If I wanted a fan to help circulate air and keep my office or any other full-sized room cool this summer, I'd still grab the $
90100 Vornado 660.
Granted, when it comes to cooling actual people, all electric fans work the same way, creating what’s essentially a wind chill effect that evaporates sweat on your skin making you feel … cooler. Of course, a good fan can also be used to promote air circulation if placed in the right location. The air stream that a sufficiently powerful fan produces can either help equalize the overall temperature of a room (i.e., eliminate hot and cold spots), or be used to move cooler air from another part of the house/apartment/outdoors into your room, pushing the hotter air out the window. It’s important to remember that a fan alone will not cool a room. In fact, electric fans introduce heat to a room. (Although you could use a fan to make a home-made air cooler.)
How We Picked
Unfortunately, pretty much no one “reviews” fans. And those that do tend judge them purely on their aesthetic qualities. There are, however, thousands of user opinions online, and we based this recommendation partly on those as well as some in-home testing of our own. While it’s true that in many ways a fan is a fan, hours of research and a few simple tests showed that there are some distinct advantages that certain models have over others–advantages that, depending on your needs, are worth paying extra for.
Unlike other dedicated floor fans, which come in either skinny tower form factors or ultra-wide industrial ones, the Vornado 660 has both a design and footprint that makes it suitable for use on a floor or a desk. At about a foot wide and 13″ tall, it’s shaped like a tradition desk fan, but is slightly larger and a hell of a lot more powerful. Yes, it’s also more than twice as expensive as many other floor and desk models, but users reviews almost universally say the 660 is worth its $100 pricetag.
Timothy on Amazon notes that the 660 “has better air circulation on the lowest setting than many of the smaller $40 fans did on their highest setting.” That lowest setting also happens to be one of four speeds, and it’s whisper quiet, another important factor for many people. Hardly any commercial manufacturers measure the sound output of their fans in decibels, so again we’re relying on user impressions here. We will say that even when quiet operation was touted as a major selling point for a given fan, the 660 and other Vornado models tended to have the most user agreement. It’s also worth noting that in addition to being much louder, most other fans in the $40-100 price range (and even higher) have only three speeds.
Engineering-wise, plenty of users note that there is essentially no vibration or mechanical noise while the 660 is in use. “This is my first Vornado fan,” says K. Hayworth on Home Depot’s site, “and I’m already planning to buy a second one for elsewhere in the house. It’s so quiet when it’s on the first couple of speeds that you can barely hear it.” The 660 easily tilts between horizontal and vertical airflow positions along a nice looking chrome glide and has push-button controls instead of flimsy switches, like other fans.
(Editor’s Note: After publishing this article, I toured a research submarine and the engineers had chosen a Vornado, after testing several fans, to keep them cool in the submersible’s tiny cockpit during 8 hour missions.)
Most importantly, though, this fan moves some serious air. The industry standard for measuring this is in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. The air speed (feet per minute) x area (square feet) = CFM. Other factors inform the amount of air a fan can move too, such as the diameter, the shape of the blades, the speed at which the blades turn (revolutions per minute), the horsepower of the motor, and the overall fan design. These usually aren’t listed by the manufacturer, though. In general, a high CFM is a strong indicator of a fan’s ability to move a bunch of air. The 660 has a CFM of 584, more than enough for whole room air circulation. Compared to other fans in its price range, this is one of the highest CFMs we could find. In fact, on its highest setting, the 660 can create an air stream 100 feet long. That, and it also has one of the lowest power-consumed-to-air-moved ratios in its class.
Re-Testing For the Summer
With summer just around the corner (and with a recent $10 price hike to the 660), we thought we’d revisit our pick to see if it still held up to the competition. Calling in the well-reviewed $33 Honeywell HT-908 (the no. 1 seller in the category on Amazon), as well as another popular Vornado, the 733, we ran each through a series of basic performance tests. While these tests were far from scientific, they did reinforce our recommendation.
Well, the user reviews weren’t lying. The 660′s noise level on the lowest setting is virtually non-existant. It’s seriously impressive. Stand five to six feet away from the fan and you really can’t tell the thing is on, save for the gentle whisper of air caressing your face. Its low decibel level puts the HT-908 (which claims to be 20 percent quieter than the competition) and the slightly less expensive 733 to shame. Even on their lowest settings, both produced the typical fan whrrrrrrrr which could be heard across the room. Honeywell, like many other fan makers, doesn’t publish specs for the HT-908 or any of its other fans, but we did find out the 660 has a low speed RPM of 600. That’s 300 fewer revolutions per minute than the lowest setting on the slightly bigger 733, which may account for the sound increase. Still, the difference in the actual amount of air moved in less than 100 cubic feet per minutes (257 CFM on the 660 vs 351 CFM on the 733) on these lowest settings. Not a heck of a lot. (There’s more about this industry standard below). Bottom line? If you care about fan noise, or perhaps want to use the fan at night while sleeping, the 660 is a great choice.
Design and Adjustability
Again, the 660 wins hands down. Instead of a slide bar or a tilt head that pivots, the 733′s base has three fixed positions, forcing you to use the fan at predetermined angles. Its speed controls are awkwardly placed on the very back of the unit too, right behind the motor, making adjustments difficult. The HT-908′s controls are also on the back of the fan, although slightly higher up on the grill. In fact, in addition to being the only fan with 4 distinct speeds, the 660 was also the only one with electronic push button controls on the top of the fan. Like the 660, the Honeywell can be rotated up to 90 degrees, but features a much wider base, taking up essentially the entire width of the fan. It’ll fit on a desk, but it’s definitely more cumbersome. It should also be noted that none of these fans come with a remote. You’ll typically have to purchase a tower fan for that convenience.
Arguably the most important measure of a fan, the volume of air moved is where the 660 really shines. Here, my informal test reinforced what hundreds of other user reviews have already said: This fan blows hard. The floor plan of my house happens to be pretty open–you can stand in the entryway and look, unobstructed, all the way down the hall into the bedroom (with the door open). All told, it’s about 50 feet away. I placed each fan in the same location, at the same angle, and selected their highest speed settings. For the Honeywell, I stopped being able to feel moving air once I backed up about 30 feet. Only the air columns from the Vornados could be felt while standing all the way back in my bedroom. What’s even more impressive is that the 660, despite having a lower RPM on its highest setting (1375), still seemed to move as much air as the bigger 733 (bigger both in blade diameter and overall size). And it was much quieter doing so. Both can supposedly move air up to 100 feet, but the 733′s blade has to rotate much faster (1550 RPM). To my mind, this makes the 733 better for use in garages and workshops–locations where you’re going to place the fan on the ground anyway and probably not car too much about noise.
If raw power and placement flexibility aren’t priorities there are, of course, plenty of other fans that’ll do the the job. The Lasko 4924 is a tower fan that consistently earns high ratings on Amazon and other sites. It has only three speeds and a CFM of 334, but costs between $20 and $30 less than the 660. It does have a handy carrying handle built in for easier transport. Me, I’d rather have the Vornado.
A more standard floor model from Lasko, the 3520, is a full 24 inches wide, but is also only $32 and can produce a metaphoric hurricane in your home (CFM= 1,987). That’s a lot of air being moved for not a lot of money. Again, this comes at the sacrifice of placement flexibility and quiet operation.
Dyson “Bladeless Fans” aren’t worth it
After the Air Multipliers came out, Vornado went so far as to call BS on the whole gallons/second metric that Dyson more or less invented for these fans. Kuang relays their basic claim: “The Vornado 660 fan costs $90, compared to Dyson’s $330. And while Dyson’s reported figures of blowing 118 gallons of air per second sounds pretty impressive, Vornado says their fan produces 283 — basically hard enough to circulate air in the entire room, and allow you to raise your AC by eight degrees.” If you want to buy a Dyson for its looks, fine. Just remember you’ll be paying in some cases a 400 percent premium and losing a good deal of performance. Again, I’d rather have the power and the extra cash in my pocket.
Wrapping it up
The Vornado 660 is definitely not the cheapest fan you can buy. But it is impressively powerful for its size, it’s super quiet, and it’s more flexible than any other fan in its price range. Even better, it comes with one of the best warranties (5 years) of any fan we could find, regardless of cost and size.
4.5/5 stars, 23 reviews. Vornado 660 on Amazon
4.3/5 stars, 16 reviews. "Without a doubt, this is the best Vornado I have ever owned. Not only is the styling and quality first class but this fan is whisper quiet yet still moves a ton of air."
Walmart, Home Improvement Review5/5 stars, 9 reviews. "This fan is QUIET and really moves the air around (better than the big industrial metal thing I had before.)"
4.5/5 stars, 23 reviews. "I did some comparison research on the Vornado web site, and found that this fan (the 660 series) has the lowest "power consumed to air moved" ratio of any other Vornado fan, meaning this is the most energy efficient fan that Vornado makes."