Published Sep. 29, 2021

There are few things more annoying than trying to work when you’re uncomfortable. If you’re working from home, your work space may get stuffy in the warmer months. And even the most well-appointed office space can be at the mercy of a whole-building HVAC system, and that can mean that certain areas of the building are difficult to cool. Rather than sweating it out, stay comfortable and keep your concentration going with a desk fan.

A nice, cool airflow may make the difference between a half-completed job and a job well-done. It’s important that a desk fan check the right boxes in terms of size, noise level, and power source. We researched a variety of fans so you don’t have to go through the trial and error of finding the best desk fans to keep your work day breezy.

How We Picked the Best Desk Fans

Methodology

Narrowing down the options for the best desk fans was tough. Fans are pretty simple machines with one purpose: To move air around in such a way that it keeps you cool. To that end, every fan we tested performed splendidly. So it became important to look at other points, such as the following.

Size: From larger units that are meant to stay in one place to smaller ones that can be carried out of the office without a second thought, it’s important to know the options. No matter how small a fan might be, it can still pack a powerful punch.

Noise level: We looked for a desk fan that was powerful enough to handle a small office space but quiet enough to allow you to work in peace. Bladeless fans tend to be the quietest, but even some of the larger, bladed fans made the grade for quiet operation.

Speed settings: How much control do you have over the power of the fan? Those with more settings were more likely to make the cut.

Power source: While some want to plug in and forget about it, others prefer the portability of a battery-operated fan. Fortunately, rechargeable batteries have advanced enough that USB-charged fans can easily rival the corded versions.  

Portability: If you are regularly changing your desk configuration, moving from one part of the office to another, or simply want a fan that you can take with you wherever you might happen to land, you need something easy to move around. We looked at fans that covered a wide range of portability; you’ll notice some on our list that are designed to move with you, while one can be permanently mounted on the wall.

The Best Desk Fans: Reviews and Recommendations 

Best Overall: SkyGenius Battery-Operated Clip-On Mini Desk Fan

The Rechargeable Option

Measuring just 7.5 inches at its widest point, this is small enough to put anywhere you need. SkyGenius

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Why It Made The Cut: The unique clip design of this fan means it works in places others won’t. The USB charging option with long battery life makes it even more convenient.

Specs:

  • Speeds: Three
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 6 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 9.6 ounces 

Pros:

  • Very strong clip
  • 360-degree vertical and horizontal rotation
  • Up to six hours of battery life

Cons:

  • Takes 4.5 hours to fully charge
  • Battery can be difficult to replace

This small fan from SkyGenius can go anywhere the clip fits, which means it’s great for a small office space and for other uses as well, such as clipping onto a stroller to keep a baby cool during hot days or using in the bathroom while you prep for the day. The clip has a 2.5-inch grip and a nonslip mat inside the grip, so it stays put right where you want it.

The fan takes about 4.5 hours to charge using the USB charger for up to six hours of battery life, depending upon the setting. It’s important to note that the fan only allows for one speed while plugged into the USB charger; unplug it for the full range of three speeds. The lithium battery is replaceable, so if the power starts to diminish, it’s easy to rev it back up. This fan is very lightweight but provides a breeze of 75 feet per second, which is just right for most. The fan offers full 360-degree horizontal and vertical rotation for even more ease of use.

Best Value: Honeywell TurboForce Table Air Circulator Fan

Variable Speed of Breeze

A simple, straightforward fan that moves air up to 27 feet away with three speeds and a 90-degree pivoting head. Honeywell

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Why It Made The Cut: This is a straightforward fan that does what is needed and nothing more, and the affordable price tag reflects that.

Specs:

  • Speeds: 3
  • Dimensions: 11 x 6.46 x 11.22 inches
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds

Pros:

  • Large range of air movement
  • Easy-remove grille for cleaning
  • Can be used on a table or the floor or can be wall-mounted

Cons:

  • Rotates only 90 degrees

This small fan from Honeywell has a wide, stable base that keeps it steady even at the highest speed, allowing for placement on a table, a desk, or the floor. It can be firmly mounted on a surface, such as a windowsill or a wall, for even more convenience. The removable grill allows for easy cleaning of the blades and oiling of the motor when necessary. The 90-degree pivoting head can direct air on the occupants of a room or can point straight up for full-room circulation. The power of this fan pushes air up to 27 feet away, thus cooling not just a cubicle, but a whole office.

Designed for small to medium rooms, this fan is engineered to be quieter than most but still offers a quite affordable price point. It’s important to take advantage of the removable grille to clean the blades and keep them in alignment to avoid noise issues after a few months of use.

Best for Quiet Spaces: Vornado Flippi V10 Compact Air Circulator

Far-Reaching Yet Low Noise

This fan is available in three colors and uses “vortex action” to get air moving around you rather than just blowing it at you. Vornado

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Why It Made The Cut: This fan uses Vornado’s signature Vortex technology to move air in all directions, which can keep you cool as you move around a larger office space while also keeping the noise down.

Specs:

  • Speeds: 3
  • Dimensions: 8 x 10.2 x 8 inches
  • Weight: 4.75 pounds

Pros:

  • Moves air up to 40 feet
  • Quiet and energy efficient
  • Oscillates and flips for better positioning

 Cons:

  • Heavier than most desk fans
  • Can be difficult to clean

With its signature Vortex Action airflow system, this fan from Vornado blasts air up to 40 feet away on the highest of its three speeds. The fan oscillates and flips, directing air in almost any direction, yet its operation is quiet. The modern design features a sleek, glossy look with controls at the bottom of the fan, where they are almost hidden from view. It’s a little heavier than other fans of this size, which means it stays put even with the serious output of airflow. The six-foot power cord helps ensure it can be placed on a table without the use of an extension cord.

On the downside, it can be tough to clean, as the grille doesn’t come off—the fan is one solid unit. To clean, unplug the fan and use a toothbrush to scrub the dust from the grille fins. Those who find this fan a bit too large will be happy to know it is available in smaller sizes; however, those don’t oscillate.

Best Design: Elyss Bladeless Table Fan with LED Lights

Versatile and Unique

Great for indoors or out, the curved shape of this fan makes it easy to point in any direction that needs a bit more air. Elyss

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Why It Made The Cut: This unique fan offers four speeds, including a natural breeze option, as well as five gradient LED lights for mood lighting.

Specs:

  • Speeds: 4
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 4.3 inches
  • Weight: 12.3 ounces

Pros:

  • Four speeds, including “natural breeze”
  • LED lights for mood lighting
  • No blades for safety and easy cleaning
  • USB charging

Cons:

  • Takes over an hour to charge
  • Works only a few hours on a full charge

This tiny fan from Elyss has no blades, so there’s no danger of curious children or pets getting hurt when they explore this unique unit. It has four speed settings, including a natural breeze setting that makes you feel as though you’re outside. Five LED light schemes help this fan fit in with any decor or mood.The USB charger plugs into a power bank, laptop, or even your car for on-the-go power. Smart Touch technology means you don’t actually put pressure on the button, but rather simply run your finger over it, thus saving wear and tear on the unit.

The very compact fan works well in small areas, so it’s ideal for desks that don’t have a lot of free space. Since there are no blades, it can provide white noise that isn’t too loud and thus allow you to work in peace without sacrificing the comfort you need from a cool breeze.

Best for Tight Spaces: Holmes Heritage 4-Inch Mini USB Desk Fan

Tiny and Powerful

Small enough for the tightest spaces, this USB-powered model makes comfort at work a breeze. Holmes

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Why It Made The Cut: This tiny fan uses a USB for power and can tuck away into almost any corner. The vintage look brings a touch of class to even the most boring cubicle.

Specs:

  • Speeds: 1
  • Dimensions: 4.1 x 4.2 x 6.1 inches
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces

Pros:

  • USB powered
  • Small size is great for tiny offices
  • Fun vintage look

Cons:

  • USB plug adapter not included
  • Doesn’t force air very far

Those seeking a small, quiet fan with a great deal of character might enjoy this pick from Holmes. The vintage-style fan is an attractive piece for any office. The fan has a single speed and tends to blow air forward, not around, so keep it just a few feet away and facing you for best results. Though the fan is small, it is also relatively heavy for its size, which ensures it stays in place and doesn’t easily move as you shift things around on your desk.

Those who do want to plug the USB into a plug adapter for wall power will need to purchase the adapter separately. Have 3-in-1 oil on hand to oil the small motor now and then, as the fan may begin to rattle after several months of use.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Desk Fan

Desk fans are a great option to keep cool, whether you’re in a shared office where the thermostat is out of your control or you’re looking for an economical way to keep the temperature comfortable in your home office. Here’s what to consider when deciding which model is best for you.

Size

If you have a good amount of desk space, almost any small fan will fit. But if space is tight, consider a clip-on fan or one with a very small footprint. This might be better achieved with a bladeless fan.

Purpose

If you’re looking for a fan to simply keep cool and you don’t care much about the noise, there are a ton of options. If you’re looking for a fan to provide white noise so you can work more effectively, seek out a fan that specifically states it provides white noise.

Portability

Your work space may not easily accommodate a fan—luckily, you’re not limited to just plug-in options. If you don’t have easy access to an outlet, a battery-charged fan or a USB-powered fan offer portable alternatives.

Noise Level

Some people may prefer the white noise that a fan can provide, but in a work environment, noise can be distracting. More blades means less noise, so if having a quiet workplace is of utmost importance to you, consider a fan with four or even five blades.

FAQs

Q: What is “CFM” and what does it mean for desk fans?

A fan’s power can be measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM)—this tells you how much air the fan can move in a minute. The higher the number, the more powerful the fan.

Q: Are bladeless fans better than traditional fans?

That depends. If you have pets or children who are curious enough to explore the fan, a bladeless version is definitely better. However, some think that a bladeless fan doesn’t provide as much air circulation as one that has blades.

Q: Should I go with plastic or metal blades?

Plastic blades tend to be quieter than metal blades, but metal blades often provide more airflow than plastic ones do. It’s a matter of which matters more to you—airflow or quiet operation?

Final Thoughts

When seeking out the best desk fan for your office, a small model that generates a powerful breeze is obviously the answer. But other factors matter too, such as where it gets power and what it looks like. We like the SkyGenius Battery-Operated Clip-On Mini Desk Fan for its size and portability. The Honeywell TurboForce Table Air Circulator Fan is our pick for best value for its power and ability to be used on a desk, on the floor, or mounted to a wall. You’ll be cooler in no time.

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