Many people prefer to sleep with fans in their bedroom. These handy devices can help regulate the room’s temperature and block outside noise that interferes with sleep. Bedroom fans fall into three general categories: desk fans, room fans, and ceiling fans. All three fan types are fairly inexpensive and widely available for $100 or less.
This guide to bedroom fans will explore the three fan types in-depth, including pros and cons associated with each, as well as tips for first-time buyers and our picks for the best desk, room, and ceiling fans sold today.
Who Should Use a Bedroom Fan?
Anyone can benefit from a bedroom fan, particularly the following groups:
Hot sleepers. Sleeping hot is a common phenomenon in adults. People often sleep hot due to their natural body temperature. Other factors may include the material composition of their mattress, comforter, sheets, and pillowcase. Bedroom fans can help cool down sleep surfaces and the area around the bed for people who tend to get warm during the night.
Residents of hot areas. Certain areas of the U.S., such as Florida and the Southwest, experience hot weather throughout the year. Investing in a high-quality fan can help prevent sleep loss due to excessively hot or dry climates.
Light sleepers. Many people awaken easily due to traffic, noise from adjacent residences, and other loud sounds. The whirr of fan blades creates white noise, which can drown out these noises and help people fall and remain asleep. People who wish to block outside noise but do not enjoy sleeping with a fan may prefer to use white noise machines instead.
Windowless bedroom dwellers. Some people have little to no window access in their sleeping quarters. This can cause the air in their bedroom to become stuffy, and dust buildup is common. A bedroom fan can improve circulation in these rooms and prevent dust from accumulating.
Common Bedroom Fan Designs
There are three general categories for bedroom fans:
Desk fans: These fans are small and lightweight enough to rest on a bedside table or other flat surface next to the bed. They cannot cool off entire rooms very effectively, and should primarily be used for personal cooling. They may have pedestal stands or small clips used to attach the fan to the edge of a table or desk.
Room fans: These fans are relatively large and heavy, and capable of cooling entire rooms. Examples of room fans include:
Box fans, which are large and square-shaped. They normally rest on the floor. Box fans have a housing (such as a grate) for the blades to prevent potential injuries.
Tower fans, which are tall and narrow with a pedestal stand and a thin blade unit. They also rest on the floor, and may be ideal for cramped bedrooms where a box fan would be overly cumbersome.
Stand fans, which typically have a thin pedestal stand, much like a tower fan, and large blades similar to those of a box fan. Stand fans may also be small enough to serve as desk fans.
Window fans, which can be positioned on or inside window sills. They suck in fresh air from outside the room, and also remove stale air using an exhaust system. Window fans usually need to be sized based on the width and depth dimensions of the window sill.
Ceiling fans: Ceiling fans are technically room fans since they are capable of cooling entire rooms, but their structure is unique. They typically feature a fixture that attaches to the ceiling and at least four unguarded blades that rotate at variable speeds. They are suitable for most sleeping quarters, but should not be used in low-height rooms due to potential injury concerns. Some ceiling fan fixtures also provide lighting.
Regardless of type, most bedroom fans share the following features and characteristics:
Blades and blade housing: Most desk, room, and ceiling fans feature three to six blades that rotate within a secure housing, which is usually made of metal or plastic grating to provide safety without hindering airflow. Some newer fans do not feature blades at all, and generate airflow by pulling in outside air using internal channels or aperture systems.
Oscillation: Some fans oscillate, or rotate from left to right and/or up and down, in order to provide cooling in multiple directions. This feature is normally found on fans with pedestals, such as stand and tower fans.
Multiple airflow settings: The majority of desk, room, and ceiling fans offer at least three speed settings. Faster settings provide more airflow — in some cases, too much — and tend to be louder, whereas slower settings are quieter but may not provide sufficient circulation. Fans may feature up to 10 airflow settings.
Reverse airflow: Commonly found in window fans, reverse airflow capabilities allow fans to bring in fresh outside air and vent stuffy indoor air.
Cooling and heating: In addition to cooling, some fans double as space heaters.
Sleep timer: Sleep timers are found on some high-tech fans. This feature may be useful for people who like falling asleep with a fan on but do not like sleeping with one throughout the night.
Controls: Remote controls are a feature found on some modern fans, but most models at average to below-average price-points have manual controls.
Important Considerations for Bedroom Fan Shoppers
When shopping for a bedroom fan and comparing different types and models, here are a few considerations to take into account:
What is your bedroom fan budget? Small desk fans are widely available for $20 or less, and certain room fans may be sold for less than $50. Ceiling fans tend to be the most expensive option; these are typically priced at $60 or more, and purchasers may also need to factor in installation costs. That being said, high-tech models — such as bladeless fans with internal ventilation systems and remote controls — can cost hundreds of dollars.
How large is your bedroom? People with smaller bedrooms may be able to cool their sleep area with a desk fan, but most master bedrooms are large enough to warrant a room fan and/or ceiling fan.
How many speed/airflow settings do you want? Standard bedroom fans have three settings: low, medium, and high. More advanced models may feature more settings — 10 or more, in some cases. These models may be more suitable for sleepers whose airflow preferences fall outside the three standard settings.
Do you sleep hot? If you tend to get warm at night, then a more powerful fan may be required to effectively regulate your sleep temperature. By the same token, those who tend to become excessively cool at night may want a low-airflow fan — or no fan at all.
Do you have carpet in your bedroom? Fans with thin pedestal stands may fall over when placed on carpeted floors, due to the uneven surface, but this is not as much of an issue with wood and other even flooring surfaces. A box fan or other fan that stands on its own may be more suitable for carpeted floors.
Does your bedroom get stuffy? If you find the air in your bedroom is stuffier than normal, then a fan with reverse airflow may be the best option. Window fans typically offer the best reverse airflow, but a sturdy window sill is needed.
Is oscillation important to you? Oscillating fans provide more airflow coverage throughout the room. Most fans that oscillate can also be programmed in a fixed position. Keep in mind that oscillating fans often have pedestal stands, which may be problematic with carpeted floors. In addition to oscillation, some fans can be manually adjusted to provide cooling to different areas; others feature a housing with a rotating grill that can boost airflow circulation.
Do you sleep with a fan on all night? If you prefer a cooling fan when you fall asleep but not while you’re sleeping, then a fan with a sleep timer will likely be most suitable.
How tall is your bedroom? Ceiling fans may not be suitable for bedrooms with low-lying ceilings. Models with flush mounts tend to be higher than those with downrod mounts.
How is the fan powered? Some smaller fans are battery-powered, and will typically provide cooling for up to 12 hours before the battery needs to be replaced or recharged. Larger fans are usually powered through electrical outlets; for these models, it’s important to note the cable length to ensure your bedroom has outlets within reach.
What is the product warranty? Fan warranties typically cover the product for one to five years, depending on the brand and model. Some fans do not carry a warranty.
Best Desk Fans: Brands and Models
Now, let’s look at top-rated bedroom fans according to the sleepers who use them. The first table lists our picks for the best fans that are designed to rest on a bedside surface and provide personalized cooling. All satisfaction ratings are generated from customer and owner experiences. To learn more about purchasing these products, visit the links found in the second-to-last row of the table.