Unlike stationary fans that blow air in one direction, oscillating fans sweep back and forth, distributing air over a broader area. This design is ideal for providing a cooling breeze in larger living areas of a home, such as a living room, rec room, or even a garage.
Oscillating fans come in a variety of types, including large pedestal fans, sleek tower models, desktop fans, and even wall-mount units. They also vary in blade size from as little as 5 inches up to large 18-inch fan blades. Some also have useful additional features, including remote controls, auto shut-off timers, and sleep modes. Ahead, learn more about the features to look for in an oscillating fan and some of the best oscillating fans on the market by category.
- BEST OVERALL: Rowenta Turbo Silence Table Fan
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Dr. Prepare Dual Oscillating Tower Fan
- UPGRADE PICK: Dyson AM07 Cool Tower Fan
- BEST PEDESTAL: Amazon Basics Oscillating Pedestal Fan
- BEST TOWER: Lasko 42-Inch Wind Curve Oscillating Tower Fan
- BEST WALL-MOUNTED: Comfort Zone 16-Inch Oscillating Wall-Mount Fan
- BEST DESKTOP: Iris USA Woozoo HE10 Oscillating Fan
- BEST DECORATIVE: Hunter Retro 12-Inch All-Metal Table Fan
How We Chose the Best Oscillating Fans
Choosing the right fan is key to getting the most relief from summer heat. We scoured customer reviews of more than two dozen oscillating fans to make our selections. We considered several criteria when evaluating each fan. Airflow is key, so we chose models that produce adequate airflow for their size. Since people have different needs depending on the size of space they are attempting to cool, we included a broad range of fan sizes, from small desktop models up to large pedestal fans. Budget is also a factor for many buyers, so we included everything from inexpensive oscillating fans to high-end fans with state-of-the-art technology.
Our Top Picks
The list below includes various types and sizes of oscillating fans. These rotating fans produce strong airflow (as measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM) and come with useful additional features, such as automatic shut-off timers and remote controls.
This oscillating fan from Rowenta manages to remain quiet despite producing an exceptional airflow for its size, ranking it among the best all-around oscillating fans. Thanks to its five fan blades, the fan can create a breeze of up to 1,695 CFM. Yet it produces just 38 to 55 decibels of noise (depending on the speed setting), making it one of the quieter 12-inch fans out there.
A remote control and touch controls on the base allow you to change between four fan speeds or turn the fan on and off. The oscillation controls are on the back of the fan head. With a compact size and carrying handle on the top of the fan head, this Rowenta model is easy to move from room to room.
- Fan diameter: 12 inches
- Max airflow: 1,695 CFM
- Speeds: 4
- Produces exceptional airflow while operating at a low noise level
- You can turn the fan on or off and control speed via a remote control
- Easy to carry thanks to a lightweight design and convenient handle
- Some customers complain about the quality of the remote and that it comes with no battery
Get the Rowenta oscillating fan at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Dr. Prepare packs great value into this affordable and novel design for a tower fan. This fan consists of two separate fans stacked on top of each other to create its tower setup. The entire unit oscillates 110 degrees to create an even breeze throughout the room. It comes equipped with three speed options and can be set to shut off at 2, 4, or 8 hours.
Push-button controls with LED lights are illuminated and easy to use to control the fan’s settings. The unit measures just 6 inches in diameter and about 1 foot tall, so the Dr. Prepare tower fan is compact enough to sit on a desktop. It also comes equipped with a built-in handle for easily carrying the fan from room to room.
- Fan diameter: Not available
- Max airflow: Not available
- Speeds: 3
- 2-fan design provides more even airflow than fans with a single blade
- Compact size, tower shape, and handle combine for easy transport from room to room
- Can shut itself off in 2, 4, or 8 hours with shut-off timer feature
- Some customers report that the fan is only strong enough for smaller spaces
Get the Dr. Prepare oscillating fan at Amazon.
This high-tech version of the classic oscillating fan uses bladeless technology to create a lot of airflow and very little noise. The Dyson tower fan uses a brushless motor in the base that circulates air into the circular tube and out a slit in the device to create a more consistent breeze than the buffets of air other oscillating fans deliver.
The bladeless design not only makes the fan safer but also about 60 percent quieter than bladed fans, so it ranks up there as the best fan for sleeping on this list. With its 10 speed settings and sleep setting, the Dyson fan also offers considerably more speed options than other oscillating fans. Just keep in mind that this cutting-edge fan technology comes at a premium price. Dyson’s fan is one of the most expensive oscillating fans on the market.
- Fan diameter: Bladeless 7.5 inches wide
- Max airflow: Not available
- Speeds: 10
- Bladeless design is safer and quieter than a standard fan
- Creates a continuous even flow of air as opposed to buffets of air
- Has 10 speed settings, all of which can be controlled via the remote
- Far more expensive than traditional bladed and tower-style oscillating fans
Get the Dyson oscillating fan at Amazon.
This Amazon Basics model includes many of the same features found on other pedestal fans but at a lower price. The telescoping pole allows you to adjust the height of the oscillating fan on a stand, and the fan head tilts up and down, providing additional controls for directing the flow of air.
There are three speed settings: a breeze mode that simulates natural wind, a quiet setting for sleep, and a normal fan setting. There’s also an on/off timer, which you can set in 30-minute increments up to 7.5 hours. The fan can be controlled via buttons at the base of the fan head or via the included remote control.
- Fan diameter: 16 inches
- Max airflow: Not available
- Speeds: 3
- More affordable than other pedestal-style oscillating fans
- Can be controlled via a remote or a control panel on the fan
- Users can adjust fan height and the angle of the fan head
- Some customers complain the fan doesn’t produce enough airflow
Get the Amazon Basics pedestal fan at Amazon.
This sleek tower fan produces a powerful flow of air across much of its 42-inch height and looks good doing it. The fan puts out 1,143 CFM of air and has three adjustable speeds. With its tower design, it produces a more even flow of air than traditional oscillating fans with a round head.
There is also an automatic shut-off timer and a quiet nighttime mode that slows fan speed and dims the LED display. LED lights on the fan’s control panel make it easy to identify speed settings and timer settings. You can operate all speeds and modes via the compact remote control that comes with the fan.
- Fan diameter: N/A, tower
- Max airflow: 1,143 CFM
- Speeds: 3
- Curved tower design allows the fan to distribute air more evenly throughout the room
- Remote control turns fan on or off, adjusts fan speed, and sets modes
- LED control panel clearly displays the fan’s current settings
- Customers report that the Lasko isn’t as powerful as other traditional oscillating fans
Get the Lasko oscillating fan at Amazon or The Home Depot.
This oscillating fan provides cool air without taking up any floor or desktop space. It mounts to the wall and circulates air throughout the room with its 90 degrees of oscillating movement to the left and right. The oscillating fan head can also be tilted up and down to direct the airflow.
This model has three fan speeds and an on/off timer, all of which you can control via a knob at the base of the unit. Although this fan does not include a remote control, it comes equipped with pull strings similar to a ceiling fan. These controls make it easier to change speeds and turn the fan off and on even when mounted at higher points on a wall.
- Fan diameter: 16 inches
- Max airflow: 414 CFM
- Speeds: 3
- Pull cords help users turn the unit on and off and control speed when fan is mounted high
- Oscillates 90 degrees in either direction, providing airflow over a broad area
- Mounting-bracket design makes it easy to attach to most walls
- Doesn’t produce as much airflow as other oscillating fans
Get the Comfort Zone oscillating fan at Amazon or The Home Depot.
With a compact size and sleek design, this small oscillating fan is a great option for those looking to cool off while working at their desk. The fan comes in three size options. The smallest version of the Woozoo fan measures just under 9 inches tall and 6.8 inches in diameter and features a sleek rounded shape, making it ideal for desktops, nightstands, and other surfaces with limited available space.
The fan oscillates 65 degrees, allowing it to cover a broad area, and you can direct airflow by tilting the fan head as much as 90 degrees up or down. There are three speed settings as well as an automatic shut-off feature that can be set to 1, 2, or 4 hours. The Woozoo HE10 fan comes in five different colors.
- Fan diameter: 6.8 inches
- Max airflow: 30 CFM
- Speeds: 3
- Compact size won’t crowd desktops or nightstands
- Oscillates 60 degrees; head tilts to 6 different vertical settings
- Comes with 3 speed options and 3 automatic shut-off settings
- Some customers report that it doesn’t produce a lot of airflow
Get the Iris USA oscillating fan at Amazon or Target.
With its retro look, this table fan from Hunter is a great option for those who want an oscillating fan that has both form and function. This fan features a classic 1950s look and comes in six vintage finish options, including oil-rubbed bronze, copper, and brushed nickel.
Its all-metal construction not only contributes to its sleek look but also its durability. Controls on the fan’s base allow you to adjust among three different speeds and turn oscillation off or on. The fan head also tilts up and down to direct airflow easily. A handle on the back of the fan head helps when carrying it from room to room.
- Fan diameter: 12 inches
- Max airflow: 1,500 CFM
- Speeds: 3
- All-metal construction makes this one of the more durable oscillating fans
- Retro look adds to the attractive look of the table fan
- Produces good air circulation while operating at a quiet noise level
- Doesn’t come with a remote control or an automatic shut-off feature
Get the Hunter oscillating fan at Amazon or The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Choosing an Oscillating Fan
While it’s important to choose the right type and size of oscillating fan for the job, finding a fan that will produce adequate airflow also matters. Ahead, learn more about these and other features you’ll want to consider when selecting an oscillating fan.
Type and Size
Oscillating fans come in a variety of types and sizes. Most oscillating fans have blades that range in size from 12 to 18 inches. However, there are also compact oscillating fans with small 5-inch blades and tower-style fans that use multiple small impeller blades. Not all manufacturers publish the length from blade tip to blade tip, and some fans are labeled by the diameter of the fan enclosure.
- Tabletop: One of the most common types of oscillating fan, tabletop fans stand less than 2 feet tall with fan heads that range between 12 and 18 inches, so they are compact enough to sit on a nightstand or desktop.
- Pedestal: These standing fans have a large base and telescoping pole that holds the 16- to 18-inch fan head between 2 and 4 feet off the ground. This stand-alone design is an excellent option for larger spaces such as a workout room or workshop.
- Tower: Instead of a fan head, this indoor fan type has impeller blades that are enclosed inside a cylindrical housing, creating the tower look. This design is not only sleeker and more attractive than a standard fan but circulates air more evenly.
- Wall-mounted: This type of fan features a 12- to 16-inch fan head attached to a base that mounts to a wall. This design is a great option in rooms that don’t have the floor space for a desktop, tower, or pedestal-style fan.
Fans vary in the amount of airflow they create. A fan’s airflow is measured in the maximum cubic feet per minute of air the unit can move at its highest speed setting. Compact fans typically produce a CFM of around 400, while larger models can produce about 1,200 CFM. Larger pedestal fans can produce 2,000 CFM or more. While CFM is a good way to evaluate a fan’s airflow, it’s not an available spec for all fans as some fan manufacturers do not list the CFM ratings of their fans.
Settings and Adjustability
Oscillating fan designs let the user control the fan’s speed and oscillation. Most fans have high, medium, and low speed settings. Higher-end models might have additional settings, such as a breeze mode, which varies the speed of the fan to mimic the intermittent airflow of wind. Oscillating fans typically have controls on the back of the fan head that allow you to turn the oscillating movement off and on. Some oscillating fans also have heads that can tilt up and down so you can change the direction of the air. Most pedestal fans have telescoping poles that allow you to raise or lower the fan head.
Fans create different levels of noise based on fan speed and the size of the motor. Generally speaking, fans that use small motors are quieter than fans that use blades. Also, expect larger fans to be noisier than smaller models. Most fans measure from 20 decibels when on their lowest setting up to about 50 to 60 decibels when on their highest setting. Some of the best oscillating fans use quiet technology with a lower noise level of between 15 and 45 decibels. While this type is a quiet fan for bedroom use, some people prefer fans that produce some white noise to help with sleep.
Some oscillating fans have additional features that add to their functionality. In addition to speed settings, some have programmable timers that shut off the fan after a certain number of hours. Many oscillating fans come with remote controls that allow you to turn the fan off or on or adjust its settings without leaving the comfort of a sofa or bed. A smaller home fan might come equipped with handles that allow them to be moved more easily.
If you’re wondering what type of fan creates the strongest breeze, when and how to clean your oscillating fan, or how a fan impacts your electric bill, then read on for answers.
Q. What kind of fan moves the most air?
High-velocity floor fans are some of the most powerful fans you can buy. This type of fan can move between 4,500 and 8,000 CFM of air. They are useful for mainly commercial applications where ventilation is crucial to prevent fumes from building up in a space. While these fans can move a lot of air, they’re also very loud, reaching noise levels of up to 70 decibels or more.
Q. How often should I clean my oscillating fan?
Over time, dust can form on oscillating fan blades and inside the metal screen that surrounds the fan blades. Make sure to clean an oscillating fan about once every 2 months to remove this dust. To do this, first unplug the fan, then remove the screen and clean it. While the screen is off, clean the fan blades.
Q. Do fans use a lot of electricity?
Fans use very little electricity when compared to air-conditioning units. Most fans consume between 10 and 100 watts of electricity while a window unit uses between 600 and 1,500 watts, and a central air conditioner uses about 3,500 watts. Even if you run a fan nonstop, you’ll only spend about 32 cents per day for its use.
Q. Where should oscillating fans be placed?
Set up an oscillating fan in a location where it best circulates the air. If it’s a smaller oscillating fan, elevate it by placing it on a table or counter. If you’re using a pedestal fan, place it on the floor in a location that’s out of the way of foot traffic. Situate the fan so that it covers as much area as possible while it oscillates.
Why Trust Bob Vila
BobVila.com has been a trusted source for DIYers since its launch in 1996. Our product reviews are based on many hours of research by experts in their fields. Tony Carrick is a writer who has purchased and used his fair share of fans, including more than a few oscillating fans. He combines his personal experience and many hours of research to help readers choose quality products with his honest and thorough reviews.