Choosing a fan for my home was more complicated than I expected. Do I go with a traditional oscillating fan, or go bladeless? Box fans also have their place in the world, but probably not in my living room or bedroom. I wanted a sturdy blower with a low profile, for a compact urban space.
I came across Vornado, a company that describes its fans as Air Circulators. Vornado is a 60 year old company with design roots in aerospace. They have a history of focusing on doing exactly one thing: moving air. I ended up purchasing the Vornado 660 ($99 on Amazon) for a test spin. I was so pleased, I bought my second one three days later. What I really liked about it were three things: its profile, power, and smart design.
The fan (okay, "Air Circulator," whatever, Vornado!) is small and circular. It looks like a miniaturized jet engine. When you unpack the shipped item, you attach the circular base stand, which enables the fan to rotate on its X axis only, to provide a wide up-down movement. This is important, because it lets you focus the main airflow in any direction you wish like a laser, with three deep-pitch blades.
This model is offered in black and white, and I chose black. It has five buttons on the back panel representing power and up to four different speed settings. The power cord is a generous length, and excess can be coiled up beneath the base for neater appearance. While it may resemble a jet engine, the noise output of the Vornado does not. On it's highest setting you get a pleasant, steady white noise in the background. On the lowest setting, you can't even hear it.
Power-wise, this thing really is like a jet engine when it's on high. But the key to the Vornado 660 is the ramp-up. It is not used like a traditional oscillating fan, because this fan doesn't oscillate itself—it circulates the air. Whether the weather is hot or cold, this fan can keep a room comfy by circulating the available cool or warm air, preventing buildup at the ceiling or floor. This can help you lower your heating and air conditioning bills because you do more with less, circulating out the air accumulation pockets in your room.
To do this, you have to set the fan on the floor in the correct position of the room, which is generally in a corner. Direct its output flow toward the opposite upper corner of the room, diagonally. Once set in place, turn it on to the medium setting a little while. This primer stage kickstarts full room air circulation, and creates a vortex airflow pattern that sends currents of air circulating around the room. Instead of a push-out of random air, the Vornado accelerates a beam of air, which then forms smaller currents and eddies throughout. Once you have the fan on medium for a few minutes, you increase to one of the higher settings.
You feel an immediate difference and can fine-tune the air flow with the higher speed settings in the fan. The result is a nice light breeze anywhere in the room, at all times. Exactly what I was looking for.
Cleaning is easy—just vacuum from the back. If you need greater access, you can open the grille and remove the blades in, at most, three screws (some models have two push-in clips instead of screws).
Bottom line: Yes. I am very satisfied with my choice. The end result for me since I bought the Vornado 660 Air Circulator has been a cooler summer, a warmer winter, and savings on my energy bills all year long. Amazon has a number of Vornado models, suited for rooms of all sizes. The cheapest one in the line at the time of this blog post is $29. The Air Circulator is also offered in a heavy duty model, or a very cool looking vintage model, if that's more your style.
[Editor's note: The author of this blog post paid for the device he is reviewing with his own damn money, because we're too cheap, and this review isn't paid or bartered content of any kind.]