Air conditioner vs fan – which is the best choice for summer?

September 29th, 2015

Air Conditioners Appliance Talk Fans Heating & Cooling

Air Conditioner vs Fan

There’s not long to go until the Australian summer officially arrives, bringing with it the kind of temperatures typically found on the surface of the sun.


If you’d prefer not to melt into a puddle of sweaty goo this year, you’ll want to be prepared for the seasonal onslaught and get your cooling solutions ready in advance.

But will you choose to cool your home with an air conditioner or a fan?

Let’s compare and contrast the two:


Fans come in a few different sizes, from smaller models that can sit on your desk, to taller upstanding designs for blowing air all around a room.

sunbeam-fan-fa8900Sunbeam Fan FA8900

A wide variety of different size air conditioners are available as well, from portable aircons to boxy window coolers and massive split systems.


While air conditioners tend to be larger overall than fans on average, non-portable aircons such as split systems and window air conditioners occupy wall space (which you may not otherwise be using) rather than floor space, so you may be able to keep your home’s layout nicely streamlined while also keeping things cool.


The handiest thing about fans is that they can go pretty much anywhere you need them. The smallest designs can be conveniently shifted between the floor, the coffee table and the kitchen bench as required.

Delonghi Fan VLT2001Delonghi Fan VLT2001

Even the taller designs can be moved from room to room pretty tidily, allowing you to bring refreshment with you as you go about your daily routine.

Midea 3.5kW Portable Air Conditioner MPPD12HRN1Midea 3.5kW Portable Air Conditioner MPPD12HRN1

While most air conditioners require permanent installation in your home, others are small enough to be moved from room to room. However, these portable aircons can have some pretty specific requirements to work effectively, such as access to an appropriate window to vent their exhaust.


Let’s face facts – a fan is never going to cool down your home, at least not by itself.  Fans do not work that way, much like windmills:

At best, a fan can move the air around in your home, and won’t cool it down. But sometimes, that little bit of breeze all you need to get some relief and stay comfortable at home.


To effectively cool your home with a fan, you’ll need a source of cooler air (the freezer example above is NOT an efficient solution), as well as a means for the hot air to escape your home.

One effective option is to wait for the cooler hours of the evening, then open up the windows and doors and use the fan to get this cooler air flowing through your home.  Be sure to seal your house back up again before conditions start warming up again, though!

Using an air conditioner is much simpler, as it will refrigerate and actively cool your home’s air. As long as you keep your home nicely sealed up, you’ll be in complete command of the indoor climate, no matter the conditions outside.

Energy use

On average, a fan will use less energy than an air conditioner, assuming it’s just being used for light refreshment as intended.

459px-Yellow_USB_fan_spinning source: Arbitrarily0 on Wikimedia Commons

But leaving a fan running endlessly in a futile effort to cool down your room can be a real power gobbler – don’t do it!

Similarly, if you use an air conditioner, you’ll want to run it efficiently if you want to avoid the dreaded Bill Shock next quarter.

800px-Adelie_Penguins_diving,_Hope_Bay source:,_Hope_Bay.jpgsource: Angell Williams on Wikimedia Commons

Don’t overwork your aircon – run it at just a few degrees lower than the current temperature to take the edge off the heat, rather than bringing the thermostat right down and cranking it full blast to try and make the room resemble Antarctica.


Whether a fan or air conditioner is the noisier appliance tends to vary on a case by case basis, depending on the layout of your home and how the appliances are being used.


As a rule, the larger and faster the appliance, the noisier it will be. As air conditioners are typically bigger and more powerful than most fans, they often generate more noise. Of course, the largest split system air conditioners have their motors positioned outside the home, meaning there’s less noise for you to worry about inside.

But a lot of an appliance’s noise can come from where and how it is set up. Even a small fan can sometimes be really annoying if it’s set up in an area with surfaces that carry a lot of vibration.

aircon reviews

Another great way to gauge an appliance’s noisiness is to see what other people are saying about it! Appliances Online has an extensive collection of reviews available, all from customers who have bought and used the products in question. If you find a fan or aircon with a lot of good reviews praising how quietly it runs, then that may be the model for you!


Overall, fans are less expensive than air conditioners, and also cheaper to run, though they’re generally not as effective at cooling your home. So if you only need to stay comfortable at home, a fan may be all you need to take the edge off the heat.

Aus money

But if you’re willing to shell out the extra dollars for complete control over your home’s climate, an air conditioner could be a handy purchase.

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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