Best Desk Fans

Updated August 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

52 Models Considered
14 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
200 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best desk fans

During the warmer months, fans bring the refreshing feel of a breeze into your home. Desk fans are compact models that optimize space. Because they aren’t permanent fixtures like ceiling fans, you can set up your fan almost anywhere for targeted cooling. You can also easily transport a desk fan from room to room.

Some desk fans are equipped with special features that could be as simple as a few speed settings or as advanced as programmable timers. Some models even come with a remote control so you can change the speed and direction of your breeze from afar.

Desk fans are smart investments whether used alone or in conjunction with air conditioning. For everything you need to consider before you buy, including speed, size, volume, and price, our buying guide has all the details. You can also find our five favorite desk fans for keeping cool in the matrix above.

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To save energy, opt for a desk fan with a sleep/wake timer. That way, you won’t have to remember to turn it off when the room is unoccupied.

Key considerations

Power source

You have a choice between standard desk fans that plug into an outlet or USB-powered desk fans. There also some fans that run on rechargeable batteries. Models with AC adapters tend to be more powerful with stronger airflow. They also have longer power cords as well as the option to use an extension cord if an outlet isn’t within reach. USB-powered desk fans plug into your computer, and while they have slightly longer cords than other USB accessories, you’ll still be somewhat limited when it comes to range.

Fan speed

For the most part, desk fans feature two to three fan speeds. With basic models, speed is simply adjusted by a switch or crank. Desk fans with advanced features and programmability may have as many as a dozen speed settings. These are adjusted via buttons or remote control. The highest-end models offer multiple fan speeds as well as memory settings, so you’ll get your preferred level of airflow as soon as you turn on the fan.

Base style

Desk fans are either freestanding models or have clip-on bases. Clip-on models attach to furniture and are an ideal pick if you’re short on desk space. The clips are often lined with foam to provide additional traction and avoid scratching furniture. Freestanding desk fans have varying base sizes, with some as wide as 12 inches. If you want a freestanding model but desk space is a concern, look for a fan with a smaller base like a tower-style desk fan.

Size

Desk fans are designed to be compact. How much space they take up depends on their style: tower, clockface, or clip-on. Make sure you measure your desk so you know how much space the desk fan will take up.

Tower desk fans have bases as small as five inches. This design stacks fan blades to utilize vertical space. Traditional clockface styles take up more space and on average are between eight and 12 inches wide. Clip-on desk fans are usually between five and 10 inches wide, depending on their design. As they don’t stand on a base, desk space isn’t a concern with these models, so they’re the go-to space-saving option.

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For your safety
Refrain from using candles while your desk fan is on. The airflow could cause the flame to transfer to other objects and start a fire.
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Features

Materials

Desk fans are generally made of high-grade plastic or metal components that can withstand prolonged daily use. Metal fans are usually heavier and louder than plastic models. Plastic desk fans are more common and tend to come in more sizes. If you’re looking for a compact model, it will probably be a plastic fan. There are also some models that combine both metal and plastic parts.

Movement

Most desk fans pivot or tilt and can be adjusted between 25° and 180°. Other models oscillate or move side to side, but pivot less. Some oscillating desk fans don’t have any pivot capability, but they offer between 180° and 270° of oscillation.

Volume

Gone are the days of loud whirring. Now you can enjoy desk fans that are nearly silent. Compared to older models, many newer desk fans are 25% to 75% quieter. Volume is a feature worth considering, especially since you might use your desk fan overnight. Quieter fans are ideal for working, relaxing, or trying to fall asleep.

Advanced features

In addition to speed and movement, some desk fans have advanced extra features. With the highest-tech desk fans, you can program your favorite settings for fan speed, oscillation radius, and pivot range. Some models also include a timer and an energy-saving mode. You will pay more for these special features, however.

Color

Most desk fans are black, white, or gray. More stylish models may have a few more color options. When it comes to choosing a color, think about matching your home’s decor and opt for a complementary color. Ideally, a desk fan should blend into the room instead of sticking out as a bulky appliance.

Desk fan prices

Desk fans range widely in price, from as low as $10 to as high as $300. If you’re on a budget, the $10 to $30 range is where you’ll find simple fans with limited features like a few speeds and a pivoting head.

Mid-range desk fans cost between $30 and $100. These models are more powerful and are equipped with programmable features. They’re also more efficient and often include stylish touches like a unique color or design.

If you’re ready to invest in a high-end desk fan, expect to pay between $100 and $300. These models have cutting-edge technology and all the extra features. They also tend to come with better customer service and a longer lifespan.

Tips

  • Keep the cord of your desk fan out of the way by securing it with a cord tie. This will save space and prevent unnecessary tugging on the cord.

  • If you keep your fan on at night but it has lights that distract you when you’re trying to fall asleep, cover them with electrical tape. Electrical tape is opaque enough to do the job and can be peeled away without causing any damage.

  • If you purchase a high-end model, register your desk fan with the manufacturer. This is necessary for any warranty claims should your fan require repair or replacement.

  • If your desk fan can be manually pivoted, change the tilt from the sides rather than the front of the fan. That way, you don’t have to worry about your fingers accidentally slipping through the slits or grates.

  • If you often travel for work, a USB-powered desk fan is a portable option. In addition to cooling you down, you won’t need to worry about an outlet adapter if you’re abroad.
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If you have long hair, be careful around desk fans. The last thing you want is your hair getting caught in the whirling blades.

FAQ

Q. I want to put a desk fan in my child’s room. What safety features should I look for?

A. If safety is your main concern, you’ll want a fan with the narrowest slits or grates. This minimizes any contact your child could have with the blades. To completely eliminate that concern, there are bladeless models on the market, which are the choice of many parents as well as pet owners. You’ll also want a fan that’s not easily knocked over, so a model that clips onto furniture is a secure option.

Q. Should I purchase two desk fans for a very hot room?

A. If the room is that hot, it’s unlikely that multiple desk fans will cool you down. They will create a breeze, but for the most part they’ll just blow around the warm air. To change the overall room temperature, think about investing in a portable air conditioner or window air conditioner instead.

Q. How long can I expect my desk fan to last?

A. On average, if properly maintained, your desk fan should last between three and five years. Maintenance includes cleaning, dusting, and inspecting the parts to make sure everything is functioning. It’s also a good idea to turn off your desk fan when you don’t need it to extend its lifespan.

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