With pedestal fans, the fan head is mounted on a stand so the unit can be placed behind couches or other furniture. Tower fans are similar but they are shaped like long, thin, vertical rectangles, allowing them to easily be tucked into corners. Most stand fans can be adjusted to alter the height of the fan head -- some by only a few inches, others by as much as a few feet. Oscillation, which improves coverage in larger rooms, is a standard feature. The downside of pedestal fans is that they are top-heavy and can easily tip over, while tower fans are usually more stable, but pricier. Overall, we found fewer recommendations for pedestal fans than for other types.
A Bestcovery.com appliances expert recommends the Lasko 1825 18-Inch Pedestal Fan (*Est. $35). It allows more adjustment than most fans -- from 38 inches to 54.5 inches high -- and it has a tilting head, three speeds and oscillation. About 450 owners at Walmart.com give this unit a relatively high average rating, saying it blows powerfully and is easy to assemble. However, some users say the fan's pole assembly will not stay extended without external support (such as duct tape). We also saw a few complaints about fans that either did not work right out of the box or quit within minutes or hours of their first use.
Most larger fans are also noisy, but owners do not seem to object to the Lasko 1825's noise level, with some saying it is good for producing white noise. More than 90 percent of owners say they would recommend this fan, which comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Several other models are recommended by an expert source or two, but these fans don't rate as well with users. For example, the Soleus FS2-40R-32 16-Inch Pedestal Fan is endorsed by Air-n-Water.com editors, but it gets fewer than 4 stars at Amazon.com. Similarly, the Air King 9119 18-Inch Oscillating Pedestal Fan and 9420 20-Inch Pedestal Fan are also named as top picks by Air-n-Water.com but don't get a significant number of positive reviews at review sites like Amazon.com. They're also far pricier than the Lasko 1825 18-Inch Adjustable Cyclone Pedestal Fan.
The thin, vertical design of a tower fan allows it to fit into even smaller spaces than pedestal fans, and they usually offer additional features such as a remote control, electronic display, oscillation, sleep timer and air ionizer. A tower fan is less likely to tip over than a top-heavy pedestal unit, and smaller grates make it safer for use around children. However, tower fans tend to be more expensive than pedestal fans, although many reviewers say they're worth the added cost. In general, there are fewer reviews of tower fans than pedestal fans, but user feedback is more positive.
The Sunpentown SF-1521 Remote Controlled Tower Fan with Ion (*Est. $60) earns the best reviews. It offers all of the high-end features listed above, and it is very quiet, according to users. However, the tradeoff is low air output, say users at Amazon.com and Walmart.com.
While TopTenReviews.com notes the Best Reviewed SF-1521 isn't as powerful as competitors, reviewers say it should do the trick for most applications. They name it the second-best tower fan after the Honeywell HY-41W, and a review at the retail site Sylvane recommends it for the office. Many call the fan's wide (70 degree) oscillation range a big benefit and better than what's found in most tower fans. For more air output, the Vornado 270 (v102) Panel Circulator (*Est. $65) circulates a lot of air, though without all the bells and whistles.
As with pedestal fans, other tower fans on the market receive no more than one pick from our sources. The Air King 9215 Oscillation Tower Fan is ranked third by TopTenReviews.com; reviewers call it a well-made fan that provides less power than competitors. Owners posting comments at Amazon.com say the 9215 is pretty powerful, but it's not enough to bring its rating to more than 4 stars in barely a dozen reviews.
The Honeywell HY-013 Comfort Control Tower Fan is the least expensive tower fan we found, but it doesn't offer many of the features of its competitors. It has standard buttons (no LCD), 3 speeds, an auto-off function and oscillation. Still, it's a customer favorite at BestBuy.com, where reviewers say it's priced comfortably between most tower fans and cheaper pedestal and tabletop fans.
At Bestcovery.com, an appliance expert calls the NewAir AF-310 Evaporative Tower Cooling Fan the best tower fan, citing its features and versatility. This unit doubles as an evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler); the user adds ice or cold water to chill the air the fan circulates. However, this also adds moisture to the air -- not a desirable feature in humid climates. The AF-310 includes an air purifier and a host of other features: timer, remote control, LCD display, oscillation and three fan speeds. In about a dozen user reviews at Amazon.com, some say the NewAir AF-310 cools more effectively than a fan while others find it no better and considerably more expensive.
The NewAir's air purification feature uses ionization, a process that produces ozone gas. Although some experts consider the small amount of ozone an air cleaner produces to be safe, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the American Lung Association recommend avoiding devices that produce any ozone. See our report on air purifiers for more information.