During the recent heat-wave, we took the opportunity to test what electric fans can REALLY do when the going gets tough. For sure, their ability to move air around can keep a space bearable enough to forego AC for hours. And when the AC is on, that same ability can augment its power, help cool a place down more quickly and keep it feeling cooler, especially if your AC can’t quite do the job. Fans that can blow a strong, focused stream of air are useful for directing cool air into hot hallways and difficult-to-reach “back” spaces. We’ve found the Vornado (below) to be really effective (if somewhat homely). We also use it to bounce air off the ceiling or walls to scatter it around.
Recently, we heard of an interesting new use for electric fans: mosquito deterrent, a big concern for people who want to lounge around outdoors but find citronella and other herbal/chemical products both unpleasant and/or scary. A recent article in the New York Time’s Science revealed that oscillating fans create enough breeze to overpower mosquitos in flight, blowing them off-course from their human targets. It’s a great, simple low-tech solution to the mosquito problem.
In addition to the Vornado, we’ve amassed several styles of fans over the years, from a cool-looking circa 1920 vintage Northwind from the to classic round oscillating table top model. We discovered our favorite by accident. We happened to be walking through the fan section of Costco on our way to the seafood department when we felt the loveliest breeze. We looked over and saw that it was coming from a Dyson Air Multiplier table fan. This fan is a sculptural circle without any visible blades. It is pricey — around $200— but we knew we could return it, so we took one home to test (In fact, we thought we’d just test it out and then return it for sure). The air that emanates from it is the closest we’ve felt to a breeze or gentle wind; there is no harsh ‘blow’. It looks like a sculpture, minimizing visual clutter (important to us). In the end, we never returned it, deeming it a useful investment.
In our Laboratory these days we rely on the Dyson in the main room for its pleasing look and breeze, and the Vornado for shooting focused air into the back of the apartment.
…The others, collected over the years, are backup.
As for ceiling fans, we found out from a long trip in the Amazon years ago how great they can be for making a hot room bearable. Installing a ceiling fan on our low 8-foot ceiling would only draw attention to them and close the room in. Right now, aesthetics prevail.
Northwind fan photo courtesy of Jennifer Carpenter of RiverHouseDesigns @ Etsy.