Real Simple Tested: Fans
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The 9 Best Fans to Beat the Heat, According to Our Testing

We like the Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator because it effectively circulates air around large rooms without making too much noise.
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

A quality fan is a worthwhile investment, whether you're trying to keep cool during the night, reduce your electricity bill, or stay comfortable when on the go. 

We tested 31 fans in our Lab to determine the best to buy, evaluating them on air speed, design, portability, effectiveness, and value. We also spoke to Matt Brown, merchant of ACs and fans, air quality, and floorcare at The Home Depot, for expert tips on what to look for when shopping for fans.

Our top choice is the Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator because it effectively moves air around the entire room, as opposed to simply blowing intermittent gusts of air. 

For more of our top fan picks, keep scrolling. Plus, find tips on how to shop for a fan depending on your cooling needs. 

Our Top Picks

Real Simple Tested: Fans
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Best Overall Fan: Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator

View at Amazon ($100)

Also available at Home Depot, Walmart, and Target

Who it's for: People who want to effectively cool a large room or open floor plan. 
Who it isn't for: People who want a fan with extra features such as a remote control or programmable timer. 

Vornado's signature air circulation technology sets it apart from much of the competition. Unlike traditional fans, which can only be felt when you stand directly in their path, air circulators move air constantly throughout the whole room. To do this, the fan emits a stream of air that flows in a spiral pattern while simultaneously drawing in fresh air from behind, using the walls and ceilings as pathways for constant air circulation. This eliminates the hot and cold spots you get with traditional fans and means you don't need to be standing directly in the fan's path to feel its cooling effect. 

In our testing, this floor fan (which is still small enough to sit on a tabletop) produced a direct airflow that could be felt even from 20 feet away. It comes with four different speed settings that are readily accessible on the top of the unit. Because of the power of this circulator relative to its size, you won't often need to turn it to the highest setting, which makes its already quiet operation even less pronounced. 

As this is an air circulator and not a traditional fan, it doesn't oscillate. However, it does feature a chrome glide bar that enables a full 90-degree tilt. The manufacturer recommends aiming the air so that it hits the opposite wall about halfway up, in order to create a high speed air circulation pattern. The 660 is designed to cool a large room, such as a living room or master bedroom. 

This air circulator doesn't come with all the bells and whistles of some more expensive fans, such as a remote control, a programmable timer, or smart device compatibility, but it's effective, quiet, and backed by a five-year warranty, giving us confidence that it's made to last. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Floor 
  • Size: 13.5 x 11.8 x 15 inches
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds
  • CFM: 584
  • Oscillation: No
cooling fan
Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek
Real Simple Tested: Fans
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Best Budget Fan: Honeywell TurboForce Air Circulator Fan

View at Amazon ($20)

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: People who want a powerful fan with a small footprint.  
Who it isn't for: People who want to use a fan at close range.  

Don't be fooled by its small footprint—this little fan is equipped with a powerful airflow. "The size makes it something that can fit on a desk or tabletop, but the airflow is strong enough that you wouldn't want to be too close to it," says one tester. "I personally own this product and use it under my desk at work." 

Like our best overall pick, this is technically an air circulator and not a fan, meaning it works by constantly moving air throughout the room. It's small enough to sit on a desk or tabletop, but features a significant airflow at its highest setting and a 90-degree tilt for whole-room cooling. In our testing, we could clearly feel the airflow from six feet away, although it was significantly diminished when standing 20 feet away. 

In terms of portability, this fan is extremely lightweight and easy to carry from room to room, thanks in part to its wide handle. Testers found the noise level to be noticeable, but not so much so that you couldn't talk over it. We think this versatile and affordable fan could be used for a number of different purposes, from personal use to whole-room cooling. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Table/Desk
  • Size: 8.9 x 6.3 x 10.9 inches
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • CFM: 185 
  • Oscillation: No
cooling fan
Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek
Real Simple Tested: Fans
Credit: amazon.com

Best Quiet Fan: Honeywell QuietSet Whole Room Tower Fan

View at Best Buy ($70)

Also available at Walmart.

Who it's for: Light sleepers or people who are sensitive to sound. 
Who it isn't for: People who want a fan that can easily go from room to room. 

If you're a light sleeper or someone who is sensitive to sound, this fan is a great option for the bedroom—testers found that it produced a very low hum that is not disruptive. It comes with five different speed settings based on your noise and cooling preferences: Sleep, Calm, White Noise, Refresh, and Power Cool. From a six-foot distance, testers were able to feel the breeze of this fan on its highest setting, although it wasn't noticeable from 20 feet away. This fan also has a user-friendly interface and a number of additional features, including a remote control that clips to the back of the unit, an oscillation setting, and a programmable timer. 

Generally, tower fans are not the most portable type of fan because their tall and slim construction makes them awkward to carry. However, testers found this fan to be particularly difficult to move, because it has a short power cord and lifting it dislodges the unit from the base. But if you intend to keep your fan in one place, such as a bedroom, this slim and quiet tower fan will produce a powerful cool without disrupting your sleep. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Tower
  • Size: 10 x 10 x 40 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • CFM: 670
  • Oscillation: Yes

RELATED: The 5 Best Ceiling Fans to Cool Every Room in Your Home

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Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek
Real Simple Tested: Fans
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Best Pedestal Fan: Pelonis 16-Inch Pedestal Fan

View at Amazon ($80)

Who it's for: People who want a quiet fan with many speed settings.
Who it isn't for: People who want a compact fan for personal use. 

This standing fan has an ultra-quiet operation, ranging from 10 decibels at its lowest setting to 80 decibels at its highest setting. Testers were impressed with its wide oscillation that moves both up and down and left to right to cover large areas. Even more impressively, you can shuffle through a whopping 12 speed settings using the LED digital display (it does require you to shuffle through all the settings before you reach your desired speed though). Testers found the breeze on the highest setting to be very strong from a six-foot distance and faint but still detectable from 20 feet away. 

We like that the build of this fan is sturdy and high quality, with a durable metal base that provides stability and support for the large fan head. Like most pedestal fans, it features an adjustable height so you're covered whether you're sleeping in bed or sitting on the couch. Testers noted that the clear fan blades give this unit a sleek, clean look. We also appreciate that it comes with a 12-hour programmable timer and an auto shut-off function in the case that the fan overheats, making it particularly friendly for a nursery or kid's bedroom. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Pedestal 
  • Size: 15.8 x 15.8 x 51.2 inches
  • Weight: 12.4 pounds
  • CFM: 1595
  • Oscillation: Yes
cooling fan
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Real Simple Tested: Fans
Credit: amazon.com

Best Tower Fan: Lasko All Season Comfort Control Tower Fan & Heater

View at Amazon ($139)

Also available at Home Depot, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond.  

Who it's for: People who want a fan and heater combo that can be used year round. 
Who it isn't for: People who want a fan that doesn't have to be placed near an outlet and people who don't want a fan with heating capabilities. 

Equipped with four fan speeds and three heat settings, this two-in-one fan/heater combo will see use year round. Its sleek, space-saving design makes it a great fit for apartments or small bedrooms with limited floor space. Testers say the breeze can be felt from 20 feet away, and the noise level is very subtle, particularly on the lower settings. 

The fan features a wide range of oscillation, a remote control with on-board storage, and an auto shut-off function in the case that it is knocked over. Our least favorite thing about this fan is its short cord, which requires the unit to be kept in close proximity to an outlet. It's also difficult to move from room to room, so it's probably best kept in one place. The unit comes with a filter that must be cleaned regularly to keep the unit running efficiently. Overall, though, this fan is a great value thanks to the built-in heater that eliminates the need for a separate space heater, saving you money and precious floor space. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Tower 
  • Size: 12.5 x 12.5 x 41.9 inches
  • Weight: 12.5 pounds
  • CFM: 350 
  • Oscillation: Yes

RELATED: The Best Tower Fans for Cooling Every Room in Your Home 

tower fan
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Real Simple Tested: Fans
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Best Box Fan: Pelonis 3-Speed Box Fan

View at Amazon ($45)

Who it's for: People who want a heavy-duty fan that's easy to transport.  
Who it isn't for: People who want a quiet fan for a bedroom. 

This basic, no-frills box fan is what you want to effectively cool large, poorly ventilated spaces, such as a garage, shed, or basement. "It would be great for cooling a large room/moving a lot of air around, and you can feel it pushing the air throughout the room instead of concentrated in one small area," says one tester. We did find this fan to be quite loud on the highest setting, so it's not ideal for small spaces or in a room where conversation will be taking place. 

The fan features three speed settings, and testers were able to feel the airflow from 20 feet away when it was on the highest setting. It has basic knob controls as opposed to a digital interface, and it doesn't come with many of the advanced features of more expensive models, such as a programmable timer or remote. However, we appreciate that the fan comes with two handles for carrying and is very lightweight for its size, making it easy to go from room to room as needed. In the end, this is a true utility fan that's effective at cooling large spaces. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Floor
  • Size: 20.6 x 4.6 x 21 inches
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds
  • CFM: Not listed
  • Oscillation: No

RELATED: The 6 Best Box Fans Money Can Buy, According to Reviewers

cooling fan
Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek
Real Simple Tested: Fans
Credit: amazon.com

Best Portable Fan: Sharper Image GO 9 Rechargeable Portable Fan

View at Amazon ($99)

Also available at Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond.  

Who it's for: People who want a cordless fan that can go anywhere. 
Who it isn't for: People who don't want to worry about recharging batteries. 

This wireless fan will help you beat the heat whether you're at home, at work, on the patio, camping, or anywhere else you need it. The battery can last up to 22 hours on the lowest setting and recharges in just six hours thanks to the included USB plug. Testers were surprised by the powerful airflow of this fan considering its compact build—in fact, it was the most powerful of all the portable fans we tested. It comes with three different fan speeds, the highest of which could be felt strongly from six feet away (but not from 20 feet).

Although this fan does not oscillate, it has a 45-degree adjustable tilt so you can direct the airflow in multiple directions. The built-in carry handle makes it easy to take on the go, and the metal stand keeps it upright and stable while in use. Plus, an LED light will illuminate to alert you when the battery is getting low. Although this fan is not the most effective at cooling large rooms, it more than makes up for it with its easy-to-transport design.  

Product Details: 

  • Type: Table/Desk
  • Size: 8.9 x 10.1 x 12.6 inches
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • CFM: 387
  • Oscillation: No
cooling fan
Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek
Real Simple Tested: Fans
Credit: amazon.com

Best Window Fan: Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Window Fan

View at Amazon ($50)

Also available at Walmart and Home Depot.

Who it's for: People who have limited floor space. 
Who it isn't for: People who want to be able to open and close their window as needed. 

Window fans operate by pulling in outside air to cool a room. They are designed to be tucked into window frames, much like a window air conditioner, so they don't take up floor space. We were impressed with the ultra-quiet operation of this window fan, which comes with three speeds and a built-in thermostat with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to convert it into a floor fan or use it in a room without a window, it comes with detachable feet and a carry handle. 

At its highest speed setting, the airflow could be felt easily from six feet away, although it was very faint when we stood at a 20-foot distance. The two fan heads can be reversed to exhaust stale indoor air, which is a particularly useful feature when you're trying to get rid of smoke or other odors. Plus, the expandable panels make it easy to fit this unit into any window frame. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Window
  • Size: 4 x 24 x 12 inches 
  • Weight: 8.4 pounds
  • CFM: 706
  • Oscillation: No

RELATED: The 6 Best Window Air Conditioners to Cool Your Home

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Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek
Real Simple Tested: Fans
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Best Desk Fan: Crane 10-Inch Circulating Desk Fan

View at Amazon ($90)

Also available at Home Depot

Who it's for: People who want a small fan for personal use. 
Who it isn't for: People who want a fan with a carry handle. 

This model is definitely on the higher end of the price spectrum for a desk fan, but for daily use, we'd argue it's well worth the splurge. It comes with many features that are uncommon for a fan of its size, including a 90-degree tilt so you can aim the airflow in your desired direction, as well as oscillation, a remote control, and a programmable timer. We found it to have an impressive airflow given its size—we were able to feel a breeze even from 20 feet away. The noise level was noticeable, but still low enough not to be disruptive. 

With this fan, you get lots of cooling power without taking up too much space, making it an excellent choice for an office, dorm room, camper, small kitchen, and more. It doesn't come with a carrying handle, so it's not as well suited for on-the-go use, but we were really impressed with its numerous advanced features, especially given its size. Plus, its modern, sleek design will fit with any style of decor. 

Product Details: 

  • Type: Table/Desk
  • Size: 9.8 x 9.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • CFM: Not listed
  • Oscillation: Yes
cooling fan
Credit: Real Simple/Rachel Marek

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator because it can effectively move air around a large room, eliminating hot and cold spots as well as the need to stand directly in front of the fan in order to feel its airflow. 

For a less expensive option that's better suited for small spaces, the Honeywell TurboForce Air Circulator Fan also works as an air circulator and creates a surprisingly powerful breeze relative to its size. 

Our Testing Process

We researched and acquired 31 of the best fans on the market to put them through a series of diligent testing. First, we used an anemometer to record the air speed of each fan. We also took note of how many speeds each fan is equipped with and its noise level at the highest and lowest settings. 

Next, testers evaluated the design of each fan, considering its build, quality, features, and adjustments. During testing, we also assessed the portability of each fan, taking note of its weight, handles, and overall footprint. 

For our final test, we marked spots on the floor directly in front of each fan at six inches, six feet, and 20 feet. Testers turned the fan on its highest setting and stood at each spot, taking note of the strength of the airflow from each distance in order to measure its effectiveness. Finally, testers received the price of each fan and scored it based on its value, considering both cost and performance. 

How to Shop for Fans Like a Pro

Fans vs. Air Circulators 

You'll notice many modern fans are referred to as "air circulators." Turns out, this is more than just semantics. Traditional fans work by blowing cool air directly in front of it, while air circulators work by keeping the air in the room constantly moving. This helps to eliminate hot and cold spots, particularly in spaces with poor ventilation. Traditional fans require you to be in the direct path of the airflow, and they tend to provide a more immediate cooling effect. 

Type

There are many different types of household fans to choose from, ranging from small desk fans for personal use to powerful floor fans for large spaces. Consider the space you intend to cool before choosing a type of fan. 

Table/Desk Fans: For small spaces such as a bedroom or office, a tabletop or desk fan will deliver just the right amount of cooling power. Their smaller footprint means they can go from room to room with ease, making them a great choice for an office or dorm setting.

Pedestal Fans: Also known as stand fans, pedestal fans feature a large fan head mounted on a tall, adjustable stand. They typically come with an oscillating feature that widens the range of their airflow. Pedestal fans are designed to provide a more wide-reaching and powerful airflow without taking up too much space. "High-powered pedestal fans are ideal for large indoor and outdoor spaces like patios and living areas," says Brown.

Tower Fans: These fans are most often used in bedrooms because they are slim and quiet, while still providing a powerful airflow. Most tower fans are oscillating and feature adjustable speed settings and remote controls. 

Floor Fans: Floor fans have an extremely powerful airflow and come in a variety of styles, including square-shaped box fans and round air circulators. They can cool large spaces such as open floor plans, garages, large bedrooms, kitchens, and more. Unlike pedestal or tower fans, floor fans are portable and lightweight so they can easily go from room to room. 

Window Fans: Window fans are the most space-saving type of fan, as they are designed to be tucked into window frames. They make an affordable alternative to a window air conditioning unit by pulling in outside air to cool a room (some can even exhaust stale indoor air). Keep in mind that it's generally not recommended to operate window fans in rainy weather, which means you'll need to remove the fan and stow it elsewhere from time to time. 

Airflow 

Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is the measure of how much air a fan can move every minute. The higher the CFM, the more air the fan will circulate. Small desk fans can have a CFM as low as 100, while more powerful household floor fans can go upwards of 1500 CFM. Keep in mind that a powerful fan isn't necessarily better, particularly for small spaces, as it can make the room uncomfortably windy. "The general rule of thumb is 1 CFM = 1 square foot of room coverage, so a 500 CFM fan could cover a 500 square foot room," says Brown.

Noise 

A quality fan should not rattle or overwhelm a space with noise, even on its highest setting. This is especially important if you're looking for a fan for a bedroom or nursery. We took the noise level of each fan into consideration during our testing. 

Additional Features 

Oscillation: An oscillating fan is one that rotates from side to side (and sometimes up and down) while blowing. This can help to widen the scope of the airflow for traditional fans. Keep in mind that air circulators do not oscillate, but rather circulate air around the entire room.  

Speed Settings: Most fans feature more than two speed settings, so you don't have to choose between a barely-there breeze or an uncomfortable wind. 

Adjustable Fan Head: Look for a fan with an adjustable head that can be pivoted at different angles to adjust the direction of the airflow without having to move the whole unit. 

Remote Control: A remote control allows you to adjust speed settings or turn the fan on or off without ever getting up—a particularly useful feature for a bedroom. 

Power Source: "Units can be wall powered, USB powered, battery powered (C or D cell batteries), and also rechargeable (built in battery)," says Brown. "Fans can also be hybrid—powered both by wall/USB and battery/rechargeable."

More Fans to Consider

Vornado VFAN Jr. Vintage Air Circulator: This fan features Vornado's signature air circulation, but with a more stylish, vintage-inspired design that will elevate the look of any space. However, it only has two speed settings and the airflow is just average. 

Rowenta Turbo Silence Extreme Stand Fan: This fan is very quiet, effective, and comparable to our best oscillating fan pick, but we didn't include it on our list because it costs twice as much. 

Better Homes & Gardens 3-Speed Tower Fan: With this tower fan, you get an impressive variety of air speeds and settings for the price, including three speed settings and three oscillation settings. 

Questions You Might Ask

How should you clean a fan and how often? 

The blades on fans can attract dust and dirt, which then become airborne and affect the quality of your air: "Blowing air one way means that fans can attract air—as well as dust and other floating particles—from the opposite direction," says Brown. "Dirty fan blades and motors work less effectively and need to be dusted once a week."

To clean your fan, make sure the fan is unplugged and use the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner to clean the grill. Then, use compressed air or a hair dryer to blast away the remaining dust from both the front and back of the blades. Finally, wipe down the exterior of your fan with a damp cloth. 

Where is the best place to set up a fan? 

To get the most out of your fan, position it facing the opposite wall so that the air will bounce off and mix with the other air in the room, helping to cool the space. During intense heat waves, you can also open a window at night and place one fan facing the window to let the warm air out. Place another fan facing inwards, to circulate the air in the room. Be sure to keep your windows and blinds closed during the day to repel the sun as much as possible. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with nearly three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 31 fans in our Lab and evaluated them based on their air speed, design, portability, effectiveness, and value. We also consulted Matt Brown, merchant of ACs and fans, air quality, and floorcare at The Home Depot, for expert tips on what to look for when shopping for fans.