Of all the types of portable fans available, large floor fans carry the most volume – in terms of both airflow and noise. Their loudness can drown out conversation or the TV, reviewers say, and their large footprint make them a bit harder to fit into a room than a tower fan. They're also a bit more hazardous if you have small children, since their placement on the floor makes them easy to reach and their grilles often have larger gaps than other fans-- making it easy for small fingers to reach inside. On the plus side, they're generally a cheaper option than tower fans for cooling a large space.
One floor fan clearly stands out in both professional tests and user reviews: the Vornado 660 Circulator (Est. $100). This floor fan is one of the best overall performers in comparison tests at TheSweethome.com, second only to the Seville Classics UltraSlimLine 40\" Tower Fan (Est. $65) (covered in our discussion of best tower fans). Its airflow at the 5-foot mark is only middling, at 408 cfm, and it's also louder than most tower fans. In other respects, however, this floor fan is a clear winner. Reviewer Seamus Bellamy says it's "built like a frigging tank," out of sturdy plastic and stainless steel, and Vornado backs up that solid feel with an industry-leading 5-year warranty. The fan is also very easy to use, with simple button controls and a pivoting head that tilts to redirect the flow of air. And with just three screws holding it in place, the grille is easy to remove for cleaning.
Users at Amazon.com and BestBuy.com are also impressed with the Vornado 660. They say it's fairly quiet, at least on its lower speed settings, and produces great airflow with surprisingly low power use. Several users say the Vornado's design does a good job of redistributing air throughout the whole room, not just in directing a breeze at one spot. One quirk they don't like about it is that it automatically starts up on its highest speed setting and has to be turned down. Some also wish it came with a remote control.
For those who are put off by the Vornado's relatively high price tag, the Lasko 3300 20\" Wind Machine (Est. $40) also gets plenty of positive feedback from users. This floor fan isn't included in Bellamy's test, so there's no exact measurement of its airflow, but most reviews at Amazon.com and Walmart.com say it puts out plenty of air even on its lowest setting. Like the Vornado 660, it has a tilting head, so you can direct the air flow where you wish. Users also say the fan isn't too noisy, at least on low speed, and its low weight and top carrying handle make it easy to move from room to room.
The Lasko 3300 has a few faults, however. Many users complain that the fan's control dial, located on the center back of the fan, is hard to read and awkward to use. Also, unlike the Vornado 660, this Lasko fan is quite difficult to take apart for cleaning. As for its durability, reviews are mixed. The fan's housing is commonly described as flimsy, and several users report that it broke after a minor bump or drop. However, the mechanical parts appear to be quite solid, as many owners say that this fan has given them years of steady, reliable service.
A still cheaper alternative is the Honeywell HT-908 Whole Room Air Circulator (Est. $25). This sturdy black fan with a pivoting head gets plenty of positive feedback at Amazon.com, where users generally say it delivers great airflow without excessive noise. But Bellamy's test show that its actual air output is only 367 cfm - barely more than the smaller Honeywell HT-900 TurboForce Air Circulator Fan (Est. $15), which costs $10 less; it's covered in more depth in the section on the best small fans. Bellamy also says the HT-908 is one of the loudest he tested, at 72 decibels, and its construction feels flimsy. The plastic front grille bends easily, the hardware vibrates in response to a gentle finger tap, and the control knob is small and hard to turn. Amazon.com reviews bear out Bellamy's concerns, with numerous complaints that either the motor or the stand broke within a year or two.
Elsewhere in this report: