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11 best fans that make keeping cool a breeze this summer

From bedroom to tower models, you’ll welcome the warm weather with these by your side

<p>We experimented with timers, speed controls and wind options</p>

We experimented with timers, speed controls and wind options

We all do it: we’ll moan for weeks about our dark, damp winters, only to complain about the sudden blast of heat that marks the onset of summer.

Luckily, there’s never been a wider range of fans to choose from, whether you’re a heat-hating homeworker whose office transforms into a microwave during the summer months, or a parent keen to find a way to keep larger rooms such as lounges cool.

If you’re short on space, look for slimline tower-style designs, many of which come with remotes that attach (often using magnets) to the side. If you’re considering traditional bladed fans, take a second to think about the placement of the controls – if they’re in high traffic areas, controls on the base of the unit could be easily knocked, which is why we’d suggest opting for a model with controls behind the fan’s head.

Bear in mind that this type of fan needs to be at least 1m off the floor for maximum air circulation, so if you’re not placing it on a desk or table, an extendable design is essential.

Finally, think about where your closest power outlet is. Unsightly cables can ruin the look of a room, and are trip hazards, although this won’t be a problem if you’re placing your fan on a raised surface – as long as you consider the extra cable length you’ll need as a result.

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How we tested

We spent hours experimenting with timers, speed controls and wind options. We tested our fans in different rooms, using various modes and in several positions to ensure we gained a thorough appreciation of each fan’s features and cooling ability, not only when we’d activated the oscillating functions but when left in a static position. The result? We’ve never felt cooler, and we now consider ourselves experts in the art of air conditioning. Do your worst, summer.

The best cooling fans for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Dyson purifier cool autoreact: £499, Dyson.co.uk
  • Best for sleek looks – Duux whisper flex smart fan, black: £119.99, Duux.co.uk
  • Best floor fan – Dunelm 16in matt black tripod fan with gold blades: £60, Dunelm.com
  • Best for ease of use – MeacoFan 1056P pedestal air circulator: £149.99, Meaco.com
  • Best for retro-chic – Duux globe table fan, white: £59.99, Duux.co.uk
  • Best value – Tower scandi 14in tower fan: £29.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best for colour coordination – Swan retro 12in desk fan: £39.99, Swan-brand.co.uk
  • Best for home offices – Next desktop fan: £38, Next.co.uk
  • Best for small spaces – John Lewis & Partners tower fan, 30in: £50, Johnlewis.com
  • Best handheld fan – FanU handheld personal fan: £15.99, Stressnomore.co.uk
  • Best for top tech – Bionaire ultra slim tower fan: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk

Dyson purifier cool autoreact

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Weight: 5kg

We’ve owned several Dyson fans in the past, but the brand has raised the bar with its purifier cool autoreact. It’s wonderfully easy to set up – we simply took it out of the box, inserted the two filters, and it was good to go.

So what does it do? As well as offering powerful cooling, the fan “captures gases and 99.9 per cent of particles as small as 0.1 microns”. In other words, it purifies and cools the air, making it ideal for allergy sufferers. We could turn it on and off using the power button on the fan itself and use the remote to sift through a huge range of settings, including speed, oscillation and air direction. The fan provided fast, powerful cooling and cooled our medium-sized living room in seconds (the blurb states it will cool rooms up to 27m²).

We loved how pressing the remote’s “information” button allowed us to scroll through various data, which appeared on the fan’s digital display. This included air quality, humidity and temperature. We were also seriously impressed with its low noise levels, even when we weren’t using the ultra-quiet night mode.

Duux whisper flex smart fan, black

Best: For sleek looks

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 4.5kg

This is a wireless wonder with 26 speed modes that can be tweaked using a remote, the controls on the fan itself or a smartphone (you’ll just need to download its corresponding app). It’s a gorgeous, jet black model that is surprisingly quiet (switch to night mode for the lowest noise levels), and it’s effortless to adjust, working well as a desk or floor fan.

Its swing can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, which meant there wasn’t an inch of the room that wasn’t cooled when it was in full flow. It’s not the lightest fan, although there’s a sense that this one has been built to last while still being a joy to use. We were especially impressed with the tactile aluminium rotary knob next to the circular digital display.

Dunelm 16in matt black tripod fan with gold blades

Best: Floor fan

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 5.5kg

This is one of the most stylish floor fans we’ve come across, and it’s ridiculously easy to assemble. All we needed to do was use a cross-head screwdriver to drive in the nine screws that held the fan’s protective guard in place. It’s a tripod-style fan with three sturdy legs and a gorgeous industrial look – we particularly loved the combo of the gold-effect blades paired with the jet back legs and blade casing.

It’s straightforward to operate with controls behind the blades that can be tweaked to scroll through three fan speeds and activate an oscillation mode. It’s not the most powerful fan, but it’s more than capable of quickly cooling large living rooms. The ability to adjust the height within a range of 120cm and 135cm also made it easy to direct the powerful blast of cool air to the area that needed it most.

MeacoFan 1056P pedestal air circulator

Best: For ease of use

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 4.7kg

Another fan with an undeniably premium feel, this is an ultra-quiet model that is incredibly easy to operate – there’s a rather cool circular remote control and a large digital readout. We could use it as both a desk fan and a floor fan, and the extendable stem had a reassuring sturdiness (something we find lacking in many fans). The 12-hour timer and four modes (eco, sleep, normal and natural) also meant there were plenty of options for customisation. As people prone to losing remote controls, we appreciated the fan’s magnetic attachment for that, too.

Duux globe table fan, white

Best: For retro-chic

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 2.5kg

This might not be the most slimline of fans, but we love its retro, football-inspired (or at least, that’s what we’re telling ourselves) look. Its low, squat design makes it a brilliant option for desks, although its wide range of movement means it does a fantastic job of dispersing cold air when placed on the floor too. It’s got three speed settings, with horizontal and vertical oscillation, and its range is listed as 7m, which tallies with the impressive results of our testing session. It comes with a remote, although we found it easier to tweak the settings using the controls on the base.

Tower scandi 14in tower fan

Best: Value

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 1.6kg

This fan looks and feels like it should cost a whole lot more than its £29.99 price tag. We assumed we’d discover a design flaw that explained its low price point. Thankfully, we didn’t, and we suspect you’ll be hard pushed to find a better fan for under £30. We were especially enamoured with the faux wooden controls. All too often, wood-effect accents like this are made with incredibly cheap plastic, or worse still, adhesive patches of wood-effect material, but the controls felt durable and rugged, so much so that we had to double-check that they were indeed made of plastic. It’s not the most versatile of fans, but three speed settings, 80-degree oscillation and a two-hour timer function were more than enough to keep us cool, and its low weight made it easy to move from room to room.

Swan retro 12in desk fan

Best: For colour coordination

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 3.2kg

We’ve always felt there’s a distinct lack of colour when it comes to fans, most of which come in grey, white or black. Not so with this desk fan, which comes in eight pretty shades, including an ultra-bright yellow. It’s a 12in desk model with gloriously retro styling and a generous 1.6m cord. Although there isn’t oodles of tech (there’s an oscillating function and three speed settings), we were surprised by the low noise levels, making this an excellent option for kids’ bedrooms.

Next desktop fan

Best: For home offices

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 3kg

This fan is ideal for anyone who loves an industrial look. We’ve got a jet-black, gloss-finish desk in our home office, and this gorgeous fan was the perfect accessory. It’s relatively simple to operate, with three speed settings, an oscillating function and a sturdy all-metal design. We loved the chunkiness of the controls and their position on the rear of the fan, which aided its minimalist look and meant knocking the controls accidentally was less likely.

John Lewis & Partners tower fan, 30in

Best: For small spaces

Rating: 8/10

  • Weight: 3.8kg

This is a brilliant option for anyone looking for a fan for small spaces that won’t break the bank but comes with enough features to keep you cool, including three wind modes (sleep, nature and normal) and three speeds. It’s surprisingly powerful, and we were impressed by how quickly it cooled our large bedroom, even without relying on the oscillating function. We also loved its sleek look – the controls lie flat against the top of the fan, and the remote control clips neatly onto the side. The timer, which allows for programmes between 30 minutes and 7.5 hours long, was super easy to programme. This is currently out of stock, so we’d recommend signing up for email notifications so you’re the first to know when it’s back.

FanU handheld personal fan

Best: Handheld fan

Rating: 7/10

  • Weight: 70g

This fan feels somewhat cheap, but we were impressed with its unexpectedly powerful cooling capabilities. Its lightweight design – around half the weight of an iPhone – makes it a brilliant accessory for festivals and garden soirees, and we appreciated the inclusion of a USB cable and a lanyard.

Bionaire ultra slim tower fan

Best: For top tech

Rating: 9/10

  • Weight: 2.93kg

This oscillating fan looks incredibly similar to another made by a more well-known brand, but you’ll pay a fraction of the price with Bionaire’s version. It’s got a slimline design and a monochrome look that won’t clash with your curtains or carpets, and it’s incredibly stable, with a wide base that splits in two for easy storage (you’ll need screws – which are provided – to attach the base, but this took us under a minute).

There are three speed settings, and the audible alerts make it clear when tweaks to the power have been made. The best bit? Said alerts were the loudest thing about this fan, which is one of the quietest we’ve come across. We loved the easily programmable eight-hour timer, too. Owing to its popularity, this one is currently out of stock, but we expect it’ll be back soon.

Fan FAQs

Do I need a desk fan or a tower fan?

Before buying your fan, we’d recommend thinking about where you’d like it to go and its purpose in your home. Desk fans are much more compact than tower fans and are designed to sit on your worktable. This also means they tend to blow air only in a small space, which can be perfect for cooling you down while you work.

Meanwhile, tower fans are better equipped to cool down a whole room, but they take up more space and need to be kept on the floor.

Electric fans vs air conditioners

Simply put, both will keep you cool, but they work quite differently. While electric fans tend to be much more budget-friendly than air conditioners, they aren’t always as powerful.

Electric fans work by moving air around the room, making you feel cooler. Air conditioners, on the other hand, actually cool the temperature of the room, making them a more powerful alternative to the humble electric fan.

Of course, that means the price of an air conditioner will likely be higher than that of a fan. On average, you can expect to pay between £250 and £500 for a portable air conditioner, while a fan could set you back much less – often around £100.

There is the environmental aspect to consider too. Air conditioners can be hefty machines that often take up more space and energy in your home. You’ll also need to regularly clean dust filters if you opt for aircon.

Is there a fan that blows cold air?

Most fans don’t blow cold air. They simply move air particles around your room faster, making you feel cooler without actually pumping out a cool breeze. If cooler air is what you’re after, a portable air conditioner may be your best option.

Where’s the best place to position a fan in a room?

The million-dollar question. Finding the perfect position for your fan should make at least some difference. But, we put the question to Duux’s brand manager, Chloe King. She recommends that “when the outside temperature is cooler than the inside temperature, try putting the fan in front of an open window to blow cool air from outside into the room”.

Similarly, when choosing a particular model, King noted that “air circulation is key, so consider a fan that oscillates both horizontally and vertically”. And finally, she recommends opting one that is adaptable and portable, so it “can be effortlessly changed from full to table height, allowing for greater flexibility between rooms and positions”.

Does putting ice in front of a fan work?

It may not do the job as well as an air conditioner, but putting ice in front of a fan can really blow cooler air around your room. It works by chilling the air that your fan blows out, which will circulate a cooler breeze.

What are the most common types of fan?

  • Tower fans: These tall, thin fans have an oscillating cooling device stretching vertically. They are good for cooling down a whole room while taking up very little floor space.
  • Stand or pedestal fan: These floor fans feature a traditional cooling unit that sits on an adjustable stand. Many allow you to direct the airflow to where it’s needed.
  • Desk fan: These compact styles are designed to sit straight on your tabletop and offer short-range, directional airflow for personal cooling. They are both space- and cost-efficient.
  • Handheld fan: Great for travelling, you can slip these battery-operated fans into your pocket or handbag and bring them out as required.
  • Ceiling fan: These fans, consisting of a rotating blade that hangs from the ceiling, circulate air at different speeds whenever required. Great for those who want a more permanent option.
  • Bladeless fan: Available as freestanding or desk varieties, these new-age fans work with an electric motor that pulls air in through small vents in the base, then forces it upwards and out at high speeds through the circular ring above. Good for efficiency, modern looks and safety.

What features should I look out for?

  • Oscillating: Instead of focusing the air in a single direction, oscillating fans sweep the airflow across the room. Some fans give you the option of different oscillation patterns and speeds.
  • Speed settings: Most fans have at least three settings, so you can adjust the amount of cool air you get, with some offering significantly more.
  • Adjustable height and angle: This is particularly useful if the fan doesn’t have oscillating capabilities.
  • Timer: A programmable timer enables you to set your fan to start and stop running at certain times – great if you want to come back to a cool house after work.
  • Auto shut-off: A useful safety feature, particularly if you’re likely to fall asleep with the fan running.
  • Remote control: A great solution if you don’t want to get up to change the speed or set the timer.
  • Noise output: While some people can easily ignore the white noise of a fan, others find it highly irritating, especially in bedrooms, so you might want to look for a model designed to be quiet.
  • Size and weight: This is important to consider if you want a fan that is easily transportable and can be stored away in the winter months.
  • Built-in heater: Some fans combine heating and cooling capabilities in a single model. You’ll pay more for it, but it will save you the trouble of buying a separate heater in wintertime.
  • Built-in air purifier: This can be a saviour for people with pollen or dust allergies – but it will increase the price tag.
  • Safety: If you have young children or pets, it’s worth bearing in mind the hazards of getting fingers or paws caught in the blades of a full-speed traditional style fan.

How much does it cost to run a fan?

According to research by the price comparison website Uswitch, “a 120W electric fan costs approximately 2p an hour to run”, so keeping it on for 12 hours a day will cost you 24p, which works out at £1.68 per week.

At 44p per hour, portable air conditioning units are more expensive. Uswitch found that, on average, people have their units on for four hours 18 minutes during the day, and four hours 48 minutes at night. This means it could “drive up electricity bills by £28 per week” during the warmer months. As such, a fan is a far cheaper option.

How much electricity does a fan use?

Finding outhow much electricity a fan uses depends on the model you have, but you can actually calculate it by the wattage by 1,000 to give the amount of energy it uses per hour. For a 120W fan, for example, divide by 1,000 and get 0.129. If you’ll be using it for 12 hours of the day, multiply 0.129 by 12 and you’ll get 1.548kW, which is how much electricty the fan uses.

The verdict: Cooling fans

Dyson’s purifier cool autoreact is surprisingly easy to use. In the past we’ve been somewhat dumbfounded by the mind-boggling wide range of features available on Dyson fans, but this one’s ease of use – and the speed at which it could cool large rooms – helped it bag the top spot.

Duux’s whisper flex smart fan nabbed the second spot for its low noise levels and sleek look, while Dunelm’s floor fan is a fantastic option for larger rooms.

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Keep extra cool this summer with our guide to the best portable air conditioners for your home

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