Best Table Fan
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. Its speed settings allow incremental adjustments to ensure you won't get blown away at close range. These settings are 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 airflow offered on the HT-904 good, it does not oscillate. This level is on the noisy side for its class, with a noise level of 51 dBa when running on high. The head's pivot range is fine for tabletop uses, but when wall-mounted it is restricted because the direction of airflow cannot be reversed without unmounting the unit and flipping it 180º. That said, this model can move a considerable amount of air for how compact it is, and it's relatively quiet compared to table fans with similar power.
The Woozoo HD15NU moves a lot of air for a relatively compact model, with a high setting that can produce 8 mph of wind at three feet. Given this level of power, the fan is also surprisingly quiet on its lowest setting. In fact, on the lowest setting, the noise didn't even register on our sound meter at three feet. This table fan sports a broad base and feels well balanced.
A downside of the Woozoo is that it cannot oscillate, and its vertical pivot is somewhat limited to roughly 100º. Additionally, the base lacks a wall mount or clip option. That said, the 6-foot cord, simple dial, and easy to clean head make this an excellent option for creating a personalized airflow at a workspace. Those that are on the hunt for an oscillating fan might want to check out a similar model with that option from the same brand.
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. It's a good choice for tight spaces with its relatively low airflow — 1.7mph on low, 3 on high. — 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 on this unit, we found the tabletop stand option to be a bit flimsy and fairly easy to knock off balance. This issue is exacerbated by the 5-foot long cord that can pull at the unit. The head pivot is also limited to 130º due to the clip configuration. However, oscillation and pivot are possible with the stand. Finally, removing the screen for cleaning is simple, with just a single turn of a screw.
This 360º pivoting Vornado PivotC clip fan is a preferred deskspace air stimulator. This model gives off a pleasant breeze while going virtually unnoticed due to its extremely compact size and moderate noise output. Moreover, the clip is small but effective and won't eat up precious desk space, and the long cord provides more options for placement.
The caveat to this personal space fan is that the clip is neither deep nor wide, so this fan won't work on thick 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 it's within close proximity to you.
The Honeywell HT-908 can move some air. We recorded a steady breeze of 10 mph at 3 feet when on its highest setting. Moreover, the model's powerful motor rendered a significant air movement at 20 feet. As such, don't mistake this model for a personal air agitator. Rather, it's a proper fan designed to circulate air in small to medium-sized spaces.
Although the HT-908 punches above its weight in the airflow department, it makes a lot of noise while doing so. Also, the unit does not swivel, and its pivot motion is limited between 0º and 90º. As an added limitation, it can be hard to clean due to the 5 screws securing the fan cage. The machine offers three settings and a 6-foot power cord, so you likely won't have an issue finding a comfortable setting and location for the unit.
What makes the Treva stand out in the class of table fans is its slender profile and ability to run on 6 D-cell batteries if needed. Both features make it a go-to for those desiring a table fan for travel. The machine also produces a high wind speed of 4.5 mph at 3 feet, which is gentle but still detectable at 20 feet.
This fan's flat design makes it easy to pack. Unfortunately, this same feature limits it from oscillating and pivoting. Also, while the unit is compact, if it's loaded up with batteries, that adds about 2.5 pounds to its weight. Despite these limitations, you can't do better than this portable desktop air circulator if you need a fan for your on-the-go lifestyle.
The Comfort Zone 12" is the big kid in the class, assuming a more mature look. The traditional design enables the fan to both pivot and oscillate. The unit has three speeds, and the airflow produced is above average and can be felt across a moderate-sized room. Moreover, the rubber feet under the base provide ample grip on smooth and firm surfaces.
On the other hand, some assembly is required with this unit, and the final construction feels kind of flimsy. 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 ease of taking apart the screen and blade for periodic cleaning more than compensated for the drawbacks.
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 soft enough to go unnoticed. Additionally, the 6.5-foot cord will accommodate most outlet locations without the need for an extension cord, and the ~130º pivoting head provides sufficient airflow options.
Unfortunately, the Flippi does not oscillate, perhaps because the unit is too light to remain stable with side-to-side movement. To prevent a tip-over, we had to use two hands when turning the control dial. The unit's small size also makes cleaning difficult — enough so that the user manual recommends using a vacuum with the brush attachment. Still, the fan is great for tight spaces and it folds up when unneeded, adding to its minimalist appeal.
The Holmes Lil' Blizzard isn't just a clever name; this machine can really push air. This oscillating fan has three settings, of which the highest can produce noticeable airflow up to 20 feet away. The fan is also easy to clean — simply turn a screw and the cover releases to expose the rotor. Easy breezy.
On the downside, this fan's lowest setting is pretty high compared to other models in the class. A slight rattling noise is produced while in operation. The flimsy plastics used for its construction also causes us to worry about its long-term durability. That said, it is powerful for its size and competitively priced.
A wise man once said, looks aren't everything, but they ain't nothin' either. The Vornado VFAN proves this point because it maintained its visual appeal despite its lackluster performance in our testing. The metal head and domed motor cover present a circa 1960s vibe that ensures this unit will look good on a bookshelf or wooden desk for years to come.
Unfortunately, in terms of performance and maintenance, the VFAN has several marks against it. It is noisy in comparison to its competitors. It does not oscillate, and it will only produce perceptible air movement within 15 feet. Additionally, the signature "V" head design does not come apart easily, making the interior hard to clean. Yet, the fan can pivot up to 180º and maintains a sleek look.
Why You Should Trust Us
Senior research analyst Austin Palmer has been testing electronics, and home appliances specifically, 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 evaluating 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 multiple avenues of investigation. Namely, these were power, noise, size, and stability. The ideal tabletop fan would be a small, quiet, sturdy machine that can produce 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 the quality of these machines, we ran several tests assessing 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 how much air a fan can move on its highest setting. There is no doubt that the Honeywell HT-908 blew the competition away with the 10-mph gale it kicked out. Following 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 models offer a softer touch with a top speed near 2 mph. Alternatively, if airflow at a distance is what you require, consider the HT-908, the HT-904, the Comfort Zone, or the Woozoo. All these models generate 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 because it's the minimal range needed to cover a typical table with air movement. To give the experiment a more real-world feel, we also turned our cheek to the machine at 20 feet to see if we could detect any air movement. If we did not, we moved closer to the fan until we felt a breeze.
Similar to the power tests, our noise analysis evaluated the sound (measured in decibels) put out 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 emanating 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 may thus be perceived as quieter. The opposite is true for quieter fans. As we discuss below, the quietest and least powerful are almost always the smallest fans.
Fan size matters when they're taking up precious desk or tabletop real estate to supply airflow. The manufacturers 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 because they're 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 our 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 rattly or squeaky unit — not only because this is annoying, but because it can be indicative of problems to come. The Honeywell HT-904 and 905 as well as the Woozoo and the Genesis set the standard in comparison to their peers. At their highest speeds, these machines are reasonably quiet, steady on their stands, and (in the case of the Genesis) secure when clipped.
Conversely, the Treva issued an unusual electrical whirring sound that we found not only alarming, but worrisome. Similarly, the Comfort Zone had an annoying rattle right out of the box that gave us pause and caused us to speculate about 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 tried to structure this review to make it easy to compare all aspects of fan performance. These are power, sturdiness, noise output, and last but not least, size. With these metrics to guide you, we hope it's a breeze to take the measure of a fan no matter your needs and budget.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer