What Is a Drum Fan? (Explained for Beginners)

Many people are not familiar with drum fans, their applications, and the different kinds of drum fans you can get.

What is a drum fan?

A drum fan is a powerful electrical fan in the shape of a drum. Drum fans are commonly used for cooling and ventilation in industrial settings, photography studios, workshops, construction sites, gymnasiums, livestock sheds, and barns. A drum fan is also called a barrel fan or barrel cooler fan.

In this article, I will answer the most common questions I get about drum fans.

What Are Drum Fans Used For?

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Drum Fan—What Is a Drum Fan?
Image by the author via Canva—What Is a Drum Fan?

Drum fans have many applications.

Some of the most common applications are cooling workers in factories, exhausting fumes or dust from construction sites, and restoring a space after flood damage.

These fans produce fast and strong airflow, which makes them ideal for many industrial and commercial applications.

Drum fans are also used to cool livestock.

The fan creates a breeze that helps keep the animals cool and comfortable in hot weather.

What Are Drum Fans Not For?

Drum fans are not made for standard offices, cubicles, small home offices, grow tents, or cooling you or your pets at close range.

At least, not unless you want a tornado in your office.

Keep drum fans for heavy-duty situations where you need to circulate air or exhaust fumes in a large open area like a gymnasium or factory floor.

If you have a question about whether a drum fan is good for your needs, it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Types of Drum Fans

There are at least nine different types of drum fans.

Knowing these types will help you better understand drum fans and which kind of drum fan is best for you.

Types of drum fans:

  • Orbital drum fan
  • Mobile drum fan with wheels
  • Orbital and mobile drum fan
  • Belt-drive drum fan
  • Direct-drive drum fan
  • Outdoor drum fan
  • Saftey drum fans
  • Filtered drum fans
  • Fixed speed drum fan
  • Multi-speed drum fan

Here is a 2-minute video that shows you what a few different types of drum fans look like:

YouTube video by Uline—What is a drum fan?

What Are Orbital Drum Fans?

Orbital drum fans are held in a versatile stand called an “orbital.” This simple stand allows the fan to pivot in any direction and at any angle.

The maximum adjustability of orbital drum fans makes them very versatile.

Orbital drum fans come with or without wheels.

What Are Mobile Drum Fans?

Mobile drum fans feature wheels so that you can move them around your room or space.

Factories love mobile drum fans because they can be easily transferred to wherever the workers need cooling.

Construction sites love mobile drum fans because they can be moved to different areas as needed based on dust, debris, fumes, and progress on the project.

Mobile drum fans are also popular with photographers because you can wheel them into place and then aim the fan at a backdrop or set for maximum ventilation.

What Are Orbital and Mobile Drum Fans?

This is a type of wheeled drum fan that has a true orbital stand with pivotal motion. This means the fan can pivot horizontally, as well as up and down.

In other words, this type of fan offers the best of both worlds:

  • Maximum portability
  • Maximum directional control

What Is a Belt-Drive Drum Fan?

A belt-drive drum fan has an external belt that drives the blades of the fan.

A belt-driven fan is usually very powerful and efficient. Belt-driven drum fans are ideal for very high-powered applications, such as construction sites and industrial settings.

Bear in mind that belt-drive drum fans can be loud.

They move a lot of air while the fan spins. The noise level will depend on which motor is used and the overall size of the fan.

What Is a Direct-Drive Drum Fan?

A direct-drive drum fan has the motor mounted inside the fan housing.

Direct-drive drum fans are very efficient. They can cool areas down quickly and efficiently, which is especially important in hot environments.

Direct-drive drum fans are also:

  • Easier to clean
  • Easier to maintain
  • Typically more expensive than belt-drive drum fans

What Is an Outdoor Drum Fan?

An outdoor drum fan is designed for use outside in various temperature and weather conditions.

They are made with a corrosion-resistant finish and all-weather materials.

Outdoor drum fans sometimes also offer tamper-resistant housing and a protective cover in case of rain.

What Is a Safety Drum Fan?

A safety drum fan is safe to use around hazardous or combustible fumes. They are also known as “hazardous location” or “explosion-proof” drum fans.

They might come with:

  • Single-phase, dual voltage motors
  • Spark-resistant construction (usually aluminum or brass)
  • Rubbing ring around the entrance to the motor housing

What Is a Filtered Drum Fan?

A filtered drum fan includes a filter for air purification.

A filter is important because it can keep harmful particles out of your workspace, including dust, dirt, mold spores, pollen, and other contaminants.

Left untreated, these particles create an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous environment.

What Is a Fixed Speed Drum Fan?

A fixed-speed drum fan uses a single speed for the blades to spin. The speed cannot be adjusted or altered in any way.

It has one constant speed no matter what the environmental conditions.

You might use this fan if the conditions of your worksite require a stable temperature or if the conditions do not often change.

What Is a Multi-Speed Drum Fan?

A multi-speed drum fan offers more than one speed for the blades to spin. This gives you more control over the airflow and allows you to customize the fan to better suit your needs.

You can choose between two or three different speeds, depending on the fan.

Most of these fans give you three options with the third setting blowing the fastest.

How Do Drum Fans Work?

Drum fans generally work by using a direct current (DC) motor. The blades on a drum fan are designed to move a lot of air quickly.

This high-speed airflow allows the fan to cool down an area quickly.

The drum fan’s barrel shape allows for large blades to propel a wide column of air.

This is also why you will find that most drum fans are very powerful and can move a large quantity of air.

Are Drum Fans Loud?

Drum fans are very loud.

This is because they are designed for power, not quietness. If you are using a belt-driven drum fan, the noise level will depend on which motor is used and the size of the fan.

Direct-drive drum fans are also very loud because all of the airflow goes right through your fan rather than being obstructed by a drive belt.

Drum fans work best as workhorses in extreme conditions.

If the noise level is your highest priority, you might want to consider getting a few floor fans.

How Big Are Drum Fans?

Drum fans range in size from 18 inches up to 72 inches. The larger the fan usually means the more powerful the fan (but not always).

Most people buy drum fans between 24 and 48 inches.

A drum fan in this size range will be able to cool down a large area very quickly.

How Are Drum Fans Different Than Other Fans?

Drum fans are different than other fans because they are designed specifically for power and speed. This high-speed airflow allows the fan to cool down a spacious area fast.

They are also louder than other fans and can be very expensive.

They look different than other fans, are made for industrial or commercial use (although anyone can use them), and have a big footprint.

Are Drum Fans Expensive? (3 Good Examples)

Drum fans are expensive. On the low end, a smaller drum fan can cost you a few hundred dollars. On the high end, a large industrial-sized drum can cost $6,000 or higher.

Here are three examples:

DEWALT 20″ Industrial Fan$139.00
MAXXAIR RED 2-Speed Belt Drive Drum 42 “$549.00
BIG A$$ Fans 40″ Sidekick$2,099.00
What is a drum fan? (prices)

Note that size does not always mean a better-performing product.

What Else Should I Consider When Buying a Drum Fan?

When you are buying a drum fan, there are a few other things you need to consider besides price.

You might want to consider:

  • Your needs—What type of work do you plan on using the fan for?
  • The environment—What is the temperature and humidity like where you will be using the fan?
  • The noise level—How loud is too loud for you?
  • The size of the fan—How big of an area do you need to cool down?
  • The type of fan—Do you need a belt-driven or direct-drive drum fan?
  • The features—Do you want multiple speeds, wheels, and an orbital stand?

Final Thoughts: What Is a Drum Fan?

If you work in a factory, construction site, garage, or gym, then drum fans can prove highly necessary to your safety and comfort.

You can purchase drum fans online (Amazon, Walmart, Maxxair, etc.) or at most home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowes, Tractor Supply, etc).

My personal favorite drum fan is the Sidekick from Big A$$ Fans.

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