Fan buying guide

Fan buying guide

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Guide written by:

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

159 guides

When summer rolls around, we could all use a cool breeze at home or in the office. Pedestal, tower and ceiling fans create ventilation to keep us cool! From misting fans to air purifying models, we'll take you through all the options to help you pick the best fan for your needs.

Important features

  • Freestanding
  • Pedestal
  • Tower
  • Air flow
  • Oscillation
  • Misting
  • Air purifying
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There are a few basic factors to consider when choosing a fan:

  • The room you want to cool and your preferences in terms of model.
  • Air flow rate (50 m3 / 10 m²).
  • Additional options for greater user comfort.

Extra features to improve comfort

  • Misting mode for enhanced cooling performance.
  • Programming to set up start-up times and modes.
  • Air purifying for enhanced well-being.
  • Humidifying to stop the air from drying out.
  • Silent mode to avoid any disturbance.
  • Remote control so you can control the fan from the comfort of an armchair!

Air flow rate and fan type based on the size of the room


Air flow rate in m3/min

Size of the room

Table fan

15 m3/min

5 m² (immediate area only)

Mid-range pedestal fan

100 m3/min

20 m² (bedroom, living room)

High-end pedestal fan

150 m3/min

30 m² (living room, open kitchen, etc.)

Tower fan / ceiling fan

350 m3/min

70 m² (workshop, garage etc.)

How does a fan work?

Fans are much simpler systems than air conditioning systems. These devices basically work to move the ambient air in a room. The warm air that is in contact with our skin is displaced by the fast-moving air which helps to cool us down.

The larger the volume of air that is displaced, the cooler we will feel. It's worth noting, however, that no matter the performance of the fan, it will never actually lower the temperature of a room like an air conditioning unit. In fact, these devices only help to make us feel cooler.

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Different types of fans

Fans can be split into three main categories: axial, centrifugal and bladeless fans.

Bladed fans or axial fans

Technically speaking, bladed fans feature the most basic technology. The air moves through the fan in an axial direction meaning parallel to the shaft about which the blades rotate. Of course the blades are the part of the fan that cause the movement of air. Bladed fans vary in terms of power from just a few watts (W) to over 200 W for the largest models. These fans often sit on a stand or feet but the same technology is also used for ceiling fans and circulation fans which are often found in workshops or garages.

The size of the blades can range from a few centimetres for desk fans to over 50 cm in diameter for air movement fans or industrial fans. Generally speaking, bladed fans are relatively noisy to operate. Below are some of the most common axial or bladed fans.

Desk fans

Ideal for sitting on a desk or living room table, these fans are light making them easy to move around.

Pedestal fans

These fans can also be moved about the house but do take up more room. However, they are taller meaning they can move air around at a greater height.

Ceiling and wall fans

Ceiling and wall fans both need to be secured in position using a drill and wall or ceiling plugs. Ceiling fans also need to be connected to your mains power.

Air movement fans

Air movement fans are very powerful and best suited to large areas. These fans are usually made of metal and don't take up a lot of room – they can even be placed on the ground.

Centrifugal or column fans

Centrifugal fans were originally designed for industry use. These fans feature a shaft that works to turn a wheel that is shielded by housing and equipped with blades. To give you a clearer idea, this is the type of technology used by tower fans.

Less noisy than axial fans, centrifugal fans or column fans also consume less energy as they can require less power to displace air. These fans are also silent so work great in bedrooms. However, they offer fairly limited performance in large rooms – even the most powerful models.

Bladeless fans 

Bladeless fans represent the new generation of fan technology. Fairly complex machines, these fans were originally designed by Dyson but are now offered by a range of manufacturers.

Bladeless fans are very quiet and relatively efficient (in terms of the volume of air they are able to displace). However, they are more expensive than other types of fans.

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Ceiling fans

Extra features for fans

Of course fans are primarily designed to move air around! However, these days some models also offer a range of extra features and options such as misting, humidifying or air purifying modes. All of these modes are designed to modify the ambient air in some way in addition to cooling you down. Depending on the options you go for, your fan can also work to make the air in your living space healthier and even reduce the risk of conditions like asthma.

Misting mode

A misting fan releases pressurised water at the same time as the air for even greater cooling power.

These fans may be portable and can also be incorporated into structures like parasols.

Humidifying mode

A fan with a humidifying mode can help to increase the humidity level of a room to ensure that the air is not dried out as it moves around. This can be particularly useful for those with respiratory problems such as asthma.

Ionising mode

The process of ionisation works to load the air with negative ions in order to increase overall well-being. It is said that a good balance negative and positive ions is rarely found in homes and offices due to pollutants such as formaldehyde, electromagnetic fields, cooking fumes, solvents and dust. These fans work to rebalance the air.

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Finding the right fan for you

Choosing a fan is simple when you know the right questions to ask! Before you invest, be sure to ask yourself the following questions.

Where is the fan going?

Your choice of fan will vary depending on the type of room you want to cool.

  • Office: a small desk fan with a low power output should work perfectly.
  • Living room or large room: a pedestal fan will be fine for a portable option while a ceiling fan can work well as a fixed installation.
  • Bedroom: a tower fan can be used to cool down a room in relative silence.

What kind of air flow do I need?

Directly linked to the power of a fan, air flow is another important parameter to take into account. Essentially, the more power your fan can produce, the higher the flow rate will be and this is indicated in cubic metres per hour (m3/h) or cubic metres per minute (m3/min).

  • For a small desk fan 15 m3/min should suffice.
  • For a living room measuring 30 m2, go for 150 m3/min for more effective ventilation.
  • For a workshop, you can find industrial fans or air movement fans able to move 350 to 400 m3/min.

What level of noise can I cope with?

No matter which type you go for, a fan will always make some noise. In fact there is no such thing as completely silent fans! It's important to think about what kind of noise level you can deal with and this depends on where you set up your fan. Staying cool is great but not if it comes with a deafening roar! If you're hoping to cool down a bedroom, you should go for a tower fan as these are the quietest models on the market. However, the noise level also varies between models so be sure to read the product specifications carefully. Noise level is measured in decibels (dB). Bear in mind that no matter where you set up your fan, when the noise level gets to 60 dB it will be fairly unpleasant to live with.

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Desk fan

Basic features of a fan

The following more standard fan features can come in really handy. Once again, be sure to think through your own needs to find the options that will work for you.


Programming a fan allows you to select operating hours or even set a delayed start.

This is a great option if you need a fan to get to sleep but don't want it running all night – or vice-versa!

Remote control 

Remote control is a really handy option and will prevent you from having to get up every time you want to adjust the fan.

In addition to turning the fan on and off, you can usually use a fan to adjust things like fan speed settings and modes.

Speed control

These days, most fans offer at least three different speeds. This is a great option if you find yourself needing to cool down in a hurry!


Most fans also offer an oscillating mode which helps to move the air around even more.

The majority of fans will rotate on 180° but some models can rotate the full 360°!

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How to install and care for a fan

Using a fan

  1. Try not to place yourself too close to the appliance, especially if you are using a pedestal fan, as the air can dry out your nasal passages.
  2. If you use a fan with a misting or humidifying mode, remember to air out the room on a regular basis to renew the air and get rid of excess humidity. It's important to clean out the water tank and filters on a regular basis.
  3. If you plan on investing in a fan for your garage or workshop, think carefully about noise level as these high-powered fans are often the noisiest.

Maintaining a fan

Generally speaking, fan maintenance boils down to keeping the various components (filters, tanks, etc.) clean. These appliances are therefore fairly easy to care for but be sure to keep your fan free of dust. Finally, if you find that your fan isn't quite cutting it, you might want to think about investing in a portable air conditioner.

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Guide written by:

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff, 159 guides

Jeremy, Construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Electrician by trade, I first worked in industrial estates where I installed, wired and fixed a large number of electrical installations. After this, I managed a team of electricians for this type of work. 10 years or so ago, I turned to building and construction. From the modest family home, to gyms and theatres, I have been able to coordinate, audit and organise all sorts of construction sites. For 4 years now, I am restoring and building an extension to a bungalow in the heart of the Welsh countryside. My experience in manual work and my knowledge means I am proud to be of service. Terraces, interior design, roofing, plumbing, electrics, anything goes! My wife, daughter and I, built almost everything we have from scratch! So to answer all of your questions and advise you on choosing your tools? Easy!

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