If you’re shopping for a top-tier fan, you may wonder what makes a good fan. While fans can’t lower the ambient temperature like an air conditioner, they move currents of air around your living space. In addition, fans can make climate control systems more energy efficient while maintaining comfortable indoor air temperatures. Stick around to learn what a fan is and if it’s a good solution for your home.


  • Fans utilize an electric motor to spin blades that create an air current in your living space.
  • Fans do not actively cool the air like air conditioning, but the air circulation can help an AC system be more energy efficient.
  • Ceiling fans are the most common type of fan in America, followed by floor/window fans.

Also, if you’re having issues getting your fan to turn on, learn why your fan stopped working to determine if you need a new unit or a fresh electric motor. But first, you may want to ensure the motor housing and fan blades haven’t warped into an irregular shape, especially if your standing fan is making noise. Additionally, consider reading about how to fix a fan that won’t spin.

Of course, if you’re in the market for a new fan, read our guide to 3-blade vs 5-blade standing fans or our picks for the best large ceiling fan.

Insider Tip

You can lower your body temperature with a bucket of ice and a portable fan. With these tools, you can create an evaporative cooler.

Explaining What a Fan Is

A fan is an appliance that uses an electric motor and rotating blades to create airflow currents. Most models use between three and five blades that are usually constructed from wood, plastic, or metal. Additionally, most fans utilize a single-phase induction motor to drive the blade rotation.

Fans feature a CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating that helps homeowners get the proper-size blades and electric motor power for their space. With an adequate CFM rating, you will have the proper blade size and cooling power for a gentle breeze. Additionally, depending on your fan type, you’ll experience different noise levels and flow settings. And if you are curious how these fans can cool, check out our comparison of a box fan and an air conditioner.

Types of Fans

There are many fan options for homeowners looking for a refreshing breeze through their living space. Some models require professional installation, while others are portable and low-cost.


Always disconnect electrical power to your living space before trying to install a new ceiling fan.

Ceiling Fan

A ceiling fan mounts to your ceiling and creates consistent air currents around your space. Most feature large blades and follow a similar design concept of energy-efficient air movement. Most ceiling fans require professional installation, but DIY is an option for experienced homeowners.

Portable Fan

A portable fan is a lightweight and low-cost option for fan-based airflow. There are pedestals and standing fans that feature a traditional blade system, and others feature a tower or bladeless design. Some portable fans are window units easily installed into a window sill.

STAT: A 2020 US EIA (Energy Information Agency) survey showed that 72.4% of Americans use at least one ceiling fan. (source)

Whole House Fan

A whole-house fan features conventional ventilation ducting like central AC and exhausts warm air through attic ventilation. These models are powerful air circulation tools, and they require professional installation.

What is a Fan FAQs

Can fans make my climate control use less electrical power?

Fans work on a high-pressure coefficient, and the blades push the air around your home as they spin. Since the fan is circulating the air, your AC unit’s air handling unit doesn’t have to work as hard to move air around the cooling system.

How do I clean a fan?

You can clean your fan with a damp cloth and a dusting wand. Additionally, you can remove spray compressed air into the motor housing and clean the fan filter unit. This maintenance will keep the unit in optimal shape and on the quiet end of the noise spectrum.

What CFM do I need?

Experts recommend 2 – 3 CFM for every square foot you want to cool. For example, if you wish for consistent airflow in a 200 sq. ft. room, you need at least a 400 CFM fan. You would want a 600 CFM fan for strong airflow, but anything more powerful may prove disruptive to your space and the loudness of fan noise.
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