The 10 Best Outdoor Fans
This wiki has been updated 38 times since it was first published in August of 2015. With the right fan, you don't have to get hot and bothered in the summer, even when far from air conditioning. Whether you're throwing an event or just looking for a little relief on your deck or patio, our selection of outdoor fans will keep you comfortable and cool. We've included a range of models suitable for home and commercial use, so you're sure to find one that's right for you. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
July 23, 2020:
Unlike with indoor fans where you may want to find a model with a good flow-rate-to-energy-consumption ratio, with outdoor fans, you really want to prioritize models in terms of durability and look for water-resistance and damp ratings, among other things. Furthermore, this can be a broad category depending on specifically what you’re looking for.
With those points in mind, I wanted to move this list toward a more comprehensive interpretation of this category by introducing high-quality models that were primarily utilitarian -rather than 'decorative' - from multiple subcategories of fans, so that there are options here to suit all needs. For instance, there were previously no battery-powered fans, but I’ve introduced the Geek Aire 12-Inch as well as the Geek Aire Misting. Similarly, there previously wasn’t a smart WiFi-operated ceiling fan, but I’ve added the Modern Forms Morpheus.
We now have a rounded selection of outdoor ceiling fans. Unfortunately, I had to remove the Emerson Tilo because it wasn’t rated for outdoor use, along with a few other models that I felt lacked convenience in an era of remote control; though, if you are more of a traditionalist, or frequently misplace remotes, then the Hunter Key Biscayne works on a no-nonsense pull-chain mechanism.
Both the Home Decorators Collection Kensgrove and Minka-Aire Xtreme use a remote control, and the Modern Forms Morpheus comes with the best of both worlds - both a wall switch as well as WiFi functionality. Remember that older ceiling fans can technically be rewired to work on WiFi or RF remote control, but why go through the effort when you can buy a smart fan out of the box? I also wanted to ensure that any ceiling fans I included had lights, since that’s generally a desirable feature for outdoor fans.
While the iLiving ILG can be hung on the wall, I really wanted to add a proper wall-mounted option that could oscillate and be useful in areas where there is very little ceiling - or perhaps even no ceiling. This was hard, because the majority of wall-mounted fans aren’t rated for outdoor use, but after quite some time, I finally hit the jackpot with a sturdy option in the OEM Tools Wall Mount. It’s a little expensive and somewhat basic, but you can leave it uncovered, and it pushes out air at a rate that you’ll tend to only find on the more powerful ceiling fans.
Many jobsite fans make some of the most reliable portable fans you’ll come across and I was tempted to add one, but they’re usually quite small. I’ve instead added 2 very similar portable models from Geek Aire – one with misting functionality, and the other without. I thought I’d include both because the basic model is really great if you want a reasonably priced, high-quality rechargeable fan; and if you want to spend a little extra for a misting fan, then you can’t go wrong with the Geek Aire Misting.
The Lasko 7050 Misto by the way isn’t a battery-operated fan – though I’ve decided to leave it in, since it’s quite portable and it also has a misting function, and a long cord which might make it ideal for trips in your RV or camping trips where you carry a generator.
April 24, 2019:
We considered a balance of both form and functionality when evaluating the best outdoor fans, so we've provided a mix of high quality mounted and free-standing choices, both decorative and utilitarian.
While the Lasko 7050 Misto won't enhance the décor of your outdoor spaces, it takes the top spot for offering the most refreshing choice for hot days, and it's utilitarian look is countered by the convenience of being able to take it with you, whether from front to back yard, or even for camping and picnics.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Harbor Breeze Twin receives high marks for the ambiance it adds to the space, plus it's dual fans are perfect for large covered patios or long front porch areas.
What Do I Need to Consider Before Purchasing an Outdoor Fan?
Finally, you'll want to conduct a bit of research to determine whether a portable fan can run on anything other than outlet power.
The first thing you need to consider before purchasing an outdoor fan is where you plan on placing that fan. You need to measure the clearance, assuming you're in the market for a standing fan. Beyond that, you need to consider whether the fan will be exposed to rain, or other elements. Is the fan waterproof or weather-resistant? Do you need to keep it under a canopy? Is it durable enough to withstand an extreme climate? These are just a few of the aspects that you'll want to take into account.
Once you've squared away some basics, you'll want to look into how much noise any operating fan makes. Noise may not be an issue if you're buying a fan for your patio, but noise could definitely come into play if you're buying a fan for the outer-deck of a restaurant, or any other public setting. Assuming that's the case, you'll want to confirm how loud a fan is, how many settings it has, and what type of range it has. A heavy-duty fan with one setting could wind up causing an issue for tables cloths, paper plates, newspapers, or even hairdos that fall directly in its path.
Do you plan on leaving the fan in one place or do you need it to be portable? There are a lot of portable fans on the market, and some of the handheld models are ideal for doing work in a cramped area. If you're purchasing a stand-up fan that you need to transport, make sure to find a model that is lightweight (i.e., 10-30 lbs), and that features a collapsible base, or stem.
Finally, you'll want to conduct a bit of research to determine whether a portable fan can run on anything other than outlet power. This is especially relevant for any handheld fans in that batteries could save you the trouble of having to carry along a lengthy cord, or find an outlet in a remote location.
A Variety of Uses For Any Outdoor Fan
Most people purchase an outdoor fan to provide cooling and ventilation for a consolidated area. But outdoor fans can be used for a variety of purposes, many of which may not be apparent.
Just place that candle, or any other scent, directly behind the fan so that it rises into the circulating stream.
Keeping an outdoor fan on your patio can allow you to divert smoke from a charcoal grill so that it doesn't enter the house. If you own a pool, you can hang bathing suits and any other wet clothes on a railing in front of a fan to get them to dry faster. A high-powered fan can keep the mosquitoes away (assuming you don't mind having a constant stream of air blowing on you). An outdoor fan can also be used to circulate the scent of a Citronella candle. Just place that candle, or any other scent, directly behind the fan so that it rises into the circulating stream.
Along those lines, you can place an outdoor fan near the kitchen of any coffee shop or restaurant, thereby spreading an aroma out onto a deck, or any adjoining sidewalk. Outdoor fans can provide white noise so dining patrons don't feel self-conscious about their conversations. An outdoor fan can keep patrons from becoming impatient while seated in a sun-drenched waiting area, and can can also be used to remove the smell of disinfectants after you've mopped a restaurant's floor at the end of every night.
If you work in construction, an outdoor fan can be used to help concrete - or other settings - dry quicker. A handheld fan can be used to blow away sawdust, dirt, or any other powdered film. If you're working underground, or in an area where there's little ventilation, an outdoor fan could prove essential to your comfort. If you're working in an area where there's noxious chemicals, an efficient fan could prove essential to your health.
A Brief History of The Fan
Fans date back to 500 BCE, at which point they were called punkahs, a Hindi variation on the word pankh, which refers to the wind stream that is created when a bird flaps its wings. The first punkahs were made out of palmyra reeds. The loose materials were woven together, and then operated by hand.
Fans have evolved throughout the past half-century, most notably in response to the widespread use of air conditioning and central air.
During the Colonial Age the term punkah came to describe a new type of fan. This fan resembled a giant board, usually designed out of rattan, which swung overhead, circulating air whenever prompted by a lever. Punkahs were the expressed province of the rich throughout the Colonial Era. More often than not, these devices were hung in the houses of aristocrats, where Indian servants, or punkah wallahs, were relegated to operate the levers by hand.
Over the next few centuries scientists conducted experiments based on funneling airflow, and then recirculating it to cool an environment. During the mid-1800s steam fans were invented, constituting a major breakthrough for the industry. During 1882, the first electrical fans came along. Over the ensuing 30 years, companies throughout Europe and America began mass producing electrical fans for the home.
Fans have evolved throughout the past half-century, most notably in response to the widespread use of air conditioning and central air. Fans remain a cost-effective alternative to air conditioning, especially when it comes to outdoor use, where air conditioning isn't nearly as effective. Today, fans come in a variety of styles. Consumers have their choice of anything from a battery-operated handheld fan to a stand-up fan that features air filtration and thermostat control.