Our hands-on review of the best window fans will blow you away with specifics as we bought and rigorously tested each model to determine which is best. Our investigation reveals which units are best suited to the needs of various user groups and which are just blowing hot air. We looked at airspeed, circulation effectiveness, noise, installation, and controls. The product of this research will provide you with all the information needed to make a quick, easy, and well-informed choice regarding your new fan.If a window fan isn't exactly what you're looking for, we also tested top-rated floor fans and the best tower fans, and we've also outlined our favorite pedestal fans and table fans. Our general review of the best fans also covers our favorite models of each type. If you need something that's really going to hit you with a blast of cold air, check out our best portable air conditioners review. We also took other home appliances for a spin, like the best air purifiers and the top-rated humidifiers, to help make your shopping experience an easier one.
Our Top Picks
The Lasko W09560 is a reversible twin fan unit with three speeds, plus intake, exhaust, and air exchange settings. Other features include temperature control and a Bluetooth connection with a smartphone instead of a traditional remote control. The app is user-friendly and effective at controlling the speed and settings. Installation is a breeze, as the extension panels easily slide to fit either horizontal or vertical window openings.
The manual controls were less intuitive, and we preferred using the Bluetooth option to control the fan. The digital interface does not display the setting it is on until you change it. We also didn't find this window fan to be very powerful. At 13 feet, it gives off just the slightest gust of moving air. If you do not need a powerful breeze and want to circulate the air in your room, this fan does precisely that.
The Air King is undeniably powerful, but it's not without a tradeoff. The large blades and hardy motor putting out all that power also create a lot of noise. When set to high, we measured 76 dBa. Although we like having the option of opening or closing the window while this fan stays in place, it is only because the fan screws into the window trim, making it more of a permanent fixture than some users may prefer. If you don't mind this factor and want to move a significant amount of air, the Air King will likely blow you away.
The Comfort Zone CZ319WT is a minimalist, cost-effective window fan. Installation is a cinch with the twin sliding panels that fit it to the double-hung window gap, and it comes with a bug screen, effectively sealing the unit. The easy fitting means that, while the fan direction is one-way, you can quickly flip the unit around to exhaust a room as well. Moreover, the directional airflow coming off the twin 6" fans feels like a steady breeze at 20 feet.
We like the savings the Comfort Zone offers, but it's not free from shortcuts in performance and features. As previously mentioned, the fans are unidirectional. Along with that limitation, this model only offers two settings — high and low. Yet, making up for these shortcomings are feet that support the unit as a floor or table fan.
What makes the Treva a standout in the class of window fans is that it does not rest in the window itself but on the window sill. Its slender profile and option to run on six D-cell batteries if needed make it a good choice for personalized airflow as well as travel. This versatile fan is no slouch when it comes to moving air either. The machine produces a wind speed of 4.5 mph at three feet which creates a gentle but detectable breeze as far away as 20 feet.
The slim profile makes it easy to pack this fan, but you can't secure it in the window frame when in use. A stiff breeze from outside may potentially knock it over. The airflow is also one-directional, and only one blade is doing all the work. For anyone considering this unit for travel, keep in mind loading it with batteries adds 2.5 pounds to its overall weight. Despite these limitations, if you need a fan for your on-the-go lifestyle or a window far from an outlet, then you can't do much better than this petite air mover.
The Bionaire 8.5-Inch Reversible Airflow is an all-around great performing window-mounted fan. Its twin 8" blades have three settings that are reversible, allowing air to be pulled into a room or pushed out. The user interface is easy to read and operate and covers a wide variety of features. For example, the air exchange function allows users to set a thermostat such that the fan will draw air in or out of a room depending on the desired temperature. The Bionaire produces airspeeds as high as 11 mph (measured at 6") and feels like a decent breeze at 20 feet.
We found little to complain about with the Bionaire. Yet, certain features will make it a no-go for some potential buyers. For starters, we measured the window width requirements at 24" to 37" — though extensions are available if needed — and it is best suited to double-hung, sliding, and casement windows. Additionally, we were less than impressed that the remote control only works within a range of 15 feet. Still, this unit is pretty darn quiet (58 dBa on high), considering that it sports two fans and produces high airspeeds.
The Holmes Dual 8" Blade Twin is a high-performance dual-fan system that offers users plenty of adjustment with analog controls. The 8" blades are controlled independently so they can either work in unison or in complement with one drawing air in while the other pushes it out. Additionally, the thermostat makes it possible to set the circulation to a discrete comfort level. Finally, the noise level on this model is minimal (57 dBa on high) in light of the powerful twin motors.
The main problem with this fan is that the unit best fits double-hung windows in a fairly narrow range (24 5/8" x 35 3/4"). In addition, the thermostat does not have actual temperature values but rather a series of discrete levels indicating more or less cooling action. It also lacks a remote. Despite these shortcomings, we like what this unit has to offer, particularly the dispersed airflow that seems to better distribute air around a room.
There is a lot to be said for simplicity — particularly for a fan. However, the fact that this unit has a single-button control is somewhat frustrating since you have to cycle through all of the settings to get to a particular one. That said, we really like that the Holmes has temperature regulation settings between 60º and 80º F and that it can be easily installed vertically if needed.
The Lasko 16" Electrically Reversible's big fan blades and powerful motor provide sufficient airflow to warrant the label of whole house fan. This unit kicks out 11 mph wind at the source and can be felt as a breeze at 20 feet. However, this unit has a more dispersed airflow as opposed to a direct/focused flow which is preferable for circulation in many cases. Additionally, the unit has three-speed settings as well as reverse. As far as the window fitting goes, this unit works on several window styles because it mounts to the trim allowing many windows to close behind the unit.
While the Lasko 16" is competitively priced within its subcategory of high volume fans, that is not to say that it is inexpensive. Moreover, the relative savings do not come without performance cuts. Specifically, the fan lacks a remote, and it isn't what we would describe as quiet — we recorded the sound output at 68 dBa on high. The unit also lacks temperature controls, and the single fan precludes it from having an air exchange function. Despite these shortcomings, we find the simplicity and effectiveness of this fan refreshing.
The Comfort Zone CZ310R has twin fans with 8" blades. The unit has 3 speeds as well as cool, exhaust, and air exchange settings. It has a remote that's super easy to use, as are its onboard controls. The fan installs fairly easily on double-hung windows in the horizontal position with accordion extensions on either side of the unit. Also, it is reasonably quiet at 50 dBa.
Conversely, the CZ310R puts out a pretty weak airflow which we measured at 5 MPH on high. This produces just a hint of a breeze at 15 feet. While we like the remote that comes standard with the unit, we always find it frustrating when a company doesn't include batteries which is the case with this model. Also, we found the accordion window fitting extension to be difficult to adjust to its full extension. However, we do like that this model comes with feet to make it function as a floor or table fan.
Why You Should Trust Us
Senior Research Analyst Austin Palmer has worked in electronics testing for the better part of a decade. He has tested everything from table fans to the top-ranked air purifiers and the best portable air conditioners. The man knows a good quality fan and can back up his conclusions with the data derived from his detailed testing and analysis. Similarly, Senior Review Editor Nick Miley has several years of experience in product testing and analysis. His work is informed by his background in original scientific research as well as a previous occupation in wind turbine maintenance and repair.
Together this duo created experiments and evaluations that isolate all the aspects of fan performance. Specifically, the analysis looked at airflow, controls, set-up and noise, and more. The result of their work is an easy-to-digest product comparison with practical information derived from hands-on experience.
Analysis and Test Results
Many fans look alike. As such, we bought and tested all the products in our review to see which blew us away and which just blew a whole lot of hot air. To structure our review, we separate our investigation into categories or metrics that cover all aspects of a quality fan. These are wind speed, noise, controls, and ease of installation. The following is a detailed delve into each metric, including the products that did well in each and why.
We measured wind speed at 6" inches distance from the center of the fan when on high using an anemometer or wind meter. The Bionaire 8.5-Inch Reversible and Lasko 16" Electrically Reversible are considered to be high airflow machines producing 11 mph wind speeds. The Holmes Dual 8" Blade Twin and the Comfort Zone CZ319WT fall into the average category at 8.7 mph and 8.2 mph, respectively.
In a less scientific test, we also measure the air movement at a distance. This is done by laying a tape measure on the ground perpendicular to the fan measuring out 30 feet. We start at 30 feet and walk towards the fan until we can feel the air it's moving on our cheeks. Most models here reviewed register a breeze at 15 - 20 feet. However, the King Air lived up to its name by issuing a strong breeze at 20 feet and noticeable air movement beyond 30 feet. The only model that approached that kind of power is the Comfort Zone CZ3139WT. We were able to feel some air movement with this unit at 25 feet.
Though some folks like white noise, many people do not want to listen to a fan whine. We measured each unit's noise output while running it on the highest setting with a sound level meter (measured in disciples). As you might expect, the most powerful fans are the loudest. The Air King produces 76 dBa. To put that in context, that's about as loud as an electric lawnmower!
On the quieter end of the spectrum is Holmes Group Bionaire BWF0522E-BU at 50 dBa — quiet enough to go unnoticed. However, this fan doesn't produce much air movement. A good balance between air movement and noise output is struck by the Holmes Dual 8" Blade Twin, which kicks out a respectable amount of air while maintaining a moderate noise level of 58 dBa.
This metric looks at knobs, buttons, dials, and remotes that adjust, set, and otherwise operate the fans. Top models with remote controls are the Bionaire 8.5-Inch Reversible Airflow, Comfort Zone CZ310R, and uniquely, the Lasko W09560, which makes use of the user's smartphone to control the fan via an app and Bluetooth connectivity. We found all three of these models very easy to operate, but the Lasko W09560 stood out with the modern ease of use and customization available through the app.
Those models with push-button controls and digital readouts are the Holmes Group Bionaire BWF0522E-BU and the Lasko W09560. These models offer the most difficulty in operation because you have to cycle through options to get to the sought-after settings. Those with control knobs are the Air King 9166F 20", Holmes Dual 8", and the Lasko 16" Electrically Reversible. Finally, the Comfort Zone CZ319WT uses a switch system. The knob and switch models are by far the easiest and most intuitive to operate.
Ease of Installation
Interestingly, almost all of the contenders in our lineup passed this test metric with flying colors. Most of these models require the user to set them into the window track and either expand a panel or close the window onto them. That's it. However, the large fans, such as the Air King and the Lasko 16" W16900, are the exceptions. While we don't want you to get the impression installing these models is challenging, they do require tools to screw them into place. Besides that, though, installation is relatively easy.
There's more than what meets the eye when shopping for a window fan. Our review closely examines all aspects of these handy appliances, so you have the details you need to select the right product for your needs and budget. So, take advantage of our hard work, and your journey to find a new window fan will be a breeze.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer