Best Cheap Fans
$5 - $40Cheapism
$40 - $100Mid-Range
$100 and upHigh End
- Published on
- By Raechel Conover
Cheap fans are practical in hot climates and during the summer everywhere else to help circulate air and lower the temperature in a room. On hot days a cheap fan doesn't make up for not having air conditioning, but it can make a difference. In fact, Galt Technology says a good fan can cool a room by 10 to 15 degrees. Cheap fans are much less costly to run and use much less energy than air conditioning and many frugal consumers are increasingly turning to inexpensive fans as a lower-cost, eco-friendly alternative.
Cheap Fans Buying Guide
At the lower end of the market you'll find fans costing $5 to $40; this compares to the pricey varieties that can set you back $100 and more. What distinguishes inexpensive fans from those with hefty price tags is the type (design), build quality, number of speeds, noise level, and some bells and whistles. But for a relatively low price you can still get a first-rate bargain fan. A rough survey of the market reveals that table fans and floor fans, sometimes referred to as box fans, are the cheapest, followed by pedestal fans and then window fans; tower fans rely on a different air-moving mechanism and are generally beyond the Cheapism price range. Ceiling fans are a whole different ball game and cost well over $100 -- never mind the cost of having them installed.
Several things to look for when buying a cheap fan include the various speed options, whether the fan head tilts or oscillates, the warranty, and any extra frills, like a carrying handle, remote control, or built-in thermostat. User reviews of cheap fans also convey useful information. For example, most cheap fans are advertised as being quiet-operation units, but user reviews tell it like it is and seem to be much more accurate in assessing the validity of such claims. From the reviews that we read, users seem torn between wanting an inexpensive fan that's virtually silent and wanting a cheap fan to provide white noise. Whatever your preference, user comments will help you determine which way a specific fan blows. We found very few expert reviews of cheap fans, and even consumer reviews are limited in number and in the range of sites on which they're posted. That said, we used the evidence at hand to come up with our list of best and good cheap fans.
The bargain fans that blew us away include the Vornado Compact Air Circulator 530B (starting at $33), the Lasko 1854 18-Inch Oscillating Stand Fan with Remote Control (starting at $35), the Lasko 3733 20" Box Fan (starting at $15), and the Vornado FA1-0007-06 Zippi Desk Fan (starting at $14). All these cheap fans have many must-have features, plus favorable user reviews. One cheap fan we're not too crazy about is the EntreeAir Door Frame Fan RR100 (starting at $22) because it lacks many desirable features and it garners mostly critical user reviews.
Fans Types.Broadly speaking, there are five types of fans, each offering a different design that meets different needs. Most fans, cheap or otherwise, are powered by a simple motor and propeller system; as the propeller blades spin, they move air from the back of the fan to the front and out through the protective screen covering the blades. Among the cheap fans we researched, tower fans are the only type to incorporate a more complicated air-moving system, which at least partly explains why they're usually priced beyond the Cheapism range.
Table fansare small and can sit on a flat surface or even on the floor; cheap table fans are about as cheap a fan as you can find. Three good bargain table fans are the Vornado Compact Air Circulator 530B (starting at $33), the Honeywell HFT-114B Oscillating Base Turbo Fan (starting at $25) -- which can be mounted to the wall to save space if need be -- and the Vornado FA1-0007-06 Zippi Desk Fan (starting at $14). The Vornado FA1-0007-06 is unique because it has soft, cloth blades that are safe to touch even when the fan is in motion, which makes it a good choice where there are children and pets running around.
Box/floor fansare mounted in rectangular or circular cases. Some cheap box fans tilt and have multiple speed settings while other cheap floor fans only have one speed and don't tilt. Some inexpensive floor fans, can be mounted on a wall or propped up in a window, and are among the cheapest type of fan on the market. The Lasko 3733 20" Box Fan (starting at $15), for example, features the classic box shape and can sit on the floor (with plastic feet for stability) or set in a window.
Pedestal/stand fansare tall and are often height-adjustable. Cheap pedestal fans stand on the floor and the head generally oscillates and tilts so the air can be directed to specific spots. A good example of a cheap pedestal fan is the Lasko 1854 18-Inch Oscillating Stand Fan with Remote Control (starting at $35), which tilts, oscillates, and can be raised or lowered as needed. Additionally, this cheap pedestal fan has a round base for added stability and a remote control for convenience.
Window fansdraw air in from the outside or vent air from the inside out, and can be an alternative to air conditioning. Newer models come with adjustable side panels for an exact fit in the window, and higher-quality window fans feature a built-in thermostat and reversible blades so you can vent a room. Most window fans are more expensive than the cheap fans on our list, although the Holmes Twin Window Fan HAWF 2021 (starting at $20) is a good cheap window fan that includes an adjustable extender screen and adjustable extender panel for a near-perfect fit in double-hung or slider windows; this cheap window fan can also be reversed manually to vent a room.
Tower fansare tall compared to their width and best suited for rooms where space is an issue. The cooling mechanics in tower fans differ from the other fans discussed above. As explained on eHow, a cylindrical container houses the tower fan's impeller while a motor prompts the impeller blades to move air up and down a cylindrical column (the tower) and out the vents; tower fans usually oscillate. Most tower fans fall outside the Cheapism range, but the Honeywell Comfort Control Tower Fan (starting at $35) is one cheap tower fan that we like.
Fans Speeds.Some choice is always better than no choice, and when it comes to fan speeds, you definitely want more than one. Deluxe fans often have upwards of six speed settings while most cheap fans feature two or three; our research into inexpensive fans shows, though, that users seem satisfied with this more limited range. But there is something of a trade-off between high and low speeds. In general, lower settings are quieter and higher settings do a better job cooling an area, but the higher the speed, the louder the noise. Most of the cheap fans we researched offer three speed options; exceptions are the Vornado FA1-0007-06 Zippi Desk Fan and Holmes Twin Window Fan HAWF 2021, which have two speeds, and the EntreeAir Door Frame Fan RR100 (starting at $22), which has just one.
Fans Oscillation/Head Tilt.The heads of some cheap fans can tilt forward or backward, as well as oscillate. According to Overstock.com, oscillating fans don't deliver the same air velocity as fans that remain stationary but they get air moving in a larger area. Cheap oscillating fans swing in a 90-degree arc, and the movement is controlled by twisting or pulling a knob; the tilt angle for the head varies from 50 to 90 degrees. The Vornado Compact Air Circulator 530B has full tilting capabilities as does the Vornado FA1-0007-06 Zippi Desk Fan, while the Honeywell Comfort Control Tower Fan only oscillates. The Lasko 1854 18-Inch Oscillating Stand Fan and the Honeywell HFT-114B Oscillating Base Turbo Fan tilt and oscillate.
Fans Extras.Even cheap fans come with several frills that make them more user-friendly. A carrying handle facilitates easy transport from room to room; both the Honeywell Comfort Control Tower Fan and the Lasko 3733 20" Box Fan provide this added convenience. A remote control is useful because you don't need to get up from the couch or your bed to change the speed settings; the Lasko 1854 18" Oscillating Stand Fan is a best budget fan that comes with a remote control that also has a timer function. A built-in thermostat is desirable in window fans for automatic response to changing outdoor temperatures; the Lasko 3733 is a good cheap box fan with a built-in thermostat. For cheap window fans, built-in extender screens and extender panels are an added bonus that ensures a tight fit; the Holmes HAWF 2021 includes both. Finally, budget fans that can be used in several ways are extra-convenient: the Honeywell HFT-114B is a cheap table fan that can also be mounted to a wall; the Lasko 3733 is another example of a versatile cheap fan because it can be used as a floor fan or, with its patented "weather shield" motor, can be mounted in a window.
Fans Warranty.A warranty on cheap fans is standard practice from manufacturers. All of the inexpensive fans we researched come with at least a one-year limited warranty. The Vornado brand goes above and beyond with a five-year limited warranty on the Vornado Compact Air Circulator 530B and a three-year limited warranty on the Vornado FA1-0007-06 Zippi Desk Fan.
As we read reviews of cheap fans, it became clear that the three critical performance criteria were cooling ability, noise level, and durability. Users have mostly positive things to say about their cheap fans, especially the four we've included on our list; we did, however, come across a bargain fan that finds few enthusiastic supporters.