What Is a Table Fan? (Answered for Beginners)

In hot conditions, a table fan can be a lifesaver.

What is a table fan?

A table fan is a compact electric fan with short blades designed for placement on a table or desk. Table fans are often used to cool a single person or circulate air around a small room. Table fans are portable, easy to clean, and present a small footprint.

In this blog post, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about table fans for beginners. We’ll talk about what they are, how they work, and who can use them.

If you’re considering buying a table fan, read on!

What Is a Table Fan? (3 Unique Features)

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Light blue fan on a desk—What Is a Table Fan
Image by author via Canva—What Is a Table Fan

A table fan is also called a tabletop fan or a desk fan. You can get them in all kinds of styles, colors, and materials.

3 unique features of table fans:

  1. They have a compact, tabletop design.
  2. Their blades are smaller.
  3. They blow less air than other fans.

On that third point, these fans are still fantastic. They are simply made to cool smaller spaces, such as your office desk.

You can also get higher-powered table fans (see my recommendations at the end of this article).

Depending on the type of table fan you get, the blades might come surrounded by a cage to prevent accidents and injuries (like fingers getting caught in the blades).

Types of Table Fans

You can choose from a wide range of table fans to fit almost any table, space, or purpose.

For example, you can get table fans that are metal, plastic, extra small, quiet, pink, stylish, and more.

Here are some of the most popular types of table fans:

  • Miniature table fan (extra small)
  • Oscillating table fan
  • Bladeless table fan
  • Rechargable table fan
  • Smart table fan
  • Fly fan
  • Retro table fan
  • Bedside table fan
  • Outdoor table fan
  • Tabletop tower fan
  • 3-blade table fan
  • 5-blade table fan
  • Flat panel table fan

What Is an Oscillating Table Fan?

An oscillating table fan is a type of table fan that moves back and forth. This cools a larger area than a fan that can’t move.

Most oscillating fans offer multiple settings.

You can either aim the fan directly at your body or spread the cool air around your space.

What Is a Bladeless Table Fan?

A bladeless table fan is a fan with no external blades.

Yes, even bladeless table fans technically have blades. The blades in a bladeless tabletop fan are hidden inside of the fan, usually in the wide base.

Bladeless tabletop fans work by using an impeller. The impeller is a fan within the fan that circulates the air (which is expelled out of openings in the device).

This type of fan is often safer than traditional fans because the blades remain hidden.

It’s also quieter because there are no visual blades to make a “humming” noise.

What Is a Rechargeable Table Fan?

As the name suggests, a rechargeable table fan is a type of table fan that uses a rechargeable battery.

This means you can take it anywhere without having to be near an electrical outlet.

However, this feature makes rechargeable table fans a bit pricier than other types of tabletop fans.

You can also purchase a table fan that charges by USB cable.

What Is a Smart Table Fan?

A smart table fan is simply one that is compatible with a smartphone app.

This allows you to control the settings from your phone—no matter where you are in the room (or house).

This can come in handy if you forget to turn off your fan.

You can even connect some smart table fans to a smart speaker (Alexa, Bose, Nest, etc). It’s nice to be able to cool down a space before you get there.

What Is a Table Top Fly Fan?

A tabletop fly fan is a small fly repellent fan that sits on your table or desk.

The flexible fan blades rotate in floppy loops, imitating a swiping hand that flies naturally avoid. Along with the blades, the fan includes shiny dots that reflect light to deter pests.

Don’t worry about harming the flies. The soft, flexible blades stop on contact.

These fans operate on battery power and can last up to 30 hours on a single charge.

They work ok, but you’ll probably need a few of them to protect anything more than a plate of food.

Read: Do Fans Deter Pests? (Answers for 14 Pests)

What Is a Retro Table Fan?

Retro Fan

A retro table fan is a type of table fan that has a vintage look.

This style often features an antique design and materials. Some retro fans even have a wooden base.

Many of the best fan brands in the world offer retro models, combining classic beauty, a great aesthetic, and powerful performance.

What Is a Bedside Table Fan?

A bedside table fan is a compact fan that sits on the table next to your bed (or any bed).

Of course, you can use these little fans anywhere.

Just because it’s called a “bedside” fan doesn’t mean you can’t use one on a desk or table in any other room.

What Is an Outdoor Table Fan?

An outdoor table fan is designed to be used outdoors.

This type of fan is often weatherproof and can withstand light rain and other elements (Read: Can Fan Gets Wet? 13 Things You Need To Know).

Some outdoor table fans also have a light feature, making them perfect for use during the night.

What Is a Table Top Tower Fan?

A tabletop tower fan is a type of table fan that has a tall, thin design.

They look like miniature “towers.”

Tower fans usually offer features like ION air purifying, oscillation, remote control, timers, and multiple speed settings.

What Is a 3-Blade Table Fan?

A 3-blade table fan is a type of table fan that has three blades.

This design is often seen in traditional table fans. Most table or desk fans come with three or four fan blades.

This is more than enough to create a strong breeze.

What Is a 5-Blade Table Fan?

A 5-blade table fan has five blades.

A few desk fan brands offer a choice of either the 3-blade, 4-blade, or 5-bade option.

Some people believe that the five-blade design offers better performance and airflow than other designs.

I tend to agree.

What Is a Flat-Panel Table Fan?

Flat panel table fan
Image by author via Canva

A flat-panel table fan is a type of table fan that has a flat, rectangular front casing.

The flat-panel is mostly a style preference.

I’ve found no difference in performance between a circular or flat-panel fan.

These flat-panels are often made from plastic or other durable, lightweight materials.

Who Are Table Fans For?

Table fans are for anyone who is looking to cool a small area without the expense of an air conditioner.

Table fans are also useful for those looking to circulate air in a smaller room.

For example:

  • Home office
  • Cubicle at work
  • Outdoor work area
  • Bedside table

Combining a table fan with a ceiling fan can also help with cooling and circulation throughout a space.

Who Are Table Fans Not For?

Table fans are not for those who are looking to cool a large area.

If you’re looking for something to cool an entire big room, you’ll need a more powerful fan.

For bigger spaces, I suggest:

  • Floor fans
  • Pedestal fans
  • Tower fans
  • Ceiling fans

Table Fan Brands

Here are some of the most popular table fan brands:

  • Dyson table fan
  • Vornado table fan
  • Honeywell table fan
  • Pelonis table fan
  • Costco table fan
  • Tommy Bahama table fan
  • Lasko
  • Fanimation
  • Hunter

What’s the best table fan company?

There are several great table fan companies, but my favorite is Dyson. Other close contenders include Vornado and Hunter.

How To Use Table Fans

Using table fans is simple:

  1. Choose where you want to place your fan
  2. Plug it in (if needed)
  3. Titlt the fan head in your desired direction
  4. Turn your fan on
  5. Select your speed setting to customize the airflow
  6. If your fan offers oscillation, you can turn it on to rotate the fan blades back and forth (spreading cool air)

If you work with papers or other lightweight items, you may want to direct the airflow away from them so that the fan doesn’t blow them off the table.

Best Table Fans

If you’re on the market for a table fan, let me suggest my favorites:

Purpose/PlaceBest Table Fan
Powerful table fanDyson Air Multiplier AM06 Table Fan
Retro table fanVornado VFAN Jr. Vintage
Quietest table fanRowenta VU2660 Turbo Silence
Mini table fanVornado 133 Compact Air Circulator Fan
Outdoor table fanUN United Time
Best table fans

My personal favorite table fan is the Dyson table fan. I use one on my home office desk. It’s high-speed, very cooling, and the performance is unbeatable.

Final Thoughts: What Is a Table Fan?

The bottom line is that any fan little enough to place on a desk becomes a “table fan.”

If you work long hours at a desk or near a table, they can serve as perfect cooling companions. Although, if you move around a lot or work in a larger room, sometimes a different kind of fan better suits your needs.

Read about other types of fans below:


Popular Mechanics
NBC News

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