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What's the best kind of fan to cool off a hot room fast? 3 experts give a clear answer

When summer heatwaves hit, these top-rated picks will blow away the competition.

Woman sitting in front of pedestal fan
That summer heat is no joke and not just any fan will keep a room cool! The pros recommend investing in one type that blows air in all directions, so you'll stay cool no matter where you sit. (Getty)

I have a confession — I love fans. As someone who hates sweating or generally hot environments (vacations are an exception), they may be my favorite household tech device, especially in the sweltering summer months. I've tested nearly a dozen over the past few years and discovered that some of the best fans distribute cool air more evenly than others — and it's all in the design.

With summer creeping around the corner, I reached out to a few experts to see if my inclination is true — Is there a specific type of fan that cools a room faster and more evenly? And, based on their responses, the answer is a resounding "yes!"

I spoke with Derek Gaughan, the founder of Air Koality, a resource for improving residential indoor air quality, Josh Mitchell, an HVAC technician and the owner of Air Conditioner Lab, and Brad Gall, another HVAC technician and founder of BG Electrical and Air Conditioning. Each explained that there are three main types that shoppers buy most frequently with the hope of cooling a room quickly and fully: tower fans, pedestal fans, and air circulator fans. But, what makes them so different from one another?

"Tower fans are known for their modern, sleek design, offering a more targeted cooling approach with a straight-line airflow," Gaughan says. "They are less powerful compared to pedestal fans."

Gall added that while tower fans are the slimmest and best pick for tight spaces, this feature may also be its downfall. "Slim design is the defining feature of a tower fan, but it's also its biggest pro and con at the same time," he said. "It will do a decent cooling job in a narrow area, but that's as far as it goes."

This No. 1 bestselling tower fan was one of the first that I tested over two years ago and quickly became a favorite for smaller rooms like a guest bedroom or a living room with lots of windows.

I found that its star features, though, are its 90° oscillation, its four speeds that get pretty powerful when pushed to the max, and its bladeless design that's safe for pets and children.

I'm not the only one who's impressed, either. More than 18,000 Amazon shoppers gave it a perfect rating with some saying it keeps them cool and comfy "in the Florida heat."

$70 at Amazon

Those looking to cover more square footage in a room can take things up a notch and opt for a pedestal fan. Gaughan said that its rounded head makes it "more flexible in directing airflow." If noise is an issue for you, he adds that "pedestal fans are typically quieter and consume slightly less energy than tower fans."

Mitchell added that pedestal fans are actually one of the best for fast cooling and that all has to do with their large blades, sturdy motor, and adjustability. "They are powerful and better for larger rooms because they can project air over larger distances and higher volumes," he said. "With adjustable height and tilt features, you can precisely direct airflow where it's most needed."

Pedestal fans also tend to be the most affordable of the three types and this Amazon Basics option is a tried-and-true pick among more than 28,000 shoppers.

Several reviewers explained that it's their go-to since it's affordable, quiet, and easy to assemble. "Performance and [durability] you can depend on," one five-star reviewer wrote.

$42 at Amazon

If you want to cool down an entire room quickly, though, a tower fan may not be powerful or expansive enough and a pedestal fan, depending on its adjustability, may be limited in its range. This is where the air circulator type comes into play — and these pros agree that they're the way to go for that surrounding light chill many need in the summer months. I mean, it's literally in the name!

"An air circulator fan is engineered to effectively circulate air throughout an entire room, utilizing aerodynamics to ensure a uniform temperature with no cold or hot spots," Gaughan explained. "This technology not only enhances room comfort but also improves energy efficiency, making it a versatile tool for both cooling in the summer and aiding in heat distribution during colder months."

In a nutshell, Mitchell says that air circulator fans, unlike traditional ones, "work to keep the air in a room moving continuously, helping to maintain a more even temperature throughout." And, if you're trying to keep a large area cool on a constant level, he added that "they are typically more robust in moving air efficiently across a large area"

Though there aren't as many air circulator models on the market as tower and pedestal fans, there are a few that these gurus swear by and some that I've tested and found produce results that were hard to ignore.

"Vornado circulator fans stand out for their ability to move air throughout the entire room," Gaughan shared while talking about his favorite pick. "These fans are versatile for year-round use, improving air circulation and complementing heating systems during winter, thanks to their aerodynamic design that includes features like blade ducts and deep-pitch properties."

Gaughan mentioned this popular Vornado air circulator fan as his favorite "reasonably priced" pick. This particular model is also portable doesn't take up much space but, despite its size, packs a punch with its three speeds and adjustable tilt head that lets you direct the air wherever you need it.

Over 7,000 Amazon shoppers also swear by this small but mighty beast. One even supported Gaughan's claims, writing that it provides "incredible airflow all throughout the room."

$70 at Wayfair
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$70 at Amazon$70 at Kohl's

My personal favorite is the Dreo Polyfan 704S since it's both a pedestal and air circulator fan in one. I use it every single day in my bedroom and it keeps the entire room cool throughout the night, especially when both vertical and horizontal oscillation are enabled. The oscillation is truly where this fan edges out the rest since it lets you customize exactly how far you want it to go.

For reference, the horizontal oscillation ranges from 30˚ to 150˚ and the vertical oscillation ranges from 30˚ to 120˚, and when used simultaneously, I feel like crisp air is literally bouncing off the walls, hitting me in all directions. When paired with a quality set of cooling sheets, it helps me sleep like a baby!

I've been testing this fan for a month and am still surprised by how quiet, thoroughly designed, and expansive it is. When the room is completely dark, its control panel automatically turns off, so you won't be distracted by a bright light while you sleep.

Though it comes with a physical remote, I prefer to use the Dreo app to control the device when I'm in bed or to turn it on from another room just to get some cool air flowing before I enter. The two color options (gold and silver) are also pretty sleek, adding that elegant touch to any room.

I'm not the only one who's a huge fan of this device. One five-star reviewer on Amazon wrote, "Who knew a fan could be so cool? Easy to assemble with lots of bells and whistles. Don't be fooled by the size, this fan is powerful."

$150 at Amazon

Now knowing that the air circulator fan is the only type that keeps the air in a room moving continuously, it comes as no surprise that it's the best option for keeping a large room cool in the hotter months. Mitchell and Gall outlined a few additional benefits that make this the one to buy for everyday use — and their professional advice shows that it's not just a summertime thing.

1. Efficient air movement: Since air circulator fans are designed to create a continuous flow of air, Mitchell says they're better at helping to maintain a consistent temperature in all parts of the room. So, you won't have some that feel like a furnace and others that feel crisp and comfy.

2. Reduces humidity: If you live in a highly humid area, the air circulator option may become your new best friend. According to Gall, "By circulating the air, it will also reduce humidity, which is another reason why you're feeling so hot."

3. Year-round use: While the tower and pedestal variations were made to distribute cool air in restricted directions, air circulator fans blow air in all directions, and this comes in handy in the colder months when you need to heat up a large room. "Air circulators can be used in all seasons for cooling rooms in the summer by creating a wind-chill effect, and improving heat distribution in the winter when positioned to push warm air away from heaters," Mitchell said.

While the options listed above are some of our favorites, you may prefer shopping for one in person. If that's the case, Gaughan gave us five tips on what to look for when shopping around:

  1. Airflow efficiency: Gaughan recommends looking for fans with high CFM (cubic feet per minute) ratings since that indicates powerful airflow.

  2. Adjustability: Look for air circulator models with adjustable heights, tilt, and oscillation since those can better direct airflow where it's needed.

  3. Energy consumption: Keep the fan's power usage in mind to keep your energy bill as low as possible, especially if you plan to use it frequently. Gaughan says the Vornado 630 strikes a healthy balance.

  4. Noise level: If you plan to use an air circulator fan in your bedroom or a quiet area in your home, look for one that operates quietly without compromising power. I've found through personal use that the Dreo Polyfan 704S is whisper-quiet — so much so that I sometimes forget that it's on. I've also tried and was surprised by how powerful-yet-silent the tabletop Windmill Air Circulator Fan was.

  5. Additional features: Some may call these "bells and whistles," but many of these extra features are truly there to make your life easier. Features like remote controls, apps, timers, and even air filtering can add so much convenience to the overall experience.

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.