As summers grow longer and temperatures creep higher, a lot of us are scrambling for the best ways to keep cool—preferably without doubling our energy bills. While air conditioners are the best option once things get really hot, fans are a perfect cooling solution for anything under 90°F.
If you’re looking to limit your air conditioner use to when it’s really necessary, it makes sense to invest in a really great performing fan. We've tested eight popular fans to see which delivers the best performance, user experience, and value.
Our results show the Vornado 660 (available at Amazon for $99.99) is the best fan you can buy, capable of some impressive wind speeds even six feet away from the fan. While the 660 is our top pick, many of the fans we tested are worth considering or offered something unique that might make it a better option for you.
The Vornado 660 is the best fan we tested by a significant margin. First and foremost, it’s able to output an impressive volume and air speed, even at a distance. While the 660’s wind speeds might be slightly slower than some when measured directly in front of the fan, once you’re a few feet away, the 660 really starts to stand out from the crowd. At a distance of 3 ft., the Vornado is still able to manage 11.8 mph winds—a faster airflow at a distance than some fans were able to output at all.
We also liked its relatively simple design. It features five buttons along its top, one for power and four for fan strength. These buttons are easy to reach and allow you to skip to your perfect speed without having to cycle through others. The fan can be rotated vertically to point straight up or at a slight downward angle. It doesn’t have an oscillation feature, instead depending on its strength to create a room-sized air circulation system—something we saw perform well in testing.
At around $100, the 660 offers a lot of power for its price. While it might be more of an investment than some other fans on the list, Vornado does offers a five-year warranty on their products—a process that online reviewers claimed was straightforward and easy to complete.
The Lasko 3300 Wind Machine came in third place out of all the fans we tested, but merited special mention because of what a great value it was at only $30. Not only did it measure a respectable 12.6 mph wind at point-blank range, it was capable of moving the highest volume of air, with over 1,700 CFM (cubic feet per minute) by our measurements.
This being said, the Wind Machine doesn’t blow very far into the room compared to some other fans. Once you get even a few feet away, its wind speed falls by half. Still, if you are in the market for an inexpensive fan to keep nearby, the Lasko Wind Machine is one of the best budget-friendly options out there.
Hello! I'm Mark Brezinski, and I've been testing and reviewing consumer tech for over a decade. At Reviewed, I’ve spent several years reviewing and developing tests for dozens of different categories, from cell phones to headphones to vacation cruises. And now fans!
To test the fans, we set up a closed-off testing area to isolate our measurements from any external airflow. Once the fan was up to speed, we took measurements at seven different points in the room: three directly in front of the fan, and four to the sides.
We measured average wind speed at each of these points during a 30-second window and calculated the volume of air being moved (cubic feet per minute, or CFM). We performed the same tests again with oscillation on (if applicable), and recorded the average air movement at each measurement point over five full oscillation cycles.
While a fan’s ability to move air is its primary function, we also tested other aspects of the fans’ performances as well. We measured how much energy the fan required to run at full capacity, both with and without oscillation. We utilized our headphone testing lab to isolate exactly how much noise the fan makes at each of its speeds. We also tested how easy and intuitive the fan’s interface felt to use.
Do You Need A Fan With Oscillation?
Oscillation is where the fan rotates on its base to help spread its breeze around the room. While many of the fans in our test featured oscillation, we found it often had a very minimal impact on overall air movement. To measure this, we recorded the average wind speed over the course of five full oscillations.
While this did allow some fans to distribute airflow across a wider area, the amount of cooling breeze you’d feel is greatly reduced. Almost across the board, we recorded speeds of less than 2 mph at our side-most measurement points. At the two points flanking the 6-foot mark, if we felt any breeze at all, it wasn’t enough to register on the anemometer we used for testing.
While we did test all of the fans for energy efficiency—both with and without oscillation—there wasn’t much differentiation between models. Even if you took the largest delta we saw, 0.07 kWh vs. 0.02 kWh in the XPower FC-200 and the Holmes Remote Control Tower Fan, respectively, you’re talking less than one penny of energy costs per hour. If you also consider the FC-200 was outputting about three times as much air, the difference becomes even more marginal.
Air conditioners vs. fans
To summarize from our breakdown of fans vs. air conditioners: As a general rule, it's best to use a fan for cooling unless temperatures are above 90°F–at that point the only real option for beating the heat is an air conditioner. This is because, at temperatures hotter than 90°F, the fan is basically just buffeting you with hot air, which can actually exacerbate the effects of heat stress on your body. Using an air conditioner for temperatures under 90°F is likely overkill, since a fan will offer decent cooling at 1% of the energy cost.
Other Fans We Tested
There’s a lot to like about the XPower FC-200, which came in second place overall in our testing. It has a rugged plastic construction and a no-nonsense design that features only one dial for speed and another that’s a timer. Not only was it capable of the fastest wind speeds at a close distance, it was also one of only two fans to maintain speeds of 10 mph up to 3 ft. away from the fan. It moved the second-highest volume of wind, falling right behind the Lasko Wind Machine.
The one downside? It is not a quiet fan. At over 80dB, it was the loudest fan we tested, about on par with a garbage disposal at its highest setting. Even at its lowest setting it’s about as loud as a traditional air conditioner.
If you want a solid fan that moves a lot of air and don’t mind making an investment (or a lot of noise), we’d recommend the XPower FC-200.
The GreenTech Environmental Pureflow Circulator is one of the smallest fans we tested, but it puts up some impressive numbers. While it doesn’t have the power of the larger models, it isn’t a slouch either, providing 12.4 mph winds at close range (though that does dissipate quickly with distance). Equipped with 12 speeds, the Pureflow allows for a high level of customization, even if cycling through all those speeds can be cumbersome. Its lower fan speeds are also among the quietest we tested—it’s a great option if you’re looking for an office desk fan.
The Pureflow also has some neat features. As a bladeless fan, it’s safe for kids and pets. It also has oscillation, an intuitive remote, and the ability to tilt 90° vertically. If you don’t mind sacrificing some power for extras, the Pureflow isn’t a bad buy.
The Honeywell HYF290B Quietset fell square in the middle of all the fans we tested. With a seemingly cheap build quality, we were initially skeptical, but the Honeywell put up average numbers across the board—nothing to disappoint or impress. We measured its wind speed at a decent 14 mph, but that power didn’t hold up well at a distance. Its lower speeds were fairly quiet, but not the quietest.
Normally when a product doesn’t stand out, we look to its price—anything can be a great value if it's priced low enough. Unfortunately we didn’t get much help here either. At around $60 it’s not a steal, but it’s also not overpriced. If you’re looking for a decent tower fan at a relatively reasonable price, the Quietset is fine.
We’ve seen the Rowenta VU5551 Turbo Silence rated highly on other “best fan” lists, but after testing it, we’re not entirely sure why. True to its name, it has a quiet-run mode named “Silent Night” that’s able to produce 3.4 mph winds without exceeding our testing chamber’s ambient noise. Aside from this feature, however, the Turbo Silence left us feeling confused as to what was justifying its $140 price point. It wasn’t very fast, even with its Power Boost mode enabled. It also required the most set-up by far: Its control unit, neck, base, fan blade, and two-part cage all arrive separately. If you absolutely need an inaudible fan, the Turbo Silence might be worth it—otherwise, we’d recommend the Pureflow Circulator, which was capable of running almost as silently.
While it's not the most powerful air circulator, the Dyson Pure Cool is the most feature-rich fan in this round-up. If you’re looking for a smart hybrid between a fan and an air purifier, the Dyson Pure Cool is a seriously tempting purchase—even at its $500 price point.
The main feature we loved about the Dyson Pure Cool was its automatic cleaning mode. When enabled, it sits in standby until its sensors determine air filtration is needed. At that point, the Pure Cool turns on, scrubs the air through its HEPA filter, and automatically turns off again. It also has loads of other interesting features, like a bladeless design, an LCD display that can show infographics about the air quality of the room, a breezeless air filtration mode, and its remote control that magnetically sticks to the top of the device.
Rounding out our list is the Holmes HT38R-U Remote Control Tower Fan, a finish that didn’t surprise us. This three-speed tower fan doesn’t offer much to separate it from the crowd. It’s one of the least powerful fans we tested, doesn’t have much in the way of features, and isn’t priced low enough to be a good bargain buy. There are others on the market that are better picks.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.