Whether it’s hot outside or not, I always find it useful to have a mini fan close at hand. A small personal fan is often all I need to keep my cool even in the middle of winter when the central heating makes my home feel like an oven. Sadly, the table fan I’d been using for the last few years has recently started to rattle every time I turn it on. So I decided to go looking for the best quiet desk fans I could find to replace it.
When people think about quiet fans or, indeed, hairdryers or vacuum cleaners — they usually think of Dyson. However, since I’ve already written an article about that company, I won’t repeat myself here. Still, if you’re interested in seeing what their table fans look like, I’ve reviewed several for that article, including the 10-inch Dyson Multiplier.
But this time around, my list mostly consists of products that are even smaller than that. When it comes to the amount of noise a device can produce, smaller is always better. Of course, sometimes, even the smallest fans can become unusually noisy. Before I wrap up my reviews, I’ll take a moment to talk about how you can silence the noisy desk fans you already own.
List of the Best Quiet Desk Fans
When I started looking for quiet desk fans to review, I noticed that some companies kept popping up. As I have previously mentioned, I already have an article about one of them — Dyson. But sadly, I haven’t given the same amount of attention to others. To remedy that, I’ve decided to do an in-depth review of three companies, and three products from lesser-known competitors.
1. Honeywell HT-900 Turboforce Air Circulator Fan
As a company, Honeywell is famous for its diverse lineup of products that prioritize quiet operation. In fact, they even make earplugs for those times when silence isn’t guaranteed. In their air treatment category of products, they have everything from air purifiers and dehumidifiers to quiet fans, like the mini tower fan I’ve already reviewed.
While that tower fan is certainly small enough to put on a desk, the TurboForce Air Circulator is Honeywell’s more popular small device by far. Standing at about 11 inches tall, 9 inches wide, and 6 inches deep, this is actually one of the largest desk fans on my list. At that size, it’s still small enough to fit on any desk or end table, while being strong enough to circulate air in medium-sized rooms.
The device has three speed settings, the fastest of which allow it to circulate air at up to 185 cubic feet per minute. Since this is a regular box fan, with blades that are concealed within a grate head that’s attached to a sturdy stand, you’ll also be able to adjust the angle of the airflow. However, the head has a maximum tilt angle of 90 degrees. So you can have it facing front, up, and anywhere in between those two points.
No matter how you position it, you’ll be able to feel the fan from up to 25 feet away. Despite its strength, the fan is incredibly silent. The company even claims that it’s 25% quieter than comparable models — though that’s pretty difficult to verify.
- Tabletop or mountable device
- 3 speed settings
- 90-degree pivoting fan head
- 185 CFM pushes air up to 25 feet away
More Honeywell Desk Fans
Honeywell has made plenty of other small quiet fans that caught my eye. For example, if you’re not opposed to your desk fan taking up a lot of space, you might get a larger version of the device I just reviewed. According to the company, the 15-inch fan is actually 30% quieter than comparable models and can blow air up to 32 feet away.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something smaller, you could go with the Honeywell Turbo on the Go personal fan. With a 3-foot circulation range, it’s notably weaker than the previous units I’ve mentioned. Still, it’s the perfect device for people who just need something to keep them cool at the office or in transit. It can be either USB cable powered or battery-operated, so you’ll be able to use it wherever you want to.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the Honeywell Dreamweaver, which is a fan as well as a white noise machine. More specifically, the device plays pink noise — which is even more conducive to falling asleep. You can even use those features separately. So you don’t need to play the noise if you just want to stay cool, and vice versa.
2. OPOLAR USB-Powered Mini Desk Fan
OPOLAR is another brand I’ve previously discussed. Most notably, I mentioned this company’s products in my articles on white noise machines and fans, as well as quiet space heaters.
The device I’ve chosen to showcase this time looks fairly similar to the one from Honeywell at first glance. They’re both essentially box fans with enclosed blades and a wide base. However, you’re about to see what distinguishes this OPOLAR fan from the crowd.
Firstly, it’s much smaller than the previous device, at 6.1 inches tall, 5.9 inches wide, and about 3 inches deep. There’s a brushless motor inside the grille, which is famously long-lasting and silent. And, thanks to the rubber feet on the bottom side of the uniquely shaped base, the fan is much less likely to vibrate off your desk.
The head of the fan can also rotate 360 degrees in its stand, allowing you to direct the airflow. The fan has two speeds, which you can select with a simple switch in the back of the device. Underneath that switch, you’ll find the fan’s 3.8-foot power cord ending with a USB connector. So you can attach it to your laptop or any USB port, power bank, or outlet.
Overall, I appreciate the design of this fan, though I prefer the all-black version to the one with white details.
- 4-inch desk fan
- 2 speed settings
- 360-degree pivoting fan
- 3.8-foot USB cable
More OPOLAR Desk Fans
If you’re looking for other quiet desk fans from OPOLAR, I have three I’d like to mention. So let’s start with the one that’s the most similar to what we have just seen. Like the previous fan, this one is a USB-powered fan with an interesting base that allows you to rotate the head by 360 degrees.
However, I should note that the rotation is a bit difficult because of the power cord in the back. Still, this is certainly one of the quietest fans OPOLAR makes, making about 40 decibels of noise at the slower speed setting. The outer construction of the device is black, while the blades come in blue, red, and white.
The next OPOLAR fan I wanted to mention is another small USB-powered fan. Instead of being made of plastic, its metal construction gives it a more vintage feel. It comes in several colors which will suit different people. The pale pink and blue frames would look wonderful in kids’ rooms or dorms. Conversely, the bronze frame is perfect for offices and living spaces.
If you’re looking for an even more office-appropriate desk fan, look no further than this OPOLAR fan. If the unit’s square facade isn’t enough to see that it means business, it’s features should convince you. You’ll have four rotation speeds as well as four timer settings which can postpone the fan shut down for up to eight hours.
3. Vornado Zippi Personal Fan
If you’ve ever shopped for a new fan, you’re definitely familiar with Vornado. The company is famous for its Vortex air circulation technology. Essentially, Vornado fans use the angle of the blades and the grille grates to create a spiral burst of air.
Even though their products usually have the same oscillation abilities most fans have, they don’t rely on that feature to circulate the air. Instead, they utilize the walls and ceilings of a room to evenly move all of the air in a room.
Now, the Vornado Zippi personal fan doesn’t actually use that technology. However, it’s still a fantastic product if you need to take your fan from the office to a coffee shop, and back home again. Looking at its simple metal stand and exposed blades, you might worry about whether using this fan is even safe.
Allow me to relieve you of your worries. Those blades are made of soft nylon, so they literally couldn’t hurt a fly. Well, alright, maybe they’d knock a fly aside, but rest assured. Your kids and pets will be safe even if you leave this fan running while you’re out of the room.
The whole device is only 6.3 inches tall with the stand, but it can be folded over to be half that size. It’s also about 4.5 inches wide and 5.5 inches deep, weighing in at under 2 pounds. So you should be able to stash it in your bag easily, though doing the same to its 6-foot power cord may be an issue.
- Exposed soft nylon blades
- 2 speed settings
- Pivoting head
- 6-foot power cord
4. Aikoper USB Small Personal Electric Fan
Of course, lesser-known brands have also been known to come up with impressively quiet desk fans. Take, for example, this small electric fan from Aikoper. Its curved design makes it one of the most unique fans I’ve seen. The curved 5.6-inch long, 4.9-inch tall device comes with a 3.3-foot USB cord, which you can connect to a laptop, a power bank, or an outlet.
Because of its unique shape, this little fan is able to continuously take in air from one end and send it through the front. The two speeds allow you to choose between a more natural, soundless breeze, and a slightly louder, stronger output. Even at the faster setting, your fan should stay firmly in place thanks to the rubber pads on the bottom of the base.
Speaking of the base, that’s where you’ll find another unique feature of this device. While other fans have a power button or switch somewhere on the head of the fan, this one is completely smooth. That definitely adds to the sleekness of the design — but it makes turning the fan on pretty confusing. However, it’s pretty simple: you just have to press the base.
If you press it once, you’ll turn on the device at the lower speed, press it again and you’ll speed it up. A third touch will turn the device off. You can also take the head of the fan and adjust the angle a bit, though it’s not as mobile as some others.
- Unique design with touch control
- 2 speed settings
- Tilting head
- USB powered
5. Genesis 6-Inch Convertible Table-Top & Clip Fan
On the other hand, if you’re not sure that you have the desk space for a traditional tabletop fan, you can also get one that comes with a clip. The 6-inch convertible tabletop and clip fan from Genesis comes with a pedestal as well as a clip you can attach to the edge of your desk.
You can easily switch between these two bases by loosening the butterfly screw on the fan head and attaching the clip or pedestal. However, you should keep in mind that the clip base can only fit desks that are between 1.06 and 1.65 inches thick.
The blades of the fan are covered by a regular grille head, which you can rotate to achieve the angle you need. Like most of these smaller fans, it only has two speed settings. Still, both of them should be sufficiently quiet to use in offices, dorms, or bedrooms.
As far as I know, the fan is available in black and white, which is as basic as it gets. But then, if you really care about your fan having a unique design, I’ve already listed several products that are more attractive. Ultimately, this fan does what it’s supposed to — it’s quiet and it can clamp onto the edge of your desk.
- 6-inch tabletop or clip fan
- 2 speed settings
- Adjustable head
- Black and white versions available
6. KARECEL Battery-Operated Rechargeable Small Fan
Throughout these reviews, I kept wishing that some of the products I’ve shown you didn’t come with the disadvantage of having to be plugged in to work. Well, this KARECEL fan made that wish come true thanks to its rechargeable 3600mAh battery. That alone makes this product more convenient than most others we’ve seen.
At only about 6 inches tall and 2 inches wide, it’s compact enough to fit into any bag. The fan consists of the blade grille, which you can flip by 180 degrees within the curved base. There are two rubber pads on the bottom of the base, which should prevent it from vibrating against your desk.
There’s only one button on the unit. Pressing it once will turn the slowest speed setting of three, which can run for a full day on a single charge, producing only 40 decibels of noise. Each subsequent press of the button will make the brushless motor run faster. At maximum speed, the battery charge will only last about 8 hours.
- Sleek, curved design in blue or white
- Rechargeable 3600mAh battery
- 3 speed settings up to 3200 rpm
- 180-degree rotating fan
Things to Consider When Looking for the Best Quiet Desk Fans
As we’ve already established, smaller devices tend to be less noisy than larger ones. So you’d think that finding quiet desk fans would be pretty easy. Well, it’s certainly easier than looking for regular quiet fans because you don’t need to worry about all those moving parts. Still, there are some things you should keep in mind while looking for smaller tabletop fans.
For one, as you might have noticed, I paid special attention to the design of the desk fans I’ve chosen to review. That’s because the build quality of these kinds of devices plays a crucial role when it comes to the amount of noise they produce.
So to begin with, let’s talk about the general shape you can expect your fan to be. In my previous articles, I have explained that there are basically three types of fans:
- Standing fans, which usually have a tall pedestal, though some of the desk fans from the list above belong to this category as well. The one difference between mini and large standing fans is that the large ones typically have oscillating features, whereas smaller ones don’t.
- Tower fans, which tend to take up less space than regular standing ones. Some of them, like the Honeywell unit I’ve previously reviewed, are even small enough to put on a desk.
- Box fans generally consist of blades and a protective grille with a minimal base. Most of the desk fans I’ve seen would probably belong to this category, though some of them are more difficult to place.
Now, we’ve already seen some very interesting quiet desk fans. However, their unique design isn’t the only thing you should keep in mind.
Before we talk about how the build quality of a fan can affect the amount of noise it makes, let’s briefly discuss the kinds of sounds your fan might make. That will also help you determine what you should do to silence the device if it ever does start making noise. You need to watch out for:
- Motor noise. That’s actually why units with brushless motors are so popular — they are supposed to be much quieter than brushed motors. In fact, most of the products with brushless motors claim to produce only about 40 decibels of noise.
- The sound of spinning blades. If the only noise you’re hearing is the whooshing, I wouldn’t try to fix that. You would only compromise the airflow output of your device. However, if the blades are ticking or clacking, it means that they’re coming into contact with surrounding surfaces as they spin.
- The impact noise that is transferred from the fan to the surface below, which can sound like rattling and even cause the device to slide off the desk.
So how does build quality prevent such noises from occurring? Well, since fans have to be open, there’s no way to soundproof them. Still, sturdy and relatively thick materials may prevent motor noise from spreading. On the other hand, if the blades are hitting the grille, you may be able to fix the problem by just bending them a bit.
And then there’s the question of stopping the fan’s vibrations from transferring to the desk. That’s why you need to pay attention to desk fans that highlight rubber pads or other slip-proof features. However, even if the fan you’re looking at doesn’t have those features, you can easily add them yourself.
Speed Settings and Other Features
Of course, the most important things to consider when buying your desk fan would be its features. You can’t expect to get all the same ones you’ve got in your room fans. In fact, you should pretty much forget about timer settings, oscillation, and remote control.
However, most desk fans do have some degree of mobility, in that you’ll be able to place and pivot the head at least a little. Furthermore, the thing I’d focus on is whether the unit is battery-operated or it comes with a cord. There are benefits and disadvantages to both of these options, though I tend to lean toward battery-operated fans if we’re talking about smaller devices.
However, if you are going for a device with a power cord, I recommend getting one with a USB plug. That will allow you to use any of your other devices, particularly laptops or portable chargers, to power it. Or, you can get a wall outlet or car charger adapter with USB ports.
How to Make a Desk Fan Quieter
Alright, but what if you don’t want to get a new fan? Or, let’s say you just got a new desk fan a month or two ago. If it suddenly starts making ticking or rattling sounds, you’d be more likely to feel angry and give up altogether than to purchase a new fan.
I get it — seeing your brand new gadgets break down is frustrating beyond belief. Even when they don’t cost much, it still feels like a wasted investment.
Well, first of all, if you’re shopping from reliable retailers, you’ll most likely be able to get a replacement. I didn’t really focus on that aspect of the products in my reviews. But if you go back and check, you’ll see that some of the companies I’ve mentioned have great return policies. If that’s something you’re concerned about, you should keep it in mind when you’re shopping.
If it’s too late to contemplate company warranties, you can just find the source of the noise and fix it. As I have previously explained, that’s not too hard to do, especially since most desk fans have fewer moving parts than most room fans. And we’ve already narrowed down the potential sources of the noise!
Silencing a Loud Desk Fan
To begin with, let’s see what you can do if you’re reasonably certain that the noise is coming from the motor. If that’s the case, you can try to open the device and get to the bottom of the problem. But that may be easier said than done.
You have to keep in mind that many desk fans aren’t screwed together like regular fans are. Most of them are just held together by glue or male-female locks. You may end up breaking off pieces if you’re too rough — so try to avoid that.
If you manage to open the fan, turn it on to see if any parts are moving against each other. But be responsible about it and make sure you’re not touching anything while the device is plugged in. While you’re at it, you can also see if the blades themselves are hitting the grille or anything else.
Ultimately, the vibration transfer is going to be the easiest problem to solve. You won’t even have to break out the anti-vibration pads — which I usually recommend for any device larger than a desk fan. Instead, you can keep the fan on a book to absorb the vibrations. If the fan keeps sliding around, just glue tiny pieces of your pencil eraser to the bottom of the base.
Chill out and Enjoy the Breeze While You Work
If you put some thought into getting a good desk fan, it may completely replace your regular room fan. It’s not that these devices can achieve the same amount of airflow — most of them can’t.
However, if you’re someone who usually keeps to their desk, couch, or bed, a mini fan can easily keep you cool while you work, watch TV, or sleep. Thankfully, my desk fan is not loud enough to distract me or muffle the sound of the TV.
And those aren’t the only reasons why getting a desk fan is a great idea. Battery-operated ones are the perfect things to take on hiking trips or long train rides. Personally, I like to keep a small wireless desk fan in my work bag at all times. Like my home, the office is usually overheated during the winter months. The fan really comes in handy when it becomes overly stuffy.
Conversely, during the summer it works together with the AC to help me stay cool on the job. So, you see, quiet desk fans can be a fantastic investment. Whether you need to focus or relax, there’s nothing better than feeling the breeze on your face.