best desk fan

5 Best Desk Fans That Are Small But Mighty (2021 Review)

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In this guide we’ll take a look at the best desk fans for the UK market.
I’ve compared performance, speed, noise and cost
to give you my top recommendations.

The Best Desk Fans Are...

IMAGE RECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCT FEATURES
  • Most energy efficient desk fan
  • Incredibly powerful
  • 12 speed settings!
  • Best desk fan on the market
  • Powerful Dyson Technology
  • Small, sleek & silent
  • Powerhouse of a desk fan!
  • 12 speed settings & 4 modes
  • Oscillates up, down, left & right
  • Best value for money desk fan
  • Ultra slimline design
  • Whisper quiet technology
  • Best USB desk fan
  • Small and portable
  • Powerful for its size

Read Our In-Depth Reviews

MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Most energy efficient desk fan
  • Incredibly powerful
  • 12 speed settings!
OUR RATING
100
PRICE
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MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator Review

Working with an ‘A+++’ energy rating, the MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator is a desk fan that works well even in large rooms, yet still remains energy efficient.

It can circulate air in several different ways, using either a vertical or horizontal axis. Unlike traditional fans, it doesn’t just go left to right but instead is capable of almost 360° rotation.

There are 12 speed settings in total, and levels 1 – 5 are particularly quiet. They’re suitable for most people to sleep or work near without being much of a distraction. Also, level 1 is still powerful enough to be practical, despite being the lowest setting, and will sufficiently cool anyone directly next to it.

At the other end of the scale, speed setting 12 powerfully blasts out air to a point where it’s unlikely to be required most of the time. Levels 4 – 8 are most appropriate for encouraging air to circulate around a room.

It has programmable timers and a nightlight, as well as an ECO mode that adjusts the fan speed based on the temperature of the room. This can be useful in the daytime, as well as at night, if you don’t want to keep manually adjusting the fan speed.

In terms of negatives, there are a few minor niggles. Firstly, the fan beeps when the settings are changed – this isn’t so much of a problem during the day, but if sharing a room at night it could be frustrating not to be able to mute these noises. Secondly, as the fan moves, so does its infra-red sensor –this means that if using the remote control to change settings, it may take a while to aim at the right spot.

Despite these few problems, it’s still one of the best desk fans if you want something that is energy efficient yet powerful. It also rotates on a well-designed trajectory for circulating air and isn’t too loud.

Pros

  • Very quiet up to level 5 - won’t disturb work/sleep
  • Effective oscillating function that’ll help cool the space around you
  • Even on the lowest setting, the airflow is noticeable and will help keep you cool if aimed directly at you
  • Eco mode saves energy by adjusting the speed according to the temperature in the room

Cons

  • Audible beep when you press a button can’t be silenced so may disturb others
  • Receiver oscillates with the body of the fan which can make it difficult to use the remote control if the fan is rotated away from you

Dyson AM06 Desk Fan

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Best desk fan on the market
  • Powerful Dyson Technology
  • Small, sleek & silent
OUR RATING
99
PRICE
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Dyson AM06 Desk Fan Review

We’ve all noticed that Dyson has branched out in recent years – extending their repertoire from vacuum cleaners to hand dryers, hair dryers and now desk fans. Their AM06 Desk Fan is powerful, contemporary, and (as expected from Dyson) bladeless.

It goes without saying that this is a more premium model and not really suitable for those working with a lower budget; however, it does have its advantages.

Unlike traditional fans there are no blades or mesh guards in sight, which tend to be notorious for collecting dust and being hard to clean. The AM06 can be wiped over with a dry or damp cloth to stop dust from congregating.

Also, a lot of parents with young children prefer the security of using a bladeless fan, especially with inquisitive toddlers around.

It can oscillate through 360° and be tilted to direct the air depending on whether you are sitting or standing. In terms of volume, speeds 1 – 3 are considered quiet (just a low-level hum), acceptable for working or sleeping, and there are 10 speeds in total.

There’s a timer function, but no specific eco setting, although it’s still rated as ‘energy class A’. The settings can be changed using a remote control, so it’s possible to control from a distance.

It’s one of the best desk fans if you’re particularly interested in the bladeless technology, but otherwise it works as you might expect for a standard fan. The price reflects the quality, brand and contemporary design, but may not be worth it for everyone when cheaper desk fans are available.

Pros

  • Very safe for use around children with no exposed blades
  • Extremely contemporary-looking design
  • Runs quietly on lower settings making it suitable for night time and working
  • Settings can be changed using remote control without having to get up
  • Remote control is magnetic and sticks to the fan so it doesn't get lost

Cons

  • Limited tilt angle means air may not reach bed if fan is positioned higher up
  • Remote control only works reliably when the fan is facing you - so you’ll need to wait for it to oscillate towards you
  • Display light is quite bright and there's no way to make it dimmer at night time

MYCARBON Quiet Desk Fan

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Powerhouse of a desk fan!
  • 12 speed settings & 4 modes
  • Oscillates up, down, left & right
OUR RATING
95
PRICE
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MYCARBON Quiet Desk Fan Review

Whilst there are a lot of expensive fans on the market, the MYCARBON Quiet Desk Fan offers a good compromise between price and function. It’s not the absolute cheapest of the bunch, but it offers good value with a decent number of features for its price range.

There are 12 speeds to choose from, as well as a programmable timer, and a display light that can be turned off to stop it from disrupting sleep. It has both horizontal and vertical oscillation, moving through 60° in either direction.

With an energy rating of A+++, it’s efficient in how it uses its power, meaning power bills won’t shoot up astronomically, and it also has different modes to choose from.

As well as the speed settings, there are four ‘wind modes’ to provide more choice, ‘Normal wind’ is a constant flow of air, ‘natural wind’ mimics the eb and flow of a breeze outside, ‘sleeping wind’ offers a gentler wind mode and ‘baby wind’ is calmer still. The sleep mode keeps noise down to 25 dB which is considered equivalent to a whisper.

If you’re worried about leaving the fan all night when sleeping, there’s also a 10-hour timer function so it can power down once you’ve dozed off.

One thing to note: although it’s useful to have a remote control for changing the settings from a distance, it’s not always easy to use. The control needs to be aimed directly at the sensor on the fan, which can take a couple of goes to get right.

Nevertheless, overall, this is one of the best desk fans if you’re after value for money. It’s relatively large, so might not be appropriate for smaller workspaces, but does offer a range of functions at a reasonable price.

Pros

  • Strong high quality build with no flimsy plastic parts that are likely to break
  • Rotates both left to right as well as up and down meaning cool air can reach every corner of the room
  • Oscillation can be controlled on the panel of the fan or using the included remote control
  • Low noise so suitable for those who like to work in silence or very light sleepers
  • Remote control is magnetic and can be attached to the base to prevent it from getting lost

Cons

  • Fan is relatively large so may not fit on small or crowded desks
  • Every time you change a setting the fan emits a large beep which cannot be muted
  • Ambient temperature display isn't hugely accurate so shouldn't be relied upon

Honeywell QuietSet Table Fan

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Best value for money desk fan
  • Ultra slimline design
  • Whisper quiet technology
OUR RATING
90
PRICE
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Honeywell QuietSet Table Fan Review

When the weather is warm, sometimes all you need is a basic, functional fan. The Honeywell QuietSet Table Fan has four speed settings, helps with keeping cool and hot days, and won’t break the bank.

It’s housed in sturdy, square black casing and has a thick stable base. As a result, it stands securely on desks and bedside tables without much danger of tipping over.

The speed settings range from level 1, which is designed to be used when sleeping, to level 4, which produces a relatively powerful blast of air. On the lowest setting, the fan is quiet; however, it does need to be in quite close proximity in order to feel its benefits.

There’s no remote control, so changing the fan speed is done by pressing a button on the front of the fan, and scrolling through the options until you find the one you want. This makes it less practical to use from a distance than other fans featured on this list, and there is one other small design flaw too:

When the fan is turned on, it automatically sets itself to its highest speed level – which is also its loudest. This can make the fan quite disruptive when used at night, especially if you want to turn it on after a few hours’ sleep.

Nevertheless, it’s still a useful fan, albeit slightly more basic than a lot of models on this page which is reflected in its price. It’s one of the best desk fans to choose if you’re working to a budget, but still want something quieter than a standard rotary fan (on its lowest setting at least).

Pros

  • Lowest speed setting is quiet and suitable for sleep
  • Easy to use with only three buttons - power, oscillate and fan speed
  • Sturdy and well built with robust, stable plastic casing
  • Breeze output is relatively powerful on the higher modes - a good option for hot days sat behind a desk

Cons

  • When turned on, automatically switches uses highest (and loudest) setting which seems counterintuitive
  • No remote control - must be adjusted using the buttons on the body of the fan
  • Housed in a relatively large unit that may be too big for some people's desks/bedside tables
  • LED light can't be switched off and remains on whenever fan is on - even at night

Fancii Small Personal USB Fan

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Best USB desk fan
  • Small and portable
  • Powerful for its size
OUR RATING
89
PRICE
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Fancii Small Personal USB Fan Review

As a completely portable option, the Fancii Small Personal USB Fan can be used absolutely anywhere. It can be powered off a laptop, mains socket, or battery pack – anything that has a USB port.

If you work in a particularly warm office, or just want a personal fan that can be taken on holiday, this little model measures 12 x 10 x 10 cm and can slip easily into a laptop bag or rucksack.

Whilst it naturally doesn’t pack the power of large full-scale fans, it’s sufficient to offer a good level of personal cooling when positioned nearby. Plus, there are still two fan speeds to choose between if you want to use less power.

The pivoting handle doubles up as a stand, and means the fan can be positioned at any angle through 180°. There’s no oscillating feature, but this fan isn’t big enough or powerful enough to circulate air around an entire room anyway.

Compared to some other USB fans, it’s also quite stylishly designed, with a contemporary look and full protective casing. This should limit damage to the fan whilst it’s being transported around.

One other scenario where this fan will come into its own is on camping trips – making it easier to sleep in hot tents during the summer without having to sleep with the ‘doors’ open. There are a lot of different contexts where having a portable fan could come in handy.

Two things to note in terms of its design: firstly, the USB cable is approximately one metre long – so there are some situations where this might not be quite long enough – and secondly, the higher speed setting can be a little noisy. If using this fan in close proximity to others, or when trying to sleep, the lower setting may be more appropriate.

Overall, this is one of the best desk fans if you’re looking for something portable that can be taken anywhere. It may not have as strong an output as larger fans, but is effective when used for personal cooling.

Pros

  • Portable and can be used with any USB power source including battery packs
  • On its lowest setting is sufficiently quiet for sleeping or office work
  • Small, compact size means it's easy to carry in a bag to work or on holiday
  • Has enough cooling power to be effective for personal use

Cons

  • One metre USB cable may not be long enough for some situations
  • Touch sensitive control on top can be easy to accidentally press which changes the fan speed
  • Higher speed setting (setting two) may be too noisy for sleeping or working in public spaces

How to Choose The Best Desk Fan

As much as it surprises us every year, summers in the UK can get pretty hot.

During a heatwave, the only thing we really want is to be outside enjoying the sun, but, alas, most of us still have to work.

There are few things worse than being stuck behind a desk on a boiling hot day – but at least there are compact, tabletop fans that can help keep us cool whilst the temperatures rise.

The best desk fans aren’t just compact, but they’re quiet enough not to be disruptive either. In fact, many of them can be useful for night time as well. The following tips will help you work out what sort of fan to look out for – they can vary significantly in design!

Decibel Noise Level

When working, noise can be a number one distraction. Whether at home or in the office, you don’t want any loud, gale-force disturbances interrupting your work.

Fans that are designed for desks are usually conscious of being quiet – their descriptions should mention how many decibels they produce. Be wary of fans that simply describe themselves as ‘quiet’ without a decibel rating, or customer reviews, to back them up.

Desk fans should ideally produce under 50 dB of noise, which is roughly equivalent to the hum of a refrigerator.

30 dB is considered to be on par with whispering/rustling leaves, whilst 10 dB is the sound of breathing.

As you might expect, desk fans are at their quietest on the lowest fan setting; therefore, expect the described decibel level to apply to the fan on its lowest speed, unless specified otherwise.

Fans with a lot of speed settings (over 10, for example) will have smaller gradients between each level. Therefore, you might be able to have the fan on slightly stronger, whilst keeping it at a noise level that’s suitable for work. If a fan only has four speed settings, the jump between each option will be greater and you may only be able to use it on the lowest option.

Choosing the Best Design

Desks fans can vary hugely in shape, size and style. Smaller models are best for crowded desks without a lot of space, whilst larger, more powerful fans will likely offer more cooling power.

Most desk fans are reasonably portable; however, there are some that are small enough to fit into a laptop bag or backpack. These are the options to go for if you’re looking to take your fan out of the house with you. Of course, they won’t have the strength of larger fans.

Standard desk fans should be easy enough to carry and manoeuvre between rooms in the house, meaning they can be used for sleeping as well as work.

One other important option to consider is safety. Bladeless desk fans have become popular in recent years because there are no spinning parts. This can be particularly beneficial if there are small children or pets around.

Design Features

Not all fans come with the same features. It isn’t unusual for them to have a choice of at least two speed settings (although some can have many more), but there are several other factors that can separate one fan from the next.

Timer Function

This is especially useful if you’re also going to be using the fan whilst you sleep. If the fan has a timer function, you can set it to turn off after a couple of hours. This will help save electricity but means you can still use the fan as you nod off.

Timers are described in hours. For example, if a fan has a 10-hour timer, it can be set to be on for up to 10 hours, and then turn itself off.

Remote Control

Some fans have a remote control which means their settings can be changed from across the room. There are many scenarios in which this can be useful, and it can make the fan a lot more practical to use.

Primarily, having a remote control can help make using the fan less disruptive, meaning you don’t have to get out of your chair, or out of bed, to change the settings.

Sleep Mode

Desk fans with a sleep mode should run quite quietly. A sleep setting won’t usually have a very powerful airflow, but it should be sufficient to keep you cool whilst sleeping – especially if it’s in close proximity.

Sleep modes can also be useful when working, especially if on a videocall, as they can be very quiet.

Oscillation

Not all desk fans oscillate. Smaller models are less likely to oscillate as they are more focused on aiming the air directly at you. However, larger fans oscillate in order to move air around the room.

This can be especially useful if you are trying to increase the reach of an air conditioning unit – oscillating fans don’t cool down the air, but they can help circulate colder air from a window or air conditioner.

Some fans oscillate both vertically and horizontally, whilst others only rotate from left to right.

Power Supply

Desk fans can be powered either by a standard mains-power connection, or a USB connection.

USB fans tend to be smaller than other models, but they can be beneficial if travelling or using the fan for personal use.

A main-powered fan will naturally need to be positioned close to either a power socket or an extension cable. USB-powered fans have the potential to be entirely portable if they are attached to a USB battery pack.

If you are worried about the cost implications of running a fan for a long time, USB fans can even run off solar-powered battery packs which means no mains power is used (and running the fan is free).

Desk Fan FAQs

How can I be sure that a desk fan won’t disturb me when I work? 

There are two ways to check if a desk fan will be sufficiently quiet. The first thing to do is check the decibel rating of the fan.

Those that emit less than 20 dB of sound will be barely noticeable. Even 30 dB is considered to be very quiet – creating as much noise as the hum of a fridge.

Secondly, it can be useful to check customer reviews online, as these can give a real indication of how quiet or not a fan is in practise. Bear in mind that a fan will be quietest on its lowest power setting – and this can be where the decibel readings are taken from – so reviews can help give a better overview of the fan’s overall performance.

Do desk fans use a lot of power? 

If you’re concerned about your electricity bill, choose a fan with an energy efficiency rating of A+++. The specific amount of power used will depend on the model of the fan, but those with a good energy rating shouldn’t be too expensive to run.

If you choose a personal desk fan that uses a USB cable, you can keep a better eye on how much power it is using by running it off a USB battery pack. If you have a battery pack that charges using solar energy, you could run a USB fan without using any mains electricity,

What is the ideal temperature for working? 

Productivity tends to wane when we’re either too hot or too cold, but studies have suggested that most people work best at a temperature between 16°C and 24°C. Any hotter or colder and you may struggle to concentrate – although this can depend on plenty of other factors too, of course!

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