Window Fan vs. Box Fan (Pros & Cons) – The Definitive Guide

Ben Leonavicius
By Ben  • Updated:   October 6, 2023
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When looking to choose between a window fan and a box fan it is somewhat important to understand how they work and in which scenario they work best.

The fans actually work a little differently.

Let me explain.

Window fans and box fans work to keep you cool in different ways. Box fans are used in close proximity to the person in order to get a direct breeze from the fan.

The fresh breeze from the fan is what makes a person feel cooler. Window fans work a bit differently. Their purpose is to extract warm air from your room and push it outside, while concurrently bringing in cooler air from outside into your room.

Understanding those fundamental differences should make it easier to determine whether a window fan or a box fan is the better choice for you. With that said, let’s run through the pros and cons of each.

Window Fan vs. Box Fan Comparison

Window fan pros & cons

✅ Pros❌ Cons
Can be used in conjunction with other window fans. If you have 2 windows in your room you can use a number of window fans toCan bring in bad smells. If you have rubbish, or there is a bad smell outside around your window, window fans can potentially woft that bad smell into your house or room (depending on which way your fan is blowing).
Fans are reversible. Usually, the fans are reversible use these fans at any point of the day, you can pull cool air in, or push cool air out depending on the outside temperature and the temperature of your room.You might need a window screen. Obviously, with the window open there is potential for bugs to inject themselves into your interior surroundings. You may potentially want to get a window fan screen in order to keep the pests at bay if you are in an environment with many pests! To add to this, things like pollen and dust can also be brought in via window fans.
Very Efficient. Window fans are very efficient at cooling the air in your house/room.Criminals. We hope you are not in an area where you need to worry about criminals jumping in your window, but it might be a consideration given a window fan will leave your window open.
Use Electricity at night when it’s cheap. The idea is that when it is cooler at night, you can use your window fan to bring in that cool air and use that cool air to keep your house cooler during the day.Noise. You probably know already, having the window open lends your room more open to noises from outside. With no window to dampen the noise, this could be an issue if you live in the loud outdoor.

Box fan pros & cons

✅ Pros❌ Cons
Portable. Box fans are smallish and very portable so can easily be moved around when you are moving from room to room.When used in the window they don’t fit optimally. On the occasions that box fans are used in windows as window fans, they will not fit the space as well as window fans, leaving open space for bugs, dust, pollen etc to come in through the window and also affects the optimum cool/warm air ratio coming and going from the window.
More airflow. On average, box fans tend to have higher CFM. Given the fan has its airflow blow directly on or towards the person it creates a more instant cooling effect.There are better options for directly cooling people. If you are looking for a strong breeze to direct onto yourself or the room, then there are more powerful options than box fans. Tower fans, pedestal fans or floor fans are all much more powerful and provide much more breeze than box fans.
Can double up as a window fan. It is not uncommon for box fans to be used in the window as a window fan to push air outside, or pull cool air in.If used as a window fan it comes with the negatives of window fans
Can double up as an air filter & used as a small make-shift AC. It is not uncommon for a  box fan to also double up as an air filter. Sounds crazy, but some people place water and ice packs in front of their box fan in order for the fan to blow cold air through the room. 

Tips when using a Box Fan In A Window

The best way is to use 2 (or more) box fans, one that brings the air in and one that pushes the air back outside effectively creating a draft through your room.

You want to place the window fan pulling the air in from outside, on the coolest side of the house so you will be bringing in the cool air. The side of your house which is the warmest should have the air blowing out.

Is It Better to have a window fan blowing in or out?

If you have only one fan then you will want to have your fan blowing in if it is cooler outside, so at night to bring that cool fresh air in. If the air is warmer outside than in then you will want to blow the air out.

This article gives you some useful placement tips as does the Dept. of Energy and Quora. Also, if you are looking for the best box fan, check out our in-depth buyers’ guide to finding the best box fan.

Hey there! I am Benas, the founder and content editor at Home Caprice. Thanks for reading the article. I hope you were able to find what you were looking for. I and my team are here to simplify heating and cooling for everyone. Please have a look at the About page for more details about our website and feel free to check out our editorial process.