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Which fan should I get?

Types of fans

If you’re shopping for a new fan, it’s easy to see there are countless options on the market. To narrow your choices, it’s helpful to keep a few key considerations in mind.

Before purchasing a fan, it’s essential to consider your space’s size and where you intend to place the fan. Also, decide whether you’re willing to put up with noisy operation— or if you’re prepared to spend more on a fan with quiet modes. 

Wondering which fan is suitable for your space? This buying guide covers everything you need to know about the most popular types of fans. 

What do I need to know before I buy a fan?

The size of your space

Before you embark on your search for a fan, you’ll need to take measurements of your space. 

In addition to measuring the square footage, determine how high your ceilings are. The total dimensions of your room will help you find the right fan capable of circulating air in your space. 

Fan placement

Ideally, a fan should be placed in a location that circulates the air in the intended area, whether it’s an entire room or a smaller area around your bed or desk.

Some fans are more suitable for specific rooms or areas of rooms, too:

Freestanding fans, like tower fans or box fans, can be installed almost anywhere in a room. Even if the fan isn’t close to an outlet, you can make the setup work with an extension cable. 


Wall fans need to be installed with enough clearance on the sides, top and bottom, to be adjusted as needed.  Ceiling fans are usually placed toward the midpoint of a ceiling, but not every ceiling can accommodate fans. To get a better idea, and because electrical work and minor construction may be involved, you may benefit from hiring a licensed professional.

Blade size

Blade size affects how effective a fan is at circulating air:

Smaller rooms or spaces are well-served by fans with short blades. This Holmes desk fan, for example, has six-inch blades. It’s effective at circulating air only in small spaces.

Medium or large spaces, however, usually require much larger blades. This Honeywell ceiling fan, for example, has 21-inch blades to circulate air throughout entire rooms.

Noise level

Most fans generate noise during operation. Some people aren’t bothered by it, and to some extent, appreciate it as ambient noise in otherwise quiet spaces. Other people find the noise is bothersome enough to be a distraction.

If a fan’s noise may impact your comfort level, there are a few low-noise fans, such as this one by Pelonis. It makes no more than 38 dB of noise in its quietest settings, making it only half as loud as regular fans. 

Another quiet option is Honeywell Quiet Set Whole Room Tower Fan, which offers five-speed and sound settings. It’s often used in offices, nurseries and remote learning spaces.

Types of fans

There are quite a few types of fans on the market, so here’s a rundown of each type. We include the pros and cons of each to help make your decision a simple one. 

Ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are powerful enough to circulate air throughout an entire room. They don’t take up any floor or wall space, making them a popular choice if you’re pressed for room. Ceiling fans have attractive designs that blend in well with a room’s décor.

One of the pitfalls of ceiling fans, however, is installation. It requires a bit of electrical work, which will cost extra if you hire a licensed professional to do it. To clean ceiling fans, you’ll either need a ladder or a long-handled duster.

Bladeless fans

One of the newest arrivals to the market is bladeless fans. They’re appreciated for their quiet operation, safe designs and modern aesthetics. Bladeless fans are also easy to keep clean.

Because they are newer to the market, many bladeless fans have premium price tags. Consumers are divided on whether they’re as effective at cooling rooms as regular fans as well.

Tower fans

Tower fans are efficient at cooling small and mid-size spaces. These are generally quieter than other fans, not to mention they have modest footprints. It’s common for tower fans to have remote controls for easy adjustments.

Because of their sophisticated designs, tower fans tend to cost more than some other freestanding fans. Many have somewhat of an industrial appearance and maybe an eyesore in some rooms.

Wall fans

Wall fans are usually mounted in larger rooms and spaces, including gyms and garages. They’re capable of running for prolonged periods and often last through a decade of regular use.

Unfortunately, wall fans usually have loud operations. They’re also somewhat limited in capabilities because most designs limit users to oscillation, speed and tilt settings.

Box fans

Box fans are considered robust, durable and long-lasting. You can use them to cool indoor spaces as well as garages or basements. Box fans are also easy to move because they usually have handles at the top or sides.

Out of all fans, box fans remain one of the loudest options. They rarely have high-tech settings, and for the most part, they’re only equipped with a handful of speed settings. 

Oscillating fans

Oscillating fans move in more than one direction while they operate, which means more air circulation. They’re appreciated by consumers that prefer a light, occasional breeze. Oscillating fans eliminate the need for constant adjustments as well.

Some low-quality oscillating fans rock or appear unstable while they operate. While they can move air across medium and large spaces, they are considered less effective at circulating air toward a room’s top. 

Desk fans

Desk fans are used to cool small spaces in rooms, such as cubicles or workspaces. Because they’re usually placed close to users, many desk fans have low-noise operations for less distraction. They’re often equipped with high-tech features as well, like timers or memory modes.

Given their design, desk fans are limited in terms of air circulation. They’re not capable of cooling large spaces or entire rooms. Some low-quality desk fans also have remarkably short lifespans.


Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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