The 8 Best Desk Fans of 2020
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The right desk fan can let you take control of your world, transforming a stuffy and hot office into a climate personalized to your needs. And — as with all things — the options vary widely, from fans that cost more than an in-window AC unit to grab-and-go battery-powered options. Some come with remotes, others are designed to plug into your computer’s USB port. But all of them are focused on circulating air to keep you cool.
When choosing the right fan for your office, first take into account your desk space. That cool retro fan might match your reclaimed wood furniture, but if its footprint will take up most of your workspace, opt for a slimmer model. If you think you’ll be moving the fan around on the desk — or from room to room, then lighter models with integrated handles and retractable cords make transport easier. Variable speed options also provide a bit of versatility, automatic oscillation can help cool an entire room, and the low-noise options can keep you from feeling like you’re sitting next to a noise machine — to say nothing of incurring the wrath of your office mates. Those items and the price (of course) should help you navigate your buying options. Read on to see our favorite desk fans to pick up for your office.
Best Overall: Vornado Pivot
Dubbed a “personal air circulator,” the Vernado Pivot delivers a lot for such a small, well-priced fan. You get three speed controls, a pivoting axis that allows for 180-degree adjustment and a relatively quiet engine. The curved shape of the stand and the shape of the fan itself, inspired by Vornado’s roots in designing jet engines, adds a nice touch of funky flair, and at only six inches tall it won’t dominate your desktop. It also comes backed by a three-year warranty. Unlike some models, the Pivot doesn’t automatically oscillate; just point it where you want and you’re set.
Best Budget: Homles Lil’ Blizzard
On a budget but looking to beat the heat? The Lil’ Blizzard, eight-inch oscillating fan automatically swivels to distribute the air, with a tilt-adjustable head and two manual speed settings adjustable via the rear dial. At only one pound, it’s also very easy to move, with a modest footprint, and operates in “quiet” mode at all times. It probably won’t win any design awards, but it’ll definitely keep you cool.
Best for Slim Profile: Seville Classics Ultraslimline Oscillating
Standing tall at 17 inches, this Seville model is suitable for desks adorned with a handful of other bigger items like an extra monitor or a big desk lamp. Otherwise, it might look a bit…overgrown. That said, its footprint takes up less than six inches, and the thin overall design delivers maximum airflow for the space. It boasts three settings, oscillates 80 degrees, and comes with three timing selections (one-, two-, and four-hour increments) to allow for automatic shut-down. By placing the LED-lit control buttons at the top of the fan, it’s also easy to adjust, but you may have to stand up to press the buttons.
Best Design: IDEA Mini-ELEFAN
The IDEA Mini-ELEFAN certainly doesn’t look like your typical desk fan — and that’s largely the point. Rather than a traditional fan configuration, it cools by blowing air from its flexible bellows and comes with a three-stage volume adjustment and an aroma diffusion feature, which lets you attach a filter to the end of the tube to distribute a mild aroma into the room. You can power and charge it via USB from your computer or use the AC/USB adaptor. For those who want a touch of sci/fi flair, you’ve found your new favorite obsession.
Best for the Tech-Savvy: MUJI USB
From Japan’s home goods superheroes MUJI, this desk fan adds a touch of east-meets-west aesthetic to your cooling needs. It’s a touch more expensive than most but delivers everything you’d need, including 80-degree oscillation, a fan angle adjustment of 30 degrees, two power settings and low noise emission, thanks to its two-blade construction. It’s also powered via USB, and comes with a silicone rubber bottom to ensure stability.
Best for the Executive Suite: Dyson Cool AM06
The Dyson Cool AM06 is reserved for those with deep pockets or a serious expense account. Pay the price, however, and you get all the high-quality craftsmanship and winning aesthetics for which Dyson is famous. The mini fan pivots on its own center of gravity and uses the company’s proprietary “Air Multiplier” technology that amplifies the surrounding air to create a steady stream of smooth airflow from its ten-inch diameter opening without using any actual blades. You can program it to turn off at pre-set intervals between 15 minutes and nine hours, with smooth oscillation to distribute cool air throughout the room. Naturally, it comes with a remote, curved and magnetized to attach to the fan base, that lets you select from ten airflow settings and runs whisper-quiet even when going full blast.
Best Vintage: Vornado VFAN Jr. Vintage
A modern upgrade to Vornado’s first fan, introduced in 1945, the all-metal VFAN Jr. Vintage adds a bit of timeless design to your desktop. It uses a patented airflow process called “Vortex Action” to circulate the air around the room, with deep-pitched blades and two injector cones to push out air in a spiral to let it travel greater distances than most competitors. It comes with two fan speeds, a full-action pivot head for multi-directional flow, a five-year warranty and an unmistakably retro-cool appearance, especially in the green model with brass-colored accents.
Best for Big Boardrooms: Bionaire Remote Control Fan
A remote control may feel like overkill for a desktop fan, but for larger rooms — or just really big desks — it can make on-the-fly adjustments a breeze. The Bionaire claims to be a “whole room circulator,” with a rotating grill that delivers a wide area of oscillating air and three settings alongside sleep and breeze modes. The cord retracts for easy, untangled carry; the remote puts all the controls at your fingers (and can be stored in the side of the fan); and a top-mounted LED control panel provides additional ways to dial in the optimal output.