How much thought did you put into buying your last fan? Any? Or did you wake up on a stinking hot Saturday and decide to race down to the shops for a cheapie model before the cricket started? You can buy perfectly functional fans for a few tenners these days, but they tend to be a bit limp when it comes to actually moving air around – and often won't last beyond one summer before conking out and being dumped on the nature strip.
Bypassing the $2 shop and investing a bit extra in a quality pedestal or tower fan will get you out of that cycle, meaning you'll stay cooler for longer, and you've kept another cheap appliance out of landfill.
In the air tonight (and tomorrow, and all weekend...)
Fans don't chill the air like an air conditioner, but they'll still cool you down (through the effect of evaporating perspiration) at a tiny fraction of the running cost. For most of the fans CHOICE has tested, you could run them 24/7 for an entire summer and pay only about $30 or less for the electricity used.
They're kind to your wallet
Pedestal and tower fans are generally not expensive to buy, you can choose exactly how and where to position them (unlike with ceiling fans, for instance), and many now come with extra features such as variable speed settings, remote controls and timers. They're also handy when you want to clear the air in a room due to damp carpet, wet paint, or smoke from a burnt dinner!
The Big Question: pedestal or tower?
When choosing a fan, consider where you'll mostly use it and the sort of air flow you want – direct or indirect.
Pedestal fans sit on a (usually) height-adjustable stand, and can be useful when you want air directed at a height above ground or at a certain spot in the room – for example, to blow directly onto your face, across a bed's surface, or angled up toward the ceiling for an indirect breeze.
Tower (or column) fans have a long rectangular air outlet that usually sits closer to the floor, although their upper section can still blow air at a reasonable height and some have louvres to direct the air flow up or down. They're often best suited to a large living area.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you choose your new fan.
Usually, the quieter the better, especially if you're using the fan on a low speed at night while you sleep. Ask to hear the fan in the shop before you buy; check for thrumming, whining or buffeting noises.
Adjustable height and angle
These features will give you more options on how and where you can use the fan. Angling the fan head allows you to create an indirect breeze, which can be useful if the fan speed is too powerful for a direct breeze.
Some fans have a nature/natural or sleep mode, which varies the fan speed to simulate a natural breeze. We've also tested models with a reduction mode, which switches the fan to the next lowest speed after 30 minutes. This is great for running the fan at night – you'll often be hot when you go to sleep, but leaving the fan on full blast all night can disrupt your rest.
A remote control is handy for changing settings from across the room.
Some models have a timer to switch the fan off after a set period.
Some have electronic indicators to show fan settings.