Ceiling fans can be one of the cheapest ways to beat the summer heat – if they do their job properly. A fan that doesn't circulate the air enough can be frustrating, but a fan that blows too hard even on its lowest setting will keep you awake as much as the heat will.
"When reviewing fans at CHOICE, we look at a number of key performance factors," says CHOICE fan expert Denis Gallagher.
"A great fan will deliver a wide variety of air movement options to suit your particular requirements. This includes a good range of high-speed settings for the living room as well as a couple of good breeze-like settings to help create an ideal sleeping environment."
"We also assess ease of use, which covers things like assembly and installation, as well as controls using the wall switch or remote."
Our experts have tested more than 100 models to sort the best buys from the fan fails. Here are the ones that scored the lowest in our lab test reviews.
1. Hunter Pacific Majestic Coolah
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 53%
- Price: $256
Sadly, the 'Coolah' failed to live up to its name. On the highest setting, it didn't deliver enough air movement for living areas, but on its lowest setting in the bedroom, it proved too strong to be comfortable.
Is there anything it does do well? Er, not really. It does have a distinctive design and its blades are made of wood, and our experts rates it OK for ease of use. But its pull switch isn't as easy to use as a remote or wall switch.
2. Martec Elite
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 54%
- Price: $299
Like the Coolah, the Martec Elite also disappoints in the bedroom and in living areas, although it did score slightly better than the Hunter Pacific fan for high-speed cooling.
On the upside, it is relatively cheap to run, with our experts estimating it will cost just $15 to run for one year.
Read the full Martec Elite review.
3. Heller Stella
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 56%
- Price: $130
At $130, the Heller Stella is a relatively inexpensive option, but what you save in money you'll sacrifice in performance. In the bedroom, it doesn't move much air, so rather than blowing you away, it'll barely ruffle your hair. It's also limited to only three speed settings.
Read the full Heller Stella review.
4. Brilliant Austin
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 56%
- Price: $129
An affordable option, the Brilliant Austin has smaller blades, making it suitable for smaller rooms. However, it's also small on performance, moving very little air on its lowest setting and failing to do much better when you crank it up to the highest setting.
It also doesn't have an option to add a light after purchase, unlike other models we've tested.
Read the full Brilliant Austin review.
5. Fanco Hugger
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 60%
- Bedroom score: 50%
- Price: $269
The curiously-named 'Hugger' model actually scored very well for high-speed loungeroom cooling, but bombed out with its bedroom performance. Our expert testers also found it finicky to assemble, and it was one of a very few models we tested that doesn't have a reverse or winter mode.
If you don't know what that is, here's how ceiling fans can also help keep your home warm.
Read the full Fanco Hugger review.