An Outdoor Fan Doesn't Really Cool Anything,
But it Really Does Cool You Off!

closeup of outdoor fan on grass

With an outdoor fan you can cool off your backyard barbecue guests and your wedding guests.

Team it up with a generator to cool off your sports team on the field. You can cool off your kids in the school yard, your party at the park, your group at camp. You can cool off your workers in the field your chickens in the coop.

An outdoor fan will help you feel cool outside whether the air is dry or humid … especially when it's humid. It can also be used to help keep flying insects away and to disperse dust and odors and smoke (barbecue, tobacco, etc.), which is a plus no matter what the weather.

Outdoor ceiling fans are popular and very effective, but outdoor fans come in limitless styles and sizes and configurations, even misting fans. The options are as varied as their uses.

How a Fan Works

Fans do not actually cool the air (the way an air conditioner cools the air) but make it feel cooler by creating a wind chill effect. So even though the air doesn't get cold, it really does cool us off. Moving air can feel up to 8°F / 4.5°C cooler on our skin than still air of the same temperature. This is because more heat can be transferred from our bodies to moving air than to still air. Also, air blowing over our skin helps evaporate any traces of moisture, even when we're not noticeable sweating.

(An exception would be an outdoor misting fan that uses evaporation to actually cool the air.)

Since nothing is actually cooled, there is no need to keep the fan running if people leave the area for awhile. And when you return and turn the fan back on, the breeze feels great instantly -- no need to run the fan before you feel cooler. This can save a lot of energy (especially important if you're using a generator or a battery to power it).

Now it should also be noted that a fan won't make the area feel as cold as a portable air conditioner might. Air conditioners lower the temperature of the air in addition to moving it. Fans only move it. An outdoor fan will cool you as much as a natural breeze would. If there is a breeze going through your area, the fan won't do you much good unless the fan's air flow is stronger than the breeze. But if the breeze dies down, you may wish you had that fan after all!

For an overview of other outdoor cooling methods, visit our comparison page. If you'd like to learn a lot more about other cooling methods you can visit our pages devoted to portable air conditioners, swamp coolers, outdoor shades, or misting systems.

What Makes a Great Outdoor Fan?

The 3 most important things to consider are:

  1. the fan, itself: The motor, energy use and air flow determine how much cooling you can expect from a fan. The fan blades determine the size of the fan and can really maximize that air flow.
  2. A fan's features are especially important for outdoor fans since they must be safer and more durable than indoor fans. Look for features such as:
    • operating features that can adjust the air flow and make the fan easier to use
    • safety features and ratings
    • frames
    • finishes
    • a good warranty
  3. the fan's setup is often under-rated in how well it works. Your set-up may involve some trial and error to determine the settings and placement that work best for you. Any fan can provide more cooling, use less energy and be safest when it's set up well.

Interested in learning even more?

  • To compare outdoor fans to other outdoor cooling solutions, visit our

    comparison page.
  • Visit our page on misting fans.

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