert at Abt Electronics.

“[Fans are] much quieter than window or wall air conditioners and they use far less energy, so their operating costs are much lower,” he explained. They are also often more portable than air conditioners, so you can move them between rooms in your home with ease and bring them with you on the go.

SKIP AHEAD Best fans to shop | Types of fans to consider

Because fans come in a variety of styles to accommodate different situations, we talked to experts about how to decide which type is best for you and highlighted features you may want to keep in mind while shopping. We also rounded up a handful of fans across styles and price points according to expert guidance.

Types of fans to consider

Before you start shopping for fans, experts said you should decide whether you want a fan to cool yourself or a whole room. Household fans are usually needed when a space doesn’t have air conditioning or a central air system. “They would go great in a home that uses only ceiling fans, has windows open often and just needs air to be circulated,” said Ward Schraeder of HGTV’s “Bargain Mansions.” On the other hand, handheld fans are ideal for personal use, especially for travelers, those who work outside or those who want a burst of cool air while on the move.

Here are the fan types you should know about, as well as the purpose of each:

  • Ceiling fans are permanently installed on a room’s ceiling. They move air around to keep rooms cool — during colder months, you can reverse the airflow to circulate warm air as well. Some models also incorporate lights. In addition to indoor ceiling fans, you can purchase models specifically designed to be installed outdoors on porches or under pergolas.
  • Tower fans — also sometimes called floor fans — are portable units designed to be easy to move from room to room. They’re tall and narrow, so you can usually fit them in small spaces.
  • Window fans sit in window frames, similar to window air conditioning units. However, they use less energy and are easier to set up compared to window air conditioning units, experts told us. Window fans bring in cold air from outside to cool a room, and they’re often more effective than traditional fans at cooling larger spaces. Keep in mind that window fans need to be removed when it gets cold out and can cause leaks when it rains.
  • Desk fans are personal fans that either attach to or stand upright on tables. You can place them next to you while you’re working, sleeping or watching TV on the couch.
  • Pedestal fans are similar in design to table fans, but their base is at ground level. Stand-up fans are typically larger and taller than table fans and create a stronger breeze, though they’re still portable.
  • Handheld fans are another type of personal fan. Due to their small size, they won’t cool you off as well as other options, but experts said they’re convenient since they’re cordless and portable.

Best fans to shop

To recommend the below fans, we heeded expert guidance and chose models across a range of styles. We included larger fans designed to cool entire rooms as well as personal fans like tabletop and handheld options. For each model, we pointed out features that experts recommend noting while shopping, like oscillation, smart features, types of filters, modes and more.

Dyson Pure Cool Link TP01

  • Oscillation: Yes
  • Remote control: Yes
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: HEPA and activated carbon filters
  • Modes: Diffused and focused airflow

Prouty, who works for a retailer that sells Dyson products, previously recommended the Pure Cool DP04 Purifying Fan, which the brand no longer makes. The Dyson Pure Cool Link TP01 is a comparable model — it acts as a fan and air purifier in one, a feature Prouty highlighted, and has the same “purify only” mode in case you want to clean the air without the fan feature. The tower fan stands at 40 inches tall and is designed without blades, which can come in handy if you’re worried about children or pets getting too close. You can choose from 10 fan speeds.

Blueair Blue Pure Purifying Fan

  • Oscillation: No
  • Remote control: No
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: Pre-filter, HEPASilent filtration technology
  • Modes: Auto

If you’re looking for a more affordable air purifier and fan in one, Blueair’s Blue Pure Purifying Fan may be of interest. Though it doesn’t oscillate, the purifying fan lets out a stream of air across a 90-degree range, according to the brand. The device is designed with Blueair’s proprietary HEPASilent technology, which the brand says uses electrostatic and mechanical filtration to remove allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander and more. The purifying fan is built with an air quality indicator and you can purchase machine-washable pre-filters in five colors. It also has a handle on top so you can move the fan around your home.

Dreo Nomad One S Tower Fan

  • Oscillation: Yes
  • Remote control: Yes
  • Smart features: Companion app and voice control
  • Filters: No
  • Modes: Normal, natural, sleep and auto

Dreo’s Nomad One S Tower Fan has four fan speeds as well as an eight-hour timer. The fan has a rear grille and impeller wheel you can remove when you clean it, and it comes with a hidden handle you can grip when moving the fan around your home. The fan stands at 36 inches tall and has a touchscreen display to easily switch between modes.

Mini Handheld Personal Portable Fan

  • Oscillation: No
  • Remote control: No
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: No
  • Modes: Manual

This personal fan has three flexible legs you can bend and wrap around beach umbrellas, shelves, strollers and more. You can also hold the fan or bend the legs to stand it up and place it on a flat surface. The fan has a rechargeable battery and you can choose from three fan speeds.

Vornado VFAN Mini Classic Vintage Air Circulator

  • Oscillation: No
  • Remote control: No
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: No
  • Modes: Manual

Vornado’s personal fan is designed to sit on a desk or side table. You can choose from two fan speeds and the device has an adjustable tilt head that allows you to change the direction of the airflow. The fan comes in seven colors including green, vintage white and taupe.

BLACK+DECKER Stand Fan with Remote

  • Oscillation: Yes
  • Remote control: Yes
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: No
  • Modes: Manual

BLACK+DECKER’s Stand Fan is available in two heights: 16 inches and 18 inches. It’s built with an auto timer that shuts the fan off after 7 1/2 hours of use, and you can adjust its fan’s height and tilt. The fan can only be programmed manually, but it has three fan speeds to choose from.

Holmes Bionaire Thin Window Fan

  • Oscillation: No
  • Remote control: No
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: No
  • Modes: Manual

Available in black and white, this window fan’s panel size is adjustable from 25 to 36 inches and you can install it either vertically or horizontally. The fan has three speeds as well as a programmable electric thermostat with a temperature range between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Honeywell Carnegie Ceiling Fan

  • Oscillation: Yes
  • Remote control: Yes
  • Smart features: No
  • Filters: No
  • Modes: Manual

Honeywell’s Carnegie Ceiling Fan has three speed settings and comes with a built-in dimmable light. The fan is designed with five reversible blades and is available in three colors: copper, matte black and pewter. You can mount it in either a straight or angled position.

Features to look for while shopping for fans

Once you decide what type of fan you’re interested in, there are specific features experts recommend keeping in mind while shopping:

  • Remote controls: If your fan comes with a remote control, you can change its settings from wherever you are in a room.
  • Smart features: Some fans are designed with smart features like Wi-Fi compatibility. Select models pair with a companion app, which allows you to control the fan, review air quality and usage reports and more. Fans may also connect to voice-activated smart devices for hands-free use.
  • Filters: Like air purifiers, fans can come with a range of filters to purify air and remove allergens like dust or pet hair. For example, you may see fans built with HEPA filters, which remove very small particles from the air, or charcoal filters, which can get rid of odors. Before purchasing a fan, consider how often you’ll need to replace a fan’s filter and how much replacement filters cost.
  • Oscillation: Oscillation refers to a fan’s ability to move from side to side or up and down, thus moving air in multiple directions across a room. This helps the fan circulate cool air throughout a space instead of directing it into one spot.
  • Modes: While some fans may only allow you to manually program their settings, others come with a variety of modes designed for different circumstances. Some fans have an auto mode, for example, which can adjust to a room’s air quality or light, and others have a sleep mode that can dim an LED display.

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