Is your fan deadly?

October 21st, 2015

Air Conditioners Appliance Talk Fans Heating & Cooling

Is your fan deadly_

During summer months, fans and air conditioners become practically essential for staying comfortable at home during the day or the night.

But if you go to sleep with a fan or air conditioner running in your bedroom, are you at risk of a swift and mysterious death?

What is Fan Death?

The Fan Death phenomenon is a longstanding folk belief, originating in South Korea, that leaving an electric fan running at night is hazardous to your health, even deadly.

The precise cause of death is not 100% certain, though hypothermia (from the fan’s chilly draft) and asphyxiation (either from the fan blowing away breathable air, or “chopping up” breathable oxygen molecules with the blades) are the most commonly-cited culprits.

Korean_fans_closeupKorean fans with timer dials to automatically switch them off after a set period

The concept of Fan Death has been around for a while, with reports of the phenomenon dating back to the 1920s. In 2006, the Korea Consumer Protection Board described asphyxiation from fans and air conditioners as among the leading summer hazards.

A grain of truth?

While it’s understandable to be sceptical about Fan Death (just like any of the other persistent urban legends found in cultures around the world), some of the traditional means of combating the phenomenon double as good overall advice.

For example, one way to prevent Fan Death is to crack a window when running a fan at night to let fresh air into the room. But even if you’re not worried about the risks from your fan, this is still a good idea on hot summer nights, as it allows air to properly circulate through your home.


Remember that fans don’t cool your home’s air; they only move it around, creating a breeze. So if your home’s full of hot air, a fan will only offer you temporary relief if the heat can’t escape.

By combining an open window with a running fan, hot air can flow out of a room and cool night air can come in, providing longer-lasting refreshment.

Another way to prevent Fan Death is to use a timer to make sure that your fan or air conditioner will automatically switch off after a period of time. But even if you’re a Fan Death sceptic, this can still be a sensible way to save some energy.

A fan or air conditioner can keep you nice and comfortable while you’re drifting off to sleep, but once you’re soundly in the depths of deep sleep, you won’t be able to feel much of their benefits at all. A fan or aircon that’s left on all night to cool down an unconscious person is pretty much just wasting electricity.

sleep mode ASTG09KMCAHow Sleep Mode works on the Fujitsu ASTG09KMCA 2.5kW Reverse Cycle Split System Inverter Air Conditioner

As well as a Timer, you can also use the Sleep Mode of selected fans and air conditioners to gradually slow down the fan speed over time until the appliance eventually shuts off completely. This will provide enough refreshment to help you fall asleep, without eating up electricity all night and leaving you with higher than average power bills at the end of summer.

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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