What are the Different Types of Electric Fans?

Patti Kate

There are many types of electric fans, including portable or personal-sized fans, industrial-strength high-powered fans, and electric box fans. Oscillating electric fans circulate air by revolving fan blades as they spin. Some fans are dual powered, meaning they can run on batteries as well as electrical power.

Computers often use fans to prevent the devices from overheating.
Computers often use fans to prevent the devices from overheating.

An industrial-strength, high-velocity fan is a good choice for those who wish to cool a large area or room. Some of these are free standing and feature wheels on casters. This enables the fan to be moved about.

Oscillating fans may be set on the ground or on a table and help to circulate air in all directions.
Oscillating fans may be set on the ground or on a table and help to circulate air in all directions.

The high-velocity fan may be constructed of coated metal, including the fan blades. This type of fan typically features multiple speeds. The interior motor is encased inside the metal housing. Many people use these fans in garages, offices, and warehouses, but they are also suitable for very large rooms. The powerful motors of these fans will circulate air more efficiently than a standard fan.

Oscillating electric fans may have a floor stand or be made to sit on a table top. These types of fans allow air circulation from all directions, as the head of the fan oscillates. The fan head will generally be adjustable for various angling. The floor-standing models may have various height adjustments.

Window fans are shaped to fit snugly into the frames of most windows. The window fan will pull in the fresh outside air and circulate it into the room. These generally work best during moderately cool outdoor temperatures, because using a window fan during an extremely hot day will only circulate warm air. Some window fans utilize twin fan heads in one unit.

Space heaters combine a heating element with an electric fan to help circulate warm air throughout the room. Some may oscillate and most have various temperature control settings. A fan speed control switch may also be included in some models.

Tower, or pedestal-style, fans are made to save space. These feature a tall and thin design, and most feature an oscillating mode. Many also have an optional remote control, allowing the user to operate the unit from across the room. The slim structure of the fan makes it a good choice for busy areas.

Box fans are generally less expensive than other styles of fans. They are square, similar to the appearance of a box. Some of these electric fans are constructed of metal, while others have plastic blades. There are two- and three-speed models of box fans.

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Discussion Comments


Does anyone have any experience with the tower fans that were mentioned in the article? How do these work exactly? From the look of them, I would guess they have several small fans inside. Do these have the same effectiveness as a typical oscillating fan?

I would really like a fan to keep in my bedroom at night, but I hate the look of white oscillating fans. I think the tower fans are much more ascetically pleasing, but I'm worried about their circulation power. I have tried the small window fans, but I don't think they work well, either. Finally, how much noise do tower fans make compared to regular fans? Thanks in advance for any help.


I love the look of vintage electric fans. My grandmother used to do a lot of sewing and she always had one of the old, metal fans sitting on her sewing table to keep her cool. Also when I was younger, my friends and I always used to stop at a small general store in town after school and the owner always used to have the same types of fans for the cashiers.

Luckily, the old mini electric fans are widely available online, so I got one to keep on my computer desk at home, and it looks great. I had to do some small tune ups to make it a bit quieter, but now it works like a charm.


@jmc88 - Using electric fans is a great idea in some places, but in others it just isn't feasible. I used to live in Alabama for a few years, and during the summer the humidity was almost unbearable at times. Even with a fan blowing on you at high speed, you can still find yourself sweating. Part of the advantage of having air conditioning is that the process helps to remove moisture from the air and lessens the issue with humidity.


I guess I never realized how many types of fans were all around us.

I think that using ceiling fans and oscillating fans is a great way to save on electricity during the summer. I have oscillating fans stationed near my couch and bed, and I can turn them on whenever I need them. For me, at least, having the fan blow on me is enough to keep me cool without needing the air conditioner on.

Having a fan in the bedroom can seem noisy at first, but I found that after a week or so, I didn't even notice the sound at night.

I have even known people who have taken a small electric fan with them to work to help keep cool.

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