The Best Window Fans of 2022

Chill out while keeping energy bills in check with the right window fan for your space and budget.

By Manasa Reddigari and Tony Carrick | Updated Oct 29, 2021 3:12 PM

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The Best Window Fans, According to the People Who Buy Them

Photo: istockphoto.com

When it comes to keeping your home cool and your utility bills low, you can’t beat a window fan. These devices mount easily to the bottom of a typical window frame and circulate air to bring in a breeze, consuming much, much less energy than an air conditioner. In addition to pulling air in from outside, you can reverse the action to push hot indoor air and odors out—one reason window fans can be a major asset in the kitchen.

While hardly high-tech, window fans do have a few different features that suit them to specific functions, so it pays to be a discerning shopper. Read on to learn what you should look for in a window fan, and how these criteria informed our top picks:

  1. BEST OVERALL: Lasko 16″ Reversible Window Fan with Storm Guard
  2. BEST BUDGET: O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Battery Powered Fan
  3. BEST WHOLE HOUSE: Air King Whole House Window Fan
  4. BEST WINDOW SILL: Genesis Designs Avalon Twin Window Fan
  5. BEST DIGITAL THERMOSTAT: Bionaire Window Fan with Twin Reversible Airflow
  6. BEST COMPACT: Vornado Energy Smart Small Air Circulator Fan
  7. EASIEST TO USE: CCC Comfort Zone Twin Window Fan with Remote
The Best Window Fans, According to the People Who Buy Them

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Window Fan

Consider these features when navigating the wide and varied array of window options available today. Certain fan features will be more suitable for your space that are important to keep aware of to get the best cooling performance.

Type

When shopping for the best cooling fan for a window, it’s important to consider which of the three types are best suited for the job. Window fans come in three different types: standard frame, desk, and floor.

Standard Frame: This type of window fan is designed to sit inside the window between the sash and the sill. Unlike a box fan, which simply sits on the sill, a window fan is installed using mounting hardware and has adjustable panels that fill the gaps on either side of the fan. Some standard frame fans can have either single or double blades.

Unlike other fan types, a standard frame fan is reversible, allowing it to function as either an intake or exhaust fan or both simultaneously. Since a standard frame is positioned inside the window, it does the best job of moving air in or out of a room.

Desk: A desk fan is smaller than a window fan but has a base that allows it to stand upright on a flat surface, such as a desk, without the need for installation. Unlike standard frame fans, which have a fixed position, desk fans have a tilt feature that allows the user to aim them up or down.

Floor: Floor fans, like desk models, fans are mounted to a base. They sit taller than desk fans and typically have larger blades, making them capable of moving more air. Like desk fans, they typically have adjusters that allow the user to tilt them up or down.

Size/Dimensions

Since a window fan is intended to fit inside a window, it should not be larger than the window’s dimensions. For this reason, most standard window fans can fit windows about 26 inches to 34 inches wide.

When shopping for a window fan, make sure to choose a model that is just small enough to fit the dimensions of the window when open to ensure there aren’t large gaps around it that can allow warm air to enter the room or grant access to bugs should the window not have a screen. Many window fans have sliding guards on the sides that cover these gaps to prevent drafts from around the fan while also keeping bugs and rain out.

Material

Window fans consist of a housing that holds one or two blades that are protected by a grate. These parts typically consist of either high-quality plastic or metal.

Blades: Window fans have either plastic or metal blades. Fans that have plastic blades are lighter and therefore more energy-efficient than metal fans. However, since the plastic parts aren’t as strong as metal, they don’t produce as much airflow.

Metal fans, though heavier, can endure greater stress and therefore can be equipped with bigger motors that produce more RPMs. As a result, metal fans can produce airflow of 3,500 CFM or more compared to plastic fans, which are limited to around 2,500 CFM.

Grates: All fans have either a metal or plastic grate that prevents objects or hands from coming into contact with the blades. While metal grates are more durable than plastic and can endure more abuse, they are also susceptible to rust and corrosion.

Housing: Most window fans have a housing made of a durable grade of plastic. Though not as strong as metal, the plastic housing helps to keep the fan’s overall weight down. Plastic is also impervious to rust and corrosion that can eventually ruin metal fans.

Airflow

The airflow of a fan, an indicator of its cooling power, measures the velocity at which air enters or escapes a space. Airflow will be indicated either on the fan manufacturer’s website and on the fan packaging in cubic feet per minute (CFM).

While it may seem advantageous to buy a fan with the highest CFM you can find, a unit with a stronger airflow than the room warrants wastes energy. It’s more prudent to buy a fan with an airflow sufficient to cool the space where you’ll be using it. In general, you need about 1 CFM per square foot of space, plus an extra 50 CFM.

Most window fans have both an intake function (to draw in and circulate air from the outdoors) and an exhaust function (to force out indoor air or odors). Reversibility refers to the mechanism that allows you to change airflow direction. You’ll find manually reversible and electrically reversible fans:

Manually reversible fans require you to physically remove the unit from the window, flip it, and reinstall it to reverse airflow. Electrically reversible fans let you change airflow direction with the push of a button or flip of a switch, a major convenience with intake and exhaust functions at various times on any given day. For example, you may want to use the intake function while sleeping to draw in cool nighttime air and the exhaust function by day to expel hotter air.

Number of Internal Fans

One-fan units house one large centralized internal fan that enables air circulation. Because one-fan units bill themselves as “whole house” fans to cool the entire home, they tend to deliver a stronger airflow (more on that below). That said, their large single fan makes them bulkier and less efficient on the whole, thus slower to cool an individual room.

Two-fan (or “twin”) units feature two small side-by-side internal fans. They’re more compact, and while they offer a slightly lower airflow on average, two fans work more efficiently, cooling a room faster. Bonus: In a two-fan unit with electrical reversibility and independent control of the two fans via two intake/exhaust switches, you can have one fan perform intake and the other on exhaust simultaneously to maximize cooling efficiency and indoor comfort.

Noise Level

Fan manufacturers generally don’t list how loud their products are. Most window fans generate between 55 and 80 decibels depending on how close one is to the fan. Standard window fans produce similar noise levels to floor fans while desk fans, with their smaller blades, are quieter, operating at less than 40 decibels. If a fan is too noisy, the user can make it quieter simply by running the fan on a medium or low speed setting.

Additional Features

Many window fans come with some convenient extras, and certain models tend to look better in specific spaces.

  • Control panel: Window fans generally have a control panel on the front to turn it on and off, switch between intake/exhaust modes, adjust airspeed and temperature, as well as tilt or angle. Some models include a digital thermostat, as well.
  • Remote: Some models also come with a remote control for these functions, so you needn’t get up to operate it manually. This is a great bonus for those with limited mobility, if the fan sits in an overly large room, or in one where most of the seating is positioned far from the window.
  • Portability: Window fans designed to be portable usually have a lightweight build and may come with a handle and collapsible legs. Some are battery-powered for even more flexible usage.
  • Aesthetic: Window fans range from neutral white and black to sleek metallic finishes that ideally blend in with the surrounding frame. Fans with a shallow profile help achieve this unobtrusive look.

Installation and Maintenance

Most window fans are easy to install and maintain. Desk fans and floor fans are capable of standing on their own, eliminating the need for an installation that requires drilling holes and driving in screws.

Window fans fit between the sash and sill of the window and must be fastened to the window frame with screws to hold it firmly in place while it operates. Most window fans have panels that extend from the sides to close off the gaps in the window opening on either side of the fan.

Our Top Picks

The list of top window fans below includes floor and desk fans as well as window fans. These fans are powerful enough to create enough air circulation to cool a room and feature controls that make them easy to operate.

Best Overall

The Best Window Fan Option: Lasko 16 Reversible Window Fan with Storm Guard
Photo: amazon.com

This fan’s ability to function as both an intake and exhaust fan coupled with its multiple speed settings and powerful output makes it one of the best all-around window fans on the market. Although the Lasko goes with a single 16-inch fan versus two smaller fans, it’s capable of moving a lot of air. The ability to push 2,210 cubic feet of air per minute puts it squarely among the most powerful window fans.

One of the Lasko window fan’s most attractive features is its Storm Guard, an installation design that allows the user to close the window during a storm without having to remove the fan. The Lasko window fan also has three separate speed settings as well as intake and exhaust functions, giving it added versatility.

Product Specs

  • Air Flow: 2210 CFM
  • Size: 26.5 to 34.5 inches wide and 22 inches high
  • Reversible: Yes

Pros

  • Powerful airflow
  • Reversible with multiple speed settings
  • Adjustable storm guard
  • Allows users to close the window without removing the fan

Cons

  • Single versus dual fan design

Best Budget

The Best Window Fan Option: O2COOL Treva 10-Inch Portable Battery Powered Fan
Photo: amazon.com

Though this desk fan may not be a traditional window fan, its slim design and square shape make it a great option for those looking for relief from the summer heat on a budget. Its 10-inch blade, though not as powerful as higher-priced window fans, can move enough air to provide cooling relief on a hot day. It also offers the advantage of versatile power options. The O2Cool can function off AC power or six D batteries.

Since it isn’t tethered to a power cord, the O2Cool is suitable for camping as well as home use. This narrow window fan measures 12 inches wide, 13 inches high, 4 inches deep and weighs just over 2 pounds–makes it ideal for moving from room to room or even taking on the road. It also has a convenient port for charging a smartphone.

Product Specs

  • Air Flow: N/A
  • Size: 12 inches wide and 23 inches high
  • Reversible: No

Pros

  • Compact size for easy transport
  • Runs off batteries or AC power
  • Quiet operation
  • Freestanding design

Cons

  • Not reversible
  • Less powerful than standard window fans

Best Whole House

The Best Window Fan Option: Air King Whole House Window Fan
Photo: amazon.com

When your entire home feels like a sauna, flood it with cool air from floor to ceiling with this powerful fan. The Air King fits windows between 27 and 38 inches wide and at low, medium, or high air speed settings, it delivers an airflow of 2510, 3120, or 3560 CFM. On its highest setting, the Air King can cool up to 1,310 square feet.

There’s no remote control with this model, but it’s electrically reversible, so all it takes to switch airflow direction is the turn of a dial on the control panel.

Product Specs

  • Max Air Flow: 3560 CFM
  • Size: 26.5 to 34.5 inches wide and 22 inches high
  • Reversible: Yes

Pros

  • Tremendous air flow
  • Durable metal construction
  • Fits standard window sizes

Cons

  • No remote control
  • Large size won’t suit all windows

Best Window Sill

The Best Window Fan Option: Genesis Designs Avalon Twin Window Fan
Photo: amazon.com

Loaded with features that make it easier to control coupled with a design that allows one to either install it into a window or use it as a freestanding fan make this double window fan one of the more versatile options on the market. This fan installs into a standard window similar to other window fans. Unlike other models, it also comes with feet, which the user can attach to turn the fan into a freestanding model.

Its controls allow the operator to choose between three speed settings and toggle the direction of each fan independently to intake or exhaust. The user can choose to set each fan to a specific speed or automate the fans by using the Avalon’s thermostat temperature settings.

Product Specs

  • Air Flow: 2500 CFM (total)
  • Size: 24 inches wide and 12 inches high
  • Reversible: Yes

Pros

  • Thermostat or standard controls
  • Can function as standalone or window fan
  • Ample air flow

Cons

  • Horizontal design may not fit smaller window sills

Best Digital Thermostat

The Best Window Fan Option: Bionaire Window Fan with Twin Reversible Airflow
Photo: amazon.com

While other models include thermostats with preset temperatures, Bionaire is one of the few that allow the user to set specific temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees on a digital display. The user can make adjustments from the unit’s control panel or via a convenient remote control.

It includes two fans, each of which can be set independently to function as an exhaust or intake fan. Extenders on both sides of the fan allow it to fit spaces between 24 inches and 37 inches wide while its two-water-resistant motors make it safe to operate during rain storms.

Product Specs

  • Air Flow: N/A
  • Size: 24 to 37 inches wide and 12 inches high
  • Reversible: Yes

Pros

  • Digital thermostat
  • Water-resistant motor
  • Remote control included

Cons

  • Not as much power as other fans

Best Compact

The Best Window Fan Option: Vornado Energy Smart Small Air Circulator Fan
Photo: amazon.com

With its compact size, this compact Vornado window fan is a nice alternative to a traditional window fan. It measures just 11 inches high and just under 10 inches wide but packs a punch, thanks to its design. Its spiral-shaped grate and powerful brushless motor allow it to move air up to 75 feet.

A simple analog knob turns the fan off and on and toggles between its two speed settings. The Vornado can also tilt upward or downward, making it easy to direct air flow. And, at just 3.5 pounds, it’s light enough to carry from room to room.

Product Specs

  • Max Air Flow: 152 CFM
  • Size: 10 inches wide and 11 inches high
  • Reversible: No

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Ample air flow for its size
  • Tilting/adjustable head

Cons

  • Not as powerful as larger window units

Easiest to Use

The Best Window Fan Option: CCC Comfort Zone Twin Window Fan with Remote
Photo: amazon.com

With its simple controls, this twin window fan from Comfort Zone is one of the easiest to operate. The fan’s control panel, which sits conveniently between the two fans at the top and bottom of the unit, consists of an off button and on button that also sets the fan to one of three speed settings.

Controls at the bottom of the fan allow the user to set the fans to exhaust, intake or circulate, which runs the two fans in opposite directions. With detachable feet and lockable accordion panels that extend from the side, this fan can be set up as either a stand-alone fan that rests on a window sill or a fan that fits tightly between the sash and jamb of windows between 23.5 inches and 37 inches wide.

Product Specs

  • Max Air Flow: 431 CFM
  • Size: 23.5 to 37 inches wide and 12 inches high
  • Reversible: Yes

Pros

  • Functions as standalone or installed window fan
  • Simple controls
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Not as powerful as other window models

Our Verdict

For its unique Storm Guard design that allows the user to close the window without having to uninstall it, this Lasko window fan is one of the best on the market. Those looking for a fan that can cool an entire home should consider the Air King window fan with its ability to move up 1,360 CFM.

How We Chose the Best Window Fans

We used several criteria to narrow the broad field of window fans down to a select few to create our list. Since a fan’s purpose is to move air, we considered how much cubic feet of air a fan could move per minute as the most crucial factor. While CFM varied depending on the size and type of the window fan, we chose only those that could produce enough airflow to make an impact on a hot room.

Controls were also important, so we selected models with multiple speed settings. We also favored models that offer thermostat controls that automate the fans operation as well as reversible modes that allow them to function as either exhaust or intake fans.

For traditional windows fans, installation needed to be easy while also being compatible with more standard window sizes. We chose stand-alone models that were compact and light enough to manageably carry from room to room.

FAQs

Q: What’s the difference between a window fan and attic fan?

Attics fans, per their name, are installed in the attic on an exterior wall or roof of the home. The fans work by removing hot air from the attic while sucking in cooler air through the home’s soffits. A window fan fits into the window of a home, removing hot air or circulating cooler air to reduce the temperature in the room.

Q: Do window fans help cool a room?

By removing hot air from a room or circulating in cooler air, window fans can help reduce the temperature in a room.

Q: Do window fans let bugs in?

Since a window fan’s job is to suck air into a room, it can bring bugs with it. With that in mind, make sure the window fan either has a built-in bug screen or that it will fit into the window while allowing the window screen to remain in place.

Q: How many CFM should I look for in a window fan?

While a fan with more CFM is desirable, for a window fan to be effective it should move one CFM for every square foot of space plus an extra 50 CFM. So, for a window fan to effectively be a 200-square foot room, it should have at least 250 CFM.

Q: Should a window fan be on intake or exhaust?

If possible, use two fans, one set to exhaust to push warm air out of the room and one set on the intake to pull cool air into the room.

Q: What’s the best way to clean a window fan?

To clean a window fan, start by unplugging the fan and removing the protective grate if possible. Use a vacuum host with a dusting brush to clean off the fan blades, then wipe them down with a damp cloth and reattach the grate.