Best fan 2021: ward off that Aussie summer heat with the best cooling fans

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen and head to the online fan shop for Dyson and Meaco's finest

Best cooling fans 2020
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(Image credit: Meaco)

Are you suddenly desperately in search of the best fan available to humanity? Thought so. Australia is gearing up for another balmy summer and there's nothing worse than having to endure those hot and sticky summer days, and sleepless nights, without a turbine blade to keep cool. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best indoor fans and coolers right now – they're still among the best ways to stay cool in summer

What is the best fan to buy?

We still think the best fans around are the Dyson Pure Cool (which sits at the top of our best Dyson fan list, too) and the Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator. The former it's a rather beautiful edifice that both moves and purifies the air. The latter bends giant tubes of air to its will, and is now available in desk and pedestal versions.

There’s a lot of choice out there though, as you'll see in our list below. You can snap up a cheap pedestal fan at Bing Lee that does the job perfectly well, or opt for a retro-style one like the little desktop Swan. Alternatively, you could splash out and get yourself a handsome bladeless Dyson Cool Desk fan. 

How to buy the best fan

To choose the right fan, first consider the size of the area you want to cool. A desktop fan may be fine for smaller rooms, whereas a standing or floor fan will be more effective for larger spaces. Tower fans (vertical and rectangular) are more compact, discreet and stylish than pedestal fans (stands with big blades at the top), but the latter is usually a lot more powerful.  

Also consider settings – higher speed settings can create a cooler temperature – and features. Do you want an oscillating head and tilt action for more flexibility? Do you need a timer? Or remote control? Or even wi-fi? Finally, bladeless fans are a good call if you’ve got kids and can be easier to clean.

For our money, though, nothing cools the body quite like a water-based air cooler. These appliances are cheaper than portable air-con systems and are a lot more energy efficient. 

That said, you can easily replicate the effect of an air-cooler or even a portable air conditioner by dousing yourself in water and sitting in front of any bogstandard fan. This method is so efficient that, after just five minutes, you'll be rushing back out into the sun to warm up again.

Anyway, enough of that – here are the best fans and coolers right now.

The best fans you can buy today

Best cooling fan: Dyson Pure CoolT3 Best Buy logo

1. Dyson Pure Cool Tower Fan

Not only the best fan, but also an excellent air purifier, and smart home gizmo to boot

Specifications
Fan type: Air purifying fan
Format: Tower
Number of speeds: 10
Oscillation: Yes
Timer: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Highly effective+Purifies the air too+Attractive design
Reasons to avoid
-Not cheap

•Buy the Dyson Pure Cool tower from Bing Lee

This Dyson Pure Cool tower fan is, simply, one of the best fans you can buy. A typically elegant floor-standing fan from Dyson, it has an additional trick up its sleeve, as it's also an effective air purifier.

You might think this is too attractive to effectively clean your air (most such devices are squat rectangles with buttons on top), but Dyson's designed it to remove 99.95% of ultra-fine particles, including those of 0.1 microns. In fact, we found it a vaguely terrifying device to use at first, as opening the front door or cooking immediately causes its on-body display to warn of pollution in the air, while the very handy iOS and Android app screen turns red and issues dire warnings about VERY POOR air quality. Of course, it then sets about returning your room (up to 27 sq metres) to a non-poisonous state, so that's nice.

It's also a very handy fan, mustering up a decent breeze, but remaining quiet up to about the 60 per cent power setting. On higher speeds there is a bit of a whoosh, as you'd imagine. Turning up the speed also increases air purifying power, but there's also an Auto mode that reacts to potent puffs of micro-particles and gases.

As the app and remote also add scheduling, and a quiet and energy-saving night mode, and show you all manner of graphs about the air quality and temperature, we feel that the Pure Cool does justify its price. There's even adjustable oscillation, via the app. 

Fear not if you find it a bit financially testing, however. You could opt, instead, for the Dyson Pure Cool desk fan, which is a smaller version of this tower model with the same tech but a smaller price tag.

If, however, you want something even fancier, why not upgrade to the Dyson Pure Humidify+Cool? As the name suggests, this does what the Dyson Pure Cool does but with the added bonus of safe and sanitised humidification. 

Vornado 660

(Image credit: Vornado)

2. Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator

Our runner up best fan is cheaper than the Dyson but doesn't look as nice

Specifications
Fan type: Cooling fan
Format: Floor or desk
Number of speeds: 12
Oscillation: Yes
Timer: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful and freakishly quiet+Near 360º oscillation+Excellent price
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't look as nice as the Dyson

Vornado’s stocky floor and desktop fan, the 660 Large Air Circulator is still one of the best fans you can buy. The 660 can move air up to 30.5 meters using it's large, vortex generating blades. 

The Vornado 660 Large Air Circulator is designed for open entertaining areas where the larger blades and faster motor to circulate a bigger volume of air. With horizontal and vertical positioning adjustments you can point the 660 at opposite walls in the room and effectively bounce an air stream off them to circulate air around the whole room. 

When set to top speed, it moves 997 cubic metres of air per hour, but all you need to know is that it feels substantially windy from several feet away. It doesn't have a remote control, but since this one is designed to move the entire room of air around, it's more effective if you leave it pointed in a single spot anyway. 

Most fans make quite a racket on their highest settings, but the 660 is only hitting around 54 dB at top speed. Perhaps it’s the DC motor or the structural design (or both), but both models produce a much lower frequency when spinning, and that makes a massive difference to a room’s ambience.

Vornado is clearly on a roll at the moment because this is by no means the only great fan in its armoury.

• The 660 has now been joined by an energy efficient pedestal version that sports similar specs for about $70 more. Our preference is still the shorter-stature desktop model which works superbly well on the floor or a desk, but if you have the need and the space, the new telescopic pedestal version is definitely the way to go.

Best cooling fan: Dyson Pure Cool Me

(Image credit: Dyson)

3. Dyson Pure Cool Me

High-end personal fan with built-in air purifier

Specifications
Fan type: Air purifying fan
Format: Desk
Number of speeds: 10
Oscillation: Yes
Timer: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Stylish design+Effective cooling+Also purifies air
Reasons to avoid
-Noisy on highest settings-Only for your personal cooling

'Inspired by the aerodynamic properties in the Harrier Jump Jet’, this futuristic personal desktop fan from the House of Dyson is ostensibly designed for cooling the face and torso from just a few feet away. The Pure Cool Me’s footprint is much larger than the titchy Meaco 260c above (25cm vs 14cm) and it’s almost ten times the price. However, this cylindrical aluminium-clad fan doesn’t just blow air in your face, it purifies it first, sucking in dust, mites, pollen and small battle squadrons of bacteria from every direction and ramming 99.95% of the little rascals into an unforgiving HEPA filter before expelling a cool draft of cleansed oxygen, nitrogen and other useful gasses right up your proboscis.

The Pure Cool Me also features 70˚ oscillation, a very cool roller-action dome for controlling the angle of vertical flow and ten fan speeds, from an almost imperceptible flutter (perfect for bedside use) to a full-blown micro gale. Since the air flow here is more directional than others, fan noise could be an issue for some users. It’s fine up to speed five but once you ramp it up to between eight and ten, the noise of the turbine creates a high-pitched whine that is quite irritating when just a few feet away.

Aside from an on/off button at the back, this fan is operated entirely using a small remote control that attaches magnetically to the main aluminium housing. Unfortunately, the magnet isn’t very strong so make sure you don’t lose it or you won’t be able to access any of the controls. 

Given that this fan is of the ‘personal’ variety, don’t bank on it cooling a whole room – even a small one – and certainly don’t bank on it purifying anything other than the air immediately around you. But if you’re after a personal high-end fan-cum-purifier that performs well and looks the part, then this one is a worthy, albeit pricey, contender.

Best cooling fan: Swan Retro Desktop Fan

4. Swan Retro Desktop Fan

The best retro fan for your desk

Specifications
Fan type: Cooling fan
Format: Desk
Number of speeds: 3
Oscillation: Yes
Timer: No
Reasons to buy
+Ample cooling effect+Dashing retro looks+Coatings of many colours
Reasons to avoid
-Iffy build quality

It’s a fan. It sits on your desk. You turn it on. The blade spins and you feel a bit cooler. If a conventional desktop fan is all you require then this retro-styled offering from Swan is as good a bet as any.

Available in nine natty pastel colours, this 12-inch desktop model is described by Swan’s marketing team as having an ‘array of functions’ but, as pretty much expected, we could only find, er, three: an oscillating function, three airflow speeds and a tilt function. Perhaps an app-controlled, sensor-filled version is in the pipeline. Still, if you're looking for a cheaper fan, this is an excellent choice.

Best cooling fan: Dyson Cool Desk AM06

5. Dyson Cool desk fan

A fantastic fan for your desk with loads of great tech

Specifications
Fan type: Cooling fan
Format: Desk
Number of speeds: 10
Oscillation: Yes
Timer: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic design and looks+Multiple air speeds+Easy to clean+Safe for kids
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't purify the air as well

A doyen of British design, the Dyson Cool Desk has no visible fan blades spinning about. In fact, it looks like an empty circular tunnel with no visible means of blowing any air at all. But it will cool you down in next to no time and not make a racket in the process.

Now, are you concentrating? The Dyson uses ‘Air Multiplier’ technology which involves a fast spinning blade faced upwards 90˚ vertical in the base of the unit. Air is drawn in through the base and is forced out through a hidden aerofoil-shaped ramp to create a low-pressure wave behind and around the fan. This change in pressure forces surrounding air to be drawn into the airflow, resulting in a substantial waft of body cooling magnificence.

The Cool Desk also features an oscillating function and ten airflow speeds, and it’s all controllable from the sofa using the clever magnetic remote. If aesthetics are of prime concern, then make this one your first port of call.

Best cooling fan: Honeywell Remote Control Evaporative Air Cooler

6. Honeywell Remote Control Evaporative Air Cooler

The best fan with a water-based cooling system

Specifications
Fan type: Evaporative cooler
Format: Desk
Number of speeds: Variable
Oscillation: No
Timer: No
Reasons to buy
+Uses water to create a cooling effect+Very effective+Cheaper than air-con
Reasons to avoid
-Not especially attractive

A standard fan is only good at circulating warm air around it. To really cool down, you’ll need either a portable air conditioner with a large hot air exhaust pipe leading out of a window, a bucket of ice – or an air cooler like this very efficient model from the house of Honeywell.

This machine is capable of reducing interior ambient temperatures by as much as 8˚C. That might not sound like much, but even a two or three degree reduction can make a big difference. So how does it work? Warm air is drawn into the unit and passed over a wet honeycomb, causing the water to evaporate and lose heat. This cooled, moisturised air is then blown out into the room. Simple innit?

The system works best in dryer environments, but given its efficient cooling effect, we would be happy using one even if living in the Amazon basin (which is what it feels like right now). Standing at 80cm and weighing 8.4kg, means it isn't an appliance that blends in with the furnishings. That said, it's one of the better looking air coolers on the market and it’s certainly less conspicuous than an ugly portable air conditioner. 

It's capable of cooling an area up to 16m2 and comes with a remote control, an oscillating function, a dust filter and a 10-litre water tank with a low-water alarm. It also works as an ordinary fan. If you have the funds and don’t fancy cluttering up the place with a large portable air-con, then this mighty air cooler might just be what the doctor ordered.