Fan Wattage, Efficiency And Cost To Run [Fan Types Compared]

This study of 0000’s of fans compares ceiling, box, tower and table / pedestal / standing fans to reveal the most efficient fan type and models. So how much electricity does a fan use? Find out here.

Different types of fans consume different levels of power and deliver different levels of efficiency.

Below are key findings from a study of thousands of different fans, a comparison of different fan types and the most efficient fan models.

Some spoilers:

  • Ceiling fans are the most efficient fan type – they move the most air per watt.
  • Box fans are the most efficient fan type for personal cooling.
  • In the US, on average, it costs $0.0059 per hour to run a fan.

More details (incl. wattage, running costs, energy saving tips, etc.) for each fan type can be found via these links:

Image of ceiling fan, tower fan, table fan and box fan - comparison of which fan is most efficient

Fan wattage

The average fan wattage is 39.3W on high, 6.9W on low.

The most common fan wattage is 33W.

The highest fan wattage recorded in the study was 220W. The lowest operating wattage was 1.1W.

The amount of watts a fan consumes varies with size and fan type.

The table below displays fan wattage details by fan type.

Fan TypeAverage W On MaxAverage W On LowMost Common WHighest W RecordedLowest W Recorded
Ceiling Fan31.1W3.6W33W99.8W1.7W
Box Fan73W47.3W100W220W5W
Tower Fan56.5W44W54W110W6W
Table / Standing Fan42.5W17W40W110W1.1W
All39.3W6.9W33W220W1.1W

Ceiling fans have the lowest operating wattage, followed by table/standing fans, with tower fans following closely behind.

Box fans have the highest average wattage (max). However, they’re larger and move more air when compared to standing and tower fans.

Now that we know the wattage of fans, let’s take a look at the amount of electricity they use over time. To do this we need to look at kilowatt-hours (kWhs).

How much electricity (kWh) a fan uses

Utility providers bill their customers by electricity / kilowatt-hours (kWhs) consumed.

A kWh is a measurement of electricity, often referred to as a unit of electricity. A kWh is the amount of kilowatts consumed over a period of time. Despite the name, the period of time isn’t 1 hour (although it can be, but it can also be a week, month or any other period of time).

To work out the amount of electricity a fan uses, simply use this formula:

kWh = Fan Wattage x Duration of Use (in hrs) / 1,000

We already know the wattage, so let’s do the quick conversion to kWh.

As mentioned, a fan uses 39.3W on average. For convenience, let’s choose a 1 hour duration. Our formula now looks like this:

kWh = 39.3W x 1 hr / 1,000

This works out at 0.0393kWh.

On average, over 1 hour, fans consume 0.0393kWh of electricity.

Now, let’s do the same for the other types of fans.

The table below shows how much electricity different types of fans consume over 1 hour.

Fan TypeAverage kWh – 1hr On MaxAverage kWh – 1hr On LowMost Common kWh – For 1hrHighest kWh Recorded – For 1hrLowest kWh Recorded – For 1hr
Ceiling Fan0.0311 kWh0.0036 kWh0.033 kWh0.0998 kWh0.0017 kWh
Box Fan0.073 kWh0.0473 kWh0.01 kWh0.0220 kWh0.005 kWh
Tower Fan0.0565 kWh0.044 kWh0.054 kWh0.0110 kWh0.006 kWh
Table / Standing Fan0.0425 kWh0.017 kWh0.040 kWh0.0110 kWh0.0011 kWh
All0.0393 kWh0.0069 kWh0.033 kWh0.0220 kWh0.0011 kWh

On average:

  • Ceiling fans consume 0.0311 kWh of electricity at max speed over 1 hour.
  • Box fans use 0.073 kWh of electricity over the same period on max.
  • Tower fans consume 0.0565 kWh over 1 hour on their highest setting.
  • Table / standing fans use 0.0425 kWh of electricity on max over 1 hour.

So now we know how much electricity the different types of fans use over 1 hour, let’s take a look at how much they use over longer durations.

How much electricity (kWh) fans use over various durations

On average, fans use 0.0393 kWh of electricity per hour, 0.3144 kWh per night, 0.943 kWh per week running 24/7 and 28.3 kWh per month if left on 24/7.

The electricity used varies with fan type.

The table below shows how much electricity, in kWh, different types of fans use per hour, night, day, week and month.

Fan TypePer HourPer Night / 8hrsPer Day / 24hrsPer Week (On 24/7)Per Month – 30 Days (On 24/7)
Ceiling Fan0.0311 kWh0.2488 kWh0.7464 kWh5.225 kWh22.39 kWh
Box Fan0.073 kWh0.584 kWh1.752 kWh12.264 kWh52.56 kWh
Tower Fan0.0565 kWh0.452 kWh1.356 kWh9.492 kWh40.68 kWh
Table / Standing Fan0.0425 kWh0.34 kWh1.02 kWh7.14 kWh30.6 kWh
All0.0393 kWh0.3144 kWh0.9432 kWh6.602 kWh28.30 kWh

On average, if left running 24/7, ceiling fans use 0.2488 kWh per night, 0.7464 kWh per day, 5.225 kWh per week and 22.39 kWh per month.

If box fans are on max 24/7, they use on average 0.584 kWh of electricity per night, 1.752 kWh per day, 12.264 kWh per week and 52.56 kWh per month.

On average, when running 24/7, tower fans consume 0.452 kWh per night, 1.356 kWh per day, 9.492 kWh per week and 40.68 kWh per month

If running the average table / standing fan 24/7, expect to consume 0.34 kWh per night, 1.02 kWh per day, 7.14 kWh per week and 30.6 kWh per month.

As electricity providers usually bill per kWh, we can now easily work out the cost of running the different types of fans.

Cost to run a fan

So how much does it cost to run a fan?

On average, in the US, it costs 0.0059 cent per hour to run a fan. This works out at 0.047 cent per night, 14 cents per day, $0.99 per week and $4.24 per month when running 24/7.

To work out the running cost of a fan, simply multiply the consumption in kWh by your cost per kWh.

The average kWh rate in the US is 15 cents.

The table below shows the cost of running different fan types, over different periods of time using 15 cents per kWh.

Fan TypePer HourPer Night / 8hrsPer Day / 24hrsPer Week (On 24/7)Per Month – 30 Days (On 24/7)
Ceiling Fan$0.0047$0.037$0.11$0.78$3.36
Box Fan$0.0110$0.088$0.26$1.84$7.88
Tower Fan$0.0085$0.068$0.20$1.42$6.10
Table / Standing Fan$0.0064$0.051$0.15$1.07$4.59
All$0.0059$0.047$0.14$0.99$4.24

On average, in the US, it costs just under half of a cent per hour to run a ceiling fan. This works out at nearly 4 cents per night, 11 cents per day, 78 cents per week and $3.36 per month if the fan is left on 24/7.

It costs just over 1 cent per hour, on average, to run a box fan in the US. If left running 24/7, expect the running costs to be close to 9 cents per night, 26 cents per day, $1.84 per week and $7.88 per month.

On average, it costs 0.0085 cent to run a tower fan for an hour in the US. When left running 24/7, this works out at close to 7 cents per night, 20 cents per day, $1.42 per week and $6.10 per month.

In the US, on average, it costs 0.0064 cent per hour to run a table / standing fan. This works out at 5 cents per night, 15 cents per day, $1.07 per week and $4.59 per month, when running 24/7.

To get more specific running costs for your fan, use the fan electricity cost calculator below.

Fan electricity cost calculator

Not interested in averages or doing the math? Enter your fan details and usage in the fields below to get your fan’s running costs.

OK, so now we know fan running costs. But are the costs expensive?

Are fans expensive to run?

No. Fans are not expensive to run when compared to other household devices, particularly cooling devices.

For example, one of the most efficient AC units on the market is the Energy Star certified GE Profile air conditioner. At just 710W, this unit consumes less power, and therefore is less expensive to run, compared to the vast majority of other AC units.

At 0.71kWh, this AC unit costs close to 11 cents per hour to run, on average in the US. The most efficient air conditioners are still 18 times more expensive to run than the average fan.

For further context, the cost to run the average fan for 1 week of 24/7 use is equivalent to:

So fans are relatively inexpensive to run.

But in saying this, it’s always good to keep our bills and carbon footprint low.

How to reduce the cost of running your fan

I’ve detailed energy and cost saving tips for the various types of fans – click through to the relevant post to see the easy to implement tips:

According to the US Energy Information Administration, “the residential sector’s electricity use for cooling was about 226 billion kWh in 2019, which was equal to about 16% of total residential sector electricity consumption and 6% of total U.S. electricity consumption.”

That’s equivalent to 420,329,992,855 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle. In other words, the yearly amount of electricity consumed for cooling can be offset by a staggering 2,765,498,694 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

The power consumed per year for cooling can be reduced considerably if more people used fans instead of air conditioners.

So be sure to choose the right fan for your needs and use the relevant energy saving tips to reduce your footprint.

If you’re considering buying a new fan, be sure to choose an energy efficient model (many are listed below for convenience).

To identify the most efficient fan, we must look at fan CFM.

Fan CFM and efficiency

Fan CFM refers to the amount of air, in cubic feet per minute, that a fan can move.

Fans with a higher CFM can move more air and, as a result, they’re more effective at cooling.

Fan CFM per watt, the amount of air a fan can move for each watt consumed, is a key energy efficiency indicator.

Different types of fans move different volumes of air on average.

The following are the key CFM results from the study.

Fan CFM comparison

Ceiling fans have the highest CFM per watt, with the average being 287.8. Get more ceiling fan CFM details, here.

Box fan CFM follows behind in second place. While they have a higher average wattage compared to other fan types, box fans move a considerable amount of air.

The average box fan CFM is 1,750. However, their higher than average wattage means that, per watt, they don’t move as much air compared to the best ceiling fans on the market.

Standing / table fans take third spot in terms of CFM.

The highest table / standing fan CFM recorded in the study was 1,672. This is lower than the average box fan CFM. 

The average CFM for large table / standing fans is 1,156.

The average size of fans play a big part in CFM.

Box fans, on average, are larger than table / standing fans. As a result their CFM and power consumption is higher.

Larger fans, in general, move more air per watt compared to smaller fans.

Tower fans lag behind in fourth position. At just 335, tower fans have a considerably lower average CFM compared to other types of fans.

So, when considering wattage alone, tower fans appeared to be the third most efficient, but when considering CFM, it’s clear that tower fans are the least efficient.

To summarize, here’s the fan efficiency leaderboard:

1st place: Ceiling fans

2nd place: Box fans

3rd place: Table / standing fans

4th place: Tower fans

Interested in air purifier CFM? Check out: Air Purifier Power Results [243 Analysed | Most Efficient Revealed].

Next, let’s take a look at the most effective models for each fan type.

High CFM fans

The study of thousands of fans revealed the fan models that deliver the highest CFM.

High CFM outdoor ceiling fan

The most energy efficient ceiling fan (i.e. the ceiling fan that moves the most air per watt) is the 84 inch Fanimation – MAD7997* outdoor ceiling fan.

This fan has a CFM per watt of 444 – that’s significantly above the average 287.8 CFM per watt for ceiling fans.

More details about this ceiling fan can be found on the Energy Star website.

High CFM indoor ceiling fan 

The most energy efficient indoor ceiling fan is the 84 inch Monte Carlo – 5VMR84***D.

With a total CFM of over 11,000 and a CFM per watt of 431, this ceiling fan is the second most efficient fan recorded.

More details about this fan is available on the Energy Star website.

At 84”, this is also one of the largest indoor ceiling fans recorded. 

This size won’t suit most houses. To find a more suitable model, see the ceiling fans with the highest CFM by size, here.

High CFM box fan

The box fan with the highest CFM recorded is this 20 inch Brentwood box fan. Its CFM of 2,294 and 60W consumption makes it a very high performing box fan.

However, due to a lower wattage, the reviews, ratings and features, this 20 inch Genesis box fan appears to deliver better value for money. Its above average CFM of 1,800, lower power consumption and running costs makes this box fan a more compelling option.

High CFM table / standing fan

The table fan with the highest reported CFM, at 1,672, is the Hunter 90603 Retro Table Fan.

Table fans, standing fans and pedestal stands are essentially the same product in terms of performance. The key difference is the style / height.

If looking for the taller fan style, use the average wattage of 42.5W and the average CFM for large table / standing fans of 1,156 as benchmarks.

High CFM tower fan

With a reported CFM of 550, the Lasko Xtra Air 48 in. Oscillating Tower Fan has a considerably high CFM compared to the average CFM of 335 for tower fans.

With a 52W manufacturer power rating, this tower is one of the most efficient on the market.

Despite other types of fans being more efficient in general, this fan offers features that other fan types don’t. For example, this may be a more appropriate fan if you’re looking for an air ionizer. See more features and the price on Amazon, here.

Final thoughts

Fans are very efficient at keeping us cool, and some are more efficient than others.

At just over half a cent per hour, fans are not expensive to run. But, like all electrical devices, there is also an environmental cost, so be sure to consider energy efficient models and use the relevant power saving tips to keep your impact low.

I hope the information in the post was useful. 

I go into more detail on the different types of fans – do check these posts out: