What every best Fans has:
- Good cooling performance.
- Easy-to-use controls.
- A reasonable noise level.
TheSweethome.com, a site that reviews products for the home, is the only expert source we found that conducts thorough, hands-on testing of electric fans. Séamus Bellamy spends 60 hours searching user reviews to find the dozen top-rated fans, then sets them all up at one end of a hall and measures how far away he can feel their breeze. He also measures airflow and energy use, and evaluates noise, features, safety, and ease of use.
Reviewers at TheSweethome.com say window fans have a limited lifespan, so it's not worth paying much for one. Therefore, their test covers 16 inexpensive window fans, focusing on electrically reversible, twin-fan models. They measure each fan's noise level with a decibel meter and recorded the distance at which its airflow could be felt. They also consider build quality and features like remote controls or built-in thermostats.
Amazon.com sells thousands of fans, some with thousands of user reviews. We found several that received overall ratings of 4.5 stars out of 5 or better from at least 1,000 owners. Window fans don't fare as well in reviews, but there are a couple with ratings of at least 4 stars overall from 1,000 users or more.
Walmart.com carries hundreds of fans, including some that receive hundreds of reviews from users. A variety of brands are represented, with Lasko, Dyson, and Honeywell products getting the largest amount of positive feedback. There are a handful of fans here that have overall ratings of 4.5 stars or better from at least 100 users.
Target offers a more limited selection of fans than many other retail sites, and those that are listed receive fewer reviews. Although several fans earn high overall scores from at least 50 users, posts are only a few sentences long at most. You can sort the comments by date, star rating, or the percentage of users who found them helpful.
HomeDepot.com has lots of listings for portable fans, which can be sorted by brand, price, star rating or features (remote control, oscillating, and so on). Dozens of fans get a substantial number of reviews, but only a handful get ratings of 4.5 stars or better from at least 100 owners.
BestBuy.com sells more than 300 fans, and several of them have feedback from 100 users or more. We found about half a dozen fans that had over 250 comments or more and overall ratings of at least 4.5 stars. Top brands here include Honeywell, Dyson, Vornado, and Insignia, a brand sold exclusively by Best Buy.
Lowe's sells only a limited selection of portable fans. Its offerings include well-known brands like Dyson, Vornado, and Lasko, as well as some lesser-known brands such as Utilitech. We found a handful of fans here with high overall ratings – at least 4.5 stars – from 50 users or more. The top-rated models include desk and floor fans, but no tower or window fans.