Tower fans are a popular choice because their thin, vertical design allows them to stir up plenty of air without taking up a lot of floor space. A tower fan is less likely to tip over than a top-heavy pedestal unit, and its fine mesh grate makes it safer for use around children. Also, most tower fans come with extras such as oscillation, sleep timers, and remote controls. However, tower fans are also one of the priciest types, starting at around $60 and running up into the hundreds, and they're difficult to take apart for cleaning.
While no single model hits it out of the park in both professional testing and user reviews, the tower fan that attracts the most attention overall is the Dyson AM07 Tower Fan (Est. $350), part of Dyson's ultra-high-end Air Multiplier line. This innovative bladeless fan tucks the spinning motor into the base, directing the flow of air out through an oval-shaped aperture. Aside from its sleek, modern look, this design makes the fan much safer for kids and pets, not to mention easier to clean.
When Dyson first introduced the Air Multiplier fans back in 2010, it claimed that their bladeless design produced a quieter and steadier flow of air, with none of the "buffeting" associated with a traditional fan. Reviews we read at the time called this claim into question, indicating that the Dyson fans' breeze felt no smoother than a traditional fan's, and their motors were actually noisier for the amount of air they put out.
However, in 2014 Dyson redesigned the Air Multipliers. It claims the new AM07 is 60 percent quieter and uses 10 percent less power than the original AM02 tower fan – and reviews on user sites suggest that this time, there's actually something to the claim. We found hundreds of reviews for the Dyson AM07 on retail sites like Amazon.com and Walmart.com, and the majority of them say that this fan is indeed remarkably quiet. Users also love the Dyson's bladeless design and convenience features, such as oscillation, ten speed settings, a 9-hour sleep timer, a remote control that attaches magnetically to the fan housing, and a 2-year warranty.
However, the feedback for the AM07 isn't uniformly positive. The main complaint about it is that, for a fan this expensive, its actual air output isn't all that impressive. When Seamus Bellamy of TheSweethome.com tested the air output of multiple fans, he found that at a distance of 5 feet, the AM07 produced only 431 cfm (cubic feet per minute) of air, while several tower fans in the $60 to $100 range produced 450 cfm or more. Bellamy was also unimpressed with this pricey fan's construction, saying that its upper section felt flimsy and its narrow base was unstable, particularly on carpet.
Bellamy considers the Seville Classics UltraSlimLine 40\" Tower Fan (Est. $65) a much better buy. In his air output tests, it blew away the competition, churning through 550 cfm of air at a 5-foot distance. He also measured its noise output at 67 decibels – 2 decibels less than the much-touted Dyson AM07. Bellamy was equally impressed with the Seville fan's construction and features. He found it harder to tip over than any other tower fan he tested, and he loved its oscillating mode, 7.5-hour sleep timer, and powerful remote control, which works accurately from up to 13 feet away.
One problem with the Seville fan is that it's not available on most retail sites. As a result, it doesn't have a great deal of feedback from users. The only site where it receives more than 100 reviews is Amazon.com, where it earns a good but not great overall rating of 4.2 stars. Owners agree that the fan is quiet and has good air output and nice features, but there are some complaints about its durability. Many users say their fans started to make an annoying rattling or clicking noise in oscillation mode, and some report that they broke down completely within the 1-year warranty period.
We found many more positive user reviews for the Lasko 2551 42″ Wind Curve with Fresh Air Ionizer (Est. $65). This fan receives thousands of reviews on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and HomeDepot.com, all with overall ratings between 4.3 and 4.6 stars. (We found equally good reviews for the Lasko 2554, which is the same fan with a faux-wood front panel instead of solid silver.) Users say this fan is quiet and delivers good air output with low power use. They also like its features, including oscillation, a remote control, and a built-in carrying handle. Some users like the air ionizer, which is supposed to help filter dust from the air, but others say it doesn't appear to do anything except light up an over-bright LED.
However, TheSweethome.com's comparison review completely pans this tower fan. Not only does Bellamy consider the faux-wood design of the Lasko 2554 "ugly as sin," he finds its 451-cfm air output to be lackluster and its build quality "shoddy." He says the plastic case feels flimsy and slippery, making it hard to grip the carrying handle, and the remote control is often unresponsive even when it has a clear line of sight to the base. User reviews suggest that Bellamy's concerns about durability are well founded, as numerous owners say their fans broke down within months or even weeks.
Elsewhere in this report: