It feels like a long way away, but fingers crossed in 2020 we'll see another hot summer when keeping cool is paramount. A decent fan is not something you only need abroad any longer.
If you've looked at the market even briefly, you'll have realised that there's a lot more to consider in buying a fan than you might first think. We're going to break down the main types of fan here and what you need to consider when buying one for your home.
Also see our round up of the best cheap cooling products.
Desk vs tower vs stand
The first thing to consider is the style and size of fan you want to buy. There are three main types: desk, tower, and stand.
Desk fans are smaller, designed (believe it or not) to sit comfortably on a desk. They'll generally be good at keeping you cool if you're close, but will likely struggle to chill a whole room. It's worth noting that many desk fans are still quite large, and might take up a lot of your desk - there are smaller ones, some of which are even USB-powered, but naturally these will tend to be weaker. There's always a tradeoff.
Stand or pedestal fans are pretty much desk fans on a taller stand, with the same circular design, but raised to be five or six feet tall. The fan element itself is often a bit larger, to allow for more power, meaning they're the best type of fan to cool large rooms. The downsides are that the large fan heads can take up quite a lot of space, and they don't always look stylish enough to want on display in your living room.
Finally, tower fans tend to be a similar height to stand fans, but have a slimmer design with the fan elements inside the main body, rather than with the fan blades on the top and mounted to a stand. Tower fans are usually a bit weaker because of size constraints, but can be smaller overall, often look more stylish, and are more likely to boast additional features like air purification - more on that below.
Bladed vs bladeless
The next consideration is bladed or bladeless designs. Bladed fans are the standard design, while bladeless fans are the style popularised by Dyson. Technically bladeless fans do still have blades, but they're hidden inside the fan body so they aren't visible.
The benefits of bladeless designs (beyond looking super cool) are that they can be quieter and safer - no risk of hair, pets, or kids' hands working their way between the blades. There's only one real downside, but it's a biggie: bladeless models tend to cost a lot more, especially if you stick to a big brand like Dyson, so you'll have to decide if the safer, slicker design is really worth the premium.
Heating, purifying, and more
Finally, many modern fans boast extra features beyond simply blowing air about the place. Dyson, for example, offers Hot + Cool models that work as both fans in the summer and heaters in the winter, saving you from buying two pieces of kit for different seasons.
You can also buy combined air purifiers and fans, which will filter the air in your room to remove pollutants and allergens before blowing out the filtered, purified air into the room. The Dyson Pure Cool fans are the most prominent examples, but there are similar products from competitors too.
You'll also find an increasing number of fans with basic smart features or virtual assistant support. These might let you set up schedules for when the fans should turn on and off, remotely control intensity and oscillation, or even turn the fan on or off using your voice through Alexa or the Google Assistant.
Best fan reviews
Dyson Pure Hot+Cool
This is the ultimate fan becuase, as the name suggests, the Pure Hot+Cool is two machine in one: both a cooling fan and a heater. So you won't be putting this into the loft for half the year which is a real boon.
Futhermore, the device is an air purifier like the Pure Cool Tower and also has a useful little LCD screen giving you real-time information about your air quality as well as basic details such as fan speed and temperature.
The Pure Hot+Cool but this is a Dyson so there's plenty of clever tech and features packed in. With the magnetic remote control you can adjust all sorts of settings from fan speed to the 350 degree oscillation. There are loads of handy modes including night mode for quiet operation and diffuse which pumps air out the back.
You can also hook your phone up with the Dyson Link app to control the fan even more remotely as well as get lots of useful information. You can set timers and even set the fan going when you're not at home to cool (or warm) a room in time for your arrival.
Read our full Dyson Pure Hot+Cool review.
Bionaire Standing Floor Fan
This Bionaire is similar to the Honeywell QuietSet, offering you a large floor standing fan without breaking the bank - just £79.
Considering the price, this is a very well-made and stylish fan with plenty of features. We found it easy to build and really like that it's not stark white like so many rivals on the market. The silvery grey finish looks far more modern.
You'll need space for a fan this size but the Bionaire, model number BASF1016, provides dual blades. The larger one handles wide circulation while the smaller ones offers a more concentrated flow. Overall this gives you 20% more air floor, according to the firm.
The fan is height adjustable, has a wide oscillation area and you can manually tilt it up and down, too. You then have three fan speeds to choose from and there's also a timer which can be set for up to eight hours.
This can all be controlled with the supplied remote, but there are also buttons on the fan itself. Last but not least are the breeze and sleep modes which 'simulate natural airflow'. We didn't find the sleep one particularly helpful as it cycles between the fan speeds which is disturbing rather than tuning out the sound of just the lowest setting.
Dyson Pure Cool Me
The Dyson Pure Cool Me is a desk/bedside fan that up-ends Dyson's bladeless fan design for a new look that's better at focussing blasts of purified air directly at your face, rather than all round the room.
The omission of smart support is a shame, but ultimately makes sense when it comes to keeping the cost from getting too prohibitive - though the Pure Cool Me is still as expensive as you’d expect from Dyson at £299.99/$349.99.
Whether it’s worth it for you will depend on how worried you are about air purification, and how much space you have. If you’ve got a big desk and want a fan you can point at your face without worrying about blowing anything else around, this is probably the best around.
On the other hand, if you’re more constrained for space or want a fan to cool a couple of people or even a small room then you’re not really playing to the Pure Cool Me’s strengths, and you’ll be better off looking at one of Dyson’s older desk fans - or just a cheaper model from elsewhere.
Read our full Dyson Pure Cool Me review.
Honeywell QuietSet Stand Fan
This great stand up fan is a bit like a desk fan on steroids. Set up is a tad tricky thanks to the unhelpful instructions but once working it proves itself a good choice if you want to spend less than £100.
With remote control it has five settings that vary in speed and levels of quiet (setting 1 is sleep mode and you can barely hear it). You can also set timers of 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours and easily adjust the height.
It stands at 58.5cm at its highest setting, and this coupled with the oscillating action means it can effectively cool large rooms and areas whether stationary or turning.
If you want something more powerful and quiet than a desk fan but don't want to break the bank then this is the fan for you.
Dyson Cool Desk Fan
The Dyson Cool is currently the cheapest fan in the Dyson lineup, and correspondingly the most stripped back. There are no smart features, air purification, or heating, but you do get the slightly sci-fi bladeless design and a remote control to control the power, oscillation, and a nighttime scheduler to automatically turn the fan off after a set time.
This really does what it promises: it’s a no-frills take on the Dyson fan that’s not quite wallet-friendly, but it’s at least a bit more wallet-amicable than the company’s flagship devices. Still, this is an awful lot to spend on a plain old fan, and the price is a bit hard to swallow.
Read our full Dyson Cool review.
Dimplex 360 Cooling Fan
The 360 Turbo provides a compact, portable cooling experience that remains very affordable - just £60.
Its headlining feature, unsurprisingly, is that it rotates 360°. This is very smooth, and combined with the 90° titled head it provides a lot of flexibility to suit any room.
The fan itself runs very quiet, and is barely noticeable particularly if there is other audio playing in the room. It features the usual natural and night modes, but we’d recommend simply using the normal lowest setting for sleep.
The timer provides options to turn off after 1, 2, 4 or 8 hours, but we would have liked the option up to 12 like many fans offer.
Dimplex claim the cooling effect from the 360 Turbo stretches up to 20 metres, and while it was barely detectable at this distance, the whole room was cooled significantly a matter of minutes after turning the fan on.
The companion remote, with a battery included in the box, is simple to understand and still works from a surprising distance away from it.
The fan is relatively light, at just 2.4kg, making it easy to move between rooms as you see fit. The cable is a little short, so it would be well-suited to a desk or side table as opposed to the middle of a large room.
Dimplex Ion Fresh Cooling Fan
At £79.99, Dimplex’s Tower Fan is one step above the most affordable tower fans, but for the performance improvement it’s something we’d recommend.
As the name suggests, the Ion Fresh features a built-in ioniser, common to many tower fans. These are designed to remove contaminants from the air, and in our testing we found the air to feel significantly fresher after just a few minutes of use.
A sleek copper colour scheme is complemented by an unusual 7° tilt on its base, a nice touch allowing for two different angles of tilt. We had a little trouble getting it set up, but from there the Ion Fresh is a pleasure to use.
All three speeds of normal operation work well, but even the fastest of these is relatively quiet while still allowing for room-filling cool air. The fan is therefore fine for most people to sleep with, particularly with the option to turn off the LED screen should it disturb you.
The Easy mode sets the fan to oscillate (although only up to 180°) and turning on the ioniser, designed to remove contaminants from the air. The fan will then run at high speed for 15 minutes, middle speed for another 15 and then stay on low speed until manually turned off.
Both the included remote and touch controls on the top of the device are highly responsive and work well.