Fan Buying Guide – simple ways to stay cool

November 25th, 2015

Appliance Talk Buying Guide Fans

Fan Buying Guide

When summer rolls around, if an air conditioner isn’t a practical or affordable option, a fan is often the next best choice. Sometimes a refreshing breeze is just what you need to stay comfortable during the year’s hotter seasons.

So what should you keep an eye out for when it comes to choosing a fan? Let’s take a look:


It’s always important to pick an appliance that’s the right size to suit your space, and this includes choosing a fan. A fan that’s too small won’t provide enough relief, while an oversized fan could overwhelm a compact space, blowing you away!

Delonghi-VLT1000-Fan-Front-View-highDelonghi Fan VLT1000

As the name implies, desk fans are good for providing a little personal relief when you’re hanging out at your desk (plus, they can help give your hair that windswept look).

Sunbeam FA8900 Electric Pedestal FanSunbeam FA8900 Electric Pedestal Fan

Pedestal fans are quite handy for getting the air moving around a room, especially when set to oscillate.

FA7550-Super-Slim-121cm-Tower-Fan-with-Night-Mode-Hero-Image-highSunbeam FA7550 Tower Fan

A larger tower fan can effectively provide floor-to-ceiling airflow coverage, refreshing even larger areas of the home.

Blades or no blades?

Classic bladed fans are simple affordable and effective, blowing the air around your home efficiently enough to create a refreshing breeze. However, the “buffeting” of the breeze from the blades can sometimes feel a bit weird, and even with a safety grille in place, the risk remains of fingers and hair being caught in between the spinning blades.

dusty fansource: Liz West on Flickr

Plus, if you don’t use one of these fans for a while, it may start to gather dust, which will end up blown around your room when switched back on. And cleaning a bladed fan can sometimes be tricky, involving taking it apart to access the blades behind the safety grille.

bladed vs bladeless fansource: CNET

On the flip side, bladeless fans (most commonly available from Dyson, though some other brands have begun bringing out similar bladeless designs) direct the air forward in a single flowing stream, rather than a choppy mess.

Pedants will argue that these fans technically DO have blades, but because they’re completely concealed INSIDE the unit to drive the airflow, there’s no danger of anything getting caught in them. The smooth surfaces are also easy to clean and remove the dust, unlike bladed fans or tower fans (which otherwise offer similar space-saving performance when compared to taller bladeless fan designs).

Of course, this sophisticated technology tends to place bladeless fans at a slightly higher price point than classic bladed designs.


Nothing’s more annoying than a fan that rattles as it runs. Much like many other appliances, if a fan is noisy, an uneven surface is often the culprit.

Make sure that you place your fan on a flat surface, with the base firmly in place. If possible, try to choose a fan with suction cups or an adhesive base to help keep it in place.

fan baseBase of the Sunbeam FA8900 Electric Pedestal Fan

If your fan is sitting unevenly, try sliding something underneath the loose foot, much like you would a rickety dining table.

Alternatively, try placing your fan on a soft surface such as carpet or a rubber mat – by absorbing more of the vibrations, your fan should run that little bit more quietly.

fan diagramInside the Delonghi Fan VLT1000

If you reckon the noise is definitely coming from a fan’s blades or motor, that’s a whole other issue. If you put the fan together yourself, you may want to double-check its assembly to ensure that nothing’s come loose to rattle around.

But don’t take apart any fans or fan components that came pre-assembled! Rather than voiding your warranty, get in touch with the retailer or manufacturer to organise a service call.

Oscillating head and tilt action

simpsons oscillating fansource: rickabetta on photobucket

Most fans are able to swing their head back and forth, cooling a larger area of your home.

Dyson-AM05-Hot-Cool-Fan-Heater-Black-Nickel-300111-01-Tilt-highBase of the Dyson AM05 Hot + Cool Fan Heater Black / Nickel 300111-01

Some fans can also tilt on the vertical axis, providing more options for direxcting the airflow, especially when combined with an oscillating feature.

Some fans are also capable of moving in additional directions, such as in a circle or figure-eight pattern, speading the air all over your room.

Speed settings

Midea-FS40-11NR-Electric-Fan-Control-Panel-highControl panel for the Midea FS40-11NR Electric Pedestal Fan – note the three fan speed icons at the base of the black section

Most fans are capable of running at differnt speeds, depending if you’d prefer to enjoy a gentle breeze or a powerful blast of air. While many models feature Low, Medium and High speed settings, others use a speed dial or digital controls to more precisely manage their variable speeds.

windy clotheslinesource: Michael Gäbler on Wikimedia Commons

One option that’s often available is a “breeze” ” outdoor” or “natural” setting, which speeds up and slows down the fan at random, creating a sensation that’s much more like a naturally-occurring wind than the breeze of a typical fan.

Timer and/or delay start


By programming a timer, you can run your fan for a set length of time, often anywhere up to 24 hours, depending on the model. Fans with sleep timers can automatically turn themselves off late at night, saving energy by not leaving them running once you’ve fallen deeply asleep and are unable to feel their breeze.

Much like some air conditioners and other appliances, some higher-end fan models include a delay start timer. This lets you program a start time for your fan, up to 24 hours in advance (depending on the model) to better suit your schedule. For example, you could program the fan to start blowing right when you get home from work, or as soon as your alarm clock goes off first thing in the morning.


Depending on how you plan to use your fan, you may find it handy to keep a remote control, well, handy.

sunbeam fan remote controlRemote control for the Sunbeam FA8900 Electric Pedestal Fan

For example, to keep you comfortable in the bedroom, you can switch your fan on and off from a distance without ever rising from your pillow.

Finish, style and appearance!

Let it never be said that aesthetics aren’t important!

Stadler-Form-SF-OTTO-Fan-Hero-highStadler Form SF-OTTO Fan

Black, white, nickel, brown, chrome… there are all kinds of colourful fan options available out there! Even when a fan’s not running, it may still play a role in you’re home’s overall decor, so make sure to choose a fan design that’s worth you and your guests admiring.

Evaporative cooler

If it was possible for electrical appliances to reproduce and cross-breed (which could actually be a very worrying idea…), the evaporative cooler is probably what you’d get if you mated a fan with an air conditioner. While it doesn’t refrigerate your home’s air like an air conditioner, it does do a bit more to cool down your home than a standard fan, which only creates a refreshing breeze to alleviate your discomfort.

Delonghi-EV290-Evaporative-Cooler-Left-Angle-highDelonghi EV290 Evaporative Cooler

Sometimes colourfully known as a “swamp cooler”, an evaporative cooler works by drawing your home’s hot air across water-soaked pads, allowing the moisture to gently cool down your home’s air.

Remember though that because this process humidifies the air as it cools, it’s a bit less effective when the air is already humid, such as in tropical climates and on rainy, misty days. They do their most effective work when conditions are hot and dry. They’re also not quite as effective at cooling as a dedicated air conditioner, and you will need to top up their water tank every so often.

Misting Fan

The cousin to the Evaporative Cooler, a misting fan is essentially a regular fan that includes the option to blow mist around your home as well as air.

Omega Altise AM360R Misting FanOmega Altise AM360R Misting Fan

It accomplishes this by forcing water droplets from a tank through a mist cover to humidifiy your home’s air.

Depending on your model, you  may be able to run the fan and the mister at the same time, or to run each independently, for if you’d prefer a cool breeze, a refreshing mist, or a bit of both.

Much like an Evaporative Cooler or Humidifier, a misting fan does its best work in hot, dry conditions, making it a less effective choice if you’re living in the tropics or the already-misty mountains.

Air conditioner!

While this is a fan buying guide, did you know that a lot of air conditioners also double as fans?

Dimplex-DC15RCBW-Hero-highDimplex DC15RCBW 4.4kW Portable 4 in 1 Air Con

If you want to save a little bit of energy at home, or provide a bit of relief to a room where you can’t normally use a portable aircon (such as a room lacking a window to vent the hot exhaust), most air conditioners include a simple Fan Mode that just moves the air around your home, without refrigerating it.

Hot AND cold?

Some fans (again, predominantly models from Dyson, though other sare also available) also include heating elements, allowing them to effectively blow hot air about your home during winter as well as generating a cool breeze during summer.

Dyson air multiplyer

Fan heaters are also a Thing That Exists, operating much like regular convection heaters, but adding a flow of air to move the warmth through your home. These also often include an unheated fan mode for you just want a breeze.

Sunbeam-Ceramic-Electric-Fan-Heater-HE2105-highSunbeam Ceramic Electric Fan Heater HE2105

Remember that using the heating function of these fans will consume more energy than normal running, and that you’ll need to take all of the same precautions against burns and fire as you would when using a regular heater.

Need more help?


If you can’t decide which fan would be best suited to the unique needs of your home, contact the Appliances Online team by emailing

Our people are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to help provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to buying a fan, or any other home appliance.

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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