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If you’re trying to cool a space — be it an apartment or stuffy attic — that doesn’t have central air conditioning, you might find a window fan a more efficient and convenient option than something like a window-mounted air conditioner. For one thing, the best window fans use up far less electricity than an AC, which is better for both the planet and your electric bill. Depending on the size of your AC, a portable window fan can also take up less space and be less obtrusive in the house.
What Are the Best Window Fans?
There are some things to look out for when shopping for the best window fan, however, some of which will depend on your specific needs and space. Window fans come in box and twin models, and they each have their benefits. We like twin window fans because they can both expel hot air from a room and pull cooler air in, reliably ventilating and cooling the space. As far as sheer power goes, however, a single box fan is often the best option — this is assuming ventilation is your primary concern and a little noise isn’t going to be a big deal.
Here are some other factors to consider when shopping for a good window fan.
Reversible: Reversible simply means that the fan moves air in two directions, which allows it to both push hot air out and pull cool air in. Many fans have this feature included automatically; others must be manually turned around.
Power: How much strength you need or even want will probably change depending on the size and use of the room you’re trying to cool. A powerful box fan produces the strongest airflow, but they tend to be noisier. A smaller fan might not blow the skin away from your cheeks, but can be a quieter and milder option for small spaces.
Size: Double check the size of the unit and the size of your window. Basically all fans will include accordion-fold side panels to fit to a standard window, but they are far from one-size-fits-all.
Thermostat: Depending on your needs, a digital thermostat can be a helpful feature on a window fan. Some also include automatic sensors and timers, allowing you to program a precise temperature.
Features: Some fans include extras that we find convenient, but not necessarily essential. A remote control, for example, is nice if you would like to adjust the temperature from the comfort of your couch. If you don’t love the idea of fishing yet another small device from between your couch cushions, however, you can skip it.
1. Air King Whole House Window Fan
We love the strength of this single window fan, which cranks out serious air flow. It’s as simple as it gets when it comes to installation and operation, and fits windows between 27 and 38 inches wide and 26.25 inches high. It has a front-mounted rotary switch, making it far less awkward to use than models whose switches are in the back.
This fan is also reversible, which is important. If the air cools down significantly at night, you can open a window and put the fan in exhaust mode, which siphons hot air out and pulls cool night air in.
Our only quibble is that this fan can rattle a bit, so keep this in mind if you’re particularly sensitive to sound.
Pros: Industrial-grade power.
Cons: Can be rattly and noisy.
2. Lasko Electrically Reversible Window Fan
Much like our first pick, this fan provides powerful air circulation and includes a reversible function. We particularly like this one, however because of its features.
For starters, it is remarkably lightweight, which means no blowing out your knees trying to shove it into place. It also includes a storm guard feature, which keeps the elements from blowing into your home after you’ve closed the window onto the unit. It is a little smaller, and fits windows 26.5 to 34.5 inches wide. The fan itself measures 16 inches.
While we like how light this window fan is to carry, the plastic construction is not as sturdy as other units.
Pros: Sets up in minutes, storm guard keeps the elements outside.
Cons: Plastic construction can feel cheap.
3. Bionaire Remote Control Window Fan
This twin model fan is ever so slightly more high-tech, and includes a few additional features we really like compared to other models on our list.
For one thing, it has a programmable digital thermostat with an automatic temperature control function. This turns the unit off when it reaches the preset temperature. It also comes with a remote control, which is a plus.
Most people’s favorite aspect to this fan appears to be that is is extremely quiet — not something you can always expect from a window fan. For this reason, it’s great for living rooms or bedrooms. If you do install it in your bedroom, be aware that the lights on the digital display can be quite bright.
This fan fits windows 24 to 27 inches wide with the attached accordion extender. For larger windows, you can use the included three-inch extender.
Pros: Programmable digital thermostat and quiet operation.
Cons: Bright lights on digital display can be irksome at night.
4. Comfort Zone Twin Window Fan
Another twin unit, this fan fits between 22 1/4 inch and 33 inch windows with auto-locking expanders. It also comes with a removable fabric cover to keep out bugs and debris.
This fan might be the most portable of our recommendations, because it is not only lightweight but can also be used table top if you just don’t feel like dealing with a window installation.
Like the fans above, it is reversible with an exhaust function. But on this model you can’t turn the exhaust on with a switch, and instead have to manually flip the whole unit around.
Pros: Portable and can be used in the window, on a table or on the floor.
Cons: Have to manually flip the unit to get the exhaust function.