Fan Buying Guide - How to choose the coolest tower or pedestal fan for you
If you’re looking for a way to avoid melting this summer, a fan could help. But with so many types, including tower and pedestal fans from Bunnings, Kmart and so many other retailers, how do you choose the best fan for your home? In this guide we take you through the essentials, so you don’t sweat the small stuff.
Should I get a standalone fan or a portable air conditioner?
Good question. These two categories of cooling systems have things in common – namely, that the units are both relatively small and portable. The difference is that while air conditioners (or air coolers) lower a room’s temperature by adding cool air, fans (or air circulators) simply move air around.
The circulating air helps evaporate perspiration, and also stops air from being stagnant while warm. Fans are good for short bursts of refreshment, whereas a portable AC is better if you’d prefer a more powerful cooling system that consistently maintains a set temperature.
Standalone fans are cheaper than their air conditioning counterparts, and provided you don’t leave your fan on 24/7, they are generally also cheaper to run than portable air conditioners and have a smaller environmental footprint.
Types of Standalone Fans
Pedestal fans and tower fans are the most popular fan types in Australia, and they're also the most commonly sold. Here's a quick comparison:
Pedestal Fans vs Tower Fans
|Best for||Pedestal Fan||Tower fan|
These traditional portable fans are also called stand fans, as they’re supported by an adjustable vertical stand. The fan section uses spinning blades to cool down a room.
- Practical and versatile as you can choose between a one-directional airflow for a party of one watching tennis or cricket on the couch, or an oscillating fan function, which can refresh a roomful of guests
- Simple yet powerful in design, these fans can cool down even large rooms
- Easy placement in a room is allowed by a tall design – as long as the top fan section is unobstructed, pedestal fans will cool you down
- Quiet in operation, especially when compared to many tower fans
- Cheap and affordable, with prices ranging from $30-$350 for higher-end models like the bladeless Omega Altise Aura.
Also known as column fans, these fans have a long rectangular or cylindrical shape. They’re powered by impeller blades inside the unit, which push air through an air outlet that runs from close to the base to the top. Louvres often push air upwards, for more coverage.
- Compact design means tower fans are a good fit in small or tight rooms with less floor space
- A safe choice if you have children or pets, as turbine fan blades are tucked away inside the unit, covered by a protective cage
- Aesthetically pleasing designs make tower fans a more complementary addition to living spaces for the décor conscious.
- Not as powerful as pedestal fans, and so less suited to larger rooms. If you are set on a tower fan for a large room, choose one taller than 110cm.
- Limited placement options in a room, as the length of the column should be unobstructed to get the full benefit. This means you need to place a tower fan directly in front of you.
Also called table fans, these personal fans live on your desk, and can be as small as 10-15cm in blade size. They’re great for the office or work-from-home spaces - or both, as they're portable mini fans. Consider the noise level, as the fan will be close to you at times when you're probably trying to concentrate.
Floor fans sit squat and close to the ground. The larger the head, the wider the coverage, so for medium to large rooms opt for a fan head 75cm or larger. A high velocity floor fan will also push air more powerfully at a longer distance across the room. Keep in mind that since these fans are so low, they pose an accident risk if you have curious kids and pets around.
Also sitting low, these fans are boxed into an enclosure with a grill, housing the blades on the inside.
Wall-mounted and similar to the top section of pedestal fans, these use 3-5 blades to spin on an 180-degree axis.
Factors to consider when buying a standalone fan
Think about the size of the room you want to cool, and buy a standalone fan that can reach the far corners. More spacious rooms are suited to a large pedestal fan. Look at the blade size of a prospective fan, as bigger blades will offer better coverage.
A tower fan may be suited to a living area where it can be placed in front of a lounge or sitting area with nothing obstructing it, to benefit from the base-to-top cooling. For a bedroom, a pedestal fan or a wall fan are preferable, as the airflow will circulate above your bed. Conversely, tower fans, box and floor fans are going to have part or all of the airflow directed underneath the bed.
Think about your usual activities during the day, and the noise level you can bear. It can be helpful to shop in-store, as you can ask the salesperson to switch it onto the highest speed, to test the airflow volume before committing. Generally, more premium (i.e. expensive) fans will be quieter.
The purchase price of a fan varies depending on the type and extra features, however one factor remains constant - fans are generally cheaper than air conditioners. For example, the lowest you'd pay for a pedestal fan is around $20 (and it ), and a also starts at about $20, whereas the is $799. Running costs are also much lower for portable fans, compared to portable air conditioners. If you use a fan, Sustainability Victoria estimates the annual energy costs to be: $5 for a small room, $10 for a medium room and $15 for a large room.
- Adjustable height and angle: Angling the fan up, down, facing you or away from you allows control over the airflow, so you can customise your cooling to a gentle breeze or a full-frontal blast of air.
- Child locks: Some fans are designed with child locks, which makes them safer for all family members. If they’re hard to find, a (also called an ‘air multiplier’) is a good choice, as there’s no sharp bits for little fingers or paws.
- Handle: This will help you carry your portable fan from room to room.
- LCD screen: This offers an electronic display that shows the fan settings, and should be bright and clear enough to read while the fan is on.
- Will let you turn on the fan and adjust the settings from the comfort of your couch. It's great for those particularly hot and sticky summer days.
- Also called an oscillating function, this means the fan moves from side to side. This is an essential function if you’ll be using the fan for more than one person.
- Reverse cycle: Some more advanced models like the are reverse cycle, meaning they can blow warm air as well as cool air.
- Sleep mode: This is handy if you like going to sleep with the fan on a high setting. After around 30 minutes, the fan will automatically switch to a lower fan speed and reduce the noise, helping you sleep peacefully.
- Some fans have a setting where you can select a running time, e.g. 30 minutes or 1 hour, and the fan will switch off after the set time has elapsed. On other models you can set the fan to switch on at a specific time, for example, just after you arrive home from work.
- Variable speed settings: These give you more control over the airflow, to help you feel like the master weather mage of your domain. Again, shopping in store to see how strong the fan's performance is on its highest speed setting will give you a better indication of its quality.
Overall, when it comes to ways to keep cool in summer, a standalone fan offers an affordable and effective option. While you won't get the same cooling power as you would from a portable air conditioner, a well-chosen fan that's right for your space can provide much-needed refreshment. To choose the best fan for you consider placement in a room, coverage, noise level, aesthetics and extra features. You can to help make the fan buying process a breeze.
About the author
Avleen is a content writer for ProductReview. Her area of expertise covers furniture and bedding, home appliances and beauty products. Outside of work she enjoys scribbling down poetry and music, reading fantasy novels, and discovering delicious vegan restaurants.