What every best Fans has:
- Good cooling performance.
- Easy-to-use controls.
- A reasonable noise level.
Wirecutter conducts the most thorough, hands-on tests of electric fans we've found. The authors test seven fans in a makeshift wind tunnel, taking multiple readings to measure airflow and wind speed. They also measure their ability to circulate air with a series of ribbons placed throughout a large, square room. They measure noise levels and evaluate ergonomics, safety features, and the function of the remote control.
Reviewers at Wirecutter 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.
This head-to-head test focuses exclusively on tower fans. Brian Vu compares reviews for 30 fans on Amazon and other sites and selects the top 5 for testing. He uses an anemometer to test wind speed at two and four feet from the floor, then measures noise levels and range of oscillation. Finally, he uses a Kill-a-Watt meter to test their power use. Features such as style and stability serve as tie breakers.
In this three-way test, Sal Cangeloso pits the pricey Dyson AM06 against the cheap Honeywell TurboForce HT-900 and the mid-priced Vornado 630. He measures the airflow, noise level, and power use of all three fans on all their speed settings and graphs the results. He finds that there is a significant tradeoff between airflow and noise, so the "best" fan for you depends on your needs.
Amazon 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 500 users or more.
Walmart.com carries hundreds of fans, including some that receive hundreds of reviews from users. Low-end brands are best represented, with Lasko, Honeywell, and Holmes 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 200 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, comments are only a few sentences long at most. You can sort the reviews by date, star rating, or the percentage of users who found them helpful.
Home Depot 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.
Best Buy sells more than 250 fans, and several of them have feedback from 100 users or more. We found about half a dozen fans that had over 350 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, floor, and tower fans, but no window fans.