Are you totally melting in your tiny city apartment every summer? Facing the warmer months without AC can be a nightmare. I turn into a sweaty puddle every year in my small one-bedroom with awful ventilation — not cute.
That's where a powerful fan comes in to save the day. After I invested in a high-quality one, I'm feeling wayyyy cooler and comfier (and you better believe I have that baby on full blast!). Bad quality fans can break or just aren't as good at cooling down a room, so it's worth buying one good model instead of several cheap buys.
But how do you know what to go for? With the quality, features, and prices of the best fans varying wildly, I'm here to help cut through some of the noise and help you choose the fan that’s right for you.
The best fans to buy in 2023
Why you can trust Real Homes
Our best-rated fan
If you're looking for a fan to cool you and a heater to warm you up, the Dyson HP04 has it all. The best part? Unlike basic fans, which just move air, the Dyson Pure Hot + Cold purifies the air, which is perfect during these pollen-filled days.
The Dyson HP04 uses Air Multiplier™ technology to project over 290 liters of smooth, purified air per second. And with 350° oscillation, the air is mixed and circulated to heat or cool you, where ever you are in the room.
In addition to this, the fully-sealed 360° filter system will remove 99.95% of allergens and pollutants from the air which is ideal whatever the weather.
Using your smartphone, the Dyson Link app lets you control your machine. This can be done whether you're at home or remotely, and it will also give you real-time reports on air quality, temperature, humidity, and filter life.
Real Homes rating: 5 out of 5 stars | Read our full review of the Dyson HP04 Pure Hot + Cool
The best small fan
A truly multi-purpose tool for your home, the Blueair Blue Pure Fan cleans the air as it cools. With a large, cube-shaped design with Scandi-style wooden feet and a leather carry handle, it is able to expel a huge amount of air and looks great to boot. It promises to clear 99% of particles from the environment.
You may miss the oscillation, but the Blueair fan releases air across a 90-degree range due to its large face. You can also customize the pre-filters to fit your decor — "diva blue" and "dark shadow" are included you can also choose light gray, pink, and yellow variations.
Real Homes rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars | Read our full review of the Blueair Blue Pure Purifying Fan
The best fan for medium-large rooms
The Vornado 630 Mid-Size Air Circulator is compact and sleek, with its traditional bladed design. Although it stands just over a foot tall, the fan is surprisingly powerful. It can move air up to 70 feet and cool spaces from 300-500 sq. ft.
Thanks to its quiet operation setting, the Vornado 630 Mid-Size Air Circulator also makes a great bedroom fan for light sleepers. Other options on this fan include an air circulation setting and an adjustable tilt head. The design also features an easy-to-remove grill so that cleaning the blades is made safe and easy.
The best retro fan
One for those who are looking to build a particular aesthetic in their home, the Vornado VFAN Vintage Air Circulator Fan has a lovely retro design that will bring you back to the 1940s. As a fan, it's also a fantastic option, with a tilting head (no oscillation, unfortunately) and twin air cones working to boost airflow.
There are three-speed settings that, while not as in-depth as others on our list, will allow you to change the speed based on the conditions at the time. This is definitely a low-tech fan, but we think its appearance more than makes up for it.
How do I get the most out of my fan?
While you should shut windows to make air conditioning effective, opening them to let slightly cooler outside air in works well with fans. Place them near an open window, aimed at an opposing wall. If there are no obstructions it creates a good flow, pushing air around the room and hot stale air out of the window.
If it is still really warm, fill a large plastic bottle with water and freeze it. Put this in front of the fan to cool the air.
Finally, remember that hot air rises so the cooler air will be near the floor. A small fan at floor level, angled upwards can help move this cooler air upwards.
Fan or air-conditioning?
Air conditioning keeps a room cool but the average central system uses nearly 50 times the watts to run than a fan. So, just think how you could reduce your electricity bill, just by swapping out air conditioning for a fan, even if only for a few hours every day.
And, if the heat is unbearable, a fan will make your air-conditioning that much more efficient by circulating the cold air around the room more quickly. Either way, a fan’s a good addition when there’s a heatwave.
What to consider when choosing a fan
When it comes to buying the best fan to suit your needs, there are a few factors worth bearing in mind. These include:
If you have a small room, then a desktop fan is probably enough to cool down the room, but if you’ve got a larger space a standing or floor fan will be more effective at distributing the airflow. These are better for those who suffer from sinus problems or hay fever as they won’t dry out your throat as much.
If you want a fan you can use throughout the day and night, then one with variable settings will allow you to adjust the speed to accommodate your needs. At night, a lower speed setting will be quieter and less intrusive to your sleep.
If you have pets or kids around, then a bladeless fan can be safer to stop anything from getting caught. It should accumulate less dust making for easier cleaning, too.
An important thing to think about is the noise output from the fan. If you’re looking for a quiet fan for a bedroom, bear in mind the decibels of each model. The quietest on our list is the Rowenta Turbo Silence Extreme 16-inch Stand Fan, at just 35dB. Compare that to a washing machine cycle which spins at around 70dB or washes at around 47 to 53dB and you’ll get a good idea of what’s quiet and what isn’t.
If you have a bigger budget, try the Dyson Air Multiplier AM06 Fan as it's compact, powerful and it features a night mode. Also, it purifies at the same time as cooling, for peace of mind that you're breathing in clean air while you're snoozing.
We go into more detail on what to do when you're too hot to sleep in this article.
How we test fans
The fans featured in this guide have been tested based on affordability, size, ease of use, and any extra features (such as air conditioning) that may be included. We test fans in genuine home environments, rather than a lab, as we believe this gives more appropriate results.
We've tested two out of the five fans featured in this guide so far.