What is better: A pedestal fan or a tower fan?
In this guide we are going to compare slim tower fans with axial-flow pedestal fans and show you the possible applications for both product categories.
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You are wondering if a pedestal fan (axial-flow fan with vertically adjustable bar) or a tower fan (cross-flow) is more suitable for your needs?
⮩ An overview of ventilator construction types (centrifugal, axial, tangential/cross-flow) is available in this guide.
From left to right: axial-flow pedestal fan, tangential-flow tower fan, small tower fan (on top of the black sideboard)
Both product categories include models that can be used even in the tiniest of spaces. Generally, they are easy to transport and stay by your side whenever you are leaving the room, with just one hand movement they are set up in a different place. Before we go into the details about both product categories, get an idea of what exactly it is you want your fan to do for you. The following checklist shall serve as an aid. Your prospective portable fan should fulfil all aspects you deem essential.
What do you want your fan to do? Consider:
- Low operation noise (see decibel details)
- Adjustable height
- How much weight can you / do you want to lift?
- Can the fan be stored/dismantled during the winter?
- Carrying handle
- Full length ventilation?
- Would you like to place the fan on the table?
- Can it be used on the floor / mounted to the wall?
- How heavy/big should the base be (children/pets)?
- Included remote control
- Battery, mains adapter, plug included
- Other extras: timer, night mode
- Colour/design that matches personal taste and décor
- Power consumption
- Maximum airflow (wind machine for professional or residential purposes? Think about room size)
- Adjustable pitch
- Extended warranty by the manufacturer
- Housing material (impact-resistant if necessary)
- Cord length
- Value for money
- Even air circulation in the room
- Use in damp rooms (water ingress protection)
- Control panel easily accessible/visible?
- Easy to clean?
The airstream a slim tower fan generates reaches up to 30 metres wide into the room. The motor of devices is located at the end of the oblong impeller (see picture, no. 8). In case of cross-flow or tangential fans the air taken in is blown off through the vertical outlet vents. The oscillation by up to 115° happens on the inside of the housing or around the pedestal. Conventional pedestal fans with a wide cage can bump against users or furniture by accident if the size and motion is not taken into account. Another advantage of tower fans: The tangential impeller is usually very quiet.
Benefits of a tower fan
✓ Slim diameter starting at 15 cm (5.9 inches)
✓ Graceful modern design
✓ Quiet operation despite airflow of up to 1020 m3/h
✓ Can sometimes be used as desk fan
✓ Low power consumption (often with a maximum of 40 Watt)
✓ Timer up to 8 h
✓ Maximum weight 6.1 kg
✓ Some models are equipped with water tanks and misting feature (humidification)
✓ Airflow reaches up to 30 m
✓ Internal and space-saving oscillation feature (fan does not bump on surrounding objects)
✓ Illuminated control panel
With their slender shape tower fans are aesthetically appealing and correspond to the modern trends of the contemporary spirit of the time. Their housings are not vertically adjustable, however various sizes are available. Tower fans can be set up on the floor, desk or sideboard and direct their airflow to your position. If you have to leave the room you can just take your fan with you. Lead wires tend to be so long that you might not even have to change the wall socket. The remote control of these advanced fans is included in the delivery for the most part. Additionally, the models are equipped with a touch control panel on the fan itself.
Tower fans can also be used in the winter, for example if the model is combined with a humidifier. Cross-flow fans such as the Vornado Tower L are suitable for heat recovery. Their outstanding airflow capacity circulates air in the entire room and evens out the temperature in the process.
Application of a tower fan
At home (indoors)
Living room, bedroom
Depending on room size in offices, foyers, business premises
Conclusion: Tower fans are great for use in residential environments. They are quiet, efficient and do not take up a lot of space. The tangential impeller blows off air at full length and ensures even air circulation in the room. Modern technology allow customised settings with timer features that last up as long as 8 hours.
Pedestal fans are axial-flow fans with a protective grille on a stand, mostly the bar can be adjusted vertically. The airflow is lead through the motor on the centre of the fan head and exits on the front of the fan. The strongest pressure is at the top, at the level of the fan head. Thanks to the way the air is guided these articles are partially suitable for use as wind machines in industrial environments. With an adjustable pitch and oscillating feature pedestal fans are able to circulate the entire air inside the room. If you are working standing up, simply tilt the fan upwards. Once your are sitting down, adjust the fan head again. A powerful pedestal fan does not only whirl around the indoor air, instead there is circulation on all levels of the room. That means in the winter a model like this can recirculate warm air from the radiator. Warm air weighs much less than cold air and therefore rises upwards. Once it reaches the ceiling the heat energy becomes useless. Between the ground and the ceiling level there is a temperature difference of several degrees. These rooms are described as cold underfoot.
The heads of the pedestal fans are simply directed towards the ceiling for use in winter. The way should not be obstructed by objects or furniture. On the lowest speed the fan moves cold air to the ceiling. Thereby warm air on the ceiling is set in motion and temperature is gradually equalised. The output of the source of heat can be reduced, constant fuelling of the fireplace is not needed anymore.
Breaking up layers of heat with the Vornado 683 pedestal fan air circulator. By forcing the heat down to the lower level of the room you can save on heating costs (no constant heating required).
When in operation the pedestal fans are positioned in a central place of the room. Apart from the technical requirements the design of the devices is an important aspect. Bulky models from the supermarket’s special offer section are rarely more than a stopgap, and are thrown away after the summer season. A high-quality branded fan, however, offers impressive performance and design. The Stadler Form pedestal fan Charly was awarded with the iF Design Award 2016 for its aerodynamic shape. If you prefer elegant timbers, you will enjoy the Fanimation pedestal fan ARDEN. This fan has a walnut finish tripod and is easy to transport with just under 6 kg weight. The Westinghouse Cascata can be used as a fan and a humidifier alike. An integrated misting feature increases the cooling effect. The fine fog is distributed in the room at 360°. Depending on the manufacturer the pedestal fans are controlled with a touch panel or a remote control.
Benefits of a pedestal fan
✓ Height adjustable up to 2.1 m
✓ Can sometimes be mounted to the wall
✓ High airflow with up to 13,200 m3/h
✓ Circulation of warm air from the radiator
✓ Extras such as misting (see picture)
✓ Oscillation and vertically adjustable pitch for an ideal exit angle
Application pedestal fan
As professional wind machine (depends on IP rating and airflow)
At home and in the office
Some models can be used on the balcony or outdoors (water ingress protection)
Adjustable models can be used as desk fan
With battery: on premises without power supply
e.g. conservatory, garden shed, carport, garage and so on
Conclusion: Pedestal fans with an axial-flow output generate a high pressure build-up. On top of the use at home they can be set up in storage rooms, commercial and industrial environments. Due to the flexible height adjustment and invididual vertical pitch of the fan head it is possible to pinpoint the direction of the airflow. On low speed these fans can be used for heat recovery during the winter (see product description).
Only one foot on the ground? Safely positioning your fan
Pedestal and tower fans are supplied with a stable base that protects them from tilting over. The only exception currently is the Arden pedestal fan that comes with three legs that act as a tripod. Characteristic is a round base or 3-4 stiffeners that are mounted to the bottom of the telescopic rod. These parts are heavy and made of solid material. The fan withstands the tractive force inside the room, for instance when someone walks by at a fast pace. If the fan is rated with a suitable IP protection class for outdoor areas, it needs to be set up in a place where it is safe from wind and storm.
Cables on the ground pose a tripping hazard. Fans are usually delivered with lead wire measuring about 2 m (ca. 6.5 ft) in length. Here are a few safety tips to ensure that nobody gets tangled up in the cord and tips over the fan:
- Roll up the cable as much as possible, if need be fasten it with a cable tie. Do not lay the cord in front of doors and passage ways, avoid walkways or at least leave a marking with coloured adhesive film.
- Unplug the connector from the power supply and roll up the cable if the fan is not being used. Do not pull on the cable, but only on the plug.
- Do not expose the cable to strain, do not step on it, wheel other objects over it or is it as a carrying handle.
- Power cords should not be laid under carpets or furniture.
- Do not continue to use damaged cables and plugs.
The energy-saving pedestal fan Silent Stratos (picture) is supplied with an included battery in addition to a conventional plug. A battery-operated fan can be used in balconies witha roof or inside the summer house without wall socket. The run-time in any case is up to 35 hours.
Particularly in aparments in major cities space is limited. A slim fan that has various features (cooling, heat recovery) and is able to humidify the air is ideal in that case. In a privately-owned house both a space-saving tower fand and a vertically adjustable pedestal fan are good choices. Pay attention to data about the operational noise if you are looking to put the fan next to the bed, desk or seat. For use at night we recommend models with a timer feature. Professional pedestal fans/wind machines with protection against dust and water ingress are suitable for outdoor areas and damp rooms.
Both product categories (pedestal and tower fans) allow an even circulation of air. The most distinctive difference is in the direction of the impeller. Whereas the airflow passes a tangential-flow impeller at its full length, axial-flow fans are able to reach each corner of the room by means of pitch anddirection. The decision should not be made baed only on the type of construction, but also on the additional benefits your new fan has to offer. Go see our checklist for more information.
General safety instructions for portable fans
- Do not set them up directly next to plants and curtains
- Take note of instructions regarding temperature and water
- Clean the unit as per the instruction manual
- Secure positioning on an even surface
- Cables should not be influenced by weight, pull or heat
- Do not let children play with the fan
- Check if the device is suitable for indoors / outdoors
- Store safe from dust in the winter