The Ultimate Box Fan Guide

Often for cottagers and off-grid cabin owners, air conditioning is not an option for many reasons so people turn to box fans for relief from the heat.

Whether you are in the market for one, or you are the proud owner of at least one box fan, I have done the homework for you and created this exhaustive list of box fan questions and answers that is sure to have some information that you can put to good use.

Do Box Fans Work?

A box fan can help pull in cool air from outside if they are placed at an open window facing in. Or they can push warm air out of a room if they are placed facing out.

Do Box Fans Actually Cool a Room?

Unless there is cooler air outside that you can pull into the room, a fan doesn’t actually make the room cooler.

What a fan can do is lower your body temperature by moving air over your skin thus making you feel cooler.

Is it safe to run a box fan all day or night?

An electric box fan in good repair is typically safe to run all night. They also use much less power than an air conditioner.

A box fan works by moving air over your skin so that you feel cooler, so if you are not in the room, it’s probably a waste of energy to leave it running.  And not likely necessary to leave it running 24/7.

What is the standard size of a box fan?

20 inches by 20 inches is the standard size.

But box fans do come in a wide range of sizes from small personal size at around 10x10inches all the way up to large industrial size fans.

How do box fans cool your house?

To cool your whole house, put your box fans in the windows of the lowest floor so that they are pulling in the cool air from outside. Also, place fans on the upper floor of the house so that they are blowing the warm air outside. This creates a flow of cool air in and warm air out through the entire house.

Do box fans use a lot of electricity?

Compared to other air conditioners, box fans do not use a lot of electricity.

If you leave them running for very long periods of time the electricity use would then become a consideration.

How efficient is a box fan?

According to research the wattage of box fans varies considerably depending on the size of the fan and the speed that you operate it at.  In general, regardless of size, box fans use 73W on average at full speed. This drops to approx. 47.3W at the lowest speed setting and 59.5W at medium speed.

For reference the Brentwood 20 in. 3-Speed Box Fan appears to be the most efficient box fan. And the Genesis box fan has a very low fan wattage and is rated to be the best value for money.

How long does a box fan last?

Consumer reports suggest that the average life expectancy of fans is 12 years.

How much does a box fan cost?

Box fan prices vary due to the size and quality of the fan.  It is best to check pricing at amazon to see the cost for the fan that best suits your needs.

Does putting ice in front of a box fan work?

Yes, according to Good Housekeeping putting a bowl of ice in front of a fan does work!

The air is cooled as it passes over the ice and then circulates the cooler air around the room.

Good Housekeeping also says you can level up this idea by freezing water in a 2L plastic bottle. Then place the frozen bottle in front of the fan on a tray, with a damp cloth over the bottle. This method makes the cooling effect of the ice last much longer than a simple bowl of ice.

Does a fan actually change room temperature?

It is a common myth, that fans can keep a room cool.

The reality is that a fan doesn’t make a room any cooler, they just make you feel cooler. As the air from the fan moves over your skin it can lower your body temperature.

So fans do nothing to affect the heat inside a room unless they are drawing in cooler air from outside.

What is a box fan good for?

Box fans are good for creating airflow in a room or the whole house. When it’s cooler outside than inside, you can use a box fan to pull in air from lower-level windows and push heat out through upper-level windows.

Should you put a box fan in front of a window?

Yes. The benefit of putting a fan in front of a window is that it can pull in fresh air from outside, or it can also push stale air out, depending on which way you face the blades of the fan.

Will a box fan help to circulate heat?

When summer ends many people store away their fans for the winter. Fans do help keep you cool in summer, but their function is just to circulate air.

If you have a fireplace in your cottage that only heats the area around it, then fans can be used to spread that fireplace heat through the whole room, or cottage.

Are box fans loud?

While it’s true older box fans were pretty loud, new fans have been build to be much quieter.

Is a box fan white noise?

The sound from a box fan is considered white noise. This is often a benefit for babies and people who need white noise to fall asleep.  People who like white noise for sleeping often choose box fan (like this one from genesis) noise as their favorite source because they are often the loudest and create a consistent sound.

Can a box fan damage your hearing?

No. The sound produced by most household fans is not loud enough to cause hearing damage. As long as it’s not over 80 or so decibels for prolonged periods of time.

Is it bad to sleep with a box fan on?

A fan is a good way to keep cool during hot summer nights. For some people sleeping with the air movement caused by a fan all night may trigger things like dryness, congestion, sore muscles, and even allergies.

Can a box fan make you sick?

A fan won’t make you sick, it might irritate symptoms you are already having since the airflow from a fan can potentially dry out your nose and throat. This might cause a stuffy nose or sore throat and even snoring.

Do box fans have air filters?

Box fans don’t typically come with air filters, but you can purchase one from amazon, or many people seem to make their own using a furnace filter.

How to clean box fan

Cleaning your box fan keeps you from recirculating dust around your cottage or cabin.  Keeping your fan clean also helps to keep it running efficiently.  Here are the full instructions on how to clean your box fan

Can a box fan get wet?

No. When using a bowl of ice or cold water placed in front of your fan to cool the room be careful not to get the box fan wet.

Can a box fan cause a fire?

A report done by the consumer safety commission concluded that box fans can cause fires if used carelessly, such as on an unstable surface cause it to tip over or in a way that allows something to become caught in the blades, either way, causing a situation where the blades are unable to turn while the motor is still running resulting in the motor overheating.

But when a box fan is used following the manufacturer’s guidelines, box fans are not indicated to have a higher incidence of causing household fires.

What size box fan for air fort?

So, my new favourite use for a box fan is to inflate a thing called an ‘air fort’.  Think bouncy castle meets fort!  You need a 20″ box fan to make the air fort work –even better if it glows in the dark!

What is the quietest box fan?

If you are concerned about noise when purchasing a box fan, check the decibel rating information provided so you will know how loud it will be before you purchase it.  The Lasko 20-Inch Air Circulating Box Fan has been reviewed by many to be the best quiet box fan.

Which box fan moves the most air?

The power of a fan is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The common range for a standard box fan is 1,100 CFM to 2,500 CFM. You can check the CFM output in the information provided by the manufacturer. Keep in mind that typically the higher the CFM the louder the fan will be.  The Hurricane box fan is widely reviewed as the best powerful box fan with an output of 2400 CFM on the high setting.

Which way should box fan face?

If you have one fan you face the blades of the fan in different directions depending on what you are trying to do. If you are trying to draw cooler air in from outside then you face the blades toward the room so the air blows into the room. If you are trying to move hot air out, then you face the blades of the fan out the window so that the hot air can be evacuated outside.

If you have two or more fans you can create airflow by placing fans in windows on opposite sides of the room. One fan faces in and one fan faces out so that the first fan pulls fresh air in while the second fan blows air out.

Will a box fan help reduce humidity?

Fans are designed to move air around the do not directly affect humidity they do make people feel cooler in humid environments.  Fans can also help to push out humid air and bring in less humid air through cross ventilation.

Box Fans have many uses at the cottage

Whether you use one to bring in the cool air off the lake at the cabin, or fall asleep to the sound at night a box fan is a useful addition to the cottage.  These fans can help with indoor air quality during every season.  Box fans can also be fitted with a filter to reduce dust, smoke, and pollen to keep the air clean and breathable during times when the cottage can be stuffy.

If you found this article helpful please have a look at the other articles in our cabin section.