Best fans 2018: don’t lose your cool this summer

If you can’t stand the heat, get a fan to cool yourself down

TODO alt text

The Great UK Heatwave of 2018 is nearly upon us, and thanks to the bountiful gifts of global warmin, the weather is not likely to remain cool for large tracts of summer. That’s why you need to buy the best fan NOW rather than waiting till all the fans have sold out, and you find yourself wrestling a woman for the last remaining one in John Lewis. That’s undignifie.

Don't worry: as long as stocks last, these are the very best indoor fans and coolers you can buy. 

Although the average pedestal or desktop fan is only stirring the warm air it’s surrounded by, it does have a noticeable cooling effect on the body, especially if you’re a bit, er, sweaty. In fact you get an even better cooling effect if you dampen yourself with a wet towel first. 

And that brings us neatly to our winning system, the Honeywell Remote Control Evaporative Air Cooler. This handy cooling machine uses water to create a moisturized stream of cooled air that is far more efficient than any bog standard fan and way cheaper and a lot more energy efficient than a portable air conditioner.

How to buy the best fan for you

A standard fan is probably the most simplified domestic appliance you’ll ever buy. After all, there’s no rocket science behind the process of a blade spinning around to stir the air and pushing the resultant breeze in your general direction. That said, not all fans are quite the same.

You can snap up a cheap pedestal fan at Sainsbury’s that does the job perfectly well or opt for a retro-style one like the little desktop Swan reviewed below. Or you could splash out a bit more and get yourself an oscillating tower fan like the Bionaire BT19. Or, for a little more class, a handsome bladeless Dyson Cool Desk fan

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.

Our pick of the best fans to buy today

1. Honeywell Remote Control Evaporative Air Cooler

A water-based cooling system that works

Reasons to buy
+Uses water to create a cooling effect+Very effective+Cheaper than air-con
Reasons to avoid
-A bit ungainly and not especially attractive-You need to top up the water-Not that cheap

A standard fan is only good at circulating the 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 large 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, moisturized air is then blown out into the room. Simple innit?

The system works best in dryer environments but given its efficient cooling effect, this writer would be happy using one even if living in the Amazon basin (which is what it feels like right now). The CS10XE stands at 80cm and weighs 8.4kg so it’s not an appliance that blends in with the furnishings. That said, it is one of the better looking air coolers on the market and it’s certainly less conspicuous than an ugly portable air conditioner. 

The CS10XE is 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 cooler might just be what the doctor ordered.

2. Vornado 660

More wind than a Kentucky tornado

Reasons to buy
+Extremely effective+Easy to use+Adjustable pitch
Reasons to avoid
-A bit ugly-Makes quite a racket at full tilt

Our hunt for the most powerful standard fan stops here. Vornado is a popular brand in the US and this stumpy floor-standing ‘air circulator’ is one of the company’s most powerful models. In fact, at full tilt it’s powerful enough to feel the airflow from 100 feet away and users report that you don’t even need to be standing in front of it since it circulates the air in the whole room.

The Vornado looks like it fell from the wing of an airliner (a very small airliner) and uses a vortex action to move the air in a column of spirals. This air bounces off walls and furnishing to give the effect of a breeze in any part of a room. The Vornado 660 has four different air speeds and is quiet enough on low to add a gentle breeze without disturbance. Being floor or desk mounted is no disadvantage either since you can easily swivel it 90˚ using the neat chrome glide.

You can purchase the Vornado and other models from Amazon but word on the street is that it may need an AC converter to use it in the UK. Your best bet is where they sell the same unit pre-converted for use in the UK.

3. Dyson Cool Desk AM06

Classy home-grown sci-fi option

Reasons to buy
+Fantastic design and looks+Multiple air speeds+Easy to clean+Safe for kids
Reasons to avoid

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.

4. Bionaire Tower Fan with Remote Control BT19

Tower of power

Reasons to buy
+Remote controllable+It oscillates
Reasons to avoid
-Not the best looker-Quite tall

If the Dyson is a financial step too far and the last thing you want is a big ugly pedestal fan, then how about this Dubai skyscraper-style tower option? The Bionaire is 71cm tall and 22cm wide so chances are you’ll easily find a range of suitable places to site it.

Decked out in a rather off-putting black and charcoal colour scheme, the BT19 has three speed settings, an oscillating function, a Breeze mode for silent nights, an eight-hour timer and a remote control for added convenience.

Stadler Form Q

The stylishly industrial option

Reasons to buy
+Dapper design+Efficient wind blowing
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Noisy at full speed

No bog standard fan, this. A funky, industrial-style lump of stainless steel , the Q is designed by Swiss artist Carlo Borer – no, okay, me neither – and makes even the Dyson look a little tame.

As it only stands 36cm tall, it’s not going to stand out like a sore thumb, however. And even if it did, at least it’s a stylish sore thumb.

The Q comes with three wind speeds that are easily changed with a twist of the huge knob on the support leg; output should be good enough for rooms up to 40m2 in size. 

The removable wire mesh on either side of the blade slightly spoils the aesthetics, but at least it prevents children from having their fingers diced, which is even less aesthetic.

It’s not the quietest fan in the neighbourhood when running at full tilt, but at least there’s no assembly required.  Just yank it out of the packaging, plug it in and, whoops, there go all your tax return receipts.

6. Swan Retro Desktop Fan

The bogstandard desk option

Reasons to buy
+Ample cooling effect+Dashing retro looks+Coatings of many colours
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing to grumble about

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, this writer 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.

Liked this? Why not check out the best ice cream makers