We updated this guide to the best fans in August 2022 to ensure all products vetted by the Home Improvement Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute were in stock and reflected current pricing.
Everyone loves summer, except when it comes to staying cool in the unbearable heat. Sticky skin is the worst, and it’s tough to be productive (or fall asleep!) in a hot, stuffy room. Air conditioners aren't for everyone — they're often noisy and expensive — which makes portable electric fans an ideal solution to feeling cool when the mercury rises. The devices are cost-effective, easy to set up and can be moved from room to room if necessary. They also come in a variety of styles to suit the room and your needs.
The Good Housekeeping Institute regularly tests all kinds of home cooling appliances, like portable air conditioners and window ACs, in addition to electric fans. The fans included in this roundup represent a cross-section of the market, and we’ve picked a range depending on their design and function. As part of our in-lab and at-home evaluations, we looked at each fan's cooling range (or how far its air flow can reach) as well as noise levels while running. We also noted how many speed settings each fan has, whether the direction of air flow can be adjusted, whether the stand can be raised or lowered and whether the head can pivot or tilt. Finally, we considered if the fan can be easily moved from room to room.
Our top picks:
Best Overall Fan630 Mid-Size Whole Room Air Circulator Fan Vornado Read More
Best Value FanHT-900 TurboForce Air Circulator Fan Honeywell Read More
Best Fan for SleepingHYF290B QuietSet Whole Room Tower Fan Honeywell Read More
Best Tower FanT42950 Portable Electric 42" Oscillating Tower Fan Lasko Read More
Best Oscillating FanVU5670 Turbo Silence Oscillating Pedestal Fan Rowenta Read More
Read more about our selects for the best fans based on testing and analysis, plus our experts' decades of industry expertise.
✔️ Airflow reach: Ideally, the range or distance of the airflow should be as expansive as possible. You don’t want the fan to cool only what’s right in front of it. The manufacturer will usually describe the reach of the airflow, but it may give an approximate room size that the fan can cool.
✔️ Size: Bigger isn’t always better; the trade-off for a larger, more powerful fan (for example, one that’s good for cooling an apartment) is usually more noise than, say, one that’s smaller but powerful enough to cool a bedroom while you sleep. However, if you’re trying to cool a large room, you’ll want a fan that can cope with that demand.
✔️ Speed settings: Many fans offer two to four settings for ease; others have more variable controls so you can really hone in on how much power you want. Bear in mind that noise levels increase with the faster speed settings. At the very least, the fan should have a high and low speed setting.
✔️ Adjustability: While an effective fan should be able to fill a large space without needing to move it around, you still want to be able to angle the airflow where you want. Features like oscillation, multiple speed settings to control the power and the ability to adjust the angle of airflow provide greater versatility.
✔️ Ease of cleaning: Look for a fan that is easy to disassemble so you can regularly clean the blades and grill of dust and dirt that accumulates over time (especially if someone in your home suffers from allergies!). A bladeless fan eliminates the need to clean a grill and blades, but it usually has a filter that needs to be cleaned and/or replaced occasionally.
✔️ Timer: If you like the fan to be on for a certain duration or automatically turn off after you fall asleep, look for a model with a timer, which allows you to set a run time. Some fans are equipped with a sleep option, which automatically steps down the airflow and noise level over a few hours before turning off.