Whether you use it to circulate and cool the air in your home or just enjoy its white noise to help you sleep at night, a box fan is a helpful addition to a home. The versatile and portable fans can help the indoor air quality during every season. In warm weather, compact box fans can be used at a desk to help keep you cool while you work, or they can be used in the main family room to make movie nights more comfortable.
Box fans can do more than just circulate air. When paired with a fitted air filter, they reduce dust, debris, hair, smoke, and other contaminants, keeping the air clean and breathable during winter months and other times when a house can become stuffy.
To help with your search for the best box fan for your home, keep reading to learn important shopping tips and what you should consider to choose the right box fan for different types of situations. Based on these important characteristics, below is a list of some of the top products on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: PELONIS 3-Speed Box Fan
- RUNNER-UP: Air King 20-Inch 3-Speed Box Fan
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER Mini Box Fan Quiet 9-Inch Desk Box Fan
- BEST PERSONAL: OPOLAR 8 Inch USB Operated Desk Fan with Timer
- BEST FOR LARGE ROOMS: Genesis 20″ Box Fan, 3 Settings
- BEST ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Hurricane Floor Fan-20 Inch 3 Energy Efficient
- BEST PURIFYING: Lasko Air Flex 20-Inch Box Fan and Air Purifier
- ALSO CONSIDER: Fan-Tastic Vent Endless Breeze – 12 Volt Fan
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Box Fan
When shopping for a box fan to help circulate fresh air within the home, it’s important to find an option that is powerful enough to cool the room and make a space more comfortable. The fan’s noise level, weight, efficiency, and speed settings also can be important to consider.
Before deciding on a box fan, it’s important to determine where it will be used to ensure a product is appropriate for the location. For instance, a small 10-inch by 10-inch box fan is great for personal use and can be helpful in a small office—on a bookshelf or right on the user’s desk—for direct airflow. However, placing this same fan in a large living room wouldn’t be as effective, as a small fan lacks the power to adequately cool the entire room.
Box fans come in a wide variety of sizes, including small personal fans, standard box fans, and large industrial fans. Personal fans typically measure about 10 inches by 10 inches, while standard box fans average 20 inches by 20 inches. Industrial fans, 24 inches or more, can quickly exceed the size of standard box fans but aren’t a preferred choice for homes because they are designed for power, not silence or aesthetics.
CFM and Speed Settings
A fan’s cooling power is determined by measuring how much air the fan can move within one minute, which is expressed in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The average CFM of a standard box fan is 1,100 CFM to 2,500 CFM. Manufacturers use the CFM as a way to empirically demonstrate the amount of airflow the fan can produce, which is especially important for cooling large rooms, garages, and industrial or commercial spaces.
The CFM is typically provided as the maximum amount of airflow, but many box fans have additional speed settings that can be used for reduced airflow and quiet operation. It’s common to have a low, medium, and high setting, which may also be represented as 1, 2, or 3 on a fan. The low setting is great for simply moving the air in the room without feeling a direct breeze, while medium and high settings will increase the speed and airflow so it can reach people across a room.
Box fans are beneficial to home heating and cooling bills because they don’t use a lot of energy. On average, a box fan will range from about 50 to 100 watts per hour, which would translate to an average of $0.011 per hour across the United States. So, running the fan for 24 hours would only add up to about $0.26 on an electric bill.
To help reduce energy consumption even further, look for products that meet or exceed Energy Star standards, and remember to turn off the fan when it isn’t needed. While box fans are beneficial to any users in the room or nearby, they can be a waste of energy when they are left to run indefinitely with nothing benefiting from the circulating airflow.
While the main purpose of most box fans is to help keep users cool while the fan circulates the air throughout the room, some box fans can be used with an air filter. When air is pulled into the fan with a filter, the air must be pulled through the filter before it can be pushed out to the room. This simple addition helps to trap dust, debris, smoke, and other particles that could be making it more difficult to breathe.
To be certain that the filter will fit properly, look for a size that matches the fan or find a box fan that is specifically designed to be used with an air filter. Many filters also can be modified for a secure fit. When it’s time to change a filter, some can be washed and reused, though others need to be replaced. Look for air purification standards, like the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) to ensure the filter blocks the specific contaminant that is a common problem in your home.
In the past, box fans have been known to produce a high level of air pressure, often accompanied by very loud noise that made them a nuisance in most households. However, modern box fans don’t typically have this problem. The average noise level is now comparable to normal conversation, ranging from just 55 decibels (dB) to 65 dB. For comparison, whispering is about 30 dB, ambient office noises are around 70 dB, and a noisy restaurant is approximately 80 dB.
If it’s important for your box fan to operate quietly, check the product details. The information provided by the manufacturer can help determine the average noise level produced by the fan, enabling you to find a product that is appropriately quiet.
Standard box fans are easy to use and can help circulate air throughout the home, keeping users cool in hot weather. However, some products come with extra features that can make them even easier to use and enjoy. These features include remote controls, removable grills, and front-facing controls.
- Remote controls give the user the ability to turn on the fan and operate the fan speed without getting up. This is an excellent feature for people who enjoy sleeping with a fan but may forget to turn it on before getting comfortable in bed.
- Removable grills seem like a bad idea because the user can be exposed to the fan blades, which is true in most cases. However, removing the grill when the fan is turned off makes it easier to clean without having to reach through narrow grill bars.
- Front-facing controls are common on personal box fans that tend to sit closer to the user. This makes it easier to operate the fan from a seated position instead of having to get up to see top-mounted controls.
Ease of Cleaning
In order to ensure that the box fan is a beneficial addition to the home, it’s important to keep the fan, the fan blades, and the grill clean. When a fan is clean, the forced air produced by the fan doesn’t include accumulated dust, dirt, and debris that can be breathed in by anyone in the room. The typical box fan is cleaned with a combination of a vacuum cleaner and a damp cloth. The vacuum can pull most of the dirt and debris out of the fan, while the cloth is used to clean the outside frame and grill.
However, if the box fan is designed with a removable grill, then cleaning becomes much easier. Just unplug the fan or remove the batteries to ensure that it cannot accidentally be turned on. Then remove the grill, and completely clean the blades, grill, and frame of the fan with a damp cloth.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about box fans and how they are used, it’s time to start shopping. The following top-rated products were selected in specific categories based on the important considerations discussed above. This top picks list can help make the search for the best box fan for your home easier.
Ensure that the air doesn’t become stagnant and difficult to breathe by circulating air throughout a room and pulling in fresh air from a nearby window with this high-efficiency box fan. The PELONIS box fan has three speed settings—low, medium, and high—which are controlled with a forward-facing control dial on the upper right-hand corner of the fan.
This box fan is lightweight with a built-in carrying handle for easy portability. It also features an attractive black design with five curved fan blades and an impressive airflow output of 1,800 CFM. The fan measures 20.6 inches by 21 inches by 4.6 inches and sits on two stabilizing feet to help reduce the chance of the fan being knocked over accidentally.
This box fan is made for power and speed with a permanently lubricated motor that helps to reduce the friction of the moving parts within so it can provide the same level of power without creating a lot of noise. The box fan comes with a long 8-foot power cord and a top-mounted control dial to switch the fan between three speeds.
At the top speed of 925 RPM (revolutions per minute), the five powder-coated steel fan blades produce an airflow that measures up to 2,140 CFM, making this fan a great option for large rooms or garages. It has an impact-resistant grill to protect the fan in case it’s knocked over. A helpful carrying handle, located beside the control dial, allows the 20-inch box fan to be carried or set up without a problem.
The BLACK & DECKER Mini Box Fan has a 5-foot power cord and a frameless design that makes it more compact and lighter at just 3.7 pounds. The fan has a maximum noise level of 50 dB and operates at three speeds, with the lowest setting being the quietest. However, the medium and high settings still remain quiet enough for a standard office setting or a home office, where silence can be needed for calls and video meetings.
This 9-inch compact box fan has a split white and black design that looks great with office decor, and it comes with an ETL safety certification to indicate the fan’s electrical circuits are of the highest quality. It also has a durable plastic construction and a forward-facing dial, making it easy to adjust while remaining seated at a desk.
The OPOLAR compact box fan has five airflow speed settings that can be adjusted with the top-mounted controls. The box fan measures just 8.2 inches by 8.2 inches by 3 inches and has three durable fan blades. Its brushless motor reduces the sound created by the fan to about 40 dB so it can be used in a busy office without being distracting to others.
The compact box fan connects directly to an available USB device, like a laptop or power bank, through the USB cord. It also can be plugged into an electrical outlet with the included adapter, and the angle of the fan can be adjusted with the built-in kickstand. A timer automatically turns off the fan at intervals of one hour, two hours, three hours, or four hours, allowing the user to go to sleep without worrying about the fan running all night long.
The Genesis box fan has a sleek, black design with curved blades and looks great with most home styles. It’s designed for use in large spaces, circulating air throughout a room and cooling occupants in warmer weather. With this goal in mind, Genesis made the box fan capable of operating at a low noise level of just 60 dB, despite it having a high airflow output of 1,800 CFM.
This 20-inch box fan has a forward-facing control dial to set the airspeed level at either low, medium, or high. It also has an ETL safety certification to indicate the electrical circuits and 5-foot power cord have been tested and approved for safe use inside the home. The fan weighs about 9 pounds and comes with adjustable feet that make it easier to set up and pack away in tight spaces.
The Hurricane box fan has adjustable feet and a slim 3.5-inch frame. A helpful compartment in the back of the fan can store the power cord, making it much easier to move or pack the box fan. The fan has a maximum airflow output of 2,400 CFM, though the speed of the fan can be set to low, medium, or high, depending on the user’s desired airflow demands.
Hurricane’s box fan uses just 55 watts of electricity, so the user can be confident that this fan is an energy-efficient addition to home cooling systems. The fan measures 20 inches by 20 inches and has a durable construction with a 5-foot power cord. It also features a simple front-facing dial control to turn the fan off or adjust it between the three fan speeds.
Combining the air purifying effects of an air filter with the air circulation function of a fan allows users to enjoy truly fresh air, instead of breathing in recirculated dust and dirt. This Lasko box fan has a built-in MERV10 air purification filter designed to remove dust, smoke, pollen, mold, odors, and even pet dander so everyone can breathe easier and sneeze less when Fido is around.
This box fan weighs just 12 pounds and has a top handle that makes it easy to carry. Set the speed of the fan between three increasing airflow levels with the simple control knob located next to the handle on the top of the fan. The grill can be removed from the fan to replace the air filter and properly clean the fan blades before closing it up and plugging it back in.
Ideal for keeping a camper or an RV cool during a road trip, this portable box fan comes with a 5-foot power cord that is compatible with a 12-volt vehicle accessory outlet. The box fan weighs just 2 pounds and has a top-mounted handle that makes it easy to carry, set up, or pack away into a backpack or a vehicle’s storage space.
The box fan also has 10 durable fan blades that can be used to produce a maximum airflow output of 920 CFM. It runs at a relatively quiet noise level of 60 dB and has three speed settings, including low, medium, and high. Just use the top-mounted control dial to set the fan to the desired speed, then sit back and enjoy the cool air.
FAQs About Box Fans
Armed with new knowledge about box fans, you may have some lingering questions about possible features, how to use a box fan, and where to set it up. Before investing in a new box fan, take a look at the following answers to some frequently asked questions about box fans.
Q. Do I need a box fan if I already have air conditioning?
Even with air conditioning, a box fan is a good idea because it can help circulate the cool air throughout the room.
Q. Do box fans use a lot of electricity?
No, box fans don’t use a lot of electricity. The average is between about 50 to 100 watts per hour, though some larger products may reach up to 200 watts of electricity.
Q. Are box fans loud?
Old models of box fans were very loud, but modern products have been designed to be much quieter with an average decibel (dB) rating between 55 to 65 dB.
Q. Where should I place my box fan?
To pull in the cool, fresh air, place the box fan in front of a window facing in toward the room, or flip the fan around to push hot, stagnant air from the room. The fan also can be placed in the corner of a room to provide airflow to everyone in the room. Compact products can be set up on your desk for personal use. The choice of placement comes down to where the fan will have the most benefit for the home and the user.