Bladeless fans vs. box fans

Heating, Cooling & Air Quality

When used near a window, a box fan can help blow cool air into your home or blow warm air out, depending on its placement.

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The best type of fan for your home 

Fans are a great cost-effective alternative to air conditioning and use just a fraction of the energy. However, not all fans are created equal. Whether you choose a classic box fan or a bladeless fan will largely depend on your cooling needs, style preference and budget. While these two popular options have their advantages and disadvantages, we’ll give you a detailed rundown of each style to help with your decision. 

The main difference to keep in mind is how these fans operate. A box fan’s blades are more prominent and visible, usually enclosed behind a grill, while bladeless fans utilize hidden blades for a more streamlined appearance. 

What to know about bladeless fans

That’s right; bladeless fans are not bladeless. By utilizing sets of tiny blades tucked away within their base, they can create strong airflow, which is then forced out through the narrow openings in the fan’s circular or oval-shaped head. Unlike standard box fans, these fans are relatively new, with the first modern model introduced in 2009, though their conception dates back to the 1980s. 

The price range for bladeless fans can vary greatly depending on size, overall power and additional features. You can expect to spend at least $50 for smaller models, up to $200 for mid-range options and several hundred more for high-end versions. 

What you’ll love about bladeless fans

Safety

When comparing these two types of fans, there are plenty of reasons you might want to go bladeless. First off, bladeless fans offer a much higher degree of safety, especially for homes with young children or pets. Since there are no exposed blades, there is essentially no risk of getting a finger, hand, paw or tail injured by these fans. 

Energy and power

Another positive aspect of bladeless fans is their low energy consumption. Using energy more efficiently can produce uninterrupted robust air circulation while saving you money on utility bills. The efficient motor is also noticeably quieter than other fan options so that you can enjoy the cooling effect without intrusive background noise. 

Style

If safety and energy usage aren’t significant concerns, you might choose a bladeless fan simply for its sleek style. With a more modern appearance than many other fan varieties, you can incorporate bladeless fans into the design and decor of your home without drawing attention. 

Extra features

The added features of certain bladeless fans are an advantage over traditional box fans. Some models will not only offer cooling abilities but can act as a heater during colder months. Since bladeless fans require the air to pass through an interior compartment, some even sport air purification options and HEPA filters.  

What you should consider about a bladeless fan

Cost

The most apparent disadvantage of a bladeless fan is its high cost. With some models costing several hundred dollars, this can be a limiting factor when making your decision. Though to some, the overall benefits outweigh the high price tag.

Top bladeless fans 

GreenTech Environmental PureFlow QT7 Bladeless Table Fan

GreenTech Environmental PureFlow QT7 Bladeless Table Fan

This 12-setting fan is small enough to sit on a desk or table, providing excellent airflow to cool your room. 

Available at Amazon

Dyson Air Multiplier AM06 Table Fan

Dyson Air Multiplier AM06 Table Fan

Another compact and lightweight bladeless fan, this Dyson model has a programmable sleep timer and even features a remote control for easy operation. 

Available at Amazon

Ocean Loong AB01 Bladeless Tower Fan

Ocean Loong AB01 Bladeless Tower Fan

With an oscillation feature and variable wind speed selections, the Ocean Loong AB01 is a safe and efficient bladeless fan. 

Available at Amazon

Dyson Pure Cool TP01 Air Purifier and Fan

Dyson Pure Cool TP01 Air Purifier and Fan

Not only does this Dyson fan create powerful airflow, but it also includes a HEPA filter to reduce dust and allergens like pollen and pet dander.  

Available at Wayfair and Amazon

What to know about box fans

Box fans are among the simplest types of fans on the market, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. With their excellent portability and low price point, box fans have kept people cool for well over 100 years. Using large propeller blades secured behind either a metal or plastic encasement, these fans can generate steady air currents, improving circulation.

With a much smaller price difference between models, a box fan’s cost usually falls somewhere in the range of $15-$60. 

What you’ll love about box fans

Cost 

It’s no secret that box fans are the more affordable of the two options. Suitable for most budgets, the low price is perhaps the most significant selling point for box fans, giving users powerful airflow for a minimal investment. With low operating cost and electricity usage, box fans will help keep more money in your wallet.

Simple and portable

Another upside of box fans is their ease of use and portability. These lightweight fans weigh just a few pounds and are a breeze to transport from room to room. Since most box fans feature just a simple dial with blade speed selections, you won’t have to worry about fiddling with any confusing controls. 

Air conditioner boost

If you already have an AC unit, using a box fan simultaneously to help circulate the cool air throughout your home can save you money. By cooling down your space in less time, a box fan will increase your AC’s effectiveness. 

What you should consider about a box fan

One directional

Unlike many bladeless fans, which have oscillating features, box fans are mostly limited to blowing air in one direction unless manually adjusted.

Safety concerns

All box fans feature a security grill that provides decent protection, though sometimes these grills can become loose. While it is improbable the plastic blades would take off a hand or finger; they can still cause injuries to young children or pets. 

Minimal features

Box fans’ simplicity may be a positive aspect to some, but the lack of added features like air purification or oscillation may cause some customers to look elsewhere. 

Noisy

Box fans’ noise can sometimes be annoying, especially compared to some of the nearly silent bladeless models. 

Top box fans

Hurricane 20-inch Box Fan Classic Series

Hurricane 20-inch Box Fan Classic Series

This Hurricane 20-inch model is a classic box fan with a powerful motor and three speed settings. 

Available at Amazon

Air King 20-inch 3-speed Box Fan

Air King 20-inch 3-speed Box Fan

The 8-foot power cord included with this box fan allows you to position it in a window or in an area that might not be located directly near an electrical outlet. 

Available at Amazon

Optimus 10-inch Electric Fan

Optimus 10-inch Electric Fan

Compact and portable, the 10-inch Optimus fan can fit in a window, on a desk or dresser, and is great for saving space when storing during the cooler seasons. 

Available at Amazon

Lasko Black 20-inch Box Fan

Lasko Black 20-inch Box Fan

The energy efficiency of the Lasko box fan means that you’ll spend less money on utility costs while still receiving powerful airflow. 

Available at The Home Depot

Should you get a bladeless fan or a box fan?

When it comes down to it, both fan options deliver powerful airflow and cooling abilities. However, bladeless fans have more advanced features and potential benefits regarding style, noise, safety and efficiency. That being said, if you’re hoping to stick to a tight budget, the classic box fan is a trustworthy option that can still get the job done. 

Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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