10 best cooling fans to keep you cool, calm and collected this summer
When the great British summertime finally arrives, be prepared with our top picks
Warm weather in February, cold weather in August: the UK’s reputation for unpredictable weather is not without foundation. That said, summer has officially begun in the UK, turning people’s thoughts to hot summer days and sticky, sleepless nights. Our roundup of the best fans will help to keep you cool this summer. Our selection spans all budgets and sizes, with some featuring additional extras such as air purifying or humidifying properties that would normally require you to buy a separate machine.
Before you purchase your cool tech, think about the size of the area you want to cover – slimline tower fans can cool down a whole room while hardly taking up any floor space, while the new fans that focus on personalised spaces ensure that only those who want to be cooled down get a piece of the chilling action.
In terms of looks, do you want ultra-modern (like a Dyson), vintage (like Stadler) or traditional (like Swan)? How many speed settings do you need? Do you want your fan to be exceptionally quiet? Would it help if it was easily transportable? And how important are extra features such as remote control, timer and auto shut-off?
Our tests took into account efficiency of cooling (without blowing away everything in sight), volume, aesthetics, features and value for money. You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Dyson pure hot + cool fan heater air purifier: £549, John Lewis & Partners
Not only is this a fab fan – almost silent, noticeably smooth air flow, automatic operation and no dangerous blades – but it doubles up as an effective heater in winter, and it also purifies air, capturing allergens, bacteria, pollen and mould spores inside your home. It’s best used with the Dyson Link app (handy for pre-setting when you’re away from home), although the LCD screen has some onboard controls. The technology provides a wealth of information, including room temperature, the air quality both inside and outside your home, and which particles and gases it has detected. For cooling and heating your home with clean air, we reckon this three-for-the-price-of-one machine is the best there is.
MeacoFan 1056 air circulator: £149.99, Amazon
If you’re after a portable machine but don’t want to compromise on oomph or oscillation (it almost turns 360 degrees), this is a great buy. It’s quiet enough to sleep through, yet it packs a punch when it comes to cooling the air with 12 fan speeds to choose from. Plus, it looks smart, as well as having handy features such as a timer and eco function. The remote control could be better – you have to spend time targeting it right at the fan, which is a faff, especially at night – but there are controls on the machine itself. There are smaller fans out there but it’s by no means huge, and the faux leather handle is a nice touch for transportability.
Bionaire oscillating tower fan with remote control and timer: £40, Amazon
If plain white pedestal fans remind you of soulless corporate offices but you can’t afford to splash out on the likes of a Dyson, then this might be the machine for you. At 71cm tall and just 22cm wide, it’s slim enough to fit in most homes and offices, and the silver colour gives it a sleek finish. It boasts three speed settings, an oscillating function to cool down the whole room and an eight-hour timer, all of which we found to work well. There’s an easy-to-view LED display, with auto-off timer and a remote control, and although we tried quieter fans it’s certainly not the loudest, especially on breeze mode. There are more powerful fans out there – but for less than 50 quid, it’s great value.
Swan retro desk fan: £69.99, Amazon
This retro-looking desk fan comes in a range of funky colours including green, grey, red, blue, cream and black. It’s part of a wider range that includes a pedestal fan but it’s the 12in desk fan that won us over as we found it a good size, as well as being quieter than other desk fans. It’s instantly cooling, although the adjustability is welcome so it doesn’t blow those all-important documents right off your desk. There are three settings which all work well, although we think it could do with one or two more – and it’s a bit on the pricey side.
Witmoving hand held fan: £17.99, Amazon
Cheap and cheerful hand held fans are easy to come by – and many cost a lot less than this. But this one is quiet, even when on its most powerful of the three settings, and a light comes on when you press and hold the button for around three seconds (handy at night, especially when camping). You can also hang it up or position it on a flat surface, which makes it versatile, plus it’s small enough to keep you cool on the go. So, whether you’re suffering from a menopausal hot flush at work or need a quick cool-me-down on the beach, this could save the day. It’s available in different colours.
Tower fan 43in: £45, John Lewis & Partners
This is available in three sizes to cater for different sizes spaces: 30in (ever so slightly higher than the Bionaire that we also feature in this round-up); 36in (for mid-size rooms); and this one at a tall 43in, which we’ve chosen as our favourite purely on account of its gusto – it managed to cool down a large open-plan living space in record time. There’s a bit of white noise to contend with but nothing major, and it has three controls for different wind types, and six power settings. The oscillating function works well, with 90 degree turn, and there’s an auto-switch off and remote control. It doesn’t look quite as stylish as in the picture but it’s not far off.
Dyson pure cool me personal purifier fan: £299, John Lewis & Partners
Smaller, more personal fans that only cool a specific area are all the rage across Asia, and although the trend has been slower to catch on here, we don’t think it will be long until everyone wants one. The air filtration system is the same technology as with the other Dyson fan we reviewed – so you get only fresh air cooling you down – but this one has an air projection system that gives staggeringly controlled air flow (apparently inspired by Harrier Jump Jet technology) – great if you work in a shared office and for open-plan homes where only you need cooling down. It’s exceptionally quiet, but there’s no automatic mode and it doesn’t give detailed air readouts.
Stadler form Q fan: £149, John Lewis & Partners
This fan is seriously classy, but that’s not all the hefty price tag pays for. This industrial-themed, stainless steel contemporary fan (which took years of design and technology development to produce) is good to go straight from the box and works a treat, cooling down rooms of up to 40m² quickly and quietly, with three wind speeds that you operate via the large button on the support leg. At 36cm, it’s not huge – just enough to not draw your eye to this and this alone – but on the downside, it’s one of the louder fans we tried.
Chillmax air personal space air cooler and humidifier: £39.99, JML
This looks more like a mini air con machine than a conventional fan, but it’s small enough to stay inconspicuous yet big enough to cool your personal space easily with the three speed settings. But its biggest USP is that it turns cold water into a fine mist of air, thereby doubling up as a humidifier – great for people who like their air to stay moist. Refreshing and humid rather than the usual dry air that fans blow out. It’s lightweight, which makes it transportable, and it lasts around 10 hours on one filling of water, with the filter dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. While it’s not the most attractive fan around, it’s certainly one of the most innovative, especially for the price.
MeacoFan 360 personal air circulator: £59.99, Meaco
If the Dyson personal fan is too costly, this is a good compromise. While you won’t get the top-notch air filtration system, or indeed quite the same targeted air flow, you will get a compact energy-efficient fan that targets a specific area. And although not quite as silent as the Dyson, it’s the quietest of all Meaco fans. It has both left and right oscillation and the ability to adjust it up and down. A great choice for personal cooling, especially for a bedside table.
The verdict: Cooling fans
The Dyson pure hot + cool fan heater air purifier doesn’t come cheap, but it turns into a great heater in winter, plus it purifies the air, essentially giving you three machines in one. And it looks fabulous too. We’re also giving a special mention to the Meaco 1056 air circulator, which is portable, powerful and boasts a whopping 12 fan speeds, making it very versatile.
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