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Home & garden.

Updated: 30 May 2022

Best electric fans 2022: Which? Best Buy and expert buying advice

Whether you're looking for a desk or a tower fan, we explain how to choose the best fan to keep you cool with our top recommendations and buying tips
Hannah Fox
Main desk fan 488959

A good electric fan will create a pleasant breeze, making a hot or stuffy room feel much more bearable, while the worst ones will leave the air feeling sluggish and you a sweaty mess.

We run through all the key things to consider when making a choice, including the type you need, the features that matter and whether it's worth splashing out on a Dyson electric fan.

Head over to our expert electric fan reviews from the likes of Dyson, Honeywell and Meaco to find the best one for your home.  

The best electric fans for 2022

  • 79%
    • best buy
    £90.00

    The manufacturer says this air circulator is quiet enough to use in a bedroom and so energy efficient that you can leave it running all night long without losing sleep over your electricity bill. But did this fan live up to these claims when we tested it? Read our expert review to find out.

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  • This tower fan will be a stylish addition to any modern living room. But will it be powerful enough to create a breeze that circulates the room, or will you have to sit right in front of the fan to feel the benefit? Read our full review to find out.

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  • Electric fans don’t get much simpler than this model, as it uses a single control button to set the speed and turn it on and off. It’s powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, so once it's charged up you can remove the cable and use it wherever it’s needed. But can such a small fan create an effective breeze? Our review will tell you.

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(Table last updated May 2022)

Do I need a desk fan or a tower fan?

Electric fans fall into one of the following types:

Desk fans

These are compact models, designed to sit on your desk (as the name suggests) and to cool you down without blowing away all your papers. 

They are generally cheaper than tower fans (unless you're going for an expensive brand) and could be the best choice if you only need to cool a small area. 

Pedestal and tower fans

Pedestal or tower models are likely to be a better choice if you're looking to cover a whole room. These are more likely to come with a remote control so you can change the settings from a distance. 

They're larger and bulkier than desk fans, so you'll need to have the floor space to fit one in without constantly tripping over it, plus the storage space to tuck it away when you don't need it. 

Pedestal fans look very similar to large desk fans, but with a taller base, while tower versions are shaped like a column. 

Ceiling fans

You can also buy ceiling fans, like those you might see in an office or hotel room, but we don't test these as they're not commonly used in UK homes. 

Which? electric fan tests

We put all types through exactly the same tests. However, because they're designed to serve slightly different purposes, we evaluate the results slightly differently for desk fans versus tower/pedestal fans. 

Some electric fans are designed to either compress into a desk fan or extend into a pedestal fan, so we evaluate these as pedestal fans.

Find out more about how we test electric fans

How much should I pay for an electric fan?

They can vary dramatically in price. 

The cheapest models cost less than a tenner for a basic model with just two or three speed settings and no extra features. 

Meanwhile, the priciest options, such as the blade-free Dyson Cool AM07 Tower Fan, will set you back more than £300.

Whatever price you pay, your new fan could prove little more than scrap metal if it doesn't do a good job of cooling you down, so read our electric fan reviews to avoid buying an expensive (or even a cheap) dud. 

Best electric fans: features to look out for

Fan speeds

Having a choice of speeds is really useful; of all the features listed here, it's the one most worth paying more for. 

More control over the air movement means you're more likely to be comfortable, and not feel either irritated by a overly powerful blast (and the accompanying noise) nor like it isn't doing anything to cool you down. 

Light dimming mode

Some give you the option to dim any lights at night. This could be handy if you plan on running it in your bedroom while you sleep. 

A couple of lights are less likely to keep you awake than one that's very noisy, though, which is why we check for quietness in our tests.   

Fan oscillation function

If it turns from side to side, it can distribute air across a wider area. This should also be high up on your list of features to look out for, although it's unusual for one not to have this function. 

Remote control 

This gives you the ability to adjust the settings without moving from your sofa or bed; it's arguably more important for pedestal or tower fans that are designed to cool a whole room. 

Some electric fans allow you to store the remote tidily away on the fan itself. We wouldn't say this is essential, but it's a nice extra if you're prone to losing things. 

Timer

A fan timer allows you to set the electric fan to automatically switch on or off after a set period of time, which is handy if you want to save on energy by having the fan turn itself off once you've fallen asleep, for example. 

Should I buy a Dyson electric fan?

Dyson fans we've tested include the Dyson AM06 desk fan (pictured above) and Dyson AM07 tower fan (pictured below). 

They are blade-free, doing away with the risk of hair or fingers getting trapped in rotating blades. Both feature what Dyson calls Air Multiplier technology, which is designed to direct an even airflow across the room, so one part of the room doesn't end up significantly breezier than another. 

They come with Quiet Mark accreditation, meaning the UK Noise Abatement Society charitable foundation has given them its seal of approval. 

They also have a sleep timer and remote control, and are designed to be easy to clean and to offer smoother oscillation. 

Read our reviews of the Dyson AM06 and the Dyson AM07 to see what we thought of them when we ran them through our tests. 

You can also read our reviews of Dyson air purifiers to find out how those perform, including models from its Purifying Fan range.

Electric fans vs air conditioners

The best electric fans create a refreshing breeze that will make you feel cooler – however, they don't actually cool the air in your home. 

If a breeze alone just isn't enough on the hottest days of the year, you could consider investing in a portable air conditioner instead. 

These pump out cooled air that will reduce the temperature inside your home. 

Some of them also come with features such as dehumidification and smart control (from your smartphone app), both of which can be useful extra features – although, if dehumidification is your top priority, take a look at our reviews of the best dehumidifiers and expert buying advice. 

Downsides of portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioners are usually more expensive than fans; the cheapest we've tested costs more than £300. 

Be aware, too, that portable air conditioners are hefty, bulky appliances that can take up a lot of space, which isn't ideal if your home is on the small side. They can be a faff to set up, too, and the hot air needs to be vented out via a hose, so you'll need a suitable window for it to go through.   

Realistically, British weather being as unpredictable as it is, many people will be better off with an electric fan that can be more easily tucked into a cupboard when it's not needed. 

However, if you're undecided – or really can't bear the heat – read our portable air conditioner reviews before you buy. 

Are electric fans eco-friendly?

An electric fan will rotate its lightweight blades to generate a breeze, making you feel cooler, whereas an air conditioner will actually lower the temperature of the room. This means that an electric fan will use a lot less energy than an air conditioner, making it a much more sustainable option for keeping you cool. 

Electricity used to power your electric fan or air conditioner is generated from a combination of burning fossil fuels, renewables, gas and nuclear. As you can't guarantee that the electricity you use has come from a renewable energy source, we’d suggest seeing how well you get on with an electric fan before investing in a portable air conditioner, which will guzzle much more energy. 

Some portable air conditioners also use HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) to help cool your room. This can be a potent greenhouse gas if released, which can happen if the unit leaks or through incorrect disposal. An electric fan does not use any HFCs.

How to dispose of an electric fan?

An electric fan is classed as WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment). This means it can be recycled and shouldn’t be sent to landfill. A handy indicator to know if your electronics can be recycled is to look for a crossed-out wheelie bin symbol. 

WEEE logo

Depending on where you live, your local council might be able to offer household collection for your unwanted electric fan. You can also see if your local recycling centre will accept it – before you visit, check if you need to book a time slot or take proof of address. 

If you’re replacing your old electric fan with a new model, it’s also worth checking with the retailer if they can take your old one away for recycling. 

Find out more about how to correctly recycle your electrical items.

Which? electric fan reviews

What electric fans claim they can do, and how effectively they deliver against these claims, can be different things. This is where our reviews come in. 

We've tested electric fans from popular brands, including Dyson, Meaco and Honeywell. 

Our lab experts put each one through its paces to make sure they will do a great job of keeping you cool and refreshed. Our test criteria include:

  • The range of speeds available
  • How pleasant the breeze is
  • How noisy it is
  • How easy it is to use
  • Whether it's safe to use.

For full details, head over to our page on how we test electric fans. Only models that score at least 70% can earn our Best Buy recommendation. 

Check out our electric fan reviews to see all those we've tested.