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What is a Box Fan?

By Shannon Kietzman
Updated May 16, 2024
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A box fan is a device used to circulate air in order to keep the air cool or to eliminate odors. It consists of rotating blades encased in a square covering. The covering has several open slots on both the front and the back in order to allow air to be drawn in from one side of the fan and to exit through the other.

Box fans are typically used in residential homes in order to help keep a room cool. Unlike central air conditioning, they can only keep one room cool, rather than the entire house. In addition, the entire room may not be maintained at a comfortable temperature if it is too large.

Many homeowners also choose to place a box fan in an open window, similar to an air conditioning unit. If the home owner places the fan in the window so the front faces outdoors, it will draw warm air out from inside the home. If the homeowner places the fan with the front facing inside, it with draw in air from outside. Although the outside air may be warm, a fan still typically creates a feeling of cold air because it forces the air to move and forms a breeze.

These devices may also be used in a home simply to help circulate the air and prevent it from becoming stagnant. Similarly, a box fan may be placed in a wet basement or next to a freshly mopped floor in order to aid in drying.

Unlike a pedestal fan or a tower fan, the box fan remains low to the ground because it is not elevated in any way. However, this can fail to provide the desired circulation since the fan is so low to the ground. Therefore, some people place the fan on a table on other piece of furniture in order to elevate the fan and provide better air circulation.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1001471 — On Apr 21, 2019

What are the little square holes on the sides of a box fan for?

By anon121948 — On Oct 26, 2010

I've got a box extractor fan that hasn't been cleaned in years, it's filthy as hell and still works perfectly quickly removing odors, smoke and ozone (as I recently treated house for flood damage).

It was a pretty cheap fan and is around 20 years old. Cleaning your fan may not solve all your problems.

By anon89466 — On Jun 10, 2010

The fan is clogged with dust. You need to clean it for it to operate properly.

By anon87926 — On Jun 02, 2010

Perhaps your blade inclination is not right.


By anon66852 — On Feb 22, 2010

lmfao when you plugged it in did you get an ID-10T error? lemme know when you figure that one out....

By anon13532 — On May 29, 2008

This is a weird question, but I have an oscillating fan that still works -- at least the blades still turn. But you can put your hand right in front of the fan and feel no air moving. I can't find a switch on the fan to reverse the direction of the blades, and I've contacted the fan company and they have no idea what is happening. It was an expensive fan but the warranty has expired. Is there any explanation for why turning fan blades aren't moving any air?

By anon1517 — On Jun 02, 2007

I'm guessing the easiest explanation for that is that you have the fan positioned against a wall, where it cannot pull air from behind and push it through.

By Keebz — On May 31, 2007

Why would a standing fan stop generating air though the blades continue to circulate?

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