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Air Circulator | Does It Cool the Room?

Few physical emotions are as great as when you walk into a room that immediately takes the day’s heat off you and makes you feel like you’ve just taken a sip of iced tea. Air circulators are really “cool” in that they keep the temperatures down in summer and keep you nice and snug in winter!

Air circulators are growing in popularity as people realize that it’s not just another version of the oscillating (traditional) fan. Air circulators are unique in their design and offer advantages that we’ll explore, which may make you wonder how you managed to survive the hot summers and cold winters without one.

Air circulators don’t have the power to change the room’s ambient temperature. But they do create air movement inside rooms. Air flowing over an occupant’s skin uses the wind chill factor to make them feel cooler. So, the cooling capability of these devices is dependent on the presence of people.

What Is an Air Circulator?

An air circulator is a device that does exactly what it says it will—it circulates air. Driven by a motorized fan, the design of the air circulator moves air around the room in a subtle, quiet, and effective manner.

Air circulators utilize design aspects that are not unlike those you’d expect to find in jet engines. The air is sucked into the circulator through the air inlet located at the rear of the unit. This inlet is shaped to allow maximum airflow.

The air is pulled in and forced through the circulator by a variable speed motor and a deeply pitched fan blade located inside an air duct. The duct shape of the device concentrates the fast-moving air and expels it into the room in a tornado-shaped column.

air circulator diagram or components

Some high-end circulators have gone a step further and project the exiting air onto specially shaped grill covers located on the front of the circulator. The grill shape forces the outgoing air into a spiral or vortex configuration that allows the column of air coming from the circulator to travel further into the room.

Air circulators are effective because they cause all the air in the room to start moving. You would think that sucking in large amounts of air and pushing them out again in a concentrated and far-reaching vortex would create a tornado-like movement of air in the room.

The airflow is the strongest right by the unit but becomes gentler further away as the column expands. The gentleness does not make it any less effective. In fact, the expanded column ensures that all the air in the room is affected by the air circulator as opposed to the air in the device’s direct path.

This gentle airflow dissipates and dilutes stale air while at the same time mixing different temperature air pockets to create a fresh and constant temperature environment.

How Do They Differ From Fans?

Traditional fans that we all know so well direct a column of air, the width of the fan’s blades, in a specific direction. The concentrated nature of the column of air moved by a fan means that its effects are limited to what’s in its path.

Oscillating fans are quite “blowy” when you are in their direct path. The same effects would only be felt right at the front of an air circulator. By the time the air has traveled a short distance away from the air circulator, it has widened, and become more of a gentle breeze.

The focused airflow of a fan is why virtually all fans oscillate to improve their felt effectiveness within a room. Air circulators don’t oscillate, but they are able to tilt up and down depending on what best suits your needs (the effectiveness remains the same).

Air circulators are also typically able to reach further than traditional oscillating fans.

how traditional fan works vs how air circulator works

Table of Differences Between Air Circulators and Fans

Air CirculatorsFans
Produce a rotating and widening stream of fast-moving airProduce a unidirectional column of fast-moving air
Doesn’t produce such a strong “blowing” air currentAir current blows over you quite noticeably
Airflow reaches all areas of the room and mixes and redistributes airAirflow reaches what is in front of the fan
Eliminate hot and cold pockets of airNot efficient at eliminating hot and cold pockets of air
Most likely quieter fan noiseMost likely louder fan noise
Less availability, less of a range of types, colors, and sizesMore availability, more of a range of types, colors, and sizes
Cost less to run (more energy-efficient)Cost more to run (less energy-efficient)
More ideal for indoor spacesMore ideal for outdoor spaces

Air Circulators Do Not Cool the Room

Air circulators do not physically cool the air in a room (they are like traditional fans in this way). Actually cooling a room entails lowering the ambient temperature of a room, which the air circulator does not have the power to do.

Traditional ACs draw the heat from a room, and air ventilation systems draw the warmer air out of the room and replace it with cooler air. In this way, these systems and devices are able to cool an empty room.

Air circulators, on the other hand, only move air. Yes, they create a subtle yet effective airflow throughout a room, making rooms feel more comfortable by combatting stale and stagnant air and ensuring there are no pockets of hotter or colder air anywhere in the room.

However, any actual cooling effect relies on the presence of occupants. We’ll get to this in a moment.

First, you should note that air circulators can be used very effectively in conjunction with heating or cooling systems to evenly spread the conditioned air.

Alternatively, air circulators are great at bringing cool fresh morning or evening air into a room by placing the air circulator in front of an open window or door. Direct exposure to the outside air enables the circulator to suck fresh air into the room and mixes it with the existing air, enhancing natural ventilation.

Circulating Air Can Cool Occupants

The cooling function of an air circulator can only be experienced if there are occupants in the room. This is because it exerts its cooling effect by working with a person’s body to produce wind chill.

Woman sitting in the living room with air circulator fan blowing a tornado air

When we are hot, our bodies radiate heat. A layer of heat gets trapped right against our skin and keeps us hot unless it is somehow removed. Here’s where the air circulator comes in.

The moving air passing over our skin pushes the trapped layer of heat away. This in itself makes us feel cooler, but there is a second aspect to wind chill. When the air passing over our skin is cooler than our skin, heat is transferred down the temperature gradient from our bodies and into the passing air to be carried away.

Sweating enhances the cooling effect of wind chill.

Air circulators are excellent when many people need to be accommodated in an enclosed environment. Traditional fans are only effective when pointed directly at a person, whereas an air circulator creates a comfortable environment for everyone in the room.

Given how the air circulator works, you can save on electricity costs when out of the room by turning the circulator off.

Are They Actually Effective?

Air circulators are far more effective at circulating air around a room than traditional fans. You can watch this video to see the effectiveness of airflow.

When looking at online reviews, most people who buy these air circulators, irrespective of brand and model, are happy with their purchases.

Top Options

We have selected two excellent air circulators that are available from your favorite online store:

The first is the Vornado 630 Mid-Size Whole Room Air Circulator Fan (amazon link). The Vornado sports an adjustable head, three fan settings, is super quiet, is backed by a five-year no-nonsense warranty, and best of all is the vortex air circulation method. Vornado claims that a circulator can push air up to seventy feet, and I believe them.

Vornado 630 Mid-Size Whole Room Air Circulator Fan

The second air circulator is the IRIS USA WOOZOO (amazon link). The fan is super quiet, has three-speed settings, a 360 tilting head, and projects its vortex-shaped air column out 52 feet, and it’s just a cute design. Round as a ball.

IRIS USA WOOZOO Air Circulator Fan, Vortex Fan, Desk Fan, Portable Fan, 3 Speed Settings, 360 Tilting Head, 46ft Max Air Distance, Large, Black


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