What Is a Window Fan? (Explained for Beginners)

Many people use window fans all over the world to cool their houses, especially at night.

What is a window fan?

A window fan is a fan that attaches to an open window. Window fans blow air in or out of your house to regulate temperature. Window fans can come with remotes, filters, multiple fan blades, timers, adjustable grilles, and speed control. Reversible window fans alternate between exhaust and intake.

What Does a Window Fan Do?

(This post may have affiliate links. Please see my full affiliate disclosure)
Window fan in a window—What Is a Window Fan
Image by author via Canva—What Is a Window Fan?

Window fans keep your house cool in the summer by bringing cooler air inside, removing hot air, and circulating the cool air around your home.

Window fans are inexpensive alternatives to installing central air conditioning systems or purchasing many fans to position around your house.

Window fans can be set to timers, so they turn on and off at certain times.

For example, you can set your window fan to turn off during the heat of the day and back on at night when temperatures typically drop.

You can also use a window fan to cool down your pet’s area.

Finally, window fans can also be helpful in getting rid of bad smells and smoke from a room.

What Does a Window Fan Not Do?

Window fans do not work well in winter.

This is because they pull cold air inside your home while expelling warm air.

They also do not circulate air as well if there is a large difference in temperature between the inside and the outside of your house.

For example, if it is 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside and your window fan is set to blow inward, the fan will only bring hot air into the house. That’s a recipe for a sweaty disaster.

How Do Window Fans Work?

Window fans work by drawing the air from either outside or inside your house.

If you set up your window fan to draw air into your home, it will be more effective if the fan is facing a direction that is blowing cool, fresh air.

Place the fan on the opposite side of the room you want to cool down.

Window fans that are set to suck the air out of your home are best used when you want to get rid of the hot air (or smells) and not bring any new air into the house.

Types of Window Fans

Window fans come in a variety of sizes and types to fit most windows. They also come with a wide range of features to meet your every need.

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

  • Horizontal window fan
  • Verticle window fan
  • Window fan with thermostat
  • Window fan with remote
  • Smart window fan
  • Window fan with filter
  • Dual window fan
  • Box window fan
  • Window fan for large window
  • Window fan for small window
  • Expandable window fan
  • Reversible window fan
  • Oscillating window fan
  • Portable window fan
  • DIY window fan

What Is a Horizontal Window Fan?

A horizontal window fan fits in standard-size windows or wider windows.

These fans are usually wider than they are tall to fill in all the gaps in the open window. Horizontal window fans are the most common type of window fan.

What Is a Verticle Window Fan?

Verticle window fans are designed to fit in long, vertical windows.

They are usually taller and more narrow than other window fans. Verticle window fans come in handy in large houses with many differently shaped windows.

What Is a Window Fan With a Thermostat?

Some window fans come with thermostats.

A thermostat is a device that measures the temperature and turns a heating or cooling system on or off to maintain the desired temperature.

Window fans with thermostats turn on and off automatically to help regulate the temperature in your home.

What Is a Window Fan With a Remote?

Window fans with remotes allow you to control all the functions of the fan with one hand.

All you have to do is press a button on the remote and your window fan will turn on or off, change modes, or adjust speeds.

You won’t have to stand up or walk over to your window fan to make changes.

This feature comes in handy if you are ill, handicapped, busy, or laying down.

What Is a Smart Window Fan?

A smart window fan has the ability to connect to the internet.

This means that you can control it from anywhere through a phone or tablet app.

Smart window fans generally come with a variety of features, such as sleep timers, energy-saving modes, and noise reduction.

What Is a Window Fan With a Filter?

Window fans with filters are designed to remove bad smells and smoke from your home.

The filters on these fans usually come with a charcoal layer that helps to absorb the bad smells.

Window fans with filters are ideal for people who live in smoky or polluted areas.

What Is a Dual Window Fan?

Dual window fans are window fans with two fans instead of one.

These fans are designed for standard windows, and they come with two independent sets of fan blades so that you can adjust each fan’s settings separately.

One fan can be set to intake air and the other to remove air.

Dual window fans are also called twin window fans.

What Is a Box Window Fan?

Box window fans are the largest type of window fan.

They are usually too big for some standard windows, but they fit nicely in extra-large windows.

Box window fans can come with a remote and a thermostat just like other window fans do.

Read: What Is a Box Fan? (Explained for Beginners)

What Is a Large Window Fan?

Window fans made specifically for large windows have stronger motors that will pull more air into the home than standard size or mini window fans.

Large window fans are ideal for cooling down a large home.

You can also use them for a bigger space, such as a garage or workshed.

What Is a Mini Window Fan?

Window fans that are made to fit in small windows have less power than those designed for larger windows.

Smaller window fans will also have a narrower fan blade, which will cause them to draw less air into the home. Mini window fans are perfect for small apartments, condos, dorm rooms, and other small spaces.

What Is an Expandable Window Fan?

Window fans that expand fit in most windows, regardless of size.

These fans have an adjustable frame that expands to fit in any window. The frame slides out on each side.

Expandable window fans are perfect for people who move often or people with different-sized windows.

What Is a Reversible Window Fan?

Window fans that are reversible can be set to intake or exhaust air.

Reversible window fans are perfect for people who want to change the direction of the airflow in their homes.

You may want to do this when the seasons change, or during different times of the day.

What Is an Oscillating Window Fan?

Window fans with oscillation move back and forth or from side to side.

This movement helps to spread the air in your home.

Oscillating window fans are perfect for cooling down a whole room faster.

If you have many people in your household, this feature is ideal because it will help to cool down the whole house instead of just one section.

However, you will often need a few window fans to cover the entire house.

What Is a Portable Window Fan?

A portable window fan is one that can be moved from window to window.

This type of fan is perfect for people who want to move the air around their home without having to buy several new window fans.

Portable window fans usually come with a handle and collapsible legs, so you can easily take them with you.

What Is a DIY Window Fan?

A DIY window fan is a window fan that you build yourself instead of purchasing one at a store.

You can build a DIY window fan using several different parts, including an old box fan and some PVC.

DIY window fans are great if you want to cut costs or need a personalized cooling system.

Check out this 2-minute video showing one kind of homemade window fan:

YouTube video by ILG Fan Man—What Is a Window Fan?

Where Do You Place a Window Fan?

You can place a window fan in any room in your house with a window.

Here are places where you can put a window fan:

  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Basement
  • Attic
  • Garage

Read: WhatIs an Attic Fan? (Explained for Beginners

Does a Window Fan Have To Be in a Window?

Yes, a window fan must be in a window to work effectively.

However, a window fan does not need to always be placed in a ground-floor living room window. Any window will do.

All you really need is some sort of opening to the outside so that the window fan can intake our expel air.

What Are the Advantages of a Window Fan?

Window fans have many advantages over traditional air conditioners.

Window fans are less expensive, easier to install, and more portable. You can use them in any type of room dwelling that includes windows or window-like openings.

However, a window fan can also have disadvantages over an air conditioner, which include:

  • Not as strong as an air conditioner
  • Less powerful motors may not be able to cool down a whole house or room
  • You need two or more window fans for the best airflow
  • If you don’t use a screen along with a window fan, insects could get into your home

How Many Window Fans Do I Need?

In many cases, you need at least two window fans.

One window fan will suck air into your house while the other window fan blows air out of your house.

If you get a dual window fan or reversible window fan, one window fan can do both jobs.

However, I still recommend that you get two separate window fans.

One window fan may not be able to cool down a whole house.

If you only have two fans, they should ideally both be placed on opposite sides of the same room in order to get the best airflow.

Here are some other helpful tips:

  • Purchase an even number of window fans
  • If you have an odd number, set more fans to “intake” mode for the best airflow
  • Bigger window fans (that fit your windows) will create a stronger airflow

Best Window Fans

Since I’ve been working on window fans for years, here are my recommendations for the best window fans:

PurposeBest Window Fan
Best OverallBionaire Twin 8.5 inch
Reversible Window FanVornado TRANSOM Window Fan 
Strongest Window FanAir King 9166F 20″
Best Window Fans

Final Thoughts: What Is a Window Fan?

When looking for a window fan to purchase, always measure your windows and get the most powerful fan that you can afford (the Holmes dual window fan is a great budget-friendly choice).

This will ensure that you get the best bang for your buck.

Now that you know what a window fan is, you may have some other related questions.

Read these articles about window fans:

Scroll to Top