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Posted on September 26, 2022, 1:00 pm
Desk fans offer a convenient way to control the climate around your workspace. When it’s hot and stuffy, concentrating on work is almost impossible. You don’t want to be a sweaty mess on those Zoom calls, and you certainly don’t want a loud, disruptive and distracting air conditioner sputtering in the background—an absolute nightmare for working from home. Desk fans are a great way to offset the hot summer months without breaking the bank with cooling bills. And if you don’t have air conditioning at all, small table fans should be a must in every household! While desk fans don’t actually cool the air like an air conditioner, they help circulate the airflow around the room to create a cooling wind, helping your body cool down. The best desk fans are quiet, powerful, compact and budget-friendly, so we’ve rounded up some of the best options available for your convenience.
How we chose the best desk fans
Choosing the right desk fan for your setup really depends on your own needs and personal tastes. For this list, we’ve selected some models that work for almost everyone and others that target specific users. However, all of the entries on this list promise reliable build quality, solid airflow, generally quiet operation, and compact dimensions. We’ve relied on a combination of personal experience, peer suggestions, user impressions, editorial reviews and spec comparisons to select models from reputable brands.
What to look for when choosing the best desk fans
Your desktop fan should be compact enough that it doesn’t take up all of your work space! We’d recommend considering size first and foremost when shopping for your desk fan—about 6- to 8-inches tall is a good starting point.
You don’t want a big, heavy piece to lug from desk to desk or around your house. Look for a lightweight design that’s easy to move.
Fan noise can be measured in decibels. You’ll want around 40-50dB for quiet, discrete noise levels.
We prefer fans that have at least 3 speeds, so you can customize your experience and noise level to your preference.
Best Desktop Fans 2022: Reviews and Recommendations
A small, compact desk fan doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective. You can find solid and simple designs for under $20, but more stylish designs will command a higher price. More speed settings and more power will also increase the price, but you really should never pay more than $100 for even the best desktop fans.
Best Overall: Vornado Pivot Personal Air Circulation Fan
Why did you make the cut?: Style, power and brand reputation combine in this highly rated small fan! It has three speeds, weighs under 2 pounds, and has a sleek, modern design.
- Product Dimensions: 5.1″L x 5.7″W x 6″H
- Item weight: 1.7 lbs
- Number of gears: 3
- Great brand reputation
- 3-speed, multi-directional airflow
- The highest setting is noisy
- It can be difficult to clean
Designed with a cool, aviation-inspired look, the Vornado Pivot looks expensive without breaking the bank. At only 6 inches tall, it’s a great choice for a desk or nightstand that produces concentrated airflow without overwhelming the space. It features three speeds, multi-directional airflow and several colors to match your mood. Reviewers like that it’s durable, not too loud (especially the lowest setting), and can “blow 11 feet across my bedroom, even on medium.” Note that it can be a bit difficult to clean and the highest setting is definitely the noisiest if you’re trying to take a video call or are a light sleeper.
Why did you make the cut?: Painted in green and gold, this retro-inspired desk fan offers stunning ambiance with your cooler air. It has three speeds, lots of positive feedback, and a full-action swivel head for multi-directional airflow.
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 inches (H) x 11.8 inches (W) x 8.1 inches (L)
- Item weight: 7.9 pounds
- Number of gears: 3
- 3 speeds
- Rotating head for multi-directional airflow
- Strong, sturdy, well built
- Many 5-star online reviews
- Vintage feel
- Cleaning the inside can be a challenge
- More expensive than other options
- Vintage look (not really retro)
Vintage feeling with the advantages of modern technology, this green and gold painted fan is sturdy yet compact enough to fit on your desk. With Vortex technology for whole-room circulation, three speeds according to your preference and a strong brand reputation, this table fan is the perfect choice for anyone with a more retro design style. It’s made of durable metal with no assembly required – just plug it in! Note that this is a vintage feel, not a true vintage fan.
Best Compact: Vornado 133 Compact Air Circulation Fan
Why did you make the cut?: With over 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon, apartment dwellers and space savers will love this mini, 2-pound, two-speed, deep-bladed desk fan.
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.9 x 8.7 inches
- Item weight: 2.1 pounds
- Battery required: No
- Light (2 lbs)
- Mini, compact, space saving
- Moves air up to 25 feet
The compact 133 air circulator features Vornado deep-bladed, two-speed, and closed-duct inlet driver code that moves air about 25 feet into the room. That’s pretty good for a fan that’s only 2 pounds! It comes with an adjustable tilting head so you can direct the air right at your face during the hot months; however, it only moves up and down (not sideways). Reviewers love that this mini desk fan is sturdy, compact, and budget-friendly at under $40. It’s a “good little fan” that’s pretty decent for use in a home office or nursery. Note that some find it noisy at higher speeds. This is not ideal for light sleepers or people sensitive to noise.
Best Quiet Whisper: Cordless small oscillating table fan
Why did you make the cut?: With a maximum sound of 45dB, this cordless oscillating desk fan offers great value for your money at a fair price.
- Product Dimensions: 8″L x 8″W x 11″H
- Material: Plastic
- Noise level: 45dB
- 4 speeds
- 45 dB – low whisper
- Decent prices
- Compact but durable
- Some do not see enough of a difference between levels 2 and 3
With four wind speeds (normal wind, natural wind, sleep wind, baby wind) for a personalized experience, this silent desk fan is only 45 dB when running. It has a smart oscillating fan with turbine technology for more concentrated blowing. While the high performance DC motor creates a powerful fan, the low noise is perfect for light sleepers, video calls and those easily annoyed by noise. Reviewers rave about this little fan—many note that they like the LED feature, how quiet it is, and that it’s small enough to be compact but big enough to not be flimsy. It’s also decently priced under $50!
Best Budget: Gaiatop USB Desk Fan
Why did you make the cut?: For under $15, you can get a three-speed, quality, USB plug-in desk fan that has over 11,000 positive reviews to back it up.
- Product Dimensions: 3.07″L x 4.57″W x 5.43″H
- Item weight: 8 oz
- Number of gears: 3
- Super cheap
- Over 11,000 positive reviews on Amazon
- 3 speeds
- Powerful yet compact
- Anti-slip base
- It’s not the most stylish
- The included 3-foot cables are short
For a simple and straightforward desk fan that won’t break the bank but will provide powerful circulation, look no further than the Gaiatop Compact Desk Fan. For under $15, you get a small but powerful fan with three speeds, a USB plug, and one button for easy control. The base with a non-slip rubber pad helps reduce noise and prevents scratching the surface of your table or desk. Note that the three-foot cord may be a little short to plug into some outlets, depending on how your desk is laid out. One reviewer had trouble fitting other plugs into the small fan’s USB port, so keep that in mind when buying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are bladeless fans better?
Bladeless fans are generally safer, especially if you have children (there is less risk of cutting yourself on the blades). They are also stronger, but also more expensive. If budget is the main concern, bladeless fans may not be the best option for you.
Q: Is it cheaper to have fans or air conditioning?
Fans are cheaper than air conditioning. However, they do two different things. Fans circulate the air around the room, while the air conditioner actually cools the air. If running the fan feels enough, it will definitely be cheaper overall. But if it’s unbearably hot, you’ll only be able to actually cool the air using the air conditioner.
Final thoughts on the best desk fans
Stop sweating during meetings, long nights writing or brainstorming at your desk. Keep cool in warmer temperatures with these compact, affordable and convenient table fans that will keep you comfortable and cool without spending a ton on air conditioning bills!