Best Shop Fans (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Keep air moving and you’ll keep working

byHank O'Hop| UPDATED Nov 10, 2021 6:46 PM
Best Shop Fans (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022
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Your shop may be a sanctuary, but it's still a hostile environment. The sun beating down on the roof causes things to heat up, and the work you enjoy doing also happens to produce a lot of dust. Let's also not forget about the many fumes that come with the territory. Sure, you can get by all right by repurposing that old bedroom fan, but it's simply not cut out for the environment. Shop fans aren't the sexiest pieces of equipment, and they may be the last thing on your mind as you're setting up your dream shop, but trust us—you want one. They can be the defining factor in whether or not you have a good experience in the garage and can even help you blow out any unwanted smells or contaminants that would keep you from getting the job done. That's why we want to take the time to help you nail down the best shop fan for your favorite place on earth.

Best Overall

Tornado 24 Inch Grade UL Listed High-Velocity Fan

Summary

This competitively priced drum fan offers respectable airflow with three different speed settings. That paired with its quiet nature helps to provide the perfect shop environment.

Pros
  • Competitive pricing
  • Multiple speed settings
  • Designed to run quieter than comparable models
Cons
  • Prolonged use of max speed wears bearings 
  • Poor packaging allows fan to damage easily in shipping
Best Value

Lasko 20-Inch High-Velocity QuickMount Fan

Summary

An affordable solution for small workshops and personal spaces. The versatile mounting solutions help to boost the appeal of this unit for many shop owners.

Pros
  • Affordable price point
  • Compact and easy to move
  • Can be mounted on a wall
Cons
  • Motor is not sealed
  • Produces a lot of noise
Honorable Mention

HealSmart 24 Inch Heavy Duty Metal Industrial Drum Fan Bundle

Summary

Why go broke when you demand more fans? This bundle features two drum fans that each produce 4,700 CFM of airflow and run quieter than most comparable models.

Pros
  • Two fans increase value 
  • Offers flexibility for fan usage 
  • Designed to run 40 percent quieter than comparable models
Cons
  • Needs better packaging for shipping
  • Issues with noise and performance are somewhat common

Our Methodology

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

We'll be clear in saying that we didn't actually use any of the fans below. Though chances are high that we have come across some of these makes and models in the wild. Instead, we stuck to the usual routine for research. And the thing is, fans aren't exactly rocket science, nor are they anything we're unfamiliar with. After watching a few videos to refresh our memories, we were able to apply what we already know and our personal desires to put together a list of products we think match what most personal shop owners are after.

Best Shop Fan Reviews & Recommendations

We're kicking off our list with a drum fan from Tornado we think has something for everyone. First and foremost, this 24-inch model is capable of pushing 7,800 CFM at the maximum speed setting, which makes it possible to keep air moving in larger home workshops and can push out air in a hurry in smaller spaces. However, the medium and low settings' 6,000 CFM and 5,000 CFM flow rates keep it docile when necessary. This may not be the cheapest fan on the market, but it also isn't attached to an industrial-grade price tag, keeping it within a reasonable range for the average consumer. What really helps it stand out is that it's also designed to run 40 percent quieter than most of the competition, meaning it helps your workshop remain enjoyable in more ways than one. 


As with anything, there are always potential drawbacks. In this case, prolonged use at max speeds tends to wear the internal bearings out. Also, the number of complaints surrounding damaged fans due to poor packaging warrants an inspection of the unit when new before putting it to use.


Product Specs

  • Part Number: HI-FAN-DRUM24-1P
  • Fan Type: Drum 
  • Max CFM: 7,800

Pros

  • Competitive pricing
  • Multiple speed settings
  • Designed to run quieter than comparable models

Cons

  • Prolonged use of max speed wears bearings 
  • Poor packaging allows fan to damage easily in shipping

Let's be honest, not all shop fans need to be an industrial-sized piece of equipment that can rival the power of a hurricane. Sometimes, you just need a little, and you don't need to spend a whole lot of money to get it. This powerful little fan from Lasko can push out 3,460 CFM at the max setting and offers two lower settings for when less of a breeze is necessary. The entire unit is also just 22 inches wide. While it might be intended for floor use, it's not out of the question to use this on workbenches, and the design even allows it to hang from the wall. Of course, the relatively low price point is something all shop owners can appreciate. 


Being an affordable option, there are some issues to be aware of. For one, the motor is not sealed and you need to be careful of placement and clean it frequently. Also, there are many complaints about the noise level that you should take into consideration before buying. 


Product Specs

  • Part Number: 2265QM
  • Fan Type: Floor/Wall 
  • Max CFM: 3,640

Pros

  • Affordable price point
  • Compact and easy to move
  • Can be mounted on a wall

Cons

  • Motor is not sealed
  • Produces a lot of noise

You can harness airflow like any other tool in your shop. However, workpiece and personal demands often collide, meaning one will get robbed of circulation when the other needs it. Who said you could only run one fan, though? Who said you need to spend a fortune doubling down? This particular listing is for two drum fans from HealSmart and each fan in this kit can push air at 4,700 CFM with the max setting, and two lower speed settings are available. With one fan being enough for the average home garage, the second is free for other projects or emergency situations. Of course, the price for two fans increases the value, but both are designed to operate 40 percent quieter than comparable models, which adds even more bang for your buck. 


Here again, we find that poor packaging leading to damage is a big issue, so you'll want to inspect these fans upon arrival. Also, it's worth mentioning that the packaging issue may be linked to poor fan performance and noise level. 


Product Specs

  • Part Number: B08V89WS22
  • Fan Type: Drum
  • Max CFM: 4,700

Pros

  • Two fans increase value 
  • Offers flexibility for fan usage 
  • Designed to run 40 percent quieter than comparable models 

Cons

  • Needs better packaging for shipping
  • Issues with noise and performance are somewhat common

Of course, all drum fans are pretty much suitable for garage use. However, we think that the convenience factor really helps this to shine in a home shop. Starting with performance, this model from world-renowned DeWalt can push up to 6,500 CFM. It works with a totally adjustable switch rather than fixed speed settings, giving you the option to dial flow to your likings with little compromise. This model also rolls on large rubber wheels with the aid of a pull handle. Relocating or pulling it in and out of storage is made far easier than others with those features. This is a DeWalt, and the quality and five-year warranty it's attached to are to show for it.

 

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect. Again, the tradition of thoroughly inspecting before using follows through as reports of customers receiving returns instead of new products. Also, it's worth noting that this isn't exactly the quietest drum fan on the market.


Product Specs

  • Part Number: DFX-2490
  • Fan Type: Drum
  • Max CFM: 6,500

Pros

  • Fully adjustable fan speed
  • Wheels and handle make it easy to move
  • Backed by a five-year warranty 

Cons

  • Some returns are sent as new product
  • Can be too loud for comfort

Ok, we're somewhat cheating here because this technically isn't a fan, it's an air circulator from Vornado, but in reality, all that separates this from the usual fan is the vortex circulation pattern it puts out. While it might only flow at 670 CFM at max speed, that specialized pattern helps to increase its ability to circulate air throughout the work area effectively. Also, the fan doesn't need to work as hard to push the air it needs to, meaning this thing runs exceptionally quiet, at around 55-68 dB. It is a relatively compact model as well, but it is cut out for some shop use and can serve you well as a desk or small floor fan. 


Is it the only fan you'll need for a shop? No, it may work wonders in personal spaces, but it's not going to circulate air through the remainder of a sizable building. It's also worth mentioning that it is resilient to dust, but impacts are sure to send it to the scrap pile.


Product Specs

  • Part Number: CR1-0089-17
  • Fan Type: Floor
  • Max CFM: 670

Pros

  • Low noise output—55-68 dB
  • Surprisingly capable for the size
  • Can be used on floor or workbench 

Cons

  • Too small to serve as primary fan
  • Not built to withstand impacts

If floor space is limited and wall fans won't cut it, maybe it's time to consider ceiling fans. This model from Westinghouse and its 56-inch spread is a prime candidate as it is a performer but doesn't cost quite as much as you'd expect for a fan of its size. The max speed setting can move air at 4,833 CFM, but a total of five speed settings make it easy to adjust flow to match the demand. Also, we'll tip our hat to the tasteful design, as while it is reflective of the shop setting, the subtle wood grain pattern on the blades allows it to shine in more contemporary settings as well. 


Though it’s a strong contender, this model is not perfect. Some feel it tends to wobble too much for comfort at the max speed setting. Other reviewers claim that going all out does produce a lot of noise as well. 


Product Specs

  • Part Number: 7681400
  • Fan Type: Ceiling 
  • Max CFM: 4,833

Pros

  • Frees up floor space
  • Five speed settings offer optimal control
  • Tasteful design offers style points

Cons

  • Wobble is concerning at high speed
  • Max speed produces a lot of noise

We're wrapping up this list with an all-out performer from Maxxair. This product is made in the USA, so it should be no surprise that it outperforms much of the competition. Well, that and the fact that this 42-inch drum can push air at 10,200 CFM at max speed. Don't worry—the wheels underneath make it easy to move. This model also uses industrial-grade components from top to bottom, and parts like the dual ball bearing drive and thermally protected motor ensure a long service life. Of course, you don't always need a surplus of 10,000 CFM of airflow, and two speed settings give you the option to dial things back to 7,300 CFM when necessary.

 

While we always show support to U.S.-made products, it doesn't always mean something is universally superior. For example, Maxxair is in the same boat as everyone else regarding poor packaging that leads to damaged products showing up on people's doorsteps. Also, it's worth pointing out that this is attached to a premium price tag, and it's a little too large for the average consumer.


Product Specs

  • Part Number: BF42BD RED
  • Fan Type: Drum
  • Max CFM: 10,200

Pros

  • Made in USA
  • Exceptional performance and quality
  • Includes wheels for easy relocation

Cons

  • Premium pricing 
  • Often shows up damaged 
  • Too large for the average consumer 

Our Verdict on Shop Fans

At the end of the day, we firmly believe the Tornado 24 Inch Grade UL Listed High-Velocity Fan is hard to beat in the average garage. On the other hand, the Lasko 20-Inch High-Velocity QuickMount Fan is a great choice for smaller shops or situations that don't necessarily call for a high-dollar fan. 

What to Consider When Buying a Shop Fan

Maybe breezing through a list of top picks isn't enough for you. After all, you're the kind of person who likes to know everything about anything they use in their shop. No problem. This buying guide is here to explain some of the details you need to read into when shopping for a solid shop fan. 

Types of Shop Fans

Drum Fan

Drum fans are the most common option for shop owners, and that is the type of fan that makes up the majority of our list. These are powerful units that are able to move a ton of air in a hurry. Of course, airflow rates vary from model to model, but they can still be much more effective at circulating air than many of your other options. 

Drum fans typically aren't permanently mounted fixtures, and you can move them around with relative ease. That's a big benefit to owners who may need to rearrange the shop for large projects or simply to redirect airflow from time to time. 

Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are, well, ceiling fans. What you would use in a garage closely resembles what you will find in your living room with the only difference being that shop ceiling fans are built to live in a more rugged environment. In other words, they likely won't feature the tasteful wooden blades or trim like those in your home would. These ceiling fans are also usually much larger. 

The obvious benefit of shop ceiling fans is that they don't take up any floor space, leaving more room for projects. They're also usually much quieter than drum or floor fans. The only issue is that you can't redirect airflow, and you may use a drum fan in combination with ceiling fans because of it. 

Floor Fan 

What we're categorizing as a floor fan is a self-standing fan that's much smaller than the typical drum fan. These are perfect for cooling personal spaces such as the area around your workbench or desk. They aren't nearly as large, cumbersome, or as loud as a drum fan, which can ultimately make them the best solution for some small shops. The only drawback is that they don't move as much air like a drum fan.

Obviously, smaller fans are great for use in combination with drum fans because they're better for personal purposes. However, you should make sure that any floor, wall-mounted, or desk fan used in the shop is cut out to handle more dust and debris than you may find in a home.  

Shop Fan Key Features

Air Flow 

A fan is designed to move air. How well it does that is measured by CFM, or cubic feet per minute. Yeah, it's the same measurement you'd find on a carburetor, and just like with carburetors, more doesn't always mean better. Going slightly larger won't hurt anything, but you certainly don't need a tornado in the shop either. 

There are calculators to find the exact CFM requirements of fans in your workshop. However, you can keep things simple by multiplying the square footage of your garage by 10. If you have a 750-square-foot garage, a 7,500 CFM fan should suffice. It's not down to science but a good way to get in the right ballpark. Also, you can double up on fans of smaller CFM ratings to get the airflow you need. 

Variable Speed Settings  

No, you likely don't always need the shop fan running at max speed. Some days are cooler than others, and sometimes you only want a little bit of circulation for comfort. That's why you want a fan that offers multiple speed settings. 

This is a standard feature, and it'd be harder to find a fan without variable speed settings than those with. That isn't to say you should go with just anything. Some may only feature two speed settings, while others feature three or more. Obviously, more speed settings make it easier to adjust flow rates to your liking. It's best to read what options are available in your price range and go with what you feel most comfortable with. 

Thermal Protection 

As we know, shops are harsh environments, and that's not solely due to temperatures and humidity. Dust gets into everything, including your motor, and that will cause it to overheat. That's why thermal protection is such a vital feature and part of why you should take the time to clean your fans regularly. 

Thermal protection is a feature on the motor that shuts it down if it begins to overheat. In other words, it just might be the detail that saves you from a catastrophic electrical fire.

Shop Fan Benefits

Keep It Cool 

One of the most obvious benefits of a shop fan is the ability to keep things cool. You might be willing to look past creature comforts of the likes in a rugged environment like a workshop, but it can ultimately help you achieve more. Your coveralls, welding gear, aprons, and boots all keep heat in. That heat wears you out and can ultimately serve as a distraction. Not only that, but the machinery you run also tends to put off massive amounts of heat.

Adding a shop fan takes your mind off discomfort, allowing you to work more proficiently. On top of that, a comfortable environment is something you look forward to returning to. Therefore a shop fan can get you in the shop more and help you accomplish more when you're in there. 

Fresh and Dry 

It's no secret that workshops can get muggy and filled with stagnant air. Using a fan to keep the air moving can make dramatic improvements to these environmental conditions, especially when coupled with sources of fresh air. 

Of course, your mind will shift to how this aspect makes the shop more enjoyable to work in, but that's not all it can do. Some delicate projects require low humidity levels. Using a fan may be necessary for you to tackle certain jobs to achieve the best results. 

Push Air Out

The many fumes produced in a workshop can be dangerous, and if your shop isn't well ventilated, it can become deadly because of them. That's why it's better to perform some tasks outside or in bays with open doors. Things don't always go as planned, though, and there's always room for human error. If things get out of control and fumes or dust contaminate the shop, a shop fan can help you evacuate them from your workspace.

Using a fan to control fumes or dust can be life-saving. It can also allow you to move some projects indoors. For example, you can safely tune up a running engine in the garage with the bay doors open and the fan pushing air out. 

Shop Fans Pricing Considerations 

Personal budgets are always a factor, but this is one of the areas where prices are pretty much fixed, and you're going to spend what you're going to spend to meet your demands. If you just need a small floor, wall, or desk fan, you can expect to pay roughly $50-$100. Drum fans typically draw in $100-$200, with the majority sitting around the $150 mark. Ceiling fans often fit into the lower price ranges, but the premier models can surpass the $200 mark along with the higher-powered drum fans. CFM ratings are one of the major determining factors for fan pricing, but remember, you can always double up on fans to reach the rating you need, which can save you a little bit of money here. 

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and shop fans. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Skip the House Fans. You can use old house fans until you save up for a shop fan. Don't make them the mainstay of your shop, though. You'll frequently replace them and spend more money in the long run. 
  • Clean It Regularly. You should clean most fans once per month. However, the dustier the shop, the more frequently you should clean your fans. 
  • Dedicate a Space. The beauty of many shop fans is being able to move them around. Still, it's a good idea to dedicate a space to them to keep a tidy shop. 
  • Not a Dust Collector. A fan can help keep dust under control. It's not a dust collector, though, and you may want to consider using one in conjunction with your fans.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: What is the most powerful shop fan?

A: With so many options from different brands, the answer to that question with all fans can take hours of research to answer. However, the Maxxair Red High-Velocity 2-Speed Belt Drive Drum Fan is the most powerful on the list of our top picks. But remember, the most powerful fan available isn't necessarily the best choice for your situation. 

Q: What’s the difference between a regular fan and a high-velocity fan?

A. In short, a high-velocity fan is built to produce more airflow and remain stable while doing it. These fans usually feature studier blade designs, implore ball bearings, and many other industrial-grade components. 

Q: Can I move the fan while the blades are in operation?

A: You really shouldn't. You might be able to slightly readjust the direction of airflow with a fan running, but you're asking for trouble. The housing or blade position may shift when you do, causing the moving parts to collide. It's best to power off the fan and unplug it before moving it around.