Ceiling Fan Alternatives to Keep You Cool

Ceiling fans work well to keep your home’s internal temperatures down during the summer months without spiking your cooling costs, they’re distracting, noisy, and they can be unattractive in your home. They can also be very difficult to clean if you have vaulted or higher ceilings.

So, if you’re someone who is looking for a ceiling fan alternative to keep your living spaces cool, you have several options. The choice you end up making depends on your budget and your needs. The basic purpose of your ceiling fan alternative is to cool down a room’s temperature, and several of the ceiling fan alternatives on the list will do just this.

Some picks will be more efficient when it comes to cooling down the room, but they can be more expensive. Others are more portable and flexible while still being just as effective, and others are more long-term options that give you energy savings while ensuring that you’re cool enough to be comfortable. We’ve listed 15 great ceiling fan alternatives for you below.

15 Ceiling Fan Alternatives

You have choices when it comes to picking out your ceiling fan alternative, and each of them will help to cool down your room. One may work much better than others, so it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of each.

1. Attic Fans

An attic fan is one ceiling fan alternative that runs on the same premise as a traditional fan. However, they get installed in your attic so they don’t cool down your living area directly. Instead, this fan works to pull air out of the attic and funnel into the rest of the house where cooling appliances like window AC units will cool it.

Just like with most ceiling fans, this option won’t be able to move a large amount of air around. So, it’s not as effective as some other ceiling fan alternatives on the list. However, when you use them correctly, the attic fan can cut down on the amount of warm air that gets into your living spaces from the attic. In turn, this can help you save money on cooling costs.

1 Attic Fan
An attic fan is one way to cool the house, but it’s usually not extremely efficient for very large areas. Attic fan 2 by rosefirerising / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

2. Bladed Tower Fans

The tower fan comes equipped with a turbine-like horizontal blade that draws the air up from the lower portion of the tower. The air then escapes from the upper portion of the towre and enters the room. There are generally air filters on this fan, and this is great for people who have allergies. However, you should note that this ceiling fan alternative will use more energy than a pedestal fan because of the air-purifying feature and the overall design.

It can use up to twice as much energy when you have it running as other alternatives. It’s also not as easy to clean or maintain as other options because you have to take the unit apart to properly clean the blades. Generally speaking, you’ll pay between $30 and $150 for this fan. The material quantity, fan size, energy efficiency, and airflow all factor into the final price.

3. Bladeless Tower Fans

Despite the name, there are blades at the base of this ceiling fan alternative. However, the place where you’d expect to see them where the air gets expelled is bladeless. This fan will create a multiplier effect, and it draws air up from the base into a hollow ring that has tiny holes in it. The ring’s curvature creates negative pressure just like the airflow does over the wing of an airplane. The low pressure will then draw more air into the fan’s airflow, including air around the ring.

The multiplier effect on this fan works to multiply how much air it’s able to draw in, and it has a claimed airflow of up to 15 times greater than what gets drawn into the base. Because of this unique concept, you’ll get a smoother airflow. They also run quieter than bladed options, and some can oscillate. They also come with an ionizing feature to boost your air’s quality, and it’s very easy to clean. This is an energy-efficient choice that can cut your operating costs in half over a traditional fan. They can be an attractive feature in your room, and you can buy them starting at below $100.

4. Box Fans

A box fan is a very affordable ceiling fan alternative, and it can be just as powerful as a pedestal fan. However, you won’t get an oscillating feature with this fan, and you may have to make a compromise for more noise for a higher airflow. Box fans are very portable, and you can put them by the windows to draw in the cooler air. The dial location on the fan can limit how you use it in a window. Ideally, both the plug and the dials will be on the backside of the fan to make placement easy.

Also, if you plan to put your box fan in or near an open window, it should have weatherproofing features on it. The motor should have protection from any moisture or blowing mist. It’s a lightweight and portable option that you can easily move from area to area in your home as you need it, and you can flip it toward a window to help get rid of musty odors. The quality and features will determine the price, but a 20-inch box fan is usually around $15.00.

2 Box Fan
A box fan is a very common ceiling fan alternative because it’s easy to set up, and it’s a very budget-friendly choice to help get air moving in your home. Box fan by Elf Sternberg / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

5. Central Air Conditioning

This is widely considered to be the most effective ceiling fan alternative to help cool down any room in your house. Central AC generally gets installed by a professional or company, and it involves construction. This is a much more expensive option over a ceiling fan. It can cost between $3,000 and $4,000 for installation in a 2,000-square foot house. Ductless AC is another option that typically focuses on cooling down a room or two over the whole house. It doesn’t have as extensive of an installation process, but it can be more expensive than a central AC.

On a less grand scale, you do have the option of installing portable or window units that can cool down a room or two more effectively than a ceiling fan. A ceiling fan will move the air around the room to create a wind chill effect while an AC system actually cools the air to lower the overall temperature of the room.

6. Evaporative Coolers

You may find an evaporative cooler listed as an air conditioner. However, it uses a whole new concept to cool your space, and this makes it a great ceiling fan alternative. It uses a fan to pull in the dry air before adding cool moisture to the air using pads and pushing the newly cooled air into the room. This gives you a noticeable cooling effect, and it improves your air quality. For those that live in a hot and dry climate, this ceiling fan alternative can reduce the room temperatures. If your climate has seasonal lower indoor humidity, this could be a solid choice.

It’s an energy-saving alternative to air conditioning, and you can use it when an AC isn’t 100% necessary. The AC will recycle the air, and the evaporative cooler can refresh your air quality. A personal unit will be around $30.00, and a whole room-cooling unit size will start at around $150 and go up. Some units even give you the choice to use it as a humidifier, fan, and as an evaporative cooler. You will have to replace the filter between one and five years to keep them running in top shape.

7. Pedestal Fans

A pedestal fan can be just as big as a ceiling fan. The bigger units also take up more space than most of the portable ceiling fan alternatives on the list. If you only want to use it to cool one room, you should only need a 16 or 18-inch fan to do the job. You can easily adjust the height of the pedestal too, and you can lower or raise it according to need. Be aware that this choice needs more attention when children are around, and most covers come with an open patterned design to allow air to flow through. Even if the pattern is tighter, it’s easy for a kid to stick something inside it and get hurt.

A high-quality pedestal fan can weigh  anywhere from 10 to 15-pounds, and a low-quality model can come in under 10-pounds to make them very portable. They generally have a timer with speed settings, and some higher-end models have remote options. The material quality, fan size, energy efficiency, and airflow all factor into the price. A well-built fan in this category can cost less than $100 while lasting as long as a ceiling fan and offering remote capabilities.

3 Pedestal Fan
Pedestal fans are a nice choice if you have very limited floor space and they usually have slender designs with smaller bases. Fan by Leonid Mamchenkov / CC BY 2.0

8. Portable Air Conditioners

Some places don’t allow you to have window AC units in for a variety of reasons, so you can try this ceiling fan alternative instead. This can also be easier to install and handle than a regular window unit. A two-hose model will be more expensive than one with a single hose, but it’s better at cooling down your room. A single-hose model is good for a smaller room if the surrounding rooms are cooled or cooler.  A two-hose model can cool a room in up to half the time as a one-hose unit takes.

Most portable units will start around 6,000 BTUs, and they can cost around $250. There is a new rating system on these units called ASHRAE. Most professionals will advise you to use the BTU number. This is usually more realistic as to what you’ll get for a cooling result when it’s on. You should note that window or portable AC units can easily be moved around. They’re also break-in risks if you have them in your ground-level windows.

9. Portable Fans

You’ll generally put your portable fan much lower on the floor, and the air then travels vertically around the area instead of coming down from the ceiling. In some instances, the air that circulates around your room from the fan can be cooler in the first place. Air from the ceiling fan is usually hotter because it’s higher in the room. Common buying factors for this fan choice are noise levels, space, affordability, energy-efficiency, versatility, safety, and quality.

You can get more flexibility when it comes to controlling the air flow and fan placement. They also come with an oscillating or swivel feature to help you control where the air goes, and it gives you a larger wind chill effect. You can concentrate the air in one direction, and it can be a very quiet way to cool down the room.

10. Table Fans

You can get bladeless or traditional table fan models if you choose this ceiling fan alternative. They come in small tower designs or as a traditional round fan, and most offer an oscillating movement. This is more for personal use, and they don’t give you enough airflow to cool the whole room. They usually weigh under 10-pounds, so this makes them very portable.

The bladeless models offer greater airflow, are easier to clean, and run quieter. They’re also more energy-efficient, and you can find them in a huge range of costs to fit in virtually any budget. A small ceiling fan alternative in this category can cost as little as $20.

11. Tower Fans

A tower-style fan isn’t usually as forceful or powerful as a pedestal fan, but it does take up less floor space. They’re very portable and lightweight, and this allows you to easily move them from room to room. It’s also more aesthetically pleasing and able to fit with a broad range of design styles. You can choose from bladeless or bladed styles.

12. Window Air Conditioners

A window AC unit takes up less space in your room, and you usually operate them using a digital display or a dial. Some units also come with a remote control that you can use to adjust it. If you don’t have solar panels available to supply the electricity to this ceiling fan alternative, they cost more to operate than a standard ceiling fan.

This device has seen huge improvements in their technology in recent years while having the prices go down. They run quieter, and most of them come with the parts and accessories needed to seal the window around them. A smaller unit at 5,000 BTUs is available for around $125. The BTU sizes can range from 5,000 up to 25,000, and the prices range from $800 to $1,000 and up.

4 Window Air Conditioner
Window air conditioners are popular for smaller houses because they do a decent job of quickly cooling the air when you switch them on. Grey can on air conditioner by pjrusello / CC BY-NC 2.0

13. Wall-Mounted Fans

If you have a low ceiling room like an area with a drop ceiling, you may want to consider a wall-mounted fan. It comes with an oscillating feature that a ceiling fan doesn’t have, and it’s a good choice if your room doesn’t have the floor space available for a tower or pedestal-style fan. You can mount it close to the ceiling away from your kid or pet’s reach, and it ranges in size from 12 to 30-inches. There are several speed settings that you can control by a remote, dial, or a hanging cord. Some also feature a wall switch.

This is also a practical choice for outdoor use, especially if you put them in a covered patio. A lot of these outdoor fans come with a misting feature to reduce the outdoor air temperature, and they can cost as little as $30. However, the materials, design, and any additional features can make the prices climb up into the hundreds of dollars.

14. Whole House Fan

A whole house fan is another ceiling fan alternative, and it works in a slightly different way than an attic fan. You turn it on in the evening hours when the temperatures inside are cooler. You can also set it to switch on when the exterior temperatures are lower than the interior ones. It works to pull cool air from the outside in through room windows and up into the attic. The air passes through a ceiling damper box before going into a duct that goes directly to the fan. The hot air gets expelled through the attic vents, and it can cool the house and attic by an impressive 30%. In turn, it’ll stay cooler throughout the day.

The air quality inside is usually more polluted than inside, and this ceiling fan alternative will work to ventilate outdoor air exchanges up to 20 or 30 times every hour to improve the indoor air quality. Some people use this system alongside an AC unit. However, it’s more efficient in cooling than a standard AC, and it’s energy efficient because it costs less to run.

You can also set this system up to target a single room. You’ll put the fan, duct, and the ventilation damper box in the attic above the room in question. The fan should be able to ventilate two or three times the room’s volume. The cost for this system will depend on how much area you want to cool, but it’ll cost far less than a central AC setup. In fact, it can be a quarter of the cost.

A whole house fan installation cost is usually three or four times more than you’d pay for an attic fan installation. If you want a whole house fan for a bedroom with a remote and a wall timer, you’ll pay around $700. Having a professional come in and do the install will drive up the cost, and you may need an electrician for wiring.

15. Window Fans

The final ceiling fan alternative on the list is a window fan, and they’re easy to use. You can quickly install or uninstall them from your windows, and this makes them a solid choice for anyone who wants to easily cool the interior air. They can increase the air circulation in closed rooms, and this makes it an ideal option if you live in a space with high humidity levels because they can pull the moisture out of the air.

This ceiling fan alternative works by pulling hot outside air into the window and moving in through and over a spinning set of blades to create a decently-strong breeze. They are slightly louder to run, but they’re one of the quickest ways to get air moving through your home and cooling it down.

Required Fan Thrust to Cool a Room

5 Fan Thrust

The bigger the room is, the more power your fan will have to have to cool it and keep it cool throughout the day. Fan by .Jops. / CC BY-NC 2.0

You don’t want to go out and buy a ceiling fan alternative and find out that it’s not strong enough to cool your whole room. Each fan can have specifications listed in motor type, wattage, and blade size. It’ll also list the CFM, and this is the most important specification to pay attention to when you shop. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute, and it measures how much airflow a product can deliver. The blades, motor, and other mechanical parts work in tandem to create this rating. The rating is for how much the fan puts out when it works at top speed.

CFM also plays a role in your ceiling fan alternative’s energy efficiency rating. Any fan with an efficient airflow will have a higher CFM number with lower wattage consumption. To determine how many CFMs you need, you can easily find calculators online from manufacturers. For example, say that you have a room that has a 9-foot ceiling and is 10-feet by 12-feet. The cubic feet is 10x12x9 for 1,080.

The desired exchange rate is between 3 and 10 every hour, depending on your room. In the example we touched on above, we’re assuming that an exchange happens every 10 minutes or six times per hour. So, you’ll need roughly 119 CFM to give you the right airflow to cool the bedroom. If you switch the air exchange to once every five minutes, your CFM rating goes up to 238.

Additional Cooling Ideas

Along with the 15 ceiling fan alternatives we listed above, there are a few other things you can do to help stay cool this summer.

Reducing Solar Radiation or Solar Heat Gain

One big thing you can do to cool down the house is to reduce the heat caused by the sun. If you don’t, you’ll have to run your ceiling fan alternative much more to keep up. The following ideas can help you reduce solar radiation and solar heat gain. They include but are not limited to:

  • Awnings
  • Double-Glazed Windows
  • Highly Reflective Material on the Roof
  • Solar Screens
  • Window Film
  • Window Shades

These steps will also improve your energy efficiency while cooling off the inside of the house. You can do more research on each step to see if they’re viable options for you to consider.


A lot of people don’t take the ability of plants to cool down a room seriously, even when they’re looking for cost-effective ceiling fan alternatives. However, the University of Vermont found that plants generate moisture through their leaves, and this was enough to drop the room temperature by 10°. Plants also work to reduce airborne dust and improve your air quality while being aesthetically pleasing. Aloe vera, ferns, ficus trees, areca palms, and devil’s ivy are all plants that do very well indoors.

Bottom Line

We’ve listed out 15 ceiling fan alternatives for you to try in your home and see if they keep it cool enough for you during the hot summer months. You can take this information and try a few of them out to help keep cool and comfortable all year round.

Ceiling Fan Alternatives 1 Ceiling Fan Alternatives 2


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