What's a reliable, powerful fan?
May 14, 2014 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Who has had a powerful fan for longer than three years without it breaking or doing something irritating? What's the make and model?

By "powerful" I mean that I could put it say... 20 feet away from me and easily feel it blowing. I have a big room (1500 square feet) with only a tiny bit of ventilation. I would like to set up 2 or 3 fans to get airflow going. My goal is to stay cool.

My budget is something like $100-$200 per fan.

I don't trust review sites for stuff like this, because they only cover the initial unpackaging and use of a product--not its long-term reliability. And the user reviews are sometimes written by PR firms, which I figure MF is mostly safe from.
posted by ErikH2000 to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I got a couple $20 Lasko box fans from a big box hardware store about four years ago and they still work fine. They blow air around in a Seattle summer, in a space about 800-1000 sq ft.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vornado at least used to be the gold standard. I have a Vornado fan of late-90's vintage that has survived moves from NYC to San Diego to Seattle and is still going strong. It used to be virtually noiseless at its lower settings, though years of use have made it less so.
posted by rouftop at 10:52 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

My Lasko box fan has been working for at least 10 years. I'm using it right now to get though the SF heat wave and it works well. Could use a wash though.
posted by phoenixy at 11:10 PM on May 14, 2014

I bought a couple of Seville oscillating tower fans similar to this from Costco at least, gosh, seven years ago and they're both still going strong despite almost daily use. I paid about $50.00 each at the time, but what's neat is they come with a smaller oscillating fan that's perfect for a table or smaller room. The larger tower models come with a remote, but the smaller ones don't. They both have three settings -- low, medium, and high -- and the highest setting is powerful enough to keep both my large master bedroom and garage/workout room cool. Though my rooms aren't as large as yours, you can definitely feel the fan from 20 feet away.

A trick I learned one awful summer when my a/c died is to place a bucket or an ice chest in front of your fan, add ice and water, and it'll cool your room much more efficiently than just using the fan on it's own. Only downside is you have to refill the ice after it melts and dump out some of the water. Also, for obvious reasons, you'll need to keep it in an area where it won't get kicked over.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:01 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if Bestron fans are available outside Europe, but I have two of their floor fans (like this) that have been going strong for several years. And we run one them pretty much 24/7 between June and September.
posted by neushoorn at 12:04 AM on May 15, 2014

The solution to Lucky Seven's ice water problem is to freeze some liter bottles, or two-liter bottles, of water and put them in front of your fan. With enough of them, you can just cycle them to the freezer, and always have a few bottles of ice in front of the fan.
This may have negligible results in a very large space.

To come closer to answering the question, I've had one of those cheap Lasko box fans for ten years and it still works. It's loud, but it's air-moving loud, not squeaking loud.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:04 AM on May 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by devnull at 2:46 AM on May 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a small $50 Vornado that's 1/3 the size of a Lasko box fan and blows 2-3 times the amount of air. I can feel it 20 feet away. Bought it at Bed Bath & Beyond a couple years ago.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:33 AM on May 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm unclear if you mean a floor fan or a ceiling fan. If it's a ceiling fan you're looking for, try the Altura model from Home Depot. I have 4 of them in my house and one of them has run almost continually for the last 5 years. They move a LOT of air in a very relaxed, quiet manner.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:35 AM on May 15, 2014

I also use and trust Vornado.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:04 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been using a similar model of this Vornado floor fan for over 5 years with no complaints. It is powerful and not at all delicate - survived 2 moves and we are NOT gentle with it. It's been so great that I've purchased 2 more Vornado fans since then, and have also recommended to a few friends who are happy with their purchases.
posted by coupdefoudre at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vornado. And in fact, I was just fantasizing about my Vornado last night: I'm house sitting for some fan-less friends, and I knew I'd need a fan last night if I wanted to get any sleep (thanks SF heat wave / climate change / Obama). So I went home to pick up a fan and stupidly decided to get my non-Vornado fan since it's smaller and I was on foot. The amount of air it puts out is so limited and diffused compared to my Vornado I actually got up in the middle of the night to make sure it hadn't been possessed by the devil and started spinning backwards. (Spoiler: it hadn't. It just sucks.) Get a Vornado - they really do live up to the hype. Plus, I've had mine for 10+ years and it's still going strong.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 6:38 AM on May 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Bought the hubby a Vornado a year ago based on this rather extensive review. I think it was the bit about discovering one on a research sub that sold me. Can't attest to the longevity yet but Hubby is ever so pleased with its performance and ability to shift air around the room relatively quietly.
posted by Ness at 6:43 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing Vornado; other members of my family have had them for years (that is to say, they bought them years ago and still have them) and this past winter we sprang for one of their small space heaters. While I can't testify to its longevity yet, it really does circulate air better than other nondescript fans.
posted by usonian at 7:23 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vornado - we have a small space heater from them. When I turned it on it the first time it seemed like there wasn't much heat from the coils and that the fan wasn't blowing much at all. Five minutes later the room was nice and plenty toasty. They move a lot more air than you think they do when they're running. A fan from them is on my list for this summer.
posted by azpenguin at 7:33 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Vornado for the Nth; and some models are actually still being built in the states ( Kansas ); email the company and they will provide a list.

FWIW; lost remote for one of mine during a move; an email got me a free new remote in the mail. That is some hard to find custserv A+++ stuff.
posted by buzzman at 9:20 AM on May 15, 2014

Have several Vornado fans that have each lasted at least 7 yrs - I can't remember how old they are but we've had them through at least the last move.
posted by oneear at 9:56 AM on May 15, 2014

Best answer: yet another vote for vornado. i own 4, i think. one of them is from 2001. It's been dropped, crushed, smashed, etc and still works perfectly.

It's the largest model from the time, the 750b i think? it puts out so much air that it would rip posters off my wall that were tacked down at full power. Its also almost completely, ceiling fan silent at the lowest speed. They shoot out a focused column of air that is still coherent 20 feet away.

Worth noting also that costco has the "heavy duty"(and the standard large one for quite cheap too) model that's on vornados site for like, $120(it was on sale for like $80 at my local store too) instead of the regular $140. If you have a costco near you and a membership that's worth hitting up. The really beefy ones are the 733, 293(aforementioned "commercial" model), and 783. There's newer designs too, but i trust what i've already used which is the slightly older style ones.

nothing compares though. I've bought beat up, already years old ones for $12 at a thrift store and run them at full power in a dusty warehouse for years and they still work perfectly. Even commercial fans like patton or utilitech or whatever feel cheap and often fail in stupid ways long before vornados.

Another random thought that popped in on preview, the smaller ones still put out of a lot of air. Almost the same amount, actually. They just do it less quietly, especially at lower speeds. All of them don't make a harmonic fan type noise at all really though, it's more of an HVAC type pure white noise "woooosh" sound. It's very low frequency on the largest ones, as well.
posted by emptythought at 1:42 PM on May 15, 2014

We bought 2 Vornados from Costco our first Summer in this apartment, about 9 years ago. They are super powerful, and they're still going strong and keeping me from dying in this heat wave at this very moment.

A few years ago one of them started making a weird scrapey noise, but we dusted it off and did a little percussive maintenance and it's been fine since.
posted by rhiannonstone at 2:01 PM on May 15, 2014

Response by poster: I really appreciate all of the replies. I'm going to try one of the "heavy duty" Vornados and see how it goes. And it turns out I live a mile from a Costco, so that's easy.

Thanks very much everyone. Have a cool summer.
posted by ErikH2000 at 9:44 PM on May 17, 2014

Response by poster: I bought the heavy-duty Vornado and hooked it up. It is a champion wind blower. The yellow color is ugly, and that is the only bad thing I can say about it. The AskMeFi people steered me right.
posted by ErikH2000 at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2014

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