By Erica Reagle and Stacey L Nash | Updated Mar 28, 2022 11:20 AM
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The best floor fans are portable and versatile, designed to keep folks cool in areas throughout the home. Powerful yet lightweight, these fans offer a cost-effective alternative to blasting the AC when the weather is warm, helping you save on energy bills. Floor fans are available in several designs: traditional square-shaped box fans (which can often fit in windows as well as sit on the floor), high-velocity round air circulators, and tower fans.
Floor fans may come with various features, such as multiple speed settings, an adjustable tilt for direct air circulation, and rubberized feet to protect hardwoods and other surfaces. Many floor fans suit small or medium indoor spaces, such as bedrooms and home offices. Others are powerful enough to cool oversized areas, including great rooms, outdoor kitchens, and garages.
We tested each of the fans in our lineup to get a feel for how well they work in real-world conditions. Testing was done in the same location, an 860-square-foot workshop, so that we could evaluate how each fan performed individually and in comparison to each other. Use this guide for important shopping considerations and recommendations on some of the best floor fan models available.
ALSO TESTED: Geek Aire Rechargeable Outdoor High Velocity Floor Fan
Floor fans are available with a range of features and benefits specific to each model. When shopping for a floor fan, consider the room’s size and how you plan to use the fan. That will help narrow your choices based on size, design, cooling power, oscillation, speed settings, controls, and noise levels.
Floor fans vary in dimension (typically anywhere from 12 to 24 inches), with 20 inches considered average. A fan’s size and features are among the variables that contribute to its weight. The average 20-inch floor fan weighs approximately 10 to 15 pounds, which makes it easy to move. Small, personal floor fans can weigh as little as 2 pounds, while larger industrial floor fans can weigh 30 pounds or more.
A fan’s cooling power is measured by cubic feet per minute (CFM). This value measures how much air a fan moves every minute. Cfm varies by model based on the construction, size, motor, and blades. Fans with high CFM move air more quickly than fans with low CFM, which is why a high CFM value is recommended for larger areas (great rooms, greenhouses, garages) that require more air movement. While CFM is a great way to get an idea of a fan’s power and compare it to other models, not every manufacturer includes this information in the product description, packaging, or the owner’s manual.
Unlike standard box fans that blow in one direction, the blades of oscillating fans are housed in a case that rotates from side to side to provide broader air circulation. Typical oscillation settings offer 180-degree rotation for optimal air coverage. Some models have blades that rotate a full 360 degrees. There are also fans with the ability to pivot the hub up and down to direct air where it’s most needed. Some floor fans allow users to switch from standard to oscillation mode with the click of a button.
Many floor fans have multiple settings—typically low, medium, and high—so users can select the ideal speed for each situation. Generally, low offers a light breeze while high speed quickly circulates the air for a stronger breeze. Switching between different speeds is most often done with a turn of a rotary dial found on the front or the back of the fan.
Some floor fans are equipped with remote controls, allowing users to change the airflow settings without having to access them directly on the device. Some remotes also have automatic shut-off functions.
Fans require motors and blades to operate, which usually generate some degree of noise—but certain models are quieter than others. When shopping, check the decibel (dB) levels, which is listed in the product information of some, but not all, floor fans. Normal conversation is about 60 dB, office noise is about 70 dB, sound from a vacuum cleaner is around 75 dB, and a noisy restaurant or power mower is approximately 80 dB. Smaller, personal fans are almost always quieter than larger models.
Each of the floor fans recommended below has its own set of features and benefits, including cooling power, speed settings, and noise levels. Consider one of these high-performing cooling devices that we tested and found worthy.
This high-velocity floor fan boasts a powerful motor, durable steel construction, and metal blades. It measures 22 inches by 12.63 inches wide and is powered by electricity from a standard 110-volt outlet. The CFM of air movement ranges from 3,160 to 3,460, so it has sufficient power for use in a large garage or a workshop. Yet, its classic silver design is attractive enough to use in living spaces.
We tested it in a shop to see how well it circulated the air in a large room. We ran each of the speed settings (low, medium, and high), and even on the low setting, it circulated air very well. The front-facing manual control dial proved particularly convenient, since we could adjust the speed without moving the fan when it was placed in a corner or against a wall.
Built-in rubber pads on the bottom of the fan protect hardwood floors and other surfaces. The rubber pads also added stability when the fan sat on the cement flooring of our shop. The pivoting head is adjustable to control the airflow up, down, and in-between for more targeted ventilation.
The Lasko weighs a manageable 14.5 pounds and includes a convenient carrying handle, so it’s easy to move around the house or shop. This model comes with instructions and hardware that can convert it to a wall-mounted fan with the included bracket. In testing, we did find the Lasko 20-inch fan to be on the noisy side. The noise decibel level isn’t listed in the manual, but conversation volumes will have to rise to be heard over it.
Get the Lasko 20-inch floor fan on Amazon and at The HomeDepot.
The Pelonis box fan is a highly functional, low cost fan. The fan supports low, mid, or high air speeds to optimize airflow. It performed well in testing, moving a lot of air for the price, especially on the highest speed.
Those looking for a highly portable fan have found it with this model. This Pelonis fan measures 21 inches by 20.6 inches by 4.6 inches and weighs only 8 pounds. The lightweight construction and two handles allow it to be easily carried from room to room; we toted it from the house to the shop without effort.
The Pelonis fan comes fully assembled with recessed cord storage and stabilizing feet, features more often found on higher-priced fans. We found the cord to be a little short, especially for a box fan that’s used in a window. It might need an extension cord to safely stay put in some setups. A standard 120-volt electrical outlet powers this unit.
Get the Pelonis box fan on Amazon.
The Genesis box fan has a sleek design that includes two carrying handles. Weighing only 8 pounds and measuring 20.6 inches by 5.6 inches by 21.3 inches, this box fan is easy to move from room to room. During testing, it worked best on the highest setting, where we could physically feel it circulating air. It moves 1,800 CFM of air, which is in the mid-range—about what’s needed to cool and ventilate a small room. Front-facing controls on the grill proved convenient when the fan was in a window, since we didn’t have to move the unit to access the speed settings.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the quietest fan. Although product information lists it at only 60 decibels, we definitely noticed the noise when running the fan on the highest setting. It’s also not the easiest to keep clean. It’s black in color, so it may not look dirty, but the grill is not removable for cleaning—all users can do is wipe down the outside.
Get the Genesis box fan at The Home Depot, at Walmart, and on Amazon.
This Rowenta tower fan lives up to its name. Among the five speed settings, there’s a “silent night” mode that only creates 35 decibels. The other four speed settings weren’t as impressive in that regard, but even the highest speed is relatively quiet. There’s also an extremely quiet energy-saver mode that reduces airflow until the fan reaches optimum energy efficiency. This tower fan is a solid choice for a bedroom, especially for sleepers sensitive to noise.
This model also includes both onboard or remote controls, where users can set a timer to run the fan for 1, 2, 4, or 8 hours. The remote (batteries not included) is a nice touch, and the fan has a holder for the device. The base is a bit wide at 20 inches, but the adjustable height, from 42 to 54 inches, lets users optimize airflow for the room. Plus, it can remain static or oscillate.
Get the Rowenta tower fan on Amazon and at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Those in the market for a portable fan might want to consider this Air King model, which strikes a good balance between small size and ample power. The powder-coated blades are only 12 inches, and the whole unit measures 15.5 inches by 8.5 inches by 16.5 inches—a compact design that fits easily into a small room.
It also has sufficient power to keep the space cool, with CFM of air speeds from 1,010 (low) to 1,170 (medium) to 1,360 (high). In testing, we found it is capable of cooling larger spaces, too, making this a versatile, portable fan.
The fan plugs it into a regular household 120-volt outlet and its thick and heavy cord should stand up to heavy use. While on the highest setting, the Air King is fairly loud and we had to take our conversation volume up a notch to be heard.
Get the Air King floor fan on Amazon.
The Lasko pedestal fan has a stable but compact 14-inch by 14-inch base that doesn’t eat up much square footage. The fan itself has an elongated head to move the maximum amount of air with a minimum of horizontal space, and the stand adjusts in height. These design features add up to a solid product that performed well in testing.
This moves air well and can remain static or oscillate. Louvers also allow adjustments in airflow direction. All of the Lasko’s speed settings were quiet, but the quiet setting was nearly undetectable. It’s a fan that can run in the background without disrupting conversations.
The fan has a built-in timer that can run for 0.5, 1, 2, or 4 hours, but the onboard controls are on the top of the fan, which isn’t the most convenient location. When the fan is at its full height, shorter individuals may find it difficult to see the controls. Fortunately, a handy remote control is included.
Get the Lasko 52-inch pedestal fan on Amazon and at Walmart.
The 20-inch B-Air Firtana is a solid option for mid-size rooms, with a medium-high air speed of 4,650 CFM. The 5-foot cord allows plenty of options to locate the fan to where it’s needed most. That cord is also thick and industrial, likely to withstand heavy use.
The 360-degree rotation was particularly helpful in our workshop, since we could adjust the fan to suit the nature of various projects. Some projects needed ventilation low to the ground and for other projects the angle could be directed at the user.
The all-metal housing comes apart for cleaning, which we found fairly easy to do. The B-Air measures 24 inches by 22.3 inches by 6 inches and weighs in at 11 pounds, and its sturdy handle makes transporting it easier.
Get the B-Air floor fan on Amazon and at The Home Depot.
This fan has deep-pitched blades, an enclosed air duct, and a spiral grill that combine to push air up to 100 feet for maximum coverage and efficient airflow. Its unique design features an adjustable chrome glide bar that in testing made it very easy to tilt the head.
It operates with a standard 120-volt outlet and has four speed settings (whisper-quiet to turbo), accessed by buttons on top. While the lowest setting was moderately quiet, the mid-range settings caused a humming sound, and at top speed the hum was noticeably louder. The grill comes off to access the blades for cleaning.
Get the Vornado fan on Amazon, at The Home Depot, or at Target.
This three-speed, 24-inch air circulator drum fan is a great option for larger spaces. Though hefty—measuring 29.3 inches by 11 inches by 29.5 inches and weighing 32.1 pounds—it features wheels so it can be moved without lifting. It also boasts aluminum blades and a powder-coated, rust-resistant grill.
This powerful Tornado model has a thermally-protected 8-foot, 120-volt power cord that plugs into a standard outlet. The air speed ranges from 5,000 CFM (for low speed) to 6,000 CFM (medium) to 7,800 CFM (high). Users adjust the speed via the rotary switch on the back of the unit and there’s a 360-degree tilt function for targeted air circulation.
While the Tornado moved a lot of air to keep our shop cool during testing, the tradeoff was that all the power and air movement came with a lot of noise.
Get the Tornado fan on Amazon and on Tornado Fans.
This battery-operated Geek Aire model, designed to be used outdoors, was a disappointment. It worked when plugged in, but the battery would not charge. It fell short on performance, so it didn’t meet our standards.
The Lasko 20″ High Velocity Quick Mount Floor Fan has the right mix of power, features, and design to become our top pick. It moves a lot of air but won’t drown out conversation and has a solid build for use in the home, the gym, or the shop. Those on a budget should consider the nicely-priced PELONIS 3-Speed Box Fan, which fits in a window as well as sits on the floor, and has convenient front-facing controls.
All floor fans were tested in the same location—a residential workshop used for welding, woodworking, metal work, and general home maintenance projects. They were left running for a similar length of time and all speed settings and features were tested.
We evaluated how effective the fan was at cooling at various settings, and also kept noise levels at all settings in mind. Noise levels were rated based on holding conversations and listening to music while the fans were operating.
Any added features, such as timers, nighttime settings, and tilt/oscillation, were also taken into account. To evaluate portability, we carried the fans approximately 35 yards, each way, to and from a house to the shop where they were tested.
The floor fans received a score between 0 and 4 for each of the test areas, including cooling at low and high speeds, noise levels at low and high speeds, portability, and design.
Though you now understand many qualities and considerations of floor fans, you still may want more information. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about these devices.
A floor fan stands on the floor, though some are designed with mounting features. It has rotating blades powered by electricity from a standard outlet or from a battery.
Place your floor fan so that it faces the opposite wall where most activity takes place. This allows cool air to bounce off the wall and out into the rest of the room. Ensure that no large objects are blocking its pathway, so the air spreads out further and maximizes the fan’s effectiveness.
Floor fans sit low to the ground and are generally used to generate greater air circulation and ventilation in medium to large spaces. Tower fans are a sub-type of floor fan that are typically used for air circulation and cooling in smaller spaces because they take up less square footage due to their tall and narrow design. They also tend to be quieter than floor fans.
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