Best cooling fans to buy in 2018: desk, tower and pedestal fans to beat the heat this summer

Keep your cool with our guide to the best fans for your home

It’s unbearably hot, you slept horribly last night, and you desperately need a blast of cold air. Well you’ve come to the right place as we’ve rounded up a selection of the best fans that you can currently buy. Whether you’re looking for a cheap desk fan for your office or a powerful pedestal fan for your lounge, our recommendations will help you beat the heat when the mercury rises.

An unexpected heatwave can lead to a fan-buying frenzy so we’d definitely recommend buying a unit ahead of time. That way it’s ready to whip out as and when you need it. And it pays to do a little research before you buy to find out about additional functions and understand a little bit about how they work. Fans typically cost between £20 and £100 (putting aside Dyson’s models that cost many times that) and although even cheap ones work fairly well, you may miss out on some very handy extras if you overlook pricier models. 

How to buy the best fan for you

To start, it’s worth making one thing very clear: a fan is not an air conditioning system. While air conditioners actually cool the air, fans simply push the air around. Obviously, this means that even the very best fan can’t compete with an air conditioning unit, but then they’re also much cheaper – both to buy and to run – so it kind of levels out. In the UK, with our comparatively mild, dry summers, an air conditioning unit is probably overkill.

But when the fan stops, so does the cooling, which is why noise is such a big factor when considering which fan to buy. While anyone can put up with the constant hum of a fan during the day, it can be a real pain when you’re trying to get some much-needed sleep, and as neither heat nor noise aid sleeping, you often need to reach a compromise. That’s one of the first things to look out for. Most tower and pedestal fans have a night mode to reduce the noise but still provide some cooling. Often these can be operated on a timer, so that you can have it automatically switch off once you’re fast asleep.

You should also look into oscillation. Even the cheapest tower fans tend to rotate in order to cool the room section by section. How far these rotate varies from fan to fan, so it’s worth thinking about your room layout in advance. It’s not just rotation, though, as even when stationary, different fans expel air at varying angles, with some producing a more directed blast, while others offer more of a spread.

What’s the difference between a desk fan, a tower fan and a pedestal fan?

Desk fans are small, portable and can generally be picked up for less than £20. Most offer an adjustable tilt so that you can direct the air flow and some have an oscillating feature to create a breeze that sweeps from side to side.

Tower fans are great for compact spaces. The units are slim and blast out air from a tall column. Most tower fans come with a remote control so that you can manage air flow without unsticking yourself from the sofa. Really handy if you want to turn it up or down from bed or even just pause the fan while you take a phone call or listen to something on the TV.

Pedestal fans are like tall, more powerful desk fans, designed to cool down a larger area and you can usually adjust the height, pivot and oscillation to control air flow. They tend to be bulkier than tower fans so you’ll need to make sure you have enough space for it in your home as well as room to store it when not in use.

The best desk fans to buy

Challenge Chrome Tilting desk fan: Best budget desk fan

Price when reviewed: £20 |

Simple and stylish, this 9-inch tilting desk fan does an effective job at creating a cooling breeze. The retro-look design looks way cooler than the white plastic models you usually see in this price bracket and you can move it around easily using the carry handle at the back of the unit. It doesn’t oscillate but it does offer two speed settings and an adjustable tilt to direct the air flow.

Key specs –  Dimensions: 28 x 11 x 29cm; Weight: 1.8kg; Speed settings: Two; Adjustable tilt: Yes; Oscillating feature: No; Cord length: Not listed; Warranty: N/A

Honeywell HT900E Turbo Fan: Best compact desk fan

Price when reviewed: £29 |

It may be petite but this compact fan is a powerful unit fitted with a 40 watt motor. It offers three speed settings (the highest of which is probably too strong for a desk and better suited to cooling down a small room) and a 90-degree pivot to control the air flow. There’s an adjustable tilt function to blast air up or down and a handy wall mount feature to save on floor or desk space.

Key specs –  Dimensions: 26 x 15 x 28cm; Weight: 1.35kg; Speed settings: Three; Adjustable tilt: Yes; Oscillating feature: No; Cord length: Not listed; Warranty: 3 years  

The best tower fans to buy

Igenix DF0030 tower fan: The best tower fan under £50

Price when reviewed: £29 |

If you’re looking for something cheap and simple the Igenix DF0030 will do the job. There’s no fancy styling, no remote and the buttons and timer control are as simple and straightforward as they come. That said, it puts out a decent blast of air without too much noise and it should see you through a few hot summer’s nights without breaking the bank.

Read our full Igenix DF0030 review for details

Key specs –  Dimensions: 82 x 18 x 17cm; Weight: 3.4kg; Air movement angle: 60 degrees; Rotation angle: 180 degrees; Cord length: 2m; Warranty: Not listed

Dyson Pure Cool Link tower: The ultimate tower fan – if you can afford it

Price when reviewed: £450 |

Until Dyson came along even the best-looking tower fans were pretty uninspired. The Dyson Pure Cool Link tower is literally a breath of fresh air and it looks pretty good too, though you’d expect that given its costs five times what most fans do. As well as that striking design you get plenty of power, low noise, air filtration and smartphone-app controls. If you’re willing to spend the money, you won’t be disappointed.

Read our full Dyson Pure Cool Link tower review for details


Key specs –  Dimensions: 101 x 11 x 19cm; Weight: 3.2kg; Angle of cooling: 77 degrees; Rotation angle: 80; Cord length: 2.5m; Warranty: 2 year RTB  

Honeywell HY254E QuietSet Tower Fan: The best tower fan under £100

Price when reviewed: £74 |

Honeywell makes an impressive range of tower fans but this is our favourite model of the lot. We’re not completely sold on the silver top but the QuietSet lives up to its name with a decent blast of air and little accompanying noise. It also comes with a remote control, so you don’t have to get up to adjust it and a 3-year warranty to keep you going through many summers to come.

Read our full Honeywell HY254E QuietSet Tower Fan review for details

Key specs – Dimensions: 84 x 27 x 27cm; Weight: 4.8kg; Angle of cooling: 60 degrees; Rotation angle: 75 degrees; Cord length: 1.75m; Warranty: 3 years

The best pedestal fans to buy

Bionaire BASF1516 2-in-1 adjustable stand and table fan: Most flexible pedestal fan

Price when reviewed: £55 |

This functional fan does a great job of cooling down a lounge or a bedroom quickly and quietly. It offers different air flow modes, including a natural setting, which continuously switches from low to high and back again, and a sleep setting, which drops the speed at 30 minute intervals until it reaches its lowest flow. You can set a timer for it to run between 30 minutes and 7.5 hours to cover quick blasts and overnight cooling.

Key specs –  Dimensions: 135 x 43 x 40cm; Weight: 7.3kg; Speed settings: Three; Adjustable tilt: Yes; Oscillating feature: Yes; Cord length: Not listed; Warranty: No