If you don’t have a ceiling fan in place, a standalone fan can be a cheap and rewarding option to get relaxed or add some ambient white noise. Besides their space-saving design, the advantages of tower fans don’t usually get the credit they deserve.
Let’s answer why to use a tower fan, what their benefits are, and how they stack up to comparable portable fans.
What is a tower fan?
Let’s begin with some background: what makes a fan a tower fan?
Their tall, slim nature is what makes them tower fans. Tower fans work by spreading air within a space. The process of spreading air increases the rate that your body’s sweat dries up, which makes you feel cold.
Tower fans are often tall and look like a tower. They usually have inlets on each side to pull in air and vents on the front to blow out that air at a 90-degree angle.
A tower fan will have a fixed, solid base at the bottom, while most of the central part of the fan moves back and forth, also known as oscillating. They’re often known for their lightweight design and they are easy to move around.
It has a cover on the front that protects the blades, making a tower fan a safer option for small children who might want to touch them.
Tower fans cool a room in fashion, while also working quietly and efficiently.
How do tower fans work?
Tower fans work by pulling air already in the room and pushing it out at a different angle. They work just like how an old windmill or turbine works!
A motor turns a cylindrical container that holds its blades. While the fan swing back and forth, the air is sucked through side vents and pushed through a central system before being pushed out through the front cover.
Instead of being pushed horizontally like most fans, the air is forced through a tower fan vertically, creating a wider spread of the airflow. A combination of the full-body output vents plus angled vents means air is felt like a cool breeze.
Do tower fans work for cooling?
Tower fans use a process called “forced convection” to remove the heat from your room.
By moving the air fast through the room – and across your body! – a tower fan removes surrounding heat, which results in you feeling cooler.
Convection is the process of using liquids or gases (like air) to transfer heat. Tower fans work by forcing air, which starts the convection process, causing the heat to disappear and you to feel cooler.
In essence, yes – tower fans do work for cooling down a room!
What does “oscillating fan” mean?
To oscillate means to swing.
“Oscillate” was first used to describe a pendulum or object that swung side to side. Now, oscillation is used to describe something that moves back and forth or side to side in a steady motion.
An oscillating fan moves side to side, changing how the air flows. The current is spread more evenly throughout the room, which will create an overall cooler area.
To be classified as an oscillating fan, the fan must have a base or body fixed in a place and a fan head that moves from side to side. That’s it!
Tower fan benefits and disadvantages
Tower fans have become popular because they don’t take large space and the unique way it forces air.
Here, let’s break down the pros and cons of tower fans.
Benefits of Tower fans
Many tower fans come with built-in sleep timer functions. These work by setting a time. For example, if you set the fan to 4 hours, the fan will automatically turn itself off at the end of that 4 hours. This is great when you want to leave it going when you leave, or to have it automatically turned off to save money while you sleep.
Tower fans often have built-in ionizers. An ionizer makes the air clean by removing dust, pollen, animal dander, and other things that can cause allergies. This makes a tower fan an excellent option for people with allergies or dogs that shed a lot.
Many modern tower fans offer special features that you won’t find on a traditional fan, such as a HEPA filter, misting mode, humidifier, and more! Some towers even have uncommon features, such as nightlights.
A majority of tower fans are very light in weight, about 10 pounds or less.
Tower fans come in cheap basic models that still oscillate and move air, up to expensive models with many more features.
When it comes to fitting into an overall beautiful design, the tower fan has every other fan on the market beat. There are very many styles and colors of tower fans, and thanks to their vertical design, they free up a lot of floor space.
Most tower fans come with a remote. This will allow you to operate them without having to go over to the fan to change the airflow.
Tower fans often top the safety charts. Every part of the fan is encased within its body, almost removing the chance of injury to pets, animals, and curious children.
Best features of tower fans
The top tower fan features you should look for include:
- Remote control
- Multiple fan speeds
- Optional oscillation
- Programmable timers
- LED display
- Digital thermostat
- Ambient room temperature
- Safety features, such as tipping and overheating protection
- Quiet mode, for more silent operation
- Turbo mode, for a higher air output
- The indicator light for filter changes
- Portability, to move around as you need
- Air cleaning and purifying options, such as ionizers, HEPA filters, and allergens
Disadvantages of Tower fan
The main disadvantage of a tower fan is often the noise. Tower fans are usually louder than some of the other types of base fans. Look for fans that work at or under 50 decibels, which is the level that is most commonly considered quiet to humans.
Tower fans have better oscillating features, but most of them don’t have any tilting adjustments. That means you can’t point them up or down to change up the airflow. However, they are pretty strong, so you can set them on top of a table to raise the airflow. Although high-end tower fans can be adjustable, they will cost you.
How often should you clean your tower fan?
Depending on your overall usage, you should clean your tower fan regularly.
If you are using your fan regularly, then you will want to clean it every month and change the filters every three months.
Before you begin, make sure your fan is not plugged. Cleaning the fan will likely release a lot of dust or allergens into the air, so I recommend that you wear protective gear, as well as clean in an area where there is a free flow of air or outside.
Tools you may need to clean your tower fan include:
- Cleaning brush or cloth
- Compressed air
- Protective gear, such as eyewear or masks
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often you should clean your fan, and details on how to clean your fan.
Most fans will have a back or side panel you will need to unscrew. Make sure to take note of where you put the screws!
Your fan may have a removable filter. If it does, remove the filter and clean it or replace it. Then, use your compressed air and a cloth to carefully clean off the exterior outputs, fan blades, and anything you can see.
Be careful with cleaning near anything sharp or any electric parts. Try to remove as much built-up dirt and dust as possible.
When you’re finished, replace the filter, and screw the panel back on.
The best tower fans for your room
If you’re in the market for a new tower fan, check out this complete buying guide on the 5 best tower fans.
The best tower fans will have:
- Remote controls
- A choice of style and color
- HEPA and other filters
- Auto-off timers
- Oscillation capabilities
- Low-noise performance
Some of the top brands include Lasko, Honeywell, Holmes, and Pelonis.
Tower fan vs. pedestal fan differences
A pedestal fan is also known as a floor fan, but with a pedestal body.
These are the most common types of fans – they are designed to be placed on the floor. They have a solid base, a stable stand, and the top has 3-5 blades that spin 180 degrees. Many oscillating tower fans can rotate as well.
Pedestal vs. Tower
Space: When it comes to the area, a tower fan takes the gold. Tower fans are tall and slender – they can fit in tight spaces, small corners, or be tucked away discreetly while not in use.
Coverage area: A tower fan will win out over a pedestal fan every time. They cover a higher cubic foot per minute (CFM) than tower fans.
Purpose: When it comes to pure air output, a pedestal fan will often beat out a tower fan in this category. Tower fans can’t compete with the pure power of a pedestal fan. However, if you want to purify the air, remove dust and allergens, and improve your room’s air quality, a tower fan will be the better choice.
Style: Pedestal fans are often big, with few style options. Tower fans come in various colors, designs, and styles – some don’t even have blades!
Box fans vs. tower fans
A box fan has a name that describes exactly how it looks – like a box. Sometimes called a tabletop fan, box fans are simple fans that have an outer box with some cage or screen, with the internal blades.
These fans are typically very square in appearance, but some may be rectangular or circular. They often sit very close to the ground as they sit directly on the floor or surface.
Tower vs. Box Fans
Space: Box fans have many sizes, from tiny desktop fans to large, industrial fans. They can come in small sizes.
Coverage area: If you need to cover a larger area, a box fan is not for you. Since they only push air in one direction, they’re best suited for small spaces or areas where direct cooling is the best option.
Purpose: A box fan pushes air straight forward. It blows directly where you point it, whereas a tower fan will move 180 degrees with multi-directional airflow. Additionally, a box fan has one purpose – push the air out. They don’t have a lot of other features like tower fans do. Their main bonus is the price point – box fans are often very cheap.
Style: Box fans are available in various colors and sizes, just like their tower fan competitor. However, box fans usually have a more variety of shapes, ranging from small circular fans to rectangles to squares and more.
Tower fan vs. ceiling fan power consumption
If you’re looking for a more detailed look into how ceiling fans and tower fans consume power, check out these other articles in this series!
Tower fan energy use
Depending on the size of the room being cooled and the size, efficiency, and filters on your tower fan, the energy the fan uses will vary.
On average, running a mid-sized tower fan every second, 24/7, 365 would cost you about $.339 a day, or $120.05 a year. (Based on the average price of electricity in the US at $13.17.)
A high-velocity tower fan frequently would use more power, whereas a low-watt tower fan will use less energy and, therefore, less power and cost less.
Ceiling fan energy use
A traditional ceiling fan uses around 50 watts of electricity or less. They also have a large coverage area, especially compared to floor, table, and box fans.
For the best air cooling, find a fan with at least 52” blades, pair that with 15W or less LED light bulbs.
To learn all about ceiling fans and their energy use, check out this helpful guide.