The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Garage Fan


Putting a high-quality fan in your garage can help you to reduce moisture, limit mold build-up, and keep your garage at a decent temperature year-round. However, there’s a lot that you need to think about before making your final purchase decision.

Image: BigAssFans.com

Here are some things you need to consider when buying a garage fan.

  • Physical size
  • CFM rating (cubic feet per minute)
  • Types (wall-mounted, blower, ceiling)
  • Motors (dual ball bearing, sleeve bearing)
  • Tilt features
  • Noise level (based on sones)
  • Location in your garage
  • Timer settings
  • Speed settings
  • Materials used
  • Cleaning methods

A garage fan with solid user reviews is great, but somebody else having a good experience with a fan doesn’t mean that the fan would be a good fit in your garage or for your needs. So, we’re going to be introducing everything you need to know about garage fans to help you through the purchase decision.

Physical Size

The actual size of your garage fan will determine just how well air circulates in your garage. You’ll need a much larger fan in order to keep a large garage cool and dry. For the most part, a solid garage fan will be at least 18 inches in diameter, though you might opt for a larger version if you have a decent-sized garage.

On the other hand, a 12-inch fan might be more appropriate if you’re only looking to keep a small area of your garage cool (i.e. Your workspace). Keep in mind that the size isn’t as important as the CFM of your garage fan.

CFM Rating

CFM, also known as cubic feet per minute, describes how much air a fan can circulate within a specific room every single minute. The CFM rating of a garage fan is calculated when the fan is on its highest speed setting.

There are quite a few factors that impact a fan’s CFM, particularly the number of rotations per minute (RPM), the actual physical size of the fan’s blades, and the angle of the blades.

The size of your garage will determine the CFM rating that best fits your needs. Consider the size of your garage and refer your data to the list below.

  • 200 sq. ft. or less: 2,000-3,000 
  • 200-300 sq. ft.: 3,000-4,000
  • 300-450 sq. ft.: 4,000-6,000
  • 450 sq. ft. or more: 5,000+

The average two-car garage is about 400 sq. ft., so your ideal garage fan would have a CFM of between about 4,000 to 6,000. A one-car garage is usually about 240 sq. ft., meaning a CFM of 3,000 to 4,000 should be more than enough.

Types

All fans serve the same purpose. They’re capable of keeping a consistent airflow through your garage while also reducing the buildup of humidity and heat. A solid garage fan can keep your garage from getting moldy and overheated while also helping to get rid of any lingering odors and fumes associated with your work.

However, there are plenty of different types of fans that you can add to your garage to experience these effects. Let’s go over the benefits of each type and when it would make the most sense to use each.

Wall-Mounted Fans

Wall-mounted fans are installed on one of the walls in your garage to remain stationary while circulating air. Perhaps the best quality of wall-mounted fans is that they’re kept at a distance from the floor, meaning they’re less likely to accumulate a build-up of dust and dirt. Since they’re on the wall, there’s no chance of you accidentally tripping over the cord.

Blower Fans

Blower fans, sometimes known as centrifugal blowers, are considered to be heavy-duty fans that can produce an incredible amount of air circulation. These are the best options if you’re struggling to keep the temperature of your garage cool or if your garage work involves toxic fumes of some sort. Blower fans tend to be high-powered, so they’re perfect for large garages.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are a common design feature inside homes and can significantly cut energy costs when installed in your garage. What’s ideal about ceiling fans is the fact that you can reverse the direction of the blades, meaning you can actually use a ceiling fan to keep your garage warm during the cool winter months. Some even have light systems to keep your garage illuminated.

Motors

You’re probably just looking for a garage fan that you can easily switch on to keep your garage both cool and dry. However, understanding how the motor works and the different types of motors common in garage fans will allow you to choose a product that best fits your needs.

The motor of your garage fan will keep the blades spinning and, if heavy-duty, will last for years on end without any issue. But, just how you plan to use your new garage fan will determine the type of motor that’s best for you.

Dual Ball Bearing Motors

The dual ball bearing motor is exactly what you need if you appreciate using your garage fan at different speed settings. In addition to functioning optimally at all speeds, the dual ball bearing motor can function well in just about any temperature range. That means you can expect this motor to thrive in the frigid winter temperatures and overwhelming heat of the summer. Keep in mind that these motors aren’t easy to find in regular garage fans.

Sleeve Bearing Motors

The sleeve bearing motor is the standard type of motor used to power household fans, including common garage fans. These fans make use of an oil system that keeps the fan lubricated and functioning smoothly. The downside is that the need for a lubrication system makes this type of fan less than ideal if you don’t plan to use your garage fan for extended periods of time or if you prefer a lower speed setting.

Tilt Features

Depending on the area of your garage that you intend to use your fan, you might appreciate the ability to tilt or even rotate your fan. A tilt feature will allow you to readjust the angle in which the fan is blowing and target specific areas of your garage. 

For example, you might have a garage fan on the floor near your workspace that you like to angle somewhat up in order to keep you cool when you’re working. You might also want to mount a fan on your wall and angle it down toward your workspace.

In terms of the tilt angle of garage fans, it all depends on the model you’re looking at. Some fans can actually tilt up to 180°, which allows for full customization of your air circulation.

Oscillation Features

Most garage fans are stationary, meaning they’ll only blow air in the direction that they’re facing. However, wall-mounted garage fans typically have oscillating capabilities, meaning the fan can rotate and blow air equally around your garage. Oscillating fans are great for keeping a consistent airflow and temperature in all areas of the garage. 

Noise Level

Noise level may or may not be a factor that you’re considering when buying your garage fan. If you’re using your garage as a workspace for power tools or construction jobs, the sound your fan is producing is probably the least of your concerns.

The noise level produced by fans is usually calculated into “sones,” which essentially compares the sound of the fan to a specific decibel level. The higher the speed setting, the more noise a fan tends to make. Here’s a look at specific sones levels and what that means in terms of noise.

  • <1.0: Normal breathing or leaves rustling
  • 1.0-2.0: Office conversations
  • 3.0-4.0: Television or radio
  • 5.0+: Traffic and vehicles

If you prefer your garage to be relatively quiet to help you focus or if you’re planning to work late into the night, you would probably want a sones rating of 4.0 or less. Otherwise, any sones level could suit your needs if noise isn’t a factor.

Location

The last thing you want to do is order a heavy-duty garage fan, only to realize that it doesn’t exactly fit into your garage’s open space. That’s exactly why you need to consider where you plan to put the fan in your garage.

If you have a ton of open space and truly need unmatched air circulation and low temperature, your best bet might be a hardcore blower fan. If you plan to use your garage fan on a workbench or in a secluded area of your garage, you don’t need anything hefty or large. A lightweight or even portable fan would be more than enough.

If floor space is definitely going to be an issue, you have two options: A ceiling fan or a wall-mounted fan. Both can provide very similar benefits, but a ceiling fan is definitely a little more complicated to install. A wall-mounted fan is probably your best choice when space is low.

When it comes to keeping your entire garage equally cool and dry, you should consider investing in a fan with an oscillating feature.

Timer Settings

When you typically use your garage or workspace at a specific time every day, it might make your whole life a little bit easier to have a garage fan that also has a timer setting. There are a few models out there that actually sport this unique feature.

Depending on the model you choose, you might be able to set the fan to automatically turn and off at specific times of the day or even run for a set period of time (i.e. Two hours). This can help you to save energy costs and avoid running your fan 24/7, which can absolutely contribute to the draining of the motor.

Though this is definitely not a feature you need in your garage fan, it can be quite convenient to have. This is the best-case scenario if you follow a consistent work schedule in your garage.

Speed Settings

The speed of a fan will determine just how well air circulates in your garage and the temperature reduction that ultimately occurs. Though a one-speed fan definitely helps with each of these things, it can only really do so much. That’s why most fans nowadays actually have multiple speed settings. 

With such a feature, you can personalize your garage’s temperature and air circulation. For example, you can lower the speed if your garage is getting too chilly or even seems windy. You can also boost the speed when your garage is starting to get too hot as the morning goes on.

Most multi-speed garage fans have three-speed settings, which gives you as much control as you could possibly need. However, don’t go into a purchase assuming you have complete control of temperature and speed.

Note: Boosting a fan’s speed setting will produce a much louder sound. If you’re going to the home improvement store to pick out a fan, test it at the highest speed setting to figure out just how loud it really might be.

Materials Used

A fan with plastic blades might be suitable for your living room or your bedroom, but it might be less than ideal when used in your garage. That’s not to say that plastic fans aren’t useful, but they’re just not as good as metal fans. There are quite a few reasons for that, most of which have to do with durability. 

Metal fans are ideal because they can better withstand environmental conditions and even blunt force trauma that might accidentally occur when sitting in your garage. With a metal fan, you don’t have to worry about accidentally knocking into and breaking it into pieces. What’s even better is that metal fans tend to circulate air much more efficiently.

Securing Your Fan Properly

All fans that sit on the floor need something to keep them stationary and gripped quite well. That means all standing fans should make use of small rubber grips on the feet. Not only does this keep your fan from knocking over easily, but it also keeps the metal feet of your fan from scraping up the floor in your garage.

When it comes to wall-mounted fans or ceiling fans, you need to make sure that you’re accurately installing each to prevent an accident of any type. Make it a point to review the user manual for your fan and avoid taking shortcuts to speed up installation.

Cleaning Methods

If you’re going to be investing in a heavy-duty garage fan, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to care for your fan and keep it clean. To do so, it would be a good idea to purchase a fan that’s easy to clean in the first place.

Metal fans are much easier to clean, but you need to make sure that you’re cleaning your metal fan properly to avoid rusting. Let’s briefly go over the steps associated with cleaning a fan.

The Cleaning Process

Most fans will have to be completely taken apart in order to get a full cleaning. Once taken apart, you can wipe down each individual piece with a gentle detergent or cleaner. If you’re unsure about taking your fan apart to clean it fully, you can work on doing quick cleans more frequently.

To quickly clean your fan, the first thing you’re going to do is dust the fan’s exterior. This can be done with a regular duster, though a vacuum with a dust attachment can suck up the dust and dirt without releasing it into the air or further into your fan. If you’re really looking to avoid taking your fan apart, you can use compressed air to get rid of the dust sitting in smaller areas.

Remember that it’s your job to keep your fan clean in order to keep it running smoothly and doing what it should. Failure to keep up with cleaning might mean replacing your garage fan more consistently.

Dealing With Excess Humidity

As much as your brand new fan will help with circulation and reduce moisture and humidity, it can only do so much if you live in a naturally hot and humid environment. Excess humidity can ruin workspace supplies or even cause mildew or mold to build-up.

If the humidity seems to be excessive, it might be a good idea to also invest in a dehumidifier. Though these tools tend to be rather pricey, they’ll pick up wherever your fan leaves off. This is definitely a must-have if you have sensitive supplies and materials stored in your garage.

Conclusion

Before you invest in a garage fan, there are a lot of things that you need to think about in your decision. That means you need to know exactly which features you’re looking for in a fan, how much space you have in your garage, and how durable of a fan you actually need. Once you perform this research, you can begin looking online for the best products to find one that checks all of your boxes.

There’s more to cooling your garage than just buying a fan and turning it on. For more on that, check out my article on How to Cool a Garage with a Fan the Right Way.

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