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Can A Tower Fan Be Used Horizontally, On Its Side? Would It Be As Effective?

Written by Ethan
Updated on December 6, 2021

How Does Orientation Affect Tower Fan Effectiveness?

When summer arrives and the heatwaves descend, it can sometimes leave us in some sticky situations (literally, think of the sweat!). They say necessity is the mother of invention and that desperate times call for desperate measures, and sometimes, the heat can drive us to some pretty creative solutions.

If you’ve ever thought about turning your tower fan on its side in order to distribute the airflow in a different way or to get to hard-to-reach areas, you’re in luck. This article will go into how turning a tower fan on its side affects its effectiveness.

For a short answer, by and large your tower fan’s effectiveness shouldn’t be negatively affected by being placed on its side. However, while it won’t necessarily cause your fan to be less effective, there are a few reasons why you might want to rethink this idea.

Points Against Putting Your Tower Fan on its Side


Majority of tower fans, unless you have a really high-end one, have columns made of plastic casings with small air vents in them to allow air to be expelled into the room. When the tower fan is upright, these vents in the column do accumulate dust and other debris if not wiped down regularly, but this is easily managed by swiping a cloth over them every so often.

If you turn your tower fan on its side however, this dust gathering will be compounded as you’re essentially laying these vents so that they are more easily accessed by falling dust. Again, this shouldn’t be an issue if you regularly clean your tower fan, but if you forget or if you’re not usually in the habit, then the build-up can be much faster.

If this gathered dust is allowed to settle inside the inner mechanisms of the tower fan, it’s possible that there may be some disruption to normal functioning over time.


If you’re generally a very tidy person with minimal clutter in your home, then you’re one of the lucky ones! Most of us, however, can be susceptible to collecting clutter and putting things down where they don’t necessarily belong because we’re tired or just can’t find enough space to put them.

If you’re the sort of person who tends to accumulate little piles of books, mail, and other items around your home (join the club!) then laying your tower fan on its side might become a tempting shelf for these items.

Whereas an upright tower fan has very little horizontal surface area, place the same fan lying down and all the vertical surface area becomes horizontal surface area – AKA another place to stack things! Even if you are tidy and don’t have a lot of clutter, you should still be cautious of resting things on your tower fan as this can impede function and place undue stress on the casing.


Closely linked to the point above about stacking items on your sideways tower fan, having your tower fan lying down will also take up more space than having it standing upright. This is a pretty self-explanatory issue and just means that it’ll be taking up space that you could be using in other ways.

If you plan on building a shelf or bracket to hold the sideways tower fan on a wall then this won’t be as much of an issue, but you’ll soon realise that lying your tower fan down on a desk, countertop, or floor will become an irritation quite quickly.

This will be a very subjective matter however, and if you have enough space to accommodate the greater surface area of the fan lying down then you’ve got no reason to worry. It will also depend on your reason for wanting to turn your fan sideways in the first place.

Cleaning Your Tower Fan

As we briefly explored above, dust and other settling particles can build up inside your tower fan which can affect its effectiveness over time. Not only is effectiveness lessened by debris build-up, but if you suffer from allergies then your fan blowing out bits of dander and other allergens can cause your reactions to flare up.

Regardless of the reason, it’s very important to ensure your tower fan is cleaned regularly. This will be especially important if you’re laying it on its side. All tower fans are a bit different but most standard ones can be cleaned using the steps below.

Simple Steps for Cleaning a Tower Fan

  • Unplug your fan so that you won’t be unexpectedly caught by oscillating blades while you’re trying to clean it, and wrap up the cord so it doesn’t become a tripping hazard while you work.
  • Using a cloth (microfibre works best) or brush vacuum head, clear the vents of any visible dust and dirt build-up. For a proper clean, you’ll need to go deeper than this but for regular upkeep, this will go a long way.
  • Using an appropriate screwdriver, remove the plastic outer casing from your tower fan’s frame, being careful not to pry the pieces apart too forcefully as they are liable to snap if you’re not careful.
  • Once the fan is open and laying down on a sturdy surface, you can use a can of compressed air with a precision nozzle to dislodge any caked-on debris in hard-to-reach places.
  • Once all the dust has been loosened, you can use your vacuum again to suck up all the dirt along the entirety of the fan’s blades and column, making sure you rotate the fan so that you get all sides.
  • You should also check the motor and corresponding brackets to ensure they’re free of debris.
  • At the top of the blade column, you’ll find the bearing that secures the blades to the column. Using WD-40 or similar lubricating agent, you can oil up the bearing by applying a small amount of product and turning the column to ensure thorough coverage.
  • You can then begin replacing the plastic casing, using the same screwdriver to ensure all screws are appropriately tightened in place.

Following these steps every two to three weeks will help your tower fan to run at optimal capacity and will protect it from damage, which is particularly important if you’re going to be using it on its side.

Uses for a Tower Fan on its Side

There are a lot of reasons why people choose to use their tower fans on their sides instead of standing them upright. Now that you know that using your tower fan horizontally rather than vertically shouldn’t affect its efficacy, you can feel more confident to do so.

If you’re someone who has a lot of house plants or likes to grow plants from seed, it’s scientifically proven that providing the most natural environment for young plants can help them to grow faster and stronger. This includes simulating a breeze.

Horizontal tower fans can be set up in such a way that they blow directly over seedlings or houseplants, with the resulting breeze gently shaking the stems and leaves to help the plants build strength and weather resistance. When plants are eventually moved outside, they’ll be more prepared to contend with wind.

If you’ve got an attic or crawl space in your house that suffers from damp or mould, having a tower fan on its side blowing into the space can help to dry circulate the air and dry up the environment so that moisture is less able to collect and cause issues.

The same can go for cupboards and other, smaller locations in your home where there might be a chance of damp.

Alternatively, if you want air circulation in your home but don’t enjoy having the air current flowing over your directly, a horizontal tower fan can be a good alternative to a traditional ceiling fan. If you can secure your tower fan to a shelf or bracket on the wall near the ceiling, you can get the benefits of airflow without feeling like you’re being blown away.

Your Fan, Your Choice

Whatever your reasons, your tower fan should run absolutely fine on its side. It might not be the orientation that the manufacturer intended but us humans are creative beings, and we like to test boundaries.

At the end of the day, it’s your fan and your choice. As long as you make sure to keep your tower fan clean and well-maintained, you can expect to enjoy its cooling effects for many years – sideways or upright!


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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