The best box fan

Adam Reeder

Box fans are uncomplicated and effective. This style of fan sits in a large (usually square) housing and can blow larger amounts of air than most oscillating fans. They are useful both for blowing air into a room for cooling and blowing hot air out of a room via a window or door. The basic box fan design hasn't changed for decades, because it works. As the old adage goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

For advice on choosing a box fan, read the following helpful buying guide. To get even more insight, check out the reviews at the end. We think you'll love the front-facing controls on our Best of the Best pick, the Mainstays 20" Box Fan.

Considerations when choosing box fans


The majority of box fan blades have a diameter of 20 or 21 inches. They are, however,   usually made of lightweight materials like plastic, so they're easy to move. You can also find small box fans with blades that are only 10 inches across. These are not as common or popular as larger models and are only effective at cooling a small space.


CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It's a measure of airflow and helps determine how well a fan works at moving air in a given space. As an example, a fan that has a CFM of 1,000 will be able to circulate 1,000 cubic feet of air in a minute. The higher the CFM, the more powerful the box fan will be.

Speed options

While many box fans offer three (or more) different speed settings, some only offer high and low. The more speed settings available, the easier it is to customize the airflow for your personal needs.


Noise used to be an expected disadvantage of any box fan, but things have changed in the past 20 years. Engineering of box fans has improved, making them quieter than they once were. You can find the decibel rating (dB) for many box fans in their specs, to determine how loud they will be before purchasing. If you want a model that's not too loud, look for one with a low dB rating.


Remote control

Is there any product not made better by a remote control? No. Some box fans now come with a wireless remote, which brings a new level of convenience to this small appliance. If you get a box fan with a remote, you can control the speed, as well as the on/off switch, from across the room.

Front-facing controls

Box fans that have front facing controls offer a versatility that top-control models don't. If you get a fan that has the controls in the front, then you can easily place it in a window while maintaining full access to the controls. This is useful for people who plan to keep their box fan in one spot and not move it often.

Removable grille

A removable grille on your box fan makes cleaning the blades much easier. Fan blades tend to collect dust over time and cleaning them can be a difficult task. If you have a removable front grille, you can open your fan up and clean the blades as needed.


Most box fans cost between $15 and $60. Price is most closely related to CFM rating. A low-priced box fan has a CFM rating of less than 2,000. A mid-priced option has a CFM rating between 2,000 and 2,500, and an expensive model has a rating over 2,500.


Q. Do I need a box fan if I already have air conditioning?

A. Maybe. While air conditioning units are good at cooling the ambient air, they aren't always as effective at circulating it. Box fans can do this job quite well. By circulating cool air through your air conditioned home with a box fan, you may be able to raise the thermostat by three to five degrees.

Q. Where should I place my box fan?

A. Windows are one of the most popular spots for box fans, both inward and outward facing. If you don't place yours in a window, then try to put it in a (safe) place above floor level. This helps to circulate the air better than if the fan is on the floor.

Box fans we recommend

Best of the best: Mainstays 20" Box Fan

Our take: Quiet and convenient. A great combination.

What we like: The front facing control makes this one of the most user-friendly box fans available.

What we dislike: Only comes in black.

Best bang for your buck: Lasko Cool Colors 20" 3-Speed Box Fan

Our take: A fun look with a great price.

What we like: Lightweight, with interesting color options and a useful handle for carrying.

What we dislike: Blades are not as durable as other models.

Choice 3: AIR-KING Box Fan

Our take: Heavy duty airflow with a heavy duty feel.

What we like: 2,140 CFM and six-inch steel housing make this box fan a powerful and stable workhorse.

What we dislike: High power brings with it a high noise level.

Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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