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Are Tower Fans Better Than Floor (or desk) Fans? Find Out Here!

Written by Ethan
Updated on June 22, 2021

What’s the Best Type of Fan for You?

When you made the decision to buy an electric fan for your home or workspace, you might not have realised that there are so many different options to choose from out there! Different shapes, sizes, heights, and configurations – how is one to decide?

Have no fear, this article will help to simplify the issue by looking at several different kinds of electric fan in order to enable you to choose the type that best suits you. The question of whether tower fans are better than floor or desk fans is a tricky one, as there’s no set answer; what fan is the best will depend entirely on what you need it for.

There is also a lot of variation within types so not all tower fans are created equal and not all floor fans are created equal. You might even want to go a step further by investing in several fans of different types to serve different functions within your space.

On that note, we’ll waste no further time – let’s get some more info on each fan type!

What’s the Deal with Tower Fans?

A tower fan tells you a fair amount about itself just through its name. Just as towers are generally tall and thin, so to are tower fans. Similarly to a pedestal fan (which we’ll look at later on), a tower fan stands vertically as opposed to a floor fan which is lower to the ground and is usually as tall as it is wide.

Tower fans are generally perceived to be the most technologically advanced electrical fan type on the market, and for good reason. The first fully functional and commercially sold tower fan was only created in 2009, by Dyson, and this fairly recent date shows just how advanced these fans are.

Tower fans are often referred to as “bladeless fans” as they do not have rotating blades like the majority of other fan types, giving them an almost sci-fi aesthetic. This begs the question…

How Do Tower Fans Work?

Most people understand how the average electric fan works, as it’s a simple mechanism of having a motor turn the blades which in turn circulate the air in a space. But without blades, how do tower fans do their job?

Tower fans generally have a cylindrical casing that houses their impeller blades (so when people call them “bladeless fans”, this isn’t exactly accurate). These impeller blades do not function the same way as a standard fan’s blades in that they do not rotate around a point and push air in a horizontal direction, but rather move air up and down the tower fan’s column and out through vents.

This outward motion through the vents forces air into the space at a 90° angle, allowing the air to spread across the room to cool it down. The current of cool air moves in a vertical wave rather than a horizontal stream, cooling the space from floor level upwards.

Ok, How About Floor Fans?

Floor fans are about as different from a tower fan as you can get. As the name suggests, floor fans sit on the floor, usually held upright by a simple, adjustable stand. Floor fans come in a range of sizes, and depending on purpose, can be extremely powerful.

Most floor fans also have an oscillating feature that allows them to turn 180°, circulating air in a wider swathe than simply straight. Floor fans follow the traditional MO of most standard fans in that they have blades that spin in order to distribute the air.

How Do Floor Fans Work?

Like pedestal fans and other more traditional fans, floor fans work by using a motor to spin their blades around a central point in order to draw air in from behind them and expel it out in front of them. This movement of air through the fan creates an air current that works to cool you down.

While the air that is passed through the fan is not actually cooled by the fan, it does feel cooler when it washes over you than you’d feel standing in still air. Some more modern floor fans come with inbuilt thermal systems where you can control the actual temperature of the air coming out of the fan using a thermostat, but most just work by creating air movement.

The stand that keeps floor fans upright is often adjustable which means you can angle the fan to various degrees depending on where you want the current of air to be pointing.

Is a Desk Fan Worth Considering?

The term “desk fan” can be used to describe any kind of fan that is small and compact enough to be placed on a desk. They come in lots of different styles and can resemble small floor fans, pedestal fans, clip-on fans, or even small tower fans.

Because desk fans come in so many different shapes and models, it’s difficult to describe them in overarching terms, but if you spend a lot of time at a desk, then a desk fan could definitely be worth getting.

How Do Desk Fans Work?

As stated above, it’s tricky to answer a question like this because of the sheer range of desk fans available, but to summarise a few different types:

  • Floor fan style desk fans work in the same way as full-size floor fans but will not be as powerful and will of course, be smaller and lighter. These fans are usually adjustable in terms of direction and can have several speed levels.
  • Clip-on desk fans are varied in and of themselves but are generally fairly rudimental and use a battery or other power source to spin a motor connected to small blades that circulate air. These fans can be clipped onto different things on your desk such as a lamp, computer monitor, or vase, rather than standing freely on their own.
  • Pedestal style desk fans work just like regular pedestal fans, just on a smaller scale. The stem between the base and the fan head will be shorter and the fan head will be smaller, so as to be able to fit on a desk and blow air at the right height while you’re sitting at the desk.
  • Tower fan desk fans can either be columnar like most normal tower fans, or they can have circular shapes instead in order to better accommodate the smaller space. Whatever the shape, the basic function is the same as in a full-size tower fan.

Pedestal Fans Have Been Mentioned a Lot – What Are They?

In the beginning of this article, I did say that we’d get onto pedestal fans, and here we are! Pedestal fans are without a doubt the most common type of fan used in homes and workspaces (apart from maybe ceiling fans), and they’re fairly self-explanatory.

Pedestal fans are made up of several basic components: a base, a stand (or pedestal – hence the name), and the fan head which houses the motor and blades. Pedestal fans can oscillate 180° and often have several power levels to adjust the speed of the fan.

How Do They Work?

Pedestal fans work similarly to floor fans, with the key difference being that floor fans sit on the floor whereas pedestal fans are elevated by a stand. A motor spins the blades around a point, and this draws air in through the back of the fan before expelling it out the front.

This creates a current of air in a horizontal direction from the front of the fan. Most pedestal fans do not come with thermal systems and so you cannot adjust the temperature of the air being circulated, but you will feel a cooling effect as the air washes over you.

So, Are Tower Fans Better Than Floor or Desk Fans?

Hopefully reading this article has given you a better idea of how each type of fan is composed and how they work. If you still aren’t sure about which type to pick, think about the space you want to cool – is it a living room, an office space, or a bedroom?

Each type of fan will have it’s own advantages and disadvantages. If you want to cool quite a large space then a floor fan or tower fan will probably be the most suitable as they are generally the most powerful and often come with thermostatic features, allowing you to cool more air more effectively.

If it’s a workspace where you spend most of your time sitting at a desk, then a desk fan will be most appropriate and a tower fan would also work in a less direct way. A floor fan might not be as appropriate depending on the height of your chair etc.

In a bedroom or living space, where you sleep and relax, you’re going to want a fan that’s not only effective, but also quiet, in which case a tower fan is your best bet. They’re practically noiseless whereas floor fans can sound a bit like an airplane taking off and pedestal fans can whirr and click.

On a balance, it all depends on what you want to get out of having a fan, so think about this carefully or even ask a professional in-store for advice if necessary.


Heya'll Im Ethan, I run TowerFanReviews.UK. By trade an Electrical Engineer, an owner of a fan shop. Always being asked about my recommendations for tower fans, I created this site. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out :)
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