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Whether you’re still sporting a work from home setup or are one of the millions of Americans transitioning back to in-person offices, you will likely want to keep cool in the upcoming summer months while you work. 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 lot of your work space.
Desk fans, along with stand-up fans and tower fans, are 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, and desk fans are usually a more affordable option. 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 looking 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, which 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 Dyson 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 without getting distracted by a noisy fan.
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.
This adaptable tripod fan can sit comfortably on your desk at work or hooked on anything from a stroller to a bike for people on the go. The brand says that both a USB and battery can power this mini personal fan for up to eight hours — depending on the speed — and it has a bendable silicon tripod for extra flexibility.
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.
At about 4 pounds, this small-but-mighty globe fan delivers a cooling breeze from the touch of a remote control. The fan is versatile with five different speeds and the option to direct airflow or oscillate not only from side to side but up and down as well, with enough configurable options to help you find the exact style of fan circulation you’re looking for at any given moment. It also features an auto-off timer option that’ll shut off the fan after one, two or three hours to conserve energy.
Although fans that also purify the air are more of an investment, Dyson has the best options and they’re worth the price tag, according to Andrews. With a HEPA filter that removes 99.97 percent of allergens, this tabletop fan cools with purified air instead of recirculating pollutants. It can oscillate up to 70 degrees and features a built-in LCD display that shows airflow level and filter life, and you can set a sleep timer anywhere from 15 minutes to nine hours.
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.
If you’re looking for a mini fan to complement your crowded workspace, this option from Lasko measures 5.5 inches tall, weighs just a little over 1 pound and includes a built-in handle to carry it wherever you go. The fan features two speeds (high and low) and the head pivots 360 degrees to get airflow anywhere in your space. It comes with a USB power cord that can plug directly into your computer and includes an AC adapter wall plug so you can use it while on the go or wherever you may need it.