Tent fans are a cheap and widely used alternative to keep you cool when camping on a hot summer day. Because they’re lightweight and battery operated (often rechargeable ones), there’s no need to worry about power sources or buying expensive generators. They are not as powerful as a tent AC, but they do have some other features that make them very useful to bring on a camping trip. You can also check out some solar powered devices, in case you’re not happy with the battery life those I’m going to mention in this article.
The five camping fans that we are going to check today are:
- Image – tent ceiling fan with lantern
- Comlife – the largest battery operated fan
- Coleman Cool Zephyr Fan
- Anglink Clip-On Fan
- Coleman CPX6 Tent Fan
Before we dive in and check some detailed reviews, it will be a good idea to know what you should expect from a fan, how much you should pay and what are some of the essential features.
Key features of a fan that can operate inside a tent
The first and most important thing is the operation time. Most small ventilators that run on batteries will only have enough “juice” to operate for a couple of hours or maybe more for the ones with more than 4000mA lithium batteries. You need to consider this if you don’t have access to any power source. You need to find a solar charger to extend their runtime.
Secondly, you need to figure out the best way to fit the fan. A convenient solution will be a ceiling mount fan, this way you will achieve a better air circulation and reduce the risk of accidentally hitting it.
Last but not least, you should decide on the size of the blower – not that you have many options when it comes to this. The largest battery operated fan that I was able to find was 11 inches in diameter.
Can a fan cool a tent?
I hear this question very often, and many times people get this wrong. Electric fans were not invented to cool rooms, tents or any kind of closed spaces; they are not able to do this. Their only purpose is to create a wind chill effect.
Think about it, all the electricity that powers the air blower will turn into heat at some point, thus, making the device itself radiate heat. But then how do you feel cooler when the fan blows air towards you? The answer is straightforward, and it has to do with how fast you can evaporate the sweat. If the air circulates at high speeds (like the wind blowing), the sweat produced by our bodies (sweat is the way we eliminate heat) will evaporate quickly, thus giving you the nice chill effect.
How much should I pay for one?
Now that you know what their real purpose is, I’m sure you are thinking of spending a bit less than initially planned. A good deal, for a 10 inches fan, would be to pay no more than 25 dollars. Sadly, there very few fans that are bigger than 10 inches and are battery operated. Unfortunately, if you search for one on either Amazon or Walmart, you won’t find a price difference between a 4 inches fan and 8 inches one. The prices are around 20 dollars, no matter what size they are.
You might think that one small fan can’t hurt you but experts advise to take extra care with them. A plastic blade spinning at around 1000 RPM (Revolutions per Minute) can do some severe damage to your fingers if you’re not handling it carefully.
Always make sure the device has a safeguard no matter how small it is. If it doesn’t have one, check the products details to see if the blades are made from a soft foam that can’t cause injuries.
Bigger tent fans will usually run on a lithium-ion battery. If so, make sure the device is waterproof, and if it’s not, keep it away from any water (rain, condensation, etc.). Lithium will ignite if it gets in contact with water or even air sometimes.
Image – tent ceiling fan with lantern
It doesn’t take long to spot the features that made it the best seller outdoors fan on Amazon. It functions both as a fan and lantern, a 2 in 1 feature combined with the ceiling mounting to make it irresistible. And it’s only a couple of bucks.
With an operation time of about 30 hours(with lights off), powered by just two D batteries; it’s ideal for a weekend camping trip.
You can keep those LED lights on as much as you want, as they radiate little to no heat at all. The cooler isn’t too big, that’s the downside of it, and I really don’t think it would make any sense to fit it in another way than hanging it above you.
|Double function||Lights will dim when you turn on the fan|
|Relatively long operation time||Low airflow rate|
|Low price||Cheap plastic feel|
|Ceiling Hanging Kit|
Comlife Biggest 11 – the largest battery operated fan
On the look for a bigger cooler? This Comlife fan was the biggest one I could find that could run on batteries. It’s a desk fan, but the cordless features make it perfect to take on any outdoor adventure.
Spinning those 11 inches blades for a reasonable amount of time will require some powerful batteries. And the Comflife delivers on this; 4400mAh is more than enough to provide 4 hours of a cool breeze. I know, that’s not much compared with the smaller 4 inches devices, but at least you will be able to feel that cool air. And if 4 hours is not enough and you have a power bank with you, you can connect the fan to it via the USB port provided, giving you a few more hours of efficient operation.
Unfortunately, it’s a stand fan; I don’t think there is a safe way to hang it on the roof of the tent, which is a bit disappointing. But at least it has three speeds, and it can rotate for 360°.
|Big enough to achieve a good airflow||Short operation time|
|Rechargeable batteries||No roof fitting kit|
|USB port||USB charger only|
|Fair price||Poor build|
Coleman Cool Zephyr Fan
Although I like almost everything that Coleman ever made, this tent fan is a disappointment, a total bust. The idea is great, but the product lacks a lot of quality.
It’s been advertised as a portable fan that can run for up to 48h, but I don’t know how many people managed to get there. Why? Well, I read nearly half of the reviews on Amazon, and the most common issue is the motor burning out. Come on Coleman; it’s just a 6.5 inches device. How hard is it to find a good motor for it?
If you are lucky to get one that doesn’t break down, you’ll find that Coleman focused a lot on three selling points:
- Safety feature – The blades are made of soft foam to prevent accidental injuries
- Improved fitting features – At least they tried to make it compatible with any tent, and they included a magnetic band and a carabiner clip for an easy install.
- Lightning – Yep, people are looking to stay cool, and all they get is a lantern.
|Easy to fit in any tent||The motor burns out quickly|
|Safe to use||Cheap build|
|Good lightening||Twice as expensive as other similar fans|
|The breeze, if there is one, isn’t that strong|
|Batteries are not included|
Anglink Clip-On Fan
No big brand name means no disappointment. Coming at nearly the same price as the Coleman failure, the Anglink at least has a motor that will make it through its first camping trip.
It’s very quiet to run because it uses the brushless technology but that 2600mAh rechargeable battery will only give you 8h of operation at low speed. Yes, it does have a USB port, and you can run it directly through that IF you have access to power. Unfortunately, there’s no fast charging option, and it’s frustrating that you need to wait 4 hours for a full charge.
Coleman CPX6 Tent Fan
Coleman again, but will they deliver something right this time? And the answer is…NO. Still, a lot of focuses on the lighting and that’s it. It will clip to a tent’s ceiling, and that’s all it does.
The rechargeable cartridge, A/C adaptor cartridge, and the 4 D batteries are all sold separately, because, why not. At least they’ve changed the motor, and it will not break down after the first use.
I’m not going to bother adding pros and cons for this fans as this is yet another failure coming from one of the most appreciated manufacturers on the camping gear market.
I was writing this article hoping to praise Coleman for their products, but I guess that tent fans aren’t really their area of expertise. I suggest you pay as little as you can for these devices as you’ll most likely be frustrated no matter what your choice is.