The running cost of portable fans

Pedestal, tower and desk fans provide affordable cooling solutions that are great for small spaces. These fans are convenient, portable and use negligible amounts of electricity compared to air conditioners.  In this article, Canstar Blue looks at the running costs of pedestal fans, tower fans, desk fans and bladeless fans.

How much does it cost to use a pedestal fan?

pedestal-fanA residential pedestal fan will cost anywhere between 1 to 2 cents per hour to run, or around $14.60 to $29.20 per year, given the assumptions in the table below. Pedestal fan power outputs vary considerably across different models. Most residential pedestal fans will have a maximum output (measured in watts) of 45W to 75W, but larger commercial pedestal fans may have outputs up to 300W.

The cost of using a pedestal fan will depend on the speed setting of your fan as well as its wattage. It will also of course depend on the rate you pay for electricity. In the below example, we have used a 3-speed pedestal fan with a maximum output of 70W. We also assume an electricity rate of 28.7c/kWh.

Setting Power (watts) Hourly running cost Annual running cost*
High 70W 2c $29.20
Medium 55W 1.58c $23.07
Low 35W 1c $14.60

*Assuming pedestal fan used 4 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Modern ceiling fans generally consume less electricity than pedestal fans. That’s because while ceiling fans are larger, pedestal fans oscillate and must spin at a faster rate to create airflow. While a ceiling fans might save you a small portion in electricity, pedestal fans are a lot cheaper to purchase and it doesn’t require any professional installation.

How much does it cost to use a tower fan?

tower-fanThe standard tower fan uses around 100W of electricity which will cost 2.9c per hour to run, assuming an electricity usage rate of 28.7c/kWh. Whereas pedestal fans blow air in a focused circular area, tower fans use several small, vertically aligned fans to create a column of air flow. This means a tower fan usually consumes more electricity than a pedestal fan.

The below table uses a 3-setting tower fan with a maximum output of 100W. Again we assume an electricity usage rate of 28.7c/kWh.

Setting Power (watts) Hourly running cost Annual running cost*
High 100W 2.9c $41.90
Medium 82W 2.4c $34.36
Low 54W 1.55c $22.63

*Assuming tower fan used 4 hours per day, 365 days per year.

How much do floor fans cost to run?floor-fan

Floor fans consume a similar amount of electricity to tower fans – around 100W, again costing about 2.9c per hour. Some floor fans also include a heating function, with a max output of 2kW – a similar amount of electricity to some air conditioners. At a usage rate of 28.7c/kWh, using a floor fan for heating could cost up to 57.4c per hour.

How much does it cost to use a desk fan?

desk-fanA desk fan will cost less than one cent per hour to run with the annual cost coming in between $3.77 and $12.57 depending on how it’s used. Desk fans are small and are ideal for cooling a single person. As a desk fan is designed to sit close to you, it has a much lower max power output of around 25W to 35W.

To keep things simple, we will again assume this desk fan has three settings, and that it has a 30W output. We will also maintain a usage rate of 28.7c/kWh.

Setting Power (watts) Hourly running cost Annual running cost*
High 30W 0.86c $12.57
Medium 18W 0.52c $7.54
Low 9W 0.26c $3.77

*Assuming desk fan used 4 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Desk fans are clearly the cheapest type of fan to operate, but it is not suitable for cooling rooms. That means it doesn’t serve as a viable alternative to tower, pedestal or ceiling fans.

How much does it cost to use a bladeless fan?

bladeless-fanBladeless fans are cheaper than traditional fans to run, generally only costing between 0.34c and 1.15c per hour to use for cooling purposes. Bladeless fans use turbine technology to suck in air and amplify airflow output.

Dyson holds the intellectual property rights to the bladeless fan design and is notoriously secretive about some of its specifications – including power output. It is believed, however, that its bladeless tower and pedestal fans use a 40W motor, while its desk fan model uses a 31W motor.

Unlike the previous types of fans we discussed, Dyson Bladeless fans have a myriad of settings (not just three), so we will separate the running costs of desk fans and tower/pedestal fans at maximum output. Once again, we are using a usage rate of 28.7c/kWh.

Bladeless type Power (watts) Hourly running cost Annual running cost*
Tower/Pedestal 40W 1.15c $16.76
Desk 31W 0.89c $12.99

*Assuming bladeless fan used 4 hours per day, 365 days per year.

Before you go out and buy a bladeless fan for its potential electricity savings, bear in mind that a bladeless fan can cost up to $750 – by contrast, you can find a decent bladed pedestal fan for $20 to $50. So while a bladeless fan could save you a few dollars off your electricity bills, those savings alone are not enough justification to buy a bladeless fan.

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