Whether you’re battling a midsummer heat wave, an overzealous radiator, or a landlord who takes months to turn on the central air, the right floor fan can bring instant relief to the stickiest of situations without putting much of a strain on your energy costs. Floor fans aren’t just a practical purchase for the warmer months; whatever time of the year, they’re useful for circulating air around your space and helping do away with lingering cooking and smoke smells.
It’s no surprise, then, that the market is full of various kinds of floor fans — from oscillating towers to raised “pedestal” structures and low-to-the-ground designs. To help you choose the best for your home and budget, we spoke with nine experts (including managers at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other hardware stores) to discover their favorites and learn what they look for when considering whether to stock a particular model.
Best overall | Best less expensive | Best even less expensive | Best small | Best pedestal | Best smart | Best fan-purifier combo | Best-looking
What we’re looking for
Height: Both Gary McCoy, Lowe’s store manager, and Matthew Brown, director of AC and fans at Home Depot, told us that the height of your floor fan is going to have the most significant effect on how quickly it cools you down. A taller fan has two benefits, according to Brown: “One: The taller it is, the more air is typically being moved. But also, most of the heat in your body escapes through your head, so the more quickly you’re able to cool your face and upper body, the better you’re going to feel.” None of our experts wrote off smaller fans, however. Brown points out, for example, that Vornado’s close-to-the-ground design can be angled into a corner, moving air around the whole room as it bounces back off the wall.
Additional features: After height, our experts told us the next thing to consider is the extra features that come with each design. Many newer floor fans are equipped with modern conveniences like Alexa compatibility, USB power options, and remote controls. Also included in this category is whether a fan oscillates. “With an oscillating fan, you don’t have to think about which part of the room is best to sit in. That’s where the convenience comes in,” says Patrick McDonnell, assistant manager of Brooklyn’s Mazzone Hardware.
48 inches | Oscillating, remote control, timer
“If I’m shopping for myself, I’m looking for Lasko,” says Brown of the brand that’s been making fans of all shapes and sizes since the 1900s (and whose products appear multiple times in this guide). This Lasko model is Home Depot’s largest, best-reviewed, and best-selling floor fan, Brown says. Its height cools spaces very quickly, and because it’s a “nice, sleek black unit,” it still looks “pretty clean in the room,” he says, even though it takes up a little more space. Brown is a fan of its remote control, three speeds, efficient energy use, quiet oscillation, and built-in timer that can be set for one to seven hours. It’s not just professionals who love the brand — interior designer Ariel Okin told us she relies on her Lasko oscillating tower to get her through the weeks before her building turns on the central air, praising both its performance and affordability.
Best less expensive
36 inches | Oscillating, remote control, timer
McDonnell says that Lasko is a heritage brand that “produces a good product at a good value.” He’s particularly admires the low volume on this less expensive (if slightly smaller) oscillating tower fan, which has three speeds and an up-to-seven-hour programmable timer. “While most of the cheaper machines are louder,” he says, “Lasko really prides itself on still making quiet fans all across its range.”
Best even less expensive
20 inches | No additional features
After New York photographed the home of musician Eleanor Friedberger and artist Michael Berryhill, our Strategist eyes were drawn immediately to the purple box fan in the corner of the living room. Eager to know more, we called up Friedberger, who told us she’s been using Lasko’s box fans since she was in her 20s. This purple one was a Walmart find, she says, and “almost an absolutely perfect object,” save for the white handle that she wishes were purple. As for its performance, Friedberger says the three-speed fan effectively cools her large living room “just as well as the ceiling fans do in other rooms” and has become a decorative focal point. “I can’t think of another $20 object that is that useful and that capable of holding a space,” she adds.
14 inches | No additional features
Family-run Warshaw Hardware has been serving the Gramercy Park neighborhood since 1925. Manager Megan Warshaw’s favorite fan, and one of the store’s best-sellers, is this quiet, three-speed fan that’s easy to tuck out of sight. Manufactured by Vornado — a premium brand that came up multiple times in our reporting — it can be set up at various angles and, despite its small frame, will circulate air as far as 75 feet away, according to Warshaw. “It doesn’t oscillate, but the very large face spreads the air around as it moves it forward,” she says, adding that it’s the first fan she recommends to customers looking for the most value over time. “We sell cheaper fans, but those consume more energy and break more often. This one includes a one-year warranty, but we’ve had people finally bring theirs in for repair after 15 years with no issues.”
55 inches | Oscillating, timer, remote control, adjustable height
Pedestal fans like this one may not circulate quite as much air compared to larger-faced tower fans, but Brown says they might be the better choice for someone focused solely on cooling their upper body as quickly and cheaply as possible. McCoy’s favorite is this one from Utilitech. Even though it falls on the relatively affordable side of things, it has a timer, three fan speeds, and both an oscillation setting and tilt mechanism to ensure the air is hitting you at the perfect angle.
37 inches | Oscillating, remote control, timer, Alexa-enabled
McDonnell’s top choice for a floor fan is this one from Vornado. “It’s strong, quiet, and produces great air quality,” he says, praising its oscillation, four speed settings, and a timer that can be set at intervals from three to 12 hours. What sets it apart from the Lasko above, however, is that all of those settings — including turning the fan off and on — can be controlled through an Alexa device. Together, these features are probably why, McDonnell says, he’s had only one unit come back in the ten years he’s been in business.
Best fan-purifier combo
40 inches | Oscillating, timer, remote control, HEPA purifier
Both interior designer Neffi Walker and lifestyle journalist Alexa Erickson tell us they use this fan from Dyson not only to cool their homes but to keep the air inside clean. That’s because — and this partially explains the higher price tag — it’s an air purifier, an essential we’ve written about plenty of times before. According to Walker, “It’s quick to cool, and it’s also easy on the electric budget.” Erickson, meanwhile, tells us she uses hers while she sleeps to “keep both my body temperature down as well as breathe in cleaner air.”
35 inches | No additional features
Finally, for a primarily aesthetic decision, here’s the delightful Swiss fan that Strategist contributor Lauren Schwartzberg came back with after hunting for the very best powerful, non-ugly fan. With a handcrafted bamboo frame that’s “not too much bigger than a watermelon,” its features include steel blades that can be set “to three speeds with a satisfying click of the knob,” adjustable legs to direct the airflow exactly where you want it, as well as a removable back panel for easy cleaning. (For added cred, tell your guests it was designed by Swiss sculptor Carlo Borer.)
• Matthew Brown, director of AC and fans, Home Depot
• Alexa Erickson, lifestyle journalist
• Eleanor Friedberger, musician
• Gary McCoy, store manager, Lowe’s
• Patrick McDonnell, assistant manager, Mazzone Hardware
• Ariel Okin, interior designer
• Lauren Schwartzberg, Strategist contributor
• Neffi Walker, interior designer and founder, The Black Home
• Megan Warshaw, manager, Warshaw Hardware
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