How Much Electricity Does A Ceiling Fan Use? A Helpful Guide For Everyone

How much electricity does a ceiling fan use featured image

It seems like ceiling fans are everywhere. The funny thing is how little we think about them until warm weather comes around when it gets uncomfortable indoors.

But just how much electricity does a ceiling fan use? How does a ceiling fan compare to floor fans, tower fans, box fans, and the other cooling fans you might have at home?

To find out, I measured energy use for all of these and I’ve put it all together in one easy to understand guide. 

Read on to find out more. 

Contents

Infographic – Ceiling fan energy use facts

Infographic for ceiling fan energy use facts and information

How much electricity does a ceiling fan use? Let’s find out

Image of test setup for measuring ceiling fan electricity/energy use with a power meter

Shown: My test setup for measuring exactly how much electricity a ceiling fan uses. In order to get you the best information, I wanted to remove ANY guessing – so I hardwired my 52″ ceiling fan to a power plug and connected it to my handy Kill-A-Watt energy meter. I got great measurements and finally found out what I couldn’t find anywhere else!

Because I know that there’s no substitute for hands-on testing, to find out exactly how much electricity a ceiling fan uses I hardwired my ceiling fan to work with an energy meter.

What I’ve found is that the problem with many products like fans, air purifiers, and more is:

  • Only the maximum power use is listed in the specs (not the other numbers like for low & medium speeds)
  • Energy use measurements are often completely missing!
  • Power use numbers are sometimes estimates, not what you’ll actually get in the real world

So, I decided to find out once and for all. To do so, I hardwired a 52 inch 3-speed ceiling fan to an AC power outlet plug.

I then connected it to a high-quality extension cord and used my trusty Kill-A-Watt power use meter to measure the power use in watts.

How many watts does a ceiling fan use? My energy measurements

Image of measurements for ceiling fan electricity measured in Watts

Measurements I made for ceiling fan electricity use, in Watts. I honestly expected a lot more power to be used, but I was wrong! In fact, a ceiling fan set to the high speed uses less electricity than many other fans that cost less. (Note: When measuring only the lights be used, the power use in watts was for three 15W LED bulbs)

It was exciting to finally put the question of how much electricity a ceiling fan uses to rest once and for all. I was so tired of not being able to find good information anywhere just like you.

Ceiling fan power (watts) measurement table

Fan speed or modePower use (Watts)
Off0W
Low12W
Medium42W
High46.6W
Lights only (3 x 15W LED bulbs)33.9W

As you can see, even on the highest speed (speed 3, or “high” when pulling the fan speed selector chain) I was really surprised to see that a standard, high-quality 52″ ceiling fan uses less than 50 watts of power.

Even more astounding was how little power one uses when set to the lowest speed: Only 12W! That’s even less than many air purifiers and small table fans I’ve tested.

Not bad at all!

How many amps does a ceiling fan use?

How to calculate ceiling fan amps example

The basic formula for how to calculate ceiling fan power use in Amperes (Amps, also written as “A”). To find out how many Amps a fan is using, we can easily get a fairly accurate number if we know the power (watts) and voltage it’s using. Since fans are “inductive” motors, it gets slightly more complicated, as we need to use a power factory.

It’s not hard to find out how many amps a ceiling fan uses. The most important thing is to know how much power, in Watts, the fan uses and the voltage it uses too. In most homes, that’s around 120 volts (V).

However, since typical ceiling fans use an electric motor that works using alternating current (AC) and magnetic fields, it’s just a bit more complicated.

In that case, we need to know something called the power factor.

Note: Some electrical testers can measuring electrical current and make it easy, assuming you’ve got a way to connect them inline with your fan. Others include the amp used in the specs sheet or label for the fan you own.

If not, we can calculate it on our own fairly easily and get a relatively accurate number on our own in seconds!

Direct current (DC) fans vs alternating current (AC) fans

Some modern fans use a higher-efficiency design that changes the AC power in your home to DC power using electronics built into the fan.

However, most sold today still use a standard inductive motor. Because of that, they use magnetic fields created by the AC voltage in your home to turn the fan motor.

In AC magnetic field motors some electrical current is wasted and so the motor draws more.

In this case, we use a basic number to multiply and adjust for the extra amps the fan draws. This number is called the power factor.

Ceiling fan example power factor values diagram

Power factors for many typical appliances including ceiling fans. The power factor is a number that describes how much electrical current is wasted on magnetic fields instead of power used to drive the motor. For example, 1 = 100% efficiency, while a power factor of 0.5 means an extra 50% of current is needed.

In this example I’ll use an example power factor value of 0.6. Then using our simple example:

Amps =  power / (power factor x voltage)

Here’s are some typical numbers showing the amps used by a ceiling fan in my home.

Typical ceiling fan current draw (amps) at 120V:

Fan speed or modePower (W)Amps (A)
Off0A0A
Low120.17A
Medium420.58A
High46.60.65A

As you can see, even on the highest speed a typical ceiling fan uses less than 1 amp of current. That’s a lot less than you might expect! (Note: This table shows the fan used with the light bulbs turned off)

In fact, that’s a tiny fraction of what electrical devices like heaters use (they often use 10-20 amps or more).

These are rough numbers but most typical ceiling fans should be very close too. Even if the voltage to your ceiling is a bit less than 120V AC, the results will still be in the ballpark as well.

Ceiling fan vs AC comparison

Ceiling fan VS AC comparison graph with energy use measurements in Watts

As it turns out, ceiling fans use a tiny fraction of the electricity that air conditioners (AC units) use. I measured the power draw of both to create an honest, accurate graph comparing the two so you can know what to expect.

Air conditioning (AC) units use a lot more power than a ceiling fan.

Why? It’s because while electric fans only need enough power to turn the motor that spins the blades, air conditioners need a lot of electrical power to drive an electrically powered compressor in addition to an electrical fan inside.

Ceiling fan VS AC side by side comparison image

In order to compare the two, I measured the power draw in Watts of both. For the air conditioner’s power use numbers, I measured the power draw of a standard in-window small room air conditioner just like you might buy for your home.

Ceiling fan VS AC power use comparison table

Fan speed/cooling modeCeiling fan powerAC power
Off0W1.2W
Low12W365W
Medium42W373W
High46.6W390W

As you can see, a ceiling fan uses a tiny 12% of the power an air conditioner does when set to high.

If you’re wondering why the AC unit has 1.2W of power use when it’s turned off, it’s because of the power required to keep memory settings like the last temperature you set and other features or controls.

For an air conditioner that uses electronic controls instead of mechanical controls, there are usually some circuits that need backup power even if it’s not cooling a room, much like how a clock works.

What is an AC compressor and how does air conditioning work?

AC compressor examples with descriptions

Left: A home AC unit’s compressor which circulates refrigerant using an electric motor. Right: A car’s AC compressor, driven by the engine and using a magnetic clutch to rotate the internal pistons when cooling is needed.

Air conditioning compressors are a critical part of an AC system, as cooling is made possible by thermodynamics (adding or removing heat) properties that happen when a coolant gas is pressurized.

In order for an air conditioner to cool the air it must circulate refrigerant (commonly called “freon”) using a pump so these pressure differences can happen.

Window air conditioner exploded view diagram

Air conditioners in your home (both window mounted and central AC systems) contain a series of hoses for circulating refrigerant. The compressor pumps the refrigerant, under pressure, which cools the air indoors by removing heat as a fan blows through it. The heat removed from the air indoors is forced outside as it works.

Both at home and in your car this takes a lot of energy as the compressor requires a lot of force to turn the pistons it inside it.

A compressor is a type of pump that moves refrigerant within a cooling system.

Because it’s under pressure (and because of the friction of its moving parts) this requires a lot of physical force and more electrical power. When comparing a ceiling fan vs an AC unit, once you understand the differences in what they do it’s more clear why there’s such a big difference in power demands.

How do ceiling fans cool a room?

Diagram showing how a ceiling fan cools a room

Ceiling fans and other types of fans work differently than AC systems. Instead of removing heat from the air contained in a room they directly blow air across your body & surfaces which removes heat. This results in a cooling effect.

Ceiling fans are much more efficient as they don’t need the heavy electrical power draw that AC units do. They work by forced air convection cooling which means they blow air across surfaces and remove heat as the air moves.

Ceiling fan vs floor fan power use

Image showing a comparison of ceiling fan vs floor fan

I measured the electrical power use of a standard 3-speed oscillating floor fan. Additionally, I measured power use both with and without the oscillating feature in use.

As it turns out in this case the floor fan used the same amount regardless of oscillation.

Ceiling fan vs floor fan power use comparison graph

Graph showing how much electricity a ceiling fan uses compared to a floor fan. Aside from the lowest speed, they’re very close in power use.

Ceiling fan VS floor fan power measurements table

Fan speedCeiling fan powerFloor fan power
Off0W0W
Low12W43W
Medium42W49W
High46.6W57W

Both have pros and cons. For example, a floor fan is good for very powerful airflow in only a small range. For about the same amount of energy use, however, a ceiling fan is better for cooling a room.

Tower fan vs ceiling fan power use

Image showing comparison of ceiling fan vs tower fan

Comparing a Honeywell QuietSet 5-speed tower fan to a ceiling fan is an interesting case. Note that not all tower fans use the same speeds as other brands and models.

In this case, I measured the power use of the 5-speed tower fan. As it’s designed to be a quiet room fan the fan speed isn’t as high as some others.

Since comparing 3 speeds to 5 isn’t exactly even I grouped the low and medium speeds to make it more clear.

Ceiling fan vs tower fan power use comparison graph

Ceiling fan VS tower fan power measurements table

SpeedCeiling fanTower fan
Off0W0W
Low12W17W, 18.5W
Med.42W23.7W, 24W
High46.6W25.6W
Note: Measurements are with the tower fan’s oscillation turned off. With it on measurements were 19W, 20.8W, 26W, 26.3W, and 27.7W. This means it adds 1-2W for oscillating motor power

As you can see, a tower fan may use a lot less power than a ceiling fan.

Some models like the Honeywell shown above are designed to work very quietly. Since the fan runs more quietly this affects how much power is used.

They’re nice for quiet, gentle cooling in one specific direction while sleeping.

Ceiling fans vs box fans

Ceiling fan vs box fan comparison image

Box fans are a favorite of mine because of how much white noise they can produce. That’s one advantage they have over ceiling fans.

Like the other products in this post, I measured the power used by a typical box fan. What I found was interesting – they can use almost twice as much energy as a ceiling fan on the high setting.

Ceiling fan vs box fan energy use comparison graph

Ceiling fan VS box fan power measurements table

SpeedCeiling fanBox fan
Off0W0W
Low12W48W
Med.42W63.4W
High46.6W83W

As you can see above, the disadvantage of a box fan vs a ceiling fan is the extra energy use. However, for some people they’re a great choice especially if you have trouble sleeping, or relaxing due to outside noises.

In that case, the white noise they produce is very helpful for blocking outside sounds while keeping you cool.

Ceiling fan vs table fan comparison

Ceiling fan vs table fan comparison image

Table fans are yet another choice for cooling you and small areas of a room. They’re often inexpensive but still offer an oscillation feature that turns the fan side to side while blowing air.

I was curious to see if they also offered any worthwhile energy use vs a ceiling fan. Here’s what I found when measuring a standard 12″ table fan.

Ceiling fan vs table fan energy use comparison graph

Ceiling fan VS table fan power measurements table

SpeedCeiling fanBox fan
Off0W0W
Low12W19.1W
Med.42W20.2W
High46.6W22.3W
Note: I made power measurements both with the table fan’s oscillation feature on and off. The power use was the same, which is great to know (I didn’t list both above as it’s no different).

As you can see, a table fan does use a lot less energy than a ceiling fan.

The tradeoff, however, is that they’re only really useful for a small area such as near your bed, near a desk, work table, and so on.

They do also give a small amount of white noise which is nice. It’s not as effective as that from a box fan, but it’s worth considering.

However, again if cooling the room is your goal then a ceiling fan is still a better choice.

Ceiling fan wiring connections & wire color diagram

Illustrated wiring diagram for ceiling fan with wiring colors

Click on the image to view the original/zoom or click below to download a copy

Ever wondered how hard it is to connect a ceiling fan or how they get their power? As it turns out, they’re actually not very complicated in terms of wiring.

They’re almost as simple to wire up as light fixtures in your home. In fact, I’ve added new ceiling fans as you can install them in the place of a light fixture.

Many homes have metal boxes pre-installed in the ceiling where it’s possible to find wiring ready to connect and mount a ceiling fan base too if needed.

As you can see in the diagram I’ve provided, there are typically only about 4 wires needed for ceiling fan power connections.

Ceiling fan wiring colors & connections table

Fan wire colorDescription
Black120V power “hot” wire for the fan motor circuit. Connects to home’s black (hot) wire
WhiteNeutral power return wire. Connects to white neutral (return power) wire
BlueFan light circuit power. Connects to the black supply wire
Green / Lt greenIf present (or another color), connects to the home’s ground wire. Some fans also have a ground wire on the mounting base to connect.

Ultimately it depends on the particular fan so remember the wiring colors listed here are just examples of my own. Always double-check the installation instructions to be sure.

In my case, the ground wire had its own label attached.

Why does my ceiling fan hum?

Image of electric fan motor illustrated and AC 60Hz power cycle diagram

Electric fan motors contain a huge amount of copper wire windings inside. These windings create magnetic fields that turn the fan rotor (the central rotating part inside the motor) and spin the fan blades. Alternating current (AC) from your home’s electrical system changes direction constantly at 60 times per second (60 Hertz per second) and can cause a humming sound.

Electric fans of many kinds, including ceiling fans, are subject to a mild humming sound you may notice.

It’s a very common side effect of the type of electrical power supply that homes use. As time goes by it can actually increase in volume as a fan and its parts age. That’s because the tiny vibrations move components over time and parts can lose the resistance to vibration they had when new.

AC power is in the range of human hearing

The 60 Hertz (Hz) frequency for the alternating current (AC) power supply in your home is within the range of sound your ears can hear. In fact, AC current produces a “humming” sound in the range of bass you sometimes hear in music.

It’s especially common in fans like box fans. They’re more prone to vibrating and more likely to create a humming sound that’s easy to hear.

In some situations, the fan’s humming vibration due to the power source can transfer through surrounding ceiling parts and the sound can carry further, making it even more pronounced.

Electric motors & magnetic fields

Electric motors rely on magnetic fields created when electricity flows through copper wire windings. This creates a magnetic force that turns the central part of the motor called a rotor.

The rotor is attached to a spindle that the fan blades are mounted on and spin from there.

These magnetic fields, which change direction 60 times per second, can cause fan parts to move rapidly and therefore create a humming sound your ears can hear.

It’s also why when you’re close to outdoor power transformers used by the power company (or other electrical devices) you may hear a hum there as well.

In summary

Image collage of ceiling fan in use and energy meter measuring power

To summarize the electrical power use and pros & cons of ceiling fans, let’s review what I’ve covered here today.

As you can see from the power use I measured, they’re very reasonable in how much electricity they use. That’s especially true when compared to how much an AC unit uses!

They do have pros and cons though, of course. While they’re good for cooling a whole room (and pay for themselves in only a few months as compared to air conditioners) they aren’t good for white noise or for cooling an exact area of you or your room.

Overall, however, they’re a great choice.

Suggestions for even more power savings

Example of a ceiling fan using LED bulbs

To keep energy costs low and still get good quality lighting, choose an energy-efficient LED bulb with good brightness output level (measured in Lumens).

For best results, I recommend using good quality LED bulbs that produce light that’s easy on your eyes. These days you can find high-brightness LED bulbs that work well in ceiling fans and consume 15W or less.

Compared to the power use of incandescent bulbs of years gone by (45W, 60W, and even 100W) that’s a big energy saving!

Brightness and light quality matters

Many offer several choices of color “temperature” (the yellowish or white tint they produce) and brightness. I recommend getting bulbs with enough brightness, measured in Lumens.

Personally, I recommend bulbs with a lumens rating of 800 or higher, although you can find some putting out 1,200 or even 1,500 with only 15W power use if you shop carefully.

These days good LED bulbs can be found for around $3-$10 each or in bulk quantities for even more savings. Avoid the absolute cheapest bulbs as they have higher failure rates and tend to have a poor light quality that isn’t good for your eyes.

Cheap bulbs also have poor color rendering which means that colors won’t look natural or appear as well as they should.

Additional reading

Considering a box fan instead of a ceiling fan because you need white noise? Have a look at my great post with some of the best box fans for white noise here.

Need a quiet, gentle tower fan that won’t disturb you? Here’s a helpful list of some of the best tower fans for cooling.

5 Of The Best Travel Fans For White Noise + Buying Tips

Best travel fans for white noise featured

I absolutely love white noise and how much it helps me relax and sleep. I love fans, too, as they’re an energy-efficient way to keep you cool. Unfortunately, you can’t take large fans with you.
 
The solution is finding a great travel fan. Below you’ll find 5 of the best travel fans for white noise on the market along with short reviews and pros & cons lists for each.

There are also some helpful things to know and consider before spending money or picking a fan. I’d love to help you get the best fan for your needs so read on to learn more.

Contents

How does white noise from a fan help?

What is white noise?

White noise is the term used to describe a sound production that’s made up of all frequencies in the audio band (the range you can hear) at equal levels.

“White” is used to describe this particular type while others such as brown and pink exist and describe similar noise but with different acoustical levels in certain frequency ranges.

How white noise helps

How how white noise blocks sounds box fan diagram

White noise helps by “masking” bothersome noise and creating a more relaxed and distraction-free environment for. Sounds you otherwise would hear are “covered” (masked) by the sound your fan generates, resulting in it effectively eliminating it. As long as the outside sound is of an equal or lesser volume than the white noise it can be blocked.

Fans can improve your quality of life using the principle of sound masking. This means that the noise it generates simple “covers”, or masks, the sounds that cause you problems and make sleeping or concentrating more difficult.

In reality, the fan isn’t actually removing outside sounds – but for all practical purposes, our brains think it’s gone.

This is because when many sounds are combined together well (especially with noise!) our brains can’t “hear” the distractions anymore.

The result is that as long as the bothersome outside sounds aren’t able to exceed the white noise level we no longer hear them.

Sleep like a baby!

Image of a woman sleeping comfortably

It’s a well-known fact that infants and children are able to sleep more readily with gentle sounds. For example, dishwashers, washing machines, and other sources have a pretty steady and rhythmic “pattern” that affects our brains in a pleasant way.

The psycho-acoustical effect of a soothing noise causes a pleasing and focused state in both many people’s minds and bodies. The result is better sleep as well as better concentration.

It’s especially helpful to have a fan when you travel for many adults or children sleeping in a new environment can be tough. You’re not accustomed to your surroundings and haven’t had time to adapt.

New environments mean new nuances and small sounds you’re no used to which can hurt your quality of sleep. I speak from personal experience!

How fans make white noise

How box fans produce white noise diagram

“White noise”, the soothing sound produced by many fans, is produced by a number of things that happen when a fan is running. It’s generally caused by the air turbulence created by the blades but often contains the sound of the fan motor, too. When a fan run runs, the air is drawn from the rear and forced out the front which causes noise the noise.

Fans (especially traditional ones like box fans) are an easy-to-use and economical source of noise to cover sounds, reduce stress after a hard day, and promote better sleep.

The funny thing is that fans aren’t intentionally designed to make noise! It’s a wonderful side effect of how they work.

There are several factors involved which result in that soothing noise we love:

  • Air passing by the surfaces of the fan’s body
  • The rush of air on the input (suction) and output (forward) sides
  • Fan blades spinning through and disturbing the air
  • Turbulence caused by the nearby air being disturbed due to blowing
  • The gentle humming and operation of the motor itself

These factors combine to produce the cumulative effect as a “white noise” our ears and then brain receive. The result is the rhythmic, calming, and most of all helpful sound.

As I described, this white noise is used to “mask, or cover, and effectively eliminate bothersome sounds as far as our brains are concerned.

Because of how fan work, they often have a tendency to vibrate on a very small scale which also contributes to a gentle undertone you’ll enjoy. Both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC, like from USB power or batteries) have sound characteristics you’ll hear without realizing it.

Fan options to shop for

Clip art man shopping online at desk silhouetteThere are many features to look for and consider before purchasing a fan that typically don’t apply for standard home fans.

For example:

  • Power sources: Will an electrical outlet or USB power be available? Do you need cordless (battery) power?
  • Fan speeds: Will a simple single-speed fan be ok or are more important to you?
  • Folding/compact size: Is a slightly large fan ok or is space really tight?
  • Price
  • Warranty length
  • Positioning or swivel features

Be sure to give these a thought when shopping. However, you can’t go wrong with the products I’ve researched, tested, and that I recommend below.

Important foreign travel fan tips

Pac2Go Universal travel adapter product image

When traveling abroad it’s critical to be prepared for other power voltages and non-USA electrical outlets. A universal travel adapter set is something I’ve relied on many times. The Pac2Go with outlet adapters and USB charger ports is a great example of one I recommend. Using a fan without an adapter could destroy it or even cause a fire! This particular model in an amazing 192 countries!

I’ve traveled overseas quite a few times. Without a doubt, one of the best investments I’ve ever made was a universal travel adapter set with outlet adapters and a voltage converter.

Many countries have electrical outlets with different connector jacks that won’t work with American power plugs. Additionally, some countries I’ve been to have 220V (not 120V) power which can destroy your fan, a phone charger, or any electrical devices.

They could potentially even cause a fire!

Be ready to power a fan or other small electrical devices. Do a little research before you go to be sure you can power your small electronics to avoid a tremendous amount of inconvenience.

I’ve learned the hard way that in many areas of the world it’s very difficult to find special power adapters for some of the devices you bring from back home.

★ 5 of the best travel fans for white noise ★

Our top picks at a glance

IMAGEPRODUCT
Vornado Fit Personal
  • Great quality, features, and price! Excellent white noise fan to go
  • 2 speed settings and directable airflow
  • Compact, fold-up design. 3 year warranty
Check On Amazon →See Customer Reviews →
O2Cool 10 in. Portable
  • Travel ready: folding design, AC or battery power
  • Powerful 10" fan. 2 spd. operation
  • Durable construction folds for easy packing
Check On Amazon →See Customer Reviews →
Opolar Rechargable Desk Fan
  • Excellent portability. Includes rechargable 3350mAh battery
  • Easily stores in bags or purse. 3 speeds for white noise
  • Built-in night light and accent light. 3 color options
Check On Amazon →See Customer Reviews →
SkyGenius Clip On
  • Great for any desk, workstation, or bedroom
  • Includes rechargable battery
  • 360 deg. positioning fan. Adjustable speed control
Check On Amazon →See Customer Reviews →
Honeywell Turbo On The Go
  • Truly travel-size design folds easily and stores anywhere
  • USB (includes cable) or battery powered
  • Excellent for white noise anywhere you want!
Check On Amazon →See Customer Reviews →

Product reviews and details

1. Vornado Fit Personal Circulator – Quality cooling and gentle sound on the go

Vornado Fit personal fan editor's choice image

The wonderful Vornado Fit Personal Air Circulator is nice take on the traditional small fan. If you’re unfamiliar with the company, Vornado manufactures some of the best air comfort products on the market.

It’s a well-made fan that takes up very little desk or table space as well. Two color options are available: Aqua or pink.

2 speeds are available for your comfort and white noise needs: low and fast. While it’s a quiet fan, it still provides a pleasing white noise sound you can use next to when you’re traveling.

It’s just a matter of selecting low, off, or high from the sturdy rocker switch on the side.

Vornado Fit personal fan side rear views

The Vornado Fit is a great little fan that’s well made and perfect for putting in luggage. The base folds underneath when not in use for compact storage.

And speaking of travel, what would a small be without portability? The Fit folds up easily and is great in luggage. The design makes it easier to pack it in luggage when you’re ready to go.

It’s powered by standard 110 AC power so unfortunately there’s no battery option. However, one reason for this is because it’s more powerful than lesser fans and provides much greater airflow.

Measuring a small 8.3 x 7.5 x 5.2 inches in size, it’s definitely a travel fan that’s great for hotel rooms, resorts, and just about anywhere you need nice white sound and an outlet is available.

Vornado also offers a 3 year warranty which most others don’t.

PROS:
  • 2-speed fan control
  • Compact but good airflow for cooling
  • Small size (8.3 x 7.5 x 5.2″)
  • 2 accent colors available
  • Folds up for easy travel
  • 3 year limited warranty
  • Nice white noise sound, but not too loud
CONS:
  • No battery or USB power option
  • Fan angle not adjustable like some competitors
  • Costs a bit more than some others

Vornado’s fans are some of the best you’ll find anywhere and the Fit is a great fan that’s well-made and dependable.

If you want simplicity and reliability along with a pleasing white noise, it’s a top choice. Be sure to read why so many other people love it as well over at Amazon.

2.  O2Cool 10″ folding fan – Great portable white noise with or without an outlet

Love the soothing white noise of classic box fan? The O2Cool 10 inch folding travel fan is like having a miniature version you can take anywhere.

As it can be powered by both an outlet or 6 “D” size batteries there’s nowhere you can’t use it!

It features 2 selectable speeds: low and high, with a nice gentle but helpful white noise level on high.

Measuring 12 x 3.5 x 12.4 inches in size, there’s a great 10″ fan providing compact but great cooling ability.

The O2Cool 10″ fan is one of the most compact and fold tightly away for great storage. Because of its design you can get a larger portable fan than many competitors yet still fit it in your travel bag.

Thanks to the unique design the base serves as not just a stand but a battery holder, too. When folded for travel it’s very compact and easy to store.

It’s also energy-efficient and features a patented blade design to help extend battery life while keeping airflow maximized.

There’s also a small carry handle feature at the top as well. An AC adapter is included.

PROS:
  • 2 selectable speeds
  • Battery power option
  • AC adapter included
  • Folds for compact size
  • Nice 10″ size fan
  • Good white noise and cooling
  • Easy to use
  • Traditional fan design for reliability
CONS:
  • No rechargeable battery option
  • No USB power option
  • One color only (gray)
  • Basic, no additional side features
  • Batteries not included

Want a great travel fan but don’t want being stuck with a tiny one like so many others are? It’s an excellent choice and I recommend it.

Many people are glad they picked one up as well. Find out today why it's an excellent and one of the most affordably priced travel fans at Amazon.

3. Opolar rechargeable portable fan – Feature-packed and a wonderful all-around choice!

Opolar portable fan image 1

Ready for one of the best travel fan values you can find? Then the Opolar rechargeable battery-powered fan may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Measuring a tiny 5.9 by 4.9 inches, it’s ultra-compact and easy to fit into bags when it’s time to go. With the Opolar fan you’re ready for all sorts of environments even if outlet power isn’t available.

Be ready for anything!

Opolar portable fan batteryThe Opolar fan includes a rechargeable battery, unlike many competitors. USB power can be used as well both for charging or for powering the fan. It’s easy to use, too!

Depending upon use, you’ll get several hours of comfortable cooling and soft white noise to get you through your rest. Expect about 3-11 hours of use depending on which of the fan speeds you choose (low, medium, or high).

Opolar portable fan light features image

Even more, you also get an optional internal accent light/night light as well as a side light that works like a small flashlight. They’re cool features that are unexpected in this price range.

2 built-in lights are provided and I really like them. LED lights are provided for optional use for an accent light/night light as well as a mini flashlight on the side of the base.

Electronic controls round out a great little fan.

And most importantly, it produces a steady and soothing ambient white noise you’ll enjoy. It’s also one of the best rated in its price range!

PROS:
  • 3-11 hour battery power time
  • Rechargeable battery included
  • USB power option (cable included)
  • Built-in flashlight
  • Electronic controls
  • 3 fan speeds
  • Internal accent/night light
  • Small size
CONS:
  • AC adapter not included
  • No swivel positioning for fan top
  • No carrying case

I recommend it because it’s a great combination of cooling, features, and especially value.

Check it out, it’s a great one! You’ll find fantastic buyer reviews and the best price over at Amazon.

4. SkyGenius rechargeable clip-on – It goes and provides white noise where others can’t

SkyGenius clip-on fan frontWhat if I told you it you could get white noise anywhere and get a fan that is

  • Cheap
  • Battery and USB powered (no outlet needed!)
  • Rechargeable, and includes the battery
  • Can be used on a table or clip on to nearly anything

Sound impossible? It’s not. The SkyGenius battery powered clip-on mini fan is all of these things. It’s a fantastic choice for where other fans can’t go!

SkyGenius clip-on fan features image

The SkyGenius fan includes a rechargeable battery and USB cable for powering the fan or charging the battery. What’s especially great about this model is how you can adjust it for airflow perfectly where you need it. The swivel head is easy to use and works great.

One of my biggest reasons for recommending this little winner is how great the design is. The fan cage can be rotated to any position you need for cooling or white noise use.

There’s also an adjustable fan speed control on the rear. That’s a very unique – and rare – feature for a fan that’s priced so low.

SkyGenius clip-on fan desk use examples

The SkyGenius works great both with its clip feature or standing on its base. Don’t forget you can power it directly from any USB port!

But you’re not limited to using it only with the clip – the base is designed to work on any tabletop or desk just like any other small fan. It measures a mere 7.5 x 6 x 4 inches in size, so it’s an excellent choice for travel.

For having white noise you can literally take anywhere, it’s a slam dunk.

PROS:
  • Battery or USB power
  • Rechargeable battery and USB cables included
  • Adjustable fan speed
  • Clip-on feature works almost anywhere
  • Desk stand base
  • Swivel head w/ 360 degree rotation
  • Simple controls
  • Great price
  • Good buyer reviews
  • Small size
CONS:
  • Some buyers prefer fixed speed controls
  • No AC adapter included
  • Black only (no white available)
  • Can’t fold for storage

All-in-all, it’s one of the values in a travel fan for white noise anywhere. If you need the greatest in ease of use and portability, be sure to check it out.

User reviews are just as great as the fan itself! Head over to see the amazing feedback this best-selling fan has earned at Amazon.

5. Honeywell HTF090B Turbo – Compact and convenient with 3 power options

Honeywell HTF090B Turbo folding fanThe No products found. is a special little model that got my attention.

I’m already a big Honeywell fan as I’ve tested many of their air quality products. They’re some of the best I’ve owned and tested. This cool little Turbo model is no different.

It’s a single-speed fan with simple operation that folds very neatly out of the way. At 4.7 x 2.28 x 6.4 inches, it’s really small but can cool efficiently and create great white noise you’ll like.

Honeywell HTF090B Turbo On the Go portable fan side and rear viewsThe Turbo travel fan easily unfolds into the position you need after travel. A power jack on the rear allows powering it from USB power using the included cable. For battery power, 4 x AA batteries can be used (not included).

Two great power options are available: USB power (using the included cable) or 4 AA batteries if you need cable-free power.

Thanks to the DC motor design it helps reduce energy waste and can be power by the batteries more efficiently for extended battery length.

Not only that, but the base it folds into can also double as a carrying handle for your convenience.

PROS:
  • Battery powered (4 x AA)
  • USB power option (cable included)
  • Super compact
  • Smart folding design
  • Simple on-off control
  • Clear, helpful instructions
  • High airflow despite small size
  • Nice white noise production for its class
  • Great price and build quality
  • Excellent buyer reviews
CONS:
  • Single speed only
  • No AC-USB power adapter included
  • Batteries not included
  • Cannot swivel fan horizontally

Undoubtedly, the Turbo on the Go fan is one of the most compact and easy-to-use travel fans you’ll find.

If you’re on a budget but want a well-made mini fan for traveling and still enjoying white noise, it’s an excellent choice.

Don’t just take my word for it – No products found.

Summary – The top recommended travel fan for white noise

Vornado Fit personal fan editor's choice image

I awarded the Vornado Fit my Editor’s Choice distinction. For those who need a solid performer for white noise you can take with you, it’s a great choice.

It was a tough call, but I’m happy to recommend the Vornado Fit folding portable fan for anyone with access to a standard outlet. You’ll get lovely white noise to help you relax or sleep with the added benefit of great build quality ease of use.

Vornado’s design means it’s one of the best in its class for cooling as well. Be sure to find out why it's so popular and is one of the highest-rated fans today.

Have you considered a white noise machine?

What if a fan isn’t really the best choice for you? Great news – you’re not limited to using a fan for gentle white noise.

White noise machines have lots of options and are highly portable, as well! Check out my helpful post with several excellent choices for white noise machines.

How To Tell Which Way A Fan Blows

How to tell which way a fan blows featured image

Fans are everywhere it seems! They’re critical for everything from cooling a computer’s CPU to keeping us comfortable or even helping with plant grow rooms. It’s honestly amazing how versatile they are.

But do you know how to tell which way a fan blows? If not, I’d love to show you how. Once you’ve got the basics down it’s not hard at all!

In this post, I’ll share with you the details you need to do so. Not only that, I’ll help you better understand how fans work along with sharing some helpful facts to know.

Contents

Infographic – Fan facts and airflow basics

How a fan blows and fan facts infographic

How to tell which way a fan blows – 3 basic methods

The great news is that generally speaking it’s easy to tell fan air direction if you know what to look for. Because of how they work (and how most are designed) there are great clues to help.

It also depends strongly on the fan’s intended use as well. Here are 3 ways to tell which way a fan blows:

  1. Using the fan angle and rotation direction
  2. By the type of fan and its intended use
  3. Fan directional markings

1. Fan blade angle and rotation direction

Fan air flow diagram

The direction a fan blows air is always determined by (A) the shape of the blades (sometimes called propellers) and (B) the direction they turn. If a blade is angled down and the fan turns in the same direction as the blade angle, it will blow forward. Likewise, if the blade is angled down and the fan turns the opposite direction, the reverse is true. Air will blow in the other direction (towards the back).

These two characteristics of a fan are probably the easiest and most common way to tell which way it blows.

That’s because a fan always has the same basic design in one form or another: fans use angled and slightly curved blades to cut through the air and force it forward or backward depending on the direction of rotation.

Here’s an animated image I’ve put together to help show this.

In this image you can see exactly what I’m describing: the fan is rotating in the same direction as its blades which are angled downwards. This causes air to blow upwards (to the front of it).

If the fan’s direction is reversed, the air will go the opposite direction as it would be forced downward (towards the rear) instead of the front.

An everyday example

CPU fan air flow direction example illustrated

Here’s a great example of how to decide which way a fan blows. This is a common small fan powered by direct current (DC) and used for many electronics cooling applications. Looking at the fan, we can see the angle of the blades and we know that most of these rotate clockwise (the same direction as a clock). Therefore, unless the power polarity is reversed, it will blow air forward.

The image above is a great example of a common fan you might run across. By looking at the fan and knowing which way the blades are angled, and knowing that it normally turns clockwise, I can see that it will blow air forward.

Of course, if for some reason the fan rotates in the opposite direction (unbeknownst to me) the air would be blown the other way.

2. The type of fan and its intended use

Diagram of axial and centrifugal electric fans

Fans generally only come in a few basic designs, most of which are axial or centrifugal types. Centrifugal fans normally only blow in the direction of the outlet as shown, while axial fans may be reversible in some cases. 

While many variations of fans exist, nearly all fall into just a few basic categories as the most important design principles are the same.

A fan’s direction is often fixed and largely determined by what it was designed to do:

  • Airplane propellers and jet engines always force air from the front to the rear
  • Ceiling fans are normally used for blowing air downwards into the room but can be reversed to force air to the ceiling
  • High-speed cooling fans of the centrifugal type blow forward
  • Home cooling fans normally blow forward and can’t be changed
  • Ventilation fans are mounted in a wall, window, or other assembly and spin to blow air out of a building

Lasko 3720 Weather Shield box fan in window

Most common home fans used for cooling like this Lasko 3720 window box fan are designed to blow only one direction: forward. You can see the blade shape in the picture which gives a clue about this as well. You’ll need to rotate the fan 180° to change the air direction.

Fans powered by alternating current (AC) such as common household 120V or 220V fans typically can only blow forward. However, direct current (DC) fans are often reversible.

That’s because DC power can change the operation of the electric motor inside the fan, causing the blades to spin in the opposite direction and force air to the rear.

3. Fans that have directional markings

Illustrated image of computer fan air flow direction

An example of some common fans with markings to show which way air blows. In both cases, there are 2 arrows: one to show the direction of rotation, and one to show the airflow direction. Left: This fan is the most common type, as it can be mounted backward if you need to reverse airflow. Right: This fan is less common but does have some uses where the airflow going to the rear is important.

While it’s not as common, some fans do have a marking indicating which way they blow. If you’re lucky enough to find that on one, it makes it even easier to tell!

Ordinarily, you’ll most likely find this on general-purpose fans like small DC powered fans for electronics cooling. However, from time to time it can be found on others.

It’s really handy to remember method #1 above. That way you can tell which way a fan blows nearly 100% of the time and especially if one isn’t marked with arrows or a label to tell you.

Did you know? Great fan facts

Fans are typically not very expensive but can be very cost-effective in many applications. They’re helpful for many common uses and problems, but there are some things you might not know about them.

Here are some great fan facts to know. Be sure you’re using fans to improve your quality of life (and save money) as much as possible!

1. They’re very energy-efficient vs. air conditioning

Tower fan money saving badge imageElectric fans can run and help cool you and your room with up to an amazing 60% less power than air conditioning units!

That’s because fans don’t need nearly as much electric current to work. Air conditioning (AC) units not only have to power an electric fan but also an energy-thirsty refrigerant compressor motor. That adds up over time!

2. Fans cool you…but don’t actually cool the air!

Fan cooling forced convection diagram image

Fans can make you feel cool and comfortable as well as cycling the room’s air to prevent heat from building up. But did you know? They don’t work by chilling the air. They work off of the principle known as forced convection.

Here’s a cool (no pun intended!) fact – electric fans don’t cool a room by dropping the temperature. Air conditioning units do so by removing heat from the air.

Fans create a cooling effect by the principle known as forced convection. That just means that fans cool your body and your room by forcing air across surfaces, removing heat from you into the nearby air.

They also keep air circulating within a room, offering a continual effect that makes you more comfortable.

Because of that, it’s important to have a well-designed fan with great airflow and especially one with an oscillation feature to move back and forth, covering a large area in a room.

Lasko T42950 Wind Curve tower fan example

Tower fans are specially designed to produce a comfortable airflow. They’re different from other types as they produce a tall, vertical area of air and often oscillate (move side to side) to cool a room.

Tower fans like the popular Lasko Wind Curve at Amazon are an excellent example of this.

3. They’re great for white noise

Lasko 3720 Weather Shield box fan front image

A simple but classic box fan like this popular Lasko 3720 model produces a soothing and calming “white noise” that can improve your quality of life. A side effect of how they work, the noise “masks” (covers up) outside noises like your neighbors, traffic, people talking, and more. It’s a great and cost-effective way to help you focus, relax, or sleep better.

Fans are also very helpful in some cases for blocking outside noises that cause us stress and interrupt sleep, studying, or working.

Models that produce a very high airflow rate and introduce a lot of turbulence near them as a side effect can produce a large amount of soothing white noise. Box fans are especially helpful for this.

If you’re interested in finding out more, here’s a great post with some of the best box fans for white noise you can buy.

Summary

Being able to tell which way a fan blows isn’t difficult in most cases. Just remember these basic tips:

  1. Look for directional arrows
  2. The power source type (AC or DC) and intended use
  3. You can nearly always tell from the blade angle and rotation

Do you have suggestions, more questions, or wish I covered some topics in more detail? Feel free to drop a comment below or reach out to me.

Additional reading

Want to know how much energy a fan can save? Find out how much electricity an air conditioner uses vs a fan here.

Need to cool out? Here’s a helpful post with some of the best tower fans you’ll find today.