A reliable window fan circulates cool air into your home and pulls out stuffy air through an exhaust. We put several window fans to the test in The Lab and further at home in real-world situations, and researched others thoroughly, evaluating air speed, portability, effectiveness, and value. "A window fan is designed to move air between a room and the outdoors by directing cool air in or hot air out and is most useful during warm seasons," says Deane Biermeier, a certified lead carpenter and The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board member.
Our favorite window fan, the Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Reversible AirFlow Fan, is affordably priced and compact in design, while also being quiet and powerful on its highest setting.
Here are the best window fans, backed by our testing and research.
Best Overall: Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Reversible AirFlow Fan
Relatively quiet operation
Wide air circulation
After testing several models of fans, the Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Reversible AirFlow Fan won our title for best window fan because of its affordable price, cooling capabilities, and minimal design. We tested this pick in The Lab and at home afterward to capture insights in a real-world setting, and it didn't disappoint. The fan not only has three speed settings, but also a built-in thermostat so you can track and change the temperature. Our at-home tester reported that she wasn't sure if the thermostat worked well, but that the normal setting worked easily and the fan was really powerful even on its lowest setting.
Each individual 9-inch fan has in and out toggles that control the direction of airflow for cooling and exhaust capabilities. Our in-lab tester was especially impressed by the air circulation capabilities and the consistency between both fans. The copper motors that power each fan blade are made to withstand weather conditions, so this window fan is a great option for especially wet climates. In addition, expandable side panels on the unit add an additional 6.5 inches on either side. There’s also a built-in handle on the back of the fan so it can easily be lifted. Removable plastic feet are also included in case you want to use the fan as a tabletop model, but our at-home tester said the process of attaching the feet was a bit difficult. Our in-lab tester noted that this fan is incredibly lightweight and can easily be carried with one hand.
In addition to its lightweight design, our in-lab tester noted that she could feel the cooling effect of the window fan from 6 feet away, and she could still detect air movement from 20 feet away, although it was faint. While the speed on this fan is not very high, our tester said the fan’s consistency would be great for cooling a room. Our at-home tester confirmed this saying, "I placed this fan on the window by where I work out in the mornings, and it's strong enough to keep the entire room from feeling stuffy, even on hot days." She noted this power is matched with a louder operation that may disturb you while you're sleeping.
Although the fan is constructed with durable plastic, our in-lab tester said it wasn’t the most luxurious or exciting design for a window fan. Overall, it's an affordable option, though, that blends into a space and has customizable features that effectively cool a room.
Best Budget: Comfort Zone CZ310R 3-Speed 3-Function Expandable Reversible Twin Window Fan
Bug and humidity screens
Remote control included
No detectable air flow past 6 feet
The Comfort Zone CZ310R 3-Speed 3-Function Expandable Reversible Twin Window Fan is a great affordable option for anyone living in a smaller space and looking for portability. Our tester noted the display is easy to use and understand, with three different fan speed settings, plus cool, exhaust, and circulate function settings. Although this fan may not have a strong cooling rate in a larger room, its price and multi-function options make it a reasonable buy for especially unbearable summer temperatures.
This fan also has a handle and can be easily moved from one location to another, our tester noted. While it does come with feet, our tester said they were very flimsy. The bug and humidity screens are helpful for controlling what enters your home, but can be a bit tricky to attach. Despite a few minor design issues, we still think this window fan is a great budget pick for cooling down any small spaces in your home that don’t receive as much natural circulation.
Best Exhaust: Lasko 9 in. Remote Control Electronically Reversible Twin Window Fan with Thermostat
Independently-controlled twin fans
This fan by Lasko is ETL-certified and comes with a one-year warranty, making it a great option for your kitchen, especially since it has independently-controlled twin fans. The fans can be set to intake, exhaust, or exchange, so if an especially smokey mishap occurs in the kitchen, you can direct all of that air out at full force. Unlike other models, this window fan has a digital display that tells you exactly how cool or warm it is in your home.
It also has an 8-hour, auto-off timer, so you can save energy once you’ve cooled off your home. While this fan is a powerful cooling option, it is louder than other models, so it may not be the best choice for a bedroom. Despite its noisy operation, we still recommend this fan because of its programmable thermostat, digital display, and independently operating twin fans.
Best Cooling: Bionaire Window Fan with Twin 8.5 in. Reversible Airflow Blades and Remote Control
Remote control included
Electronically reversible blades
Poor customer support
Cheap plastic frame
For a window fan that works hard around the clock, check out this Bionaire window fan. A digital display shows the exact temperature of your room and can be programmed to your ideal temperature. Once programmed, this fan will automatically adjust its cooling power to remain at your desired temperature. A separate remote control makes it easy to control this fan from anywhere in the same room, without having to adjust the buttons on the unit.
The airflow on this window fan can also be adjusted to direct air into your home, out of your home, or circulate air throughout. While this fan is a long-lasting model, be careful not to drop it or force it into a window frame, because the plastic frame is not super strong. Bionaire also doesn’t have many customer support options available, but this fan's auto-adjusting temperature features and its LED screen display make it a winner.
Best Quiet: Vornado TRANSOM 3.35 in. Dia 4 Speed Low Profile Window Fan
4 speed settings
Weather resistant seal
Difficult to install
If you’re looking for a low-profile, quiet window fan for a bedroom or living room, check out the Vornado TRANSOM window fan. This fan has a 46-decibel rating, which means that it’s comparable to the average quiet of a library. In addition to its quiet operation, this window fan has an auto-adjusting temperature setting, four fan speeds, and three airflow settings.
This window fan also has a “Soft-fit System” that prevents any elements from leaking into your home while the fan is installed in the window. A 5-year warranty also offers plenty of protection against potential malfunctions or system failures. While we love the low-profile design and the digital display on this window fan, the weather-tight extension blocks provided can be challenging to set up. Be sure that you have additional help on hand to properly secure the fan into a window frame. Despite this minor design flaw, the high performance, sleek design, and quiet operation are worth every penny.
Best for Small Rooms: Optimus 8” Electrically Reversible Twin Window Fan
Independently controlled blades
Only two speeds
Smaller rooms in a home don’t require a fan with major cooling force, which makes the Optimus 8-inch Electrically Reversible Twin Window Fan a great choice for them. While this fan may not be as powerful as other fans, it can still quickly and effectively cool off a small room. The twin blades are independently controlled so you can switch between exhaust and cooling settings. The speed on the blades is also independently controlled.
A timer on the control panel allows you to choose between a one, two, or four-hour limit before the fan shuts off. The motor is also self-lubricating, making it a low-maintenance option as well. While the independently controlled blades are a great feature, we wish this fan had more than two speed settings. However, if you’re placing this fan in a small room, then two speed settings should be sufficient enough to circulate cool air in the room.
Best for Large Rooms: Lasko 16 in. Window Fan with E-Z Dial Ventilation
Storm guard for weather resistance
No temperature control
For a window fan that delivers on cooling power, especially in larger spaces, check out the Lasko 16-inch Window Fan with E-Z Dial Ventilation. Although this window fan is much larger than other options available, it has a CFM of 2210, making it a powerful option that can quickly cool down a larger room. The powder-coated storm guard frame makes it all-weather resistant and a trustworthy investment to last several seasons.
Like other window fan models, this pick also has expandable sides that can extend to fit a window up to 34.5 inches wide. This fan also has an electronically controlled exhaust system, which can easily be switched on and off on the dial. While the control panel is very user-friendly, we wish there was a way to control the temperature of the circulated air. Despite this minor lack of detail, its high CFM and easy-to-use design make this pick a happy addition to a home.
Best for Bathrooms: Holmes Dual Blade Window Fan
Electrically reversible airflow
Exact temperature range not listed
A bathroom exhaust fan is essential, especially if you enjoy hot showers. The Holmes Dual 8-inch Blade Twin Window Fan with Manual Controls is a reliable bathroom window fan choice because of its water-resistant motors and manual controls. You won’t have to worry about condensation affecting the performance of this fan, and you can easily switch both fan blades to exhaust mode for quick hot air removal.
While there is a comfort-control thermostat dial, it doesn’t include any temperature range, so it’s difficult to know what temperature you’re setting the fan to. Each fan blade has its own speed dial and airflow switch, making the fan easy to operate and quick to adjust, though.
Best for Apartments: Holmes Group Bionaire Thin Window Fan with Comfort Control Thermostat
Three fan blades
Can be installed horizontally or vertically
Fans not independently controlled
No exhaust airflow
To maximize space in your apartment, consider a slimmer model of window fan like the Holmes Bionaire Thin Window Fan. The compact design of this window fan allows users to install it vertically or horizontally, making it compatible with a wide range of window styles. Three fan blades also maximize your cooling and airflow possibilities, even in the smaller frame.
While this fan is a great option for cooling, it does not have exhaust capabilities and the airflow cannot be changed. This fan does have temperature control technology so you can set your air to a comfortable degree. Firm fit locking extenders allow this fan to securely sit in your window frame and block out any weather elements.
Our best overall pick is the Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Reversible Air Flow Fan, an affordable and powerful option that would work well in a variety of settings. Our tester loved that it had a handle and removable legs so it could be placed on a table and easily transported. For a more budget-friendly option, we recommend the Comfort Zone CZ310R 3-Speed 3-Function Expandable Reversible Twin Window Fan. During testing, airflow could be felt from 6 feet in multiple directions, and the airflow can be changed to an exhaust flow.
Other Options We Tested
Air King 9166F 20-inch Whole House Window Fan: This fan had a very strong airflow and force at first, but as our tester stepped to the 20-foot mark, she could no longer feel the air from the fan. Our tester also noted that this fan was very loud and heavy, making it difficult to install with just one person. It’s also one of the most expensive options we tested. We think there are better, more effective, and more affordable options than this fan.
How We Tested the Window Fans
While testing 31 fans in various styles and sizes at The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, we identified our best overall and best budget picks for this window fans roundup. We studied the air speed of both fans, looking at the number of speeds, how to control them, and if the speed designation lived up to its performance. We also measured the speed with an anemometer, recorded the results, and compared them to the manufacturer's claim, if listed. Our testers then evaluated the design of each fan, considering factors like oscillation, adjustability, blade-less design, smart features, cord length, color options, and more.
Next, we evaluated the portability, noting if the fan had handles or an ergonomic design that made it easier to carry with one hand, as well as its sturdiness and footprint to determine its optimal placement. To test both fans’ effectiveness, we taped a spot on the floor directly in front of the fan at a distance of six inches, six feet, and 20 feet and assessed the airflow at the highest setting, both in front of and to each side of the fan. With all of these results in mind, our testers finally looked at the price of the fan and assessed its overall value, based on their experience with the product and the testing results and insights.
In real-world situations and environments, we then tested the window fans further to see how they cooled a room in reality, whether their features were actually helpful, if they were durable, and what it was like to store them. When researching the other fans in this roundup, we considered all of the attributes mentioned in our testing processes and reviewed countless consumer reviews, ratings, and brand history to select our final picks. All of this thorough testing and research was boiled down to the window fans we believe are the very best.
What to Look for in a Window Fan
Number of Fan Speeds
The number of speeds available on every fan model determines how quickly the blades can rotate and the cooling power of the fan. Cooling power is measured in CFM, cubic feet per minute, and is the amount of air a fan moves every 60 seconds. The CFM depends on the fan’s motor and blades (their pitch, length, and shape). The higher the CFM, the more air a fan circulates. Fans with low CFMs are suitable only for small spaces.
Noise level is a major factor to consider when shopping for a window fan, especially if that fan will be placed in a bedroom, office, or common area. Noise levels in fans are indicated by decibel level (dB) on manufacturer packaging or the online product page. Fans can range from 40 decibels to 80 decibels. A fan that registers 40 decibels will make a low whirring sound, comparable to a quiet library, while a fan with noise as high as 80 decibels will be as loud as a vacuum.
Because a window fan is not considered a permanent fixture in a home, you should also consider portability. Look for window fans that have built-in handles, a lightweight design, or removable legs to ease transporting the fan from one room to another, or packing it up when moving out of your residence. Keep in mind that some removable legs may not be as sturdy or easy to use as others, as noted by our at-home tester when testing our best overall pick, the Genesis Twin Fan High Velocity Reversible AirFlow Fan. So, you should always place your fan on a solid surface, if using it as a tabletop fan.
An ETL certification means that the fan passed and was approved after testing through Electrical Testing Laboratories, the certification division of Intertek Testing Laboratories. ETL certifications are accredited by OSHA as standard safety measures on a wide variety of products. “An ETL certification meets the same requirements as UL (Underwriters Laboratory) certification," Biermeier says. “ETL uses the same guidelines for certification approval that have been developed over time by UL.”
If you’re hoping to circulate air throughout your house, or pull warm air out of your home, you’ll need a window fan that has electronic reversibility. Electronic reversibility allows you to change the airflow direction without having to reposition your fan in the window. Some fans will have independently-controlled blades that allow you to set one fan to cooling and the other to exhaust, for greater circulation, or set both to exhaust to quickly pull out warm air from your home.
A remote control allows you to change the temperature, speed, and airflow direction of your window fan without having to approach the unit. A remote control is especially useful if you’re placing your window fan in a bedroom or the kitchen. Not every window fan model will come with a remote control, but some newer models will include a remote.
While window fans are great for circulating air and cooling your home, you do run the risk of having unwanted bugs or elements entering your home. Some window fans include a removable cover that prevents bugs, rain, or humidity from entering your home and affecting the performance of the fan.
What’s the best way to clean a window fan?
For window fans that have collected dust on the grille or blades, direct compressed air at all of the dusty components and then vacuum the dust away with a brush attachment, Biermeier says.
If your window fan has built up grime or grease from being in a kitchen environment, Biermeier suggests cleaning it the same way as a dusty unit, but with the addition of removing one side of the grille and wiping the fan blades with a mixture of dish soap and water. Be sure to rinse the blades when done and allow them to dry completely before using the fan again.
Where should a window fan be placed in a hot room?
The correct direction of airflow from a window fan depends on whether the window it is placed in is on the sunny side of a home or the shady side. For window fans located on the sunny side of a home, direct the air out of the room in exhaust mode, or flip the fan away from the room, if it is not electronically reversible, Biermeier says. Apply the opposite method to window fans located on the shady side of a home, he adds.
Air should be directed into the room toward occupants. If you are using a window fan as a tabletop fan in a room without windows, aim the fan directly at the room’s occupants to provide a cooling sensation. Keep in mind that this will not reduce the room temperature.
Is it better to have a window fan blowing in or out?
There are several methods to cool down your home with a window fan, which depend on your home’s layout and the window fan model. When the temperature is cooler outside than inside, Biermeier advises you can do one of three things: set the fan to blow inward into the second story and open several first-story windows; set the fan to blow outward on the first story and open several second-story windows; or open as many windows as possible and aim the fan inward anywhere in the house.
Similar methods can be used when the temperature is warmer outside than inside: set the fan to blow inward on the first story and open a second-story window, making sure all other windows are closed; set the fan to blow outward anywhere in a single-story home; or set the fan to blow outward on the second story and open a fan on the first level, making sure all other windows are closed.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written and researched by Emma Phelps, updates writer for The Spruce with several years of experience writing about household products, interior design, and home maintenance. For this article, she used testing insights from The Lab and our real-world testers and researched several top-rated window fans to compile the final roundup.
To gain a better understanding of window fans, Emma contacted Deane Biermeier, a certified lead carpenter and member of The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board. Using her qualified and expert-level insight, Emma selected the best window fans based on quality, settings, effectiveness, and affordability.