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Best desk fan 2021: Fantastic fans to keep you cool in the office, lounge and bedroom

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Get some relief from the summer heat with the top desk fans from £27

The summer might come late or when you least expect it but, when it does, those soaring temperatures aren’t always a blessing. It’s no picnic trying to get work done when the heat is stifling, while humid, muggy rooms can make it hard to rest or relax. A fan is the obvious answer. If you’re looking to keep a particular room nice and breezy, a tower fan might be the best choice. However, if you’re looking for something to cool you down while you’re sitting at your desk, working in the kitchen, are slumped on the sofa or trying to grab some shuteye, a desk fan is the fan for you.

Forget the rickety, noisy and lacklustre desktop fans you might remember. Today’s best models are powerful enough to cool a decent area and perfect for keeping one or two people chilled, while still being easy to pick up and shift from room to room. Drop one on your desk or bedside table and it’ll keep a breeze moving your way without freezing everyone in the vicinity. In some ways, they’re the ultimate in personal cooling.


Best desk fan: At a glance


How to choose the best desk fan for you

It comes down to a trade-off between budget, size and features: the bigger desktop fans take up more space, but tend to deliver more cooling airflow with lower noise levels than the smaller fans, partly because the fan doesn’t need to spin as fast. Motor technology and designs have evolved over the past few years to bring us some fans that work more efficiently at smaller sizes, but there’s still a reason why the best desktop fans tend to be the slightly larger models.

Almost all desk fans will give you a choice of speeds, so you can run them low and slow when you need the edge taken off the heat in the evening, but fast with a blast when it’s just too hot in the daytime. Up to a point, the more speeds you have, the better chance you have of finding that all-important balance between cooling and noise. Many desk fans will also offer a choice between straight directional and oscillating modes. With the former, you point the fan in your direction and let it do its work. With the latter, you can set it to slowly rotate back and forth from side to side, so it can cool a wider area.

Are there any practicalities to look out for?

Size and weight are important if you want to lug that fan around, but some might prefer a more stylish model on their desk or bedside table. Being able to tilt the fan up and down gives you the option of placing it on the floor when there’s no suitable platform. Otherwise, the other thing to look out for is the power cable. Generally speaking, you’re likely to have a power socket near your desk or table, but having a longer power cable gives you a bit more flexibility. Interestingly, some of the models on test use a USB connection for power, opening up a range of other ways to run your fan.

Are there any other features worth having?

Controls vary from basic to fairly complex, and a few desktop fans now come supplied with a remote, which can be handy if you want one that will moonlight as a floor fan when you’re relaxing in the lounge. Otherwise, you may find some fans offering different fan modes, such as an eco mode, a natural mode or a night setting. These run the fan at a lower speed to minimise power, vary the fan speed for a more natural effect or make the noise less disturbing while you sleep. These modes aren’t always that useful or convincing, though, so don’t focus on them too much.

READ NEXT: The best portable air conditioners

The best desk fans to buy

1. Meaco MeacoFan 260c: The best desk fan you can buy

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

You might not think a battery-powered fan would be particularly effective but the MeacoFan 260c is here to change your mind. It can generate a powerful gust of cooling breeze at maximum settings and, at low settings, it's barely audible. There's even a night light built into the base – just hold down the power button for a second or two to turn it on or off.

Best of all, though, this fan is rechargeable and can run for up to 16 hours at a time before needing to be recharged – while it's charging, you can just run it on USB power. For such an appealingly low price, it's a great deal.

Key specs – Dimensions: 166 x 140 x 269cm; Weight: 490g; Oscillation angle: No; Sound level: Up to 30dB; Cord length: 1.2m micro-USB cable supplied; Warranty: 2yrs; Power: 4W

2. Honeywell HT900E: The best no-nonsense desk fan

Price: £29 | Buy now from Amazon


Billed as a Turbo Fan, the Honeywell HT900E isn’t playing around. This desk fan can push out huge amounts of air at its highest speed, and with a stand and 90° tilting fan head it can work on a desk or table, the floor or even while wall-mounted. You can hear the mechanism clicking as it tilts and the fan is held firmly at your chosen angle.

There are downsides: while Honeywell claims that it’s 25% quieter than the previous model, the HT900E still makes a racket at its highest setting and even the medium speed isn’t exactly restful. Luckily, the slowest setting isn’t uncomfortably noisy and still puts out a respectable breeze. There aren’t any extra features whatsoever, so if you want a fan that oscillates or offers variable speeds, look elsewhere. Is this a problem? Not necessarily. It’s incredibly simple to operate and we rather like the rock-solid build and no-nonsense approach. Put it all together and you’ll struggle to find more cooling power for this kind of money with any other fan.

Key specs – Dimensions: 277 x 277 x 159mm; Weight: 1.35kg; Oscillation angle: No; Sound level: Up to 39dB; Cord length: 1.6m; Warranty: 3yrs; Power: 40W

3. Meaco MeacoFan 360 Personal Air Circulator: The best value all-rounder

Price: £59 | Buy now from Amazon


Okay, Personal Air Circulator is just a fancy way of saying “fan”, but the MeacoFan 360 is arguably the best value desk fan out there. It’s compact at just over 20cm across, easily fitting on your desk or bedside table, and it’s near-whisper quiet at its lowest setting, so great for snoozing, playing games or getting work done. Turn it up – there are 12 speed levels – and the airflow keeps increasing until you’re at the point where no sheet of paper will be left lying on your desk, and you’ll be positively chilled to the bone by the breeze. That's impressive for such a diminutive model. In between, you’ll find quiet settings that still put out a ton of air, so it’s easy to find a balance that works best for you.

You can adjust that speed using touch-sensitive controls and an LED display, and also switch on oscillation to keep the fan sweeping back and forth through roughly 70°. There’s even a timer to turn it off after up to six hours. The big surprise, though, is that it’s USB-powered, allowing you to run it from the supplied charger, your laptop or a handy power bank, and we had no problems powering it from all three. It’s a little more expensive than your average desk fan, but well worth the extra if you want a feature-packed, low-noise fan that can cool you down fast.

Key specs – Dimensions: 209 x 298 x 214cm; Weight: 1.36kg; Oscillation angle: 71°; Sound levels: 15-50dB; Cord length: 1.2m; Warranty: 2yrs; Power: 10W

4. Dimplex 360 Desk Fan: The top fan for features

Price: £60 | Buy now from Argos


It might be louder than the MeacoFan 360, but the Dimplex 360 has it licked on features. It helps that it’s a good-looking fan, with matte-black plastic and a remote control. At nearly 30cm across, it’s a little big for the average desktop, but the clever stand minimises the bulk. The fan itself tilts upwards as far as 90°, with a mechanism that feels incredibly robust, and this model’s party piece is that it can also oscillate not just through 90° or 180° like other models, but through a full 360° if you desire. Stick it on a coffee table and it will keep the whole lounge cool, provided your lounge isn’t massive.

For some, the volume levels might be a deal-breaker. At its lowest speed, it’s surprisingly quiet but, at the highest of its three settings, things get pretty noisy. You can still live with it at low or medium settings, though, and even then there’s enough airflow to cool not just a desk but a good-sized room. What’s more, it has a timer, with one-, two-, four- and eight-hour settings, plus natural and nighttime modes for a gentle, changing breeze or a noise that won’t disturb you. Solidly built and crammed with features, this is one fan that can easily double as a desk or floor fan, with all the control you could ask for.

Key specs - Dimensions: 275 x 340 x 204mm; Weight: 1.9kg; Oscillation angle: 30°-360°; Sound Levels: Up to 55dB; Cord length: 1.8m; Warranty: 3yrs; Power: 45W

Buy now from Argos


5. Meaco MeacoFan 650 Personal Air Circulator: The best fan for quiet cooling

Price: £70 | Buy now from Currys

Looking for the highest cooling power at the lowest noise levels? Look no further than the MeacoFan 650. It’s a little on the large side for most desks but that size means huge amounts of airflow at lower speeds, with an ultra-efficient DC motor that keeps noise levels as low as 20dB. This thing really is incredibly quiet, despite putting out a good breeze even at its lowest setting. And as you turn it up the sound still doesn’t get unbearable; we had to hit level eight of its 12 speed settings before we reached potentially aggravating noise levels, and top speed before it got close to the noise put out by the Honeywell or Dimplex fans. At that point we had loose papers and plastic bags blowing around the room.

The extra cash gets you some extra features too, including a circular remote that clips magnetically to the centre of the fan, an auto shut-off timer that goes up to six hours in half-hour increments and an eco-setting, which controls the fan speed according to the ambient temperature. The only mild disappointment is the oscillation range, which is limited to just 70°. Like the MeacoFan 360, it’s also powered by USB, giving you all the same options for power. Put it all together and you have a cracking premium desk fan that’s as good for the bedroom as the lounge or office.

Key specs – Dimensions: 260 x 254 x 343mm; Weight: 1.6kg; Oscillation angle: 70°; Sound levels: 20-50dB; Cord length: 1.2m; Warranty: 2yrs; Power: 12W

Buy now from Currys


6. Duux Whisper Flex: The top transforming pedestal and floor fan

Price: £150 | Buy now from Freenet Electrical

The Duux Whisper Flex is a pedestal fan that converts easily down to a desk or floor fan, giving you the best of both worlds in one compact unit. All you need to do is remove one section of its stalk. It’s extremely powerful by desk fan standards, so – as with the MeacoFan 650 – you’ll want to keep the speed around the halfway mark. The plus side is that it’ll still put a pleasant breeze through even at low levels, while noise levels can be as low as 13dB (if you can find a room that quiet). It’ll also run for up to 12 hours from the optional battery pack, and with 26 different speed settings and useful Natural and Night modes, you’ve got plenty of control.

The other big plus with this one is that you can also connect to it over Wi-Fi using an iOS or Android app, while it’ll also work with Google Home and Alexa voice control, though commands are limited to turning the fan on and off or adjusting the speed. It’s expensive and arguably overkill if you want to keep it on your desk, but if you’re looking for a fan that can cover every situation, the Whisper Flex is an excellent choice.

Key specs – Dimensions: 88 x 34 x 34cm; Weight: 5kg; Oscillation angle: 90˚ horizontal, 100˚ vertical; Cord length: 1.85m; Warranty: 2yrs; Power: 27W

Buy now from Freenet Electrical


7. Stadler Form Q: The best designer fan

Price: £189 | Buy now from Amazon


Some want their desk fans as unobtrusive as humanly possible. Others are looking for a design statement. Well, design statements don’t get much clearer or more stylish than the Stadler Form Q. Shaped like the letter after which it takes its name and finished in stainless steel and aluminium, it’s one beautiful piece of cooling kit. Stadler has also kept it deliberately simple, with just three speed settings and no oscillation or variable speed features. It cools what it’s pointing at and that’s it.

Within those parameters, it’s still a great desk fan. It’s noisy at its highest settings, putting out nearly 60dB at full tilt, but at lower levels it’s fine for daytime use. The Meaco and Dimplex fans will dish out more airflow, but the Q will easily cool an area of a room and you can happily leave it on low if you’re sitting nearby. What’s more, the removable grille makes it easy to clean the fan and keep it in top-notch condition. If all you care about is function, you can save some cash by buying something else – but if form and style matter more in your home, the Q is the designer fan to get.

Key specs – Dimensions: 430 x 150 x 360mm; Weight: 4kg; Oscillation angle: No; Sound levels: 41-58dB; Cord length: 1.8m; Warranty: 2yrs; Power: 40W

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