Whether you don’t have an air conditioning unit at home or want to cut down on how much you use yours, investing in a fan may be on your mind. The device circulates air to create a breeze and cool down a room. And the benefits of a fan extend beyond helping you regulate a room’s temperature, 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 said. They’re also often more portable than air conditioners, so you can move them between rooms with ease and bring them with you on the go.
Our top picks
- Best tower fan: Dreo Nomad One S Tower Fan
- Editor’s favorite desk fan: Vornado Flippi V6 Personal Air Circulator Fan
- Editor’s favorite pedestal fan: Lasko 1820 Pedestal Fan
How we picked the best fans
Because fans come in a variety of styles to accommodate different situations, we talked to an expert 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.
- Fan type and size: Deciding which type of fan to purchase largely depends on where you’re using it and how large of a space you’re aiming to keep cool. Size also matters — bigger fans will circulate air throughout rooms, while smaller fans might just cool you down.
- Fan speeds: If you like to adjust the intensity of airflow coming from your fan, consider purchasing one with multiple speeds so you have options.
- Oscillation: This refers to the fan’s ability to circulate air across a room. If you’re trying to cool down a larger space, oscillation can help do so.
- Price: Pricer fans tend to have more bells and whistles, while lower-priced options are usually more basic in design.
Best fans to keep you cool in 2023
To help guide your shopping, we highlighted a handful of highly-rated fans across a range of styles. We included larger fans designed to cool entire rooms as well as tabletop and handheld options for personal use. For each model, we pointed out specs that might aid in narrowing down the best options including oscillation, smart features, types of filters, modes and more.
Best tower fan
Built with an 8-hour timer, this fan comes with a hidden handle you can grip when moving it around your home. The fan’s touchscreen display also allows you to easily switch between modes. To help you get rid of dust that accumulates over time, the fan comes apart so you can reach all its nooks and crannies.
Fan type: Tower fan | Size: 36 inches tall | Fan speeds: 4 | Oscillation: Yes | Remote control: Yes | Smart features: Yes, companion app and voice control | Filters: None | Modes: Normal, natural, sleep and auto | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 1,800 reviews on Amazon
Best handheld fan
This personal, portable fan has three flexible legs you can bend and wrap around beach umbrellas, shelves, strollers and more. You can also stand it up on its own and place it on a flat surface. The fan has a rechargeable battery and you can choose from three fan speeds.
Fan type: Handheld fan | Size: 7.83 inches tall | Fan speeds: 3 | Oscillation: No | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 14,500 reviews on Amazon
Best desk fans
My office tends to get hot in the morning, so I keep this on my desk to cool me down as needed. It takes up minimal space, but it’s very powerful. I particularly like the adjustable tilt head and manual swivel base, both of which allow me to angle the fan perfectly in my direction. I bought this fan three years ago and it’s still as good as new.
Fan type: Desk fan | Size: 6.2 inches tall | Fan speeds: 2 | Oscillation: No | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 18,900 reviews on Amazon
Vornado also offers a retro, vintage-looking fan that has an adjustable tilted head so you can easily change the direction of airflow.
Fan type: Desk fan | Size: 8.3 inches high | Fan speeds: 2 | Oscillation: No | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 10,400 reviews on Amazon
Editor Christina Colizza set up this battery-powered fan on a side table while sleeping in a cabin with no air conditioning — she said it kept her cool, even in the summer. The fan folds flat when it’s not in use and it has a built-in handle. You can also adjust the fan’s angle.
Fan type: Desk fan | Size: 6 inches tall | Fan speeds: 2 | Oscillation: No | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 20,800 reviews on Amazon
Best window fan
You can install this window fan vertically or horizontally, making it a versatile option for your home. The fan has a programmable electric thermostat with a temperature range between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fan type: Window fan | Size: Adjustable from 25 to 36 inches | Fan speeds: 3 | Oscillation: No | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.0-star average rating from over 10,200 reviews on Amazon
Best pedestal fans
This is built with an auto timer that shuts the fan off after 7.5 hours of use. You can adjust its height and tilt angle too.
Fan type: Pedestal fan | Size: Two sizes available, one is adjustable up to 49 inches tall and the other is adjustable up to 52 inches tall | Fan speeds: 3 | Oscillation: Yes | Remote control: Yes | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.1-star average rating from over 20,400 reviews on Amazon
While this fan is a more basic, low-tech option, reporter Harry Rabinowitz said it works well and he’s used it for years. The fan is designed with a tilt-back head, allowing you to direct airflow upward or downward if you’d like to. It also has a wide base for stability.
Fan type: Pedestal fan | Size: Adjustable up to 54.5 inches tall | Fan speeds: 3 | Oscillation: Yes | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 21,300 reviews on Amazon
Best ceiling fan
Designed with five blades, this ceiling fan also has a built-in dimmable light. If you get too cold, the brand says you can reverse the fan’s blades to push warm air (which tends to rise to the top of rooms) downward. You can mount the fan in either a straight or angled position.
Fan type: Ceiling fan | Size: 52 inches wide | Fan speeds: 3 | Oscillation: Yes | Remote control: Yes | Smart features: No | Filters: No | Modes: Manual | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 200 reviews on Amazon
Best purifying fans
Though this fan doesn’t oscillate, it 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 top handle so you can move the fan around your home.
Fan type: Table fan | Size: 15.5 inches tall | Fan speeds: 3 | Oscillation: No | Remote control: No | Smart features: No | Filters: Pre-filter, HEPASilent filtration technology | Modes: Auto | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 440 reviews on Amazon
Types of fans to consider
When shopping for the right fan, decide whether you want to cool off yourself or a whole room. Household fans are usually needed when a space doesn’t have air conditioning or a central air system. 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 often reverse the airflow to circulate warm air as well. In addition to indoor ceiling fans, you can purchase models specifically designed for outdoor use on porches or under pergolas. Some also incorporate lights.
- Tower fans — also sometimes called floor fans — are portable units designed 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 air conditioning units. However, they use less energy and are easier to set up compared to window AC units, experts told us. They bring in cold air from outside, 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. Since you can also place them on top of a counter, bedside table or end table, you might also see them referred to as table fans. You can place these next to you while you’re working, sleeping or watching TV on the couch.
- Pedestal fans are similar in design to desk fans, but their base is at ground level. Stand-up fans are typically larger and taller than desk 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 they’re convenient since they’re cordless and portable.
How to shop for fans
Once you decide what type of fan you’re interested in, think about whether or not the following features are important to you. Identify your must haves in a fan and look for models that come with those features.
- Remote controls: So you can adjust the settings from wherever you are in a room.
- Smart features: Some models have Wi-Fi compatibility, while others pair with a companion app, which allows you to control the fan, review air quality and usage reports and more from your phone. Fans may also connect to voice-activated smart devices for hands-free use.
- Filters: Similar to air purifiers, some fans come with a range of filters that can remove allergens like dust or pet hair. For example, you may see fans built with HEPA filters, which pull out 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 the filter and how much the replacement filters cost.
- Oscillation: This 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 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.
Meet our expert
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Carl Prouty is a tech expert at Abt Electronics.
Why trust Select?
Zoe Malin has been covering home appliances like fans, air purifiers and more for over a year at Select. For this piece, Zoe interviewed an expert in the space and researched dozens of fans on the market. We recommended fans that are highly rated and meet expert shopping guidance.