The worst of winter is over, the sun is shining, and summer is on the horizon. However, some of us are stuck inside and we’re starting to feel the heat!
It’s time to purchase a fan, and the first thing that comes to mind is the pedestal fan. It’s movable, it’s powerful, it gets the job done … but it can also be kind of clunky and awkward!
The second option is usually the tower fan. It’s not as powerful as the pedestal fan, but it’s slim, unobtrusive, and makes your room look like a spaceship! Perfect for personal use and crowded spaces.
The question is does it cool the air in a room?
The short answer is no. Neither pedestal fans nor tower fans actually cool the air in the room. Yes, they may be able to cool you down, but only by using the air that is already in the room.
What fans actually do is circulate the air that is already in the room. The fan’s blades rotate at a high speed to create airflow, sucking in the air from the room and directing it towards a specific direction at a high volume. When you’re in front of a fan, the airflow hits your skin at a speed that causes the sweat from your body to evaporate quicker, which causes you to cool down.
The misconception that fans cool the air causes a lot of people to increase their energy bill by leaving their fan on in a room all day, expecting the room to get cooler. The room does not get cooler.
Some science buffs will even tell you that the friction from the spinning blades will actually cause the air to get a little bit warmer over time!
Let’s get into a bit of science: The average body temperature is around 37°C (97.6°F), while the average room temperature is around 20°C (68°F). What the fan does is blow the room temperature air towards you, and since your body is generally warmer than the room temperature air, the air you feel is a lot cooler.
The air remains the same temperature, it’s just moving faster and directly at you.
How do fans actually work?
Imagine that you’re in a hot room with very little ventilation. Your temperature is rising, so you rush to find the nearest folder and start to fan your face with it.
You’re not making the air any cooler when you do that. You’re just pushing the room temperature air onto your skin. Your body is hotter than the room temperature and so you’re essentially pushing cooler air on you. Standard fans work by this same principle except at a faster rate.
Now, two things happen when the air is pushed on you:
- Your sweat evaporates: When your skin secretes sweat from your body, some of your body heat gets trapped in the sweat droplets. When your sweat eventually evaporates, it takes the heat that was trapped with it.
This process is called convection. When a fan is blowing in your direction, the added air causes your sweat to evaporate at a faster rate.
- The air around you is displaced with cooler air. After your sweat evaporates along with the body heat, it lingers around your body before dissipating into the surrounding atmosphere.
Since this process is constantly occurring, the heat around your body is generally higher than the temperature of the room you’re in. When a fan is blowing in your direction, as well as evaporating sweat, it also displaces the warmer air around you with the cooler room temperature air.
This is also known as the wind chill effect.
So, the next time you think of leaving your fan on in your room or letting the fan rotate to an unoccupied space so it can “cool the room”, remember that you’ll only be wasting your electricity.
Why should you buy a tower fan?
Okay, a tower fan doesn’t cool your room, and it generally has less power than the average pedestal fan. So, why buy it? Well, it can still efficiently cool you down in an open space. While it does that, it also takes up a lot less space than the pedestal fan.
The average airflow speed of a pedestal fan is around 800 cubic feet per minute (CFM), while the average tower fan speed is around 500 CFM. Pedestal fans and tower fans both reach up to 30 meters, which is more than the average room size.
You’ll also be able to slot your sleek-looking tower fan into any space in your room and receive a sufficient cooling experience throughout the day.
Or you could just get them for decoration, since they look so cool!
What kind of fans cool the air in a room?
Aside from a super expensive portable air conditioning unit with low air airflow, evaporative coolers are available for around the same price as a tower fan.
Evaporative coolers (also known a “swamp coolers”) generally have the same function as a regular fan. However, evaporative coolers use the evaporation of cold water and ice in order to blow out air that is cooler than the room temperature it takes in.
5 evaporative air coolers that replace a tower fan.
This list shows some of the best options for evaporative air coolers that are great alternatives to tower fans. However, it is not by any means, exhaustive. The best fan ultimately depends on what you’re using it for.
NewAir AF-1000 $209.99
The NewAir AF-1000 is technically still a tower fan (although, not nearly as good-looking), since it provides the same function when used in its fan-only mode. However, its main function is its cooling mode, and it is more than capable of cooling the air in the average room.
This fan holds a 24-liter tank that promises hours of cooling, and unlike most air coolers like this type, it can be filled with a cup or a jug through an opening on the side. So, the only reason you’ll have to remove the tank is to clean it.
The NewAir AF-1000 has an airflow speed of up to 500 CFM—around the same speed as the average tower fan. Although, unlike the average tower fan, the NewAir AF-1000 makes up for a weaker airflow by actually blowing cool air into circulation instead of the same room temperature air.
With a reach of 300 ft2, this fan promises to decrease the temperature of a room by around 6°C (20°F). It’s perfect for personal or communal use.
“Igenix IG9703” $139.27
The Igenix IG9703, like the NewAir AF-1000, is able to function as a tower fan in its fan-only mode. This evaporative cooler is also able to cool the air in a room for hours a day.
The Igenix IG19703 is able to hold up to 6 liters of water, meaning that it will always remain easy to move around while still providing hours of cooling.
It also has the airflow speed of the average tower fan, which is also made up for by its cooling ability. With the cooling mode, this air cooler is able to cool a room of up to 160 ft2.
What sets the Igenix IG19703 apart from other evaporative air coolers is its energy efficiency. This device’s usage power is 55 watts. That’s about the same as the average lightbulb! So, you can keep this on all day without ever worrying about the energy bill.
Hessaire MC18M $169.00
The Hessaire MC18M is one of the most popular air coolers on the market and for a good reason. With an airflow speed of up to 1300 CFM, it has more power than the average pedestal fan!
This fan can also cool a room of up to 500 ft2, making it effective for both personal and communal use.
Along with its remarkable power, the Hessaire MC18M boasts a weight of 16 lbs. That’s around the same size as an adult bowling ball! So, you can easily carry this cooling powerhouse along with you when traveling.
Its water tank can hold up to 16 liters of water, which will give up to about 3-4 hours of cooling time. Of course, like the other coolers, there’s an option to use the fan-only mode.
With such lightweight and impressive power, it makes sense that the Hessaire MC18M is one of the most popular evaporative air coolers on the market.
The MaxKare Portable Air Conditioner Fan is an extremely lightweight and completely wireless evaporative air cooler, and it is also the most affordable fan on this list at a mere $39.99!
This fan does not promise to cool an entire room like the rest of the fans on this list. However, this is the only air cooler to provide an entirely wireless and portable experience. Simply charge it for up to 4 hours via USB before using it for up to 4 hours more.
Since the MaxKare air cooler is such a lightweight device, it can only carry up to 200 ml of water or ice. That means its cooling mode can only be used for up to 1 hour.
Just imagine being outside during a hot day when everyone is putting cold water bottles on their heads and desperately fanning themselves. You’ll be enjoying a whole hour of superior cooling power.
Like the MaxKare air cooler, this is also an affordable lightweight evaporative air cooler. However, this is not completely wireless and works a little differently than the other air coolers.
Rather than using a water tank and a water pad to blow cool air from the fan, the NTMY uses a spray function that creates a light mist to go along with the fan. This can double as a humidifier—useful for those who live in dryer parts of the world.
The NTMY holds up to 600 ml of water, providing up to 12 hours of cool air with three adjustable fan speeds that are equal to the average pedestal fan speeds.
By buying an evaporative air cooler over a tower fan, you’re unfortunately sacrificing the “cool factor” a tower fan brings to your room. With the NTMY air cooler, this is not the case.
There are 7 color functions that light up the transparent water tank along with a fade option. So, you can cool your space while having ambient light, never needing to sacrifice aesthetics for functionality.
How can you cool the air with a normal fan?
Neither a pedestal fan nor a tower fan can cool the air, but there are ways that you can use the fans you already have to cool the air without having to spend money on a fancy new evaporative cooler.
Here are a couple of DIY tricks you can use to get a normal pedestal fan or tower fan to blow cold air into circulation:
Put a bottle or bowl of water in front of a pedestal fan, so that when it blows air, the airflow passes through the cold barrier. This creates a cool airflow that will actually cool the room temperature air.
Put a cold towel over a pedestal fan or a tower fan. This has the same effect as the ice bottle technique, blowing cool air through a cold barrier. However, it does not last as long, and there is a risk of damaging the circuits of the fan.