Pedestal and tower fan buying guide
Not just spin: some fans are better than others.
The biggest fans
How much thought did you put into buying your last fan? You can buy perfectly functional fans for a few tenners these days, and some are good value for money.
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. Most fans could be run 24/7 for an entire summer and you'd pay only about $30 or less for the electricity used. Pedestal and tower fans are generally not expensive to buy, though there are some very expensive models out there.
Pedestal and tower fans have some other good points too: 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.
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 mode (usually called 'natural' or 'sleep' mode) which varies the fan speed to simulate a natural breeze. Some also have a reduction mode, which switches the fan to the next lowest speed after 30 minutes. This is handy if you use the fan at night in your bedroom; on a hot night you might want to go to sleep with the fan on, but you won't want it to be too noisy. A gentle mode like this might suit you better than simply putting the fan on low speed.
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.