Where do I find a giant fan?
May 20, 2014 2:03 PM   Subscribe

I live in an open, large, loft-like apartment that gets face-meltingly hot in the New England summer. Easily near 100F in the afternoon. AC is impractical for such a big space. I've tried box fans, but I haven't found one that moves enough air to make a difference and even those were as loud as airplanes. An even faster fan sounds like a bad idea, but a much bigger and slower fan might just do the trick. Something like these, but preferably something that doesn't need to be permanently installed? Where does one find an enormous fan?
posted by the jam to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I live in a big loft in LA, and our ceiling fans move air around, but don't really cool very much. If you don't want to get AC units, portable evaporative coolers work better than fans.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:08 PM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you mean a window unit AC is impractical? Because every skyscraper in the world is cooled with AC. A fan just pushes hot air around. Your skin sweats and so it feels cooler, but it does not cool the space. And then consider humidity, which contains even more heat energy, and which a fan in a closed space does nothing against.

You should look into a portable AC and dehumidifier unit. They run about $300 at Home Depot.
posted by fontophilic at 2:10 PM on May 20, 2014

Response by poster: Impractical mainly because it's nearly 2000 square feet and not insulated very well.
posted by the jam at 2:15 PM on May 20, 2014

A/C that blows cold air exactly where you want to sit may be practical. Evaporative coolers are great, but they work much better in drier climates. If the problem is just moving out the hot air, try a large floor fan or shop fan. E.g.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:22 PM on May 20, 2014

i am a big fan (ha) of the Lasko 3520 20" Cyclone Pivoting Floor Fan. we have 2 and they circulate air really well. i don't know how great they would be for a 2000 square foot wide open space, but if you have one pointing at you it's great. if you have TWO pointing at you it's like you're sitting behind a jet plane. they are not very loud for the amount of air they move.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 2:39 PM on May 20, 2014

Yeah, don't get an evaporative cooler in New England. It's too muggy for them to work.

What's your window situation like? Are you using room-darkening blinds/curtains? That can help a lot. Are the fans in the windows, pointed at you, or both?

Also what's your end goal/what would you consider success? Do you just need it to be cool enough to sleep at night, or are you around the apartment all day?
posted by mskyle at 2:40 PM on May 20, 2014

Evaporative coolers are probably not terribly effective in humid New England. Pay attention to any natural air movement; I worked in a building where we could stay much cooler by opening most windows a little, and leaving all windows on the 3rd floor open. It requires experimentation. Get something reflective on south-facing windows, or at least curtains/ blinds and close out the sun. I like blinds for being able to keep out direct sun while letting air in, but my house is smallish. Have a fan that blows on you; I keep fans in bedroom and living room for specific cooling.
posted by theora55 at 2:59 PM on May 20, 2014

You know what else gets really hot in the summer and is poorly insulated? A barn.
posted by mr vino at 3:03 PM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

You literally need a bigass fan. Luckily.
posted by marylynn at 3:39 PM on May 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Shit, sorry, missed your original link. I was so excited I knew about bigass fans! (I just want to keep saying "bigass fan").
posted by marylynn at 3:42 PM on May 20, 2014 [4 favorites]

One summer I worked in a warehouse in MA which was over 100degrees until we bought a Honeywell commercial fan. It never occurred to me that a fan the same size what I'd had in my window growing up could move easily 5x as much air. Sadly, it looks like the no longer make them (Honeywell HV-181 18inch Stand Fan). Amazon still has a version without the stand, the Honeywell HV180 Floor Fan for a very reasonable $60. I think we paid $250 for the upright model 15 years ago.
posted by notpeter at 4:14 PM on May 20, 2014

I'm going to throw a vote to this Dyson fan. I live in a very hot, west-facing apartment on the top floor and it works better than any other fan I've ever used, to the point that I often have to turn it down because I get cold. I have no doubt all these other fans also work, but there's one key difference about this fan: It doesn't BLOW on you like other fans. Even at it's highest speed (which is ridiculously high) you can sit right in front of it and it feels more like a cool breeze instead of a gusty wind. That means you can really have the fan right next to you.

I know it's expensive and seems like a gimmick, but although I got mine last winter for a great price I would be happy to pay full price if I could afford to if I needed to buy another one. Another bonus is that it takes two seconds to clean and doesn't blow dust and sand and cat hair all over the place. I'd at least consider a smaller unit to keep in a bedroom, or to move from room to room to keep close by.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:42 PM on May 20, 2014

In the past I've used big window fans like the Air King models (or Lasko, their parent company) and have been very happy with them. You just need at least two windows, one for the fan to EXHAUST out of, and another window for the outside air to get pulled in through. It works great if you have multiple intake windows because you'll feel cool everywhere.

In our new house, I can't set this up (yet, most of the windows won't open properly) and it's a drag.

I love that Air King so much I keep it in the attic, in box, hoping for the day when I can break it out again ...
posted by intermod at 8:10 PM on May 20, 2014

Sadly, it looks like the no longer make them (Honeywell HV-181 18inch Stand Fan).

Maybe the 18" Industrial Duty Pedestal Fan? (mcmaster-carr)

I'd think about a pusher fan in one window and a puller fan in another window.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:10 PM on May 20, 2014

I'd think about a pusher fan in one window and a puller fan in another window.

Definitely— if you can (reversibly) mount an extractor in an upper window on the hot side, crack windows on the cool side, and use smaller directed fans where you sit/work/live, you'll find lots of relief.
posted by a halcyon day at 11:29 PM on May 20, 2014

+1 for intermod's recommendation of a "whole house fan." These move a lot of air. I have this one and recommend it highly. I have it installed on the second floor of my house and have it set to exhaust, and can feel a nice breeze when I crack a window on the first floor. Well worth the money.
posted by ndg at 7:59 AM on May 22, 2014

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