The Best Table Fans of 2020
The Honeywell HT-904's motor and fan are housed in a hemisphere mounted in a U-shape harness atop a solid base. The head tilts 90º in the vertical and the motor produces an airflow ranging from 4.3 to 6.4 mph over three settings. These last two features allow incremental adjustments so that you won't get blown away at close range. The three setting control is easy to operate and the 6-foot cord is long enough to accommodate most desks. Finally, this model can be mounted on a wall.
While the HT-904 offers good airflow, it does not oscillate. With a noise level of 51 dBa when running on high, this machine is also on the loud side for the class. The head's pivot range is fine for tabletop uses, yet it is restrictive when wall-mounted as the direction of airflow cannot be reversed without undoing the mounting hardware and flipping the entire unit 180º. That said, this model is quite compact for the amount of air it moves and it is relatively quiet in comparison to table fans with similar power.
With a high setting producing 8 mph of wind at three feet distance, the Woozoo HD15NU moves a lot of air for a relatively compact unit. Given this level of power, the fan is also surprisingly quiet in its lowest setting. In fact, the lowest setting didn't even register on our sound meter at three feet. Finally, this table fan is also well balanced with a broad base.
Unfortunately, the Woozoo does not oscillate and its vertical pivot is somewhat limited at roughly 100º. Additionally, the base lacks a wall mount or clip option. That said, the simple dial, 6-foot cord, and relatively easy to clean head make this a great option for creating a personalized airflow at a workspace. Folks that want an oscillating fan should be aware that Woozoo produces a similar model with that option.
The Genesis 6-inch Clip is compact, lightweight, and quiet across all settings. The clip mode is great for a headboard or the side of the desk. The relatively low airflow — 1.7mph on low, 3 on high — makes it a good choice for close quarters. Additionally, the rubber feet on the clip are grippy and insulating, so the fan won't take itself for a walk or vibrate your keyboard off the desk.
While we like the clip configuration for this unit, the tabletop stand option is a bit flimsy and is fairly easy to knock off balance. This issue is exacerbated by the 5-foot long cord that pulls at the unit. The clip configuration limits the head pivot to 130º. However, the stand allows for oscillation as well as pivot. Finally, this fan is somewhat rare in that the process for removing the screen for cleaning is as easy as turning a single screw.
This 360º pivoting Vornado PivotC clip fan is a preferred deskspace air stimulator. The extremely compact size and moderate noise output will let it go virtually unnoticed, save for the pleasant breeze. Moreover, the small but effective clip won't eat up much precious desk space and the long cord provides more fan placement options.
The caveat on this personal space fan is that the clip is neither deep nor wide. So, this fan won't work on thick and/ or beveled surfaces. Additionally, this model does not oscillate and the airflow coming off the fan is only noticeable within 10 feet. That said, this unit is inexpensive and effective when in close proximity.
The Honeywell HT-908 can really move some air. At 3 feet, we recorded a steady breeze of 10 mph when on its highest setting. Moreover, the model's powerful motor will render a significant air movement at 20 feet. As such, this unit shouldn't be mistaken for a personal air agitator but rather a proper fan designed to circulate air in small to medium-sized enclosures.
While the HT-908 punches above its weight in the airflow department, it makes a lot of noise in the process. Also, the unit does not swivel and its pivot motion is limited to 0º to 90º. As an added limitation, the 5 screws securing the fan cage make it hard to clean. That said, the machine offers three settings and a 6-foot power cord, so one is likely to find a comfortable setting and location for the unit.
What makes the Treva a standout in the class of table fans is its slender profile and option to run on 6 D-cell batteries if needed. Both of these features make it a go-to for those wanting a table fan for travel. The machine also produces a high wind speed 4.5 mph at 3 feet which is gentle but detectable at 20 feet.
This fan's flat design makes it easy to pack. Unfortunately this same feature prevents it from oscillating and pivoting. Also, while the unit is compact, if it's loaded up with its batteries, it adds about 2.5 pounds to its weight. Despite these limitations, if you need a fan for your on-the-go lifestyle, then you can't do better than this portable desktop air circulator.
The Comfort Zone 12" is the big kid in the class and, as such, it assumes a more mature look. The traditional design allows the fan to both pivot and oscillate. The unit has three speeds and produces above average airflow that can be felt across a moderate-sized room. Moreover, the rubber feet under the base provide ample purchase on both smooth and firm surfaces.
On the other hand, the unit requires some assembly, and the construction feels kind of flimsy to boot. As an additional critique, we found the black on black labeling of the speed setting buttons hard to read. Despite these shortcomings, we think that the ability to easily take apart the screen and blade for periodic cleaning more than compensated.
The Vornado Flippi V6 is a pint-size desktop fan that is best suited to circulating air in a personal space. The footprint of this little tyke is among the smallest in the class and the purr of the rotor and motor is so soft as to go unnoticed. Additionally, the 6.5-foot cord will accommodate most outlet locations without the need for an extension and the ~130º pivoting head provides sufficient airflow options.
Unfortunately, the Flippi does not oscillate. Perhaps this is because the unit is too light to remain stable with side-to-side movement. That would make sense as we had to use two hands to turn the control dial to prevent a tip over. The small size of the unit also makes cleaning it difficult such that the user manual recommends using a vacuum with the brush attachment. Yet, the fan is great for tight spaces and folds up when unneeded adding to the minimalistic appeal.
The Holmes Lil' Blizzard isn't just a clever name, the machine can really push air. This oscillating fan has three settings, the highest of which will produce noticeable airflow up to 20 feet away. Additionally, the fan is easy to clean. Simply turn a screw and the cover will release exposing the rotor. Easy peasy.
On the downside, this fan's lowest setting is pretty high in comparison to other models in the class. When in operation, the unit produces a slight rattling noise and the flimsy nature of the plastics used for construction draws into question its long-term durability. That said, it is powerful for its size and competitively priced besides.
A wise man once said, looks aren't everything, but they ain't nothin' either. The Vornado VFAN proves this point as it maintained its visual aesthetic despite its lackluster performance in our testing. The metal head and domed motor cover have a circa 1960s vibe such that the unit will look good on a bookshelf or wooden desk for years to come.
Unfortunately, the VFAN has a number of marks against it in terms of performance and maintenance. The fan is noisy in comparison to its classmates. It does not oscillate and it will only produce perceptible air movement within 15 feet. Additionally, the signature "V" head design does not easily come apart, making the interior hard to clean. Yet, the fan does pivot up to 180º and maintains a sleet look.
Why You Should Trust Us
Senior research analyst Austin Palmer has been testing electronics and specifically home appliances for several years. His previous employment operating oil derricks produced a callused-hands perspective on product testing. Supplementing this approach is Senior Review Editor Nick Miley who has earned his daily bread as a custom finish carpenter, shipwright, and wind turbine technician. His understanding of rotating machines — be they hand tools, boat props, or turbines — was paramount for the evaluation of table fans.
Bringing to bear the team's background and experimental knowledge we began by defining the perfect table fan. We then broke-up the aspects of this imagined product into avenues of investigation. Namely, these are power, noise, size, and stability. The ideal for a tabletop fan is a small, quiet, sturdy machine that has a wide range of revolutions per minute. Simply put, we want the air to move but we don't want to notice what's moving it.
Analysis and Test Results
To test these machines for their quality, we ran several tests assaying their power, perceived noise, dimensions, and sturdiness. The details of this analysis and the products that performed the best in each are discussed below.
For our purposes, power is simply the measure of how much air a fan can move on its highest setting. Without a doubt, the Honeywell HT-908 blew the competition away with the 10 mph gale it kicked out. Following up this performance was the Woozoo and the Holmes Lil' Blizzard with blustery 8 and 7.5 mph airflows respectively.
Some folks might not be looking for a stiff breeze across their desk. In which case, the Vornado products offer a softer touch with a top speed of around 2 mph. Alternatively, if airflow at a distance is what you require, have a look at the HT-908 and HT-904 as well as the Comfort Zone and Woozoo. All of these models produce noticeable air movement at 20 feet.
To standardize this evaluation, we used an anemometer (i.e. a wind speed meter) at 3 feet in a direct line from the fan. This distance was selected as it's the minimal range needed to cover a typical table with air movement. To give the experiment a more "normal" feel, we also turned our cheek to the machine at 20 feet to see if we could register air movement. If we did not, we moved closer to the fan until we detected a breeze.
Similar to the power tests, the noise analysis looks at the sound (measured in decibels) put off by each machine at three feet. The Genesis, Flippi and Treva were the quietest of the bunch, issuing little more than a whisper from the blades and motor. However, the noise issuing from the Treva was higher pitched and thus more noticeable despite the low reading on our sound level meter.
Generally speaking, there is a strong correlation between the noise level produced by the fan and the amount of air it can move. This is largely to the user's benefit as more powerful fans are necessarily set further away from the user and thus perceived as quieter. The opposite is true for quieter fans. As we will be discussed below, the quietest and least powerful are almost always the smallest fans.
Fan size matters when you're taking up precious desk or tabletop real estate in order to get some airflow. The manufactures address this issue with a few different designs. Perhaps the most effective at minimizing the footprint are the clip and clamp models like the Vornado PivotC and the Genesis. However, some tables can't accommodate a clamp as they are too deep or the edge is beveled. In that case, the Flippi and the Treva are the best bets.
Of course, height is an aspect worth considering as well. The Flippi is the shortest of the group at just 6.5 inches. The PivotC is also small in stature at 8.75 inches. On the other end of the spectrum, the Comfort Zone is an 18-inch monster, while the Honeywell HT-904 is a rangy 14.25 inches.
Sturdiness refers to how well balanced or secured a fan is as well as an assessment of the quality of the design and manufacturing. No one wants a fan that is, for example, top-heavy or wobbly. Similarly, no one wants a unit that is rattly or squeaky as these are annoying and indicative of problems to come. In comparison to their peers, the Honeywell HT-904 and 905 as well as the Woozoo and the Genesis set the standard. At their highest speeds, these machines are reasonably quiet, steady on their stands, or in the case of the Genesis, secure when clipped.
Conversely, the Treva issued an unusual electrical whirring sound that was worrisome. Similarly, the Comfort Zone had an annoying, rattle right out of the box that gave us pause as we considered the quality of the manufacturing. As for balance issues, the Genesis in its free-standing configurations is top-heavy and prone to vibrating on hard surfaces.
There's a fair amount to consider when shopping for a table fan. However, we have structured our review to make a comparative analysis of all aspects of a quality product. These are power, sturdiness, noise output, and last but not least, size. With these metrics to guide you, it will be a breeze to take the measure of a fan no matter your needs and budget.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer