Fans, also known as air circulators, provide a quick cooling solution in a variety of situations. Most of us are familiar with fans–blades circulate air throughout a space to cool, ventilate, and sometimes dry the area. However, new technology and additional features have made fans viable cooling and comfort options for more people, and they remain a more economical choice than air conditioners for lighter cooling tasks. Before you shop for a fan or air circulator, ask yourself these 5 questions to find the right fan for your needs.
1. Why do I need a fan?
Your answer to this question will guide most of your other considerations when searching for the right fan. Industrial fans are intended for use in a commercial setting where they can ventilate large, open spaces and meet specific cooling needs. Their heavy-duty construction is meant to withstand prolonged operation and harsher environments. Industrial fans manufactured by Marley Engineered Products in particular are noted for their quality.
Residential fans are ideal for personal use such as cooling around the house, including your bedroom, living room, or patio. These fan models are often designed with versatility in mind and many come in streamlined styles and interesting colors to please the eye. Misting fans, another type of residential fan, spray water while they cool and are best suited for an outdoor environment.
Water damage fans and air movers help repair an indoor environment that has sustained water damage. These powerful fans are often stackable and offer multiple positioning options for effective drying.
While some fans are flexible enough to satisfy both residential and commercial needs, keep in mind your own individual reasons for needing a fan and try to find a model that is meant especially for that purpose.
Not all fans are created equal. Most fans consist of blades, a housing unit, a motor or power source, and structures to keep it upright (stands, legs, bases, etc.). But because of the diversity of designs and functions, not all fans will fit this standard prototype. However, there are common design types to help guide you in buying a fan.
Tower fans feature a vertical housing unit where the cooling apparatus stretches along most of tower’s height. Pedestal fans have a traditional blade and housing design attached to an upright pole. Bladeless fans, such as the Dyson air multipliers, create airflow without spinning blades. Centrifugal fans, such as the Phoenix Centrifugal Air Mover, have blades oriented perpendicular to the airflow, as opposed to the more typical axial design where the blades face the same direction as the airflow.
Several factors will determine what kind of fan is most appropriate for you. Centrifugal fans are often used for water damage restoration due to their higher pressure production. Tower fans are optimal when space is limited. Bladeless fans can be an interesting conversation piece and add an attractive aesthetic to an otherwise dull room. Consider the amount of space you have to accommodate a fan and your intended application before selecting a type.
Some commercial-grade fans have wheels and handles for added mobility, such as the Marley Direct Drive Portable Blowers, while others, like the Vornado 293HD, can be mounted on a wall. Certain fans are small enough to go practically anywhere: the Vornado 270 Air Circulator is only 14.5 inches tall, perfect for a coffee table, office desk, bookshelf, or even kitchen counter. Even more compact, the Vornado V103 Under-Cabinet Air Circulator has a thin profile that can flip up when not in use, giving it the ability to fit into tight or unusual spaces other fans cannot.
Certain features may influence where you can put the fan. For instance, longer power cords and remote control access allow you to place a fan in a less-accessible area, where it may have a greater cooling impact or stay out of the way. Conversely, your location will largely determine what kind of fan you can get. For example, a home with pets may require an air circulator with especially safe housing and/or technology to reduce excessive pet dander and hair build-up. A warehouse or office requiring constant communication between members may need a quieter fan to avoid noise pollution. We recommend that you get a fan that fits as seamlessly as possible into your environment.
Depending on how you plan to use the fan, you’ll want to take into account the amount of cooling power a fan can produce. Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), which measures the volume of air flowing by a given point every 60 seconds. This specification is particularly useful when comparing industrial fans, as various sizes of the same model will have different CFM ratings. Airflow is sometimes translated into how far a fan can “push” or “move” air in terms of feet. Vornado fans are especially known for their high CFM power because they move air in a vortex pattern, similar to how a tornado circulates.
Also related to power production is power consumption. If you are buying a fan to cut down on cooling costs or to supplement an existing cooling system, you’ll want to note how much power the fan is going to use in relation to how much airflow it will create. Ideally, you want more airflow generated per amp used. Some fan models specifically take power usage into account. Phoenix air movers are a prime example of energy-conscious products. Two of their water damage restoration fans–the Phoenix Centrifugal Air Mover and Phoenix Centrifugal Air Mover PRO–have the highest airflow per amp used in a centrifugal design.
No matter whether the fan is for your bedroom or your warehouse, you’ll want certain features to best fit your usage. One of the more standard options is oscillation: does the fan need to sweep airflow across the room or focus it on a certain spot? Some fans even give you the choice of different oscillation patterns or speeds, such as the Soleus FS2-40R-32 16-Inch Pedestal Fan, which oscillates in a figure 8 pattern at three speeds. Other features to consider include programmable timers, adjustable airflow direction, mobility, user-friendliness of controls, remote control access, low noise output, multiple fan speeds, and power options.
Different fans can provide very different features, so your best bet is to examine several models and decide which seems most appropriate for you. For example, the Sunpentown FSQQ Dual Fan has not one, but two separate fans, both of which are adjustable. The Vornado Flippi V Fan can be folded down for a sleek minimalist look when it's turned off. The Dri-Eaz Ace TurboDryer can be positioned in seven different ways and stacked for usage and storage.
To simplify your search, jot down a list of features that you would like to have in a fan and compare the models that come closest to your list.
For more information on specific fans, visit our fans and air circulators page and browse our Knowledge Center. Not sure what's best for you? We can take the guesswork out of decision-making. Contact our product experts toll free at 1 (800) 934-9194. We want to help you make your indoor environment a healthy one.