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Is A Camping Fan Worth It? Which Ones Are Best?

Is A Camping Fan Worth It? Which Ones Are Best?

We’ve put out a few posts about staying cool recently because we’ve had one heck of a hot summer here in North America. Staying cool in your RV is not only a comfort issue but also a health issue. We’ve dealt with topics related to RV air conditioning, but what about a camping fan or even a tent fan? Are fans worth having? Are they up to the task of keeping you cool?

In today’s post, we’re looking at the value of having a camping fan (yup – we’ve got one ourselves) and which ones are best based on effectiveness, features, and power consumption.

It’s heating up out there again, so let’s get right to it!

What Is a Camping Fan?

So, what exactly do we mean when we use the term “camping fan”? 

Well, of course, it’s a fan to take camping, but what sets a camping fan apart from any other type of cooling fan? 

Let’s take a look!

Battery-Powered Fans

Battery-operated fans are probably the most common type of fan used for camping. Tent fans are usually battery-powered, for example. They give tent campers a way to have some air circulation inside the tent. 

Battery-powered fans are also often used as personal fans. Many campers take a portable camping fan on a camping trip. This type of personal fan often has a built-in hook allowing a camper to hang the fan inside the camping tent, in a vehicle if you’re car camping, or in a truck, van, or RV to blow some air on them as they relax or sleep.

Battery life varies, as does the power of the airflow. So those are features one should keep in mind when reading specs and reviews of battery-powered fans.

Some battery-powered fans have a rechargeable battery. These are often charged by a USB connection. The power source may be an RV’s power system, a solar generator or solar panel with a USB outlet, or even a small power bank.

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12V Fans

12V fans can be powered by the 12V outlets in a car, van, or RV. They can also be powered by a solar generator with a 12V outlet and are often equipped with a clip, allowing them to be clipped onto something positioned near a bed, couch, or dinette. 

12V fans are useful for car or van camping or for RVing, but unless you have a small portable solar generator, they’re not the best choice for tent campers. 

120V Fans

These fans require 120V power which means they can be powered using an AC adapter wall outlet, (great if you’re plugged into shore power), by an inverter, by a solar generator, or an RV generator.

120V fans often have larger fan blades, multiple speed settings, and the ability to oscillate. Many floor fans are 120V.

We’ve actually been using a small 120V fan that we really love – the Vornado 460. We’ll feature it in the 120V fan section of our fan buying guide below.

What Are the Best Fans for Tent Camping?

If you’re a tent camper, you’ll likely want a battery-operated fan. These can be rechargeable or use replaceable batteries, but it’s important that you find the tent camping fan with the best air circulation possible, because battery-operated fans are not generally the strongest. 

You’ll also want to make sure the fan is capable of running for at least as long as you’re trying to sleep in the tent!

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular battery-operated fans for tent camping.

Coleman CPX Lighted Tent Fan With Stand

We’re including the Coleman CPX because it’s popular with tent campers for the combined features found in both a battery-operated fan and a camping light. 

The LED light has two settings – one that actually lights the tent for activities and another setting that allows it to serve as a soft night light.

Made of alloy steel, this fan weighs 3 ¼ pounds (more when you add the batteries!) and can attach to the ceiling of the tent with a provided clip and hook. It also has a stand that allows it to be set on a table or stool, though reviewers note that the stand is fairly unstable. 

The four fan blades of the Coleman CPX are soft and not dangerous to little fingers, but bear in mind that there’s no cage over the blades so they’re probably capable of entanglement of some sort. 

The fan operates with 4 D-cell batteries which are not included. 

Although this is a popular fan among tent campers, we should note that some reviews are lukewarm, noting that the 4 D-cell batteries will only last one night before requiring replacement, and the fan on the highest of its two speeds produces only a light breeze.

Coleman Lighted Tent Fan, Fan & Light Combo for Tents/Cars/RVs, Illuminates and Keeps You Cool, CPX 6 Compatible, 2 Light Modes & 2 Fan Speeds
  • Versatile Use: Ideal for camping, survival, power outages and more
  • User-Friendly: Features stand for stability and lightweight design for easy transport
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Treva 5-Inch and 10-Inch Desk Fans

Treva (formerly O2 Cool) offers two small, lightweight fans that move a surprising amount of air. 

The 5-inch Treva runs on 2 D-cell batteries and has two cooling speeds and a tilting design. Remember, though, that these fans are intended to sit on a surface rather than hanging from the tent ceiling. 

The 10-inch Treva is more powerful but doesn’t have the ability to tilt and requires 6 D-cell batteries to operate. It’s also capable of being powered with an AC adapter. But that’s not likely to do you much good in a tent unless you’re camping with a solar generator.

Both of these fans have literally tens of thousands of reviews on Amazon, so be sure to check them out for more opinions and details.

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Ryobi ONE+ 18V Hybrid Portable Fan With Battery & Charger

A more expensive (but higher-powered) option is this 6 ½-pound heavy-duty fan from Ryobi,  powered by an 18V Ryobi rechargeable lithium-ion battery OR with an AC adapter if you have a solar generator handy.

We should note that the battery that comes with this package is listed as Riobi’s 2 AH battery. This is estimated to give you about 6 hours running on low, but only 2.6 hours on high. 

You’d probably do well to purchase an additional battery or buy the fan only (as opposed to the package) and a stronger battery to go with it. Ryobi’s 6AH battery, for example, should give you somewhere around 18 to 20 hours of runtime on low speed and about 8 hours on high speed.

This fan gets very high marks from campers for producing a very strong breeze. The head of the fan rotates so that you can position it according to your needs, and the overall construction is well rated.

Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ Hybrid Portable Fan(P3320) with P163 Lithium-Ion Battery(2.00Ah) and Charger
  • Extension cord sold separately
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Ryobi P193 18 Volt 6.0 Ah ONE+ Lithium-Ion LITHIUM+ HP High Capacity Compact Battery
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What Are the Best 12V Fans for RV, Van, or Car Camping?

If you’re car, van, or RV camping, you should have no problem choosing a 12V fan. Here are a few of the most popular options:

Scirocco II by Caframo

This omnidirectional 12V/24V gimbal fan is popular with both RVers & boaters, though less so with car campers as it’s not really a portable fan. 

Scirocco cabin fans are known for drawing very little current while offering a good 360-degree directional airflow. These fans have three speed settings and four timer settings. They’re easy to install and can fold flat up against a wall when not in use.

The Scirocco II comes in black or white and weighs 2 pounds.

SEEKR Sirocco II™ Fan from by Caframo. 12V/24V Auto-Sensing DC, Omnidirectional Low-Power Draw Fan for Boats and RVs. Hardwire Installation Required. Made in Canada. White.
  • 185 CFM on high (314 m³/hr), Current draw on low 0.06A (24V) and 0.12A (12V), Current draw on high 0.21A (24V) and 0.35A (12V).
  • Unique gimbaled design allows complete 360° airflow with ultra quiet operation (54dB on high).

Schumacher 121 Oscillating Fan

This 12V clip-on fan can be placed anywhere in a car, van, or RV as long as the cord can reach a 12V outlet. 

This fan has two speeds and oscillates to keep the air circulating. It’s made of heavy-duty plastic and weighs in at just over two pounds. 

Reviewers include some long-haul truck drivers who are satisfied with the fan’s performance which is why we included it here as well as in our post on how to stay cool in an RV without air conditioning.

Schumacher 121 Oscillating Fan for Cars, Trucks, Buses, RVs, and Boats - 12V
  • COOLING POWER: Effective air circulation for cooling cars, trucks, buses, RVs, or boats; works with your vehicle outlet
  • QUIET OSCILLATION: Quiet, reliable air flow and oscillating motion for full-coverage cooling

Caframo Ultimate

This 12V fan from Caframo has two speed settings and a very low power draw making it great for cars, vans, trucks, and RVs. It’s also light, weighing in at just under 1 ½ pounds.

It has no cage but has finger-safe fan blades that reportedly produce very good airflow. It has an adjustable tilting head and can be easily installed via a suction cup (included) or used in conjunction with an optional clip.

Reviewers report the Caframo Ultimate to be efficient, quiet, and very effective at moving air.

Sale
Caframo Ultimate. 12V Lighter Plug Fan for Boats and Campers. Easy to Clean. White, 5.25" x 2.5" x 8.0"
  • 200 CFM on high (340 m³/hr), Current draw on high: 0.41A, Current draw on low: 0.28A.
  • Grill-free, whisper quiet with Shock-absorbing FingerSafe blades.

What Are the Best 120V AC Fans for Camping?

And finally, let’s take a look at a couple of 120V fans that can be run when you’re connected to shore power or if you have an inverter, generator, or solar generator.

Vornado 460 Small Whole Room Air Circulator Fan

Our #1 choice in this category is the Vornado 460 because we have one in our own RV, we use it all the time, and we love it!

The Vornado comes in several sizes – personal (160), small (460), medium (560), and large (660). The Vornado 660AE is another model that is Alexa compatible (voice controlled).

Our 460 has three speeds and uses Vornado’s Vortex air circulation to move air across an entire room, despite its small footprint. 

The Vornado 460 has multidirectional airflow and can move air a distance of up to 70 feet. It weighs 4 ¼ pounds, the grill is detachable for easy cleaning, and is available in black or white. This little powerhouse moves a LOT of air, and takes up every little space. And Vornado’s blade design makes oscillation unnecessary.

The top five picks for Best Fan by the NY Times Wirecutter (like Consumer Reports, subscription required) were ALL Vornado models of various sizes and styles. We concur — they’re awesome!

Oh – and if you don’t like your Vornado, they’ll replace it. For 5 years!

Sale
Vornado 460 Whole Room Air Circulator, Small Fan with 3 Speeds, Adjustable Tilt, Easy to Clean, Moves Air 70 Feet, Quiet Fan for Home, Office, Bedroom, Black
  • POWERFUL VORTEX ACTION — Utilizes Vornado's signature Vortex air circulation to more effectively move air throughout the entire room.
  • SIMPLE CONTROLS — The 3-speed manual control is easy to use and allows you to dial in your comfort.

Dreo Cruiser Pro Tower Fan

And finally, the Dreo Cruiser Pro is a quiet, bladeless tower fan with 12 modes and a 12-hour timer. It’s a floor fan and stands 40” tall. It has an LED ambient temperature display, touch control, and remote control.

This is a 90° oscillating cooling fan with a long wind curve that allows air to be distributed throughout a room. 

This fan weighs in at just under 7 ½ pounds and gets 4 and 5-star recommendations from 89% of its 13,500 Amazon reviewers.

Dreo Tower Fans for Bedroom, 90° Oscillating Fans for indoors, 4 Modes 5 Speeds Max 26ft/s, 12H Timer, LED Display with Touch, Remote Control, 40" Quiet Bladeless Standing Floor Fan for Home Office
  • Simple Controls: Easily customize your airflow with 5 different speeds, oscillation and 4 modes (Normal, Natural, Auto or Sleep) from the comfort of...
  • Powerful & Surrounding Cooling: With faster cooling breezes of up to 25.6 ft/s, this cooling fan delivers comfort all across the room. The 90°...

So, is a camping fan worth it? You bet it is! And there are many types and styles from which to choose, depending on your style of traveling and camping. 

Stay cool!

Geek Out with Us Every Week

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Jerry

Saturday 19th of August 2023

Any idea for a 12 volt low profile ceiling fan

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

Stay tuned, Jerry... we have an article about that very topic coming up in the next couple of weeks! 😉

sparky1

Saturday 19th of August 2023

@Jerry, i found one on e.bay 3 blade 12 volt DC w/ alligator clip, hangs up via hook.forgot price 20.oo?? richie

Mark

Saturday 27th of August 2022

I'll just use a low wattage use 110 V fan and use one of my small 400W Inverters. simple and much cheaper than the battery operated fans

Bill Schroeter

Friday 26th of August 2022

We bought two Dyson fan/heaters a few years back. They worked well for about two years but eventually filled with dust and stopped working. It is close to impossible to disassemble, and dealing with getting them fixed, especially on the road, not worth it. Both ended up in the trash. You do have to clean fans periodically, so one that can be taken apart easily may be better. Thanks Bill

Mark

Saturday 27th of August 2022

@Bill Schroeter, just use an air hose at a tire shop to blow all the dust out of them every so often,

TheRVgeeks

Friday 26th of August 2022

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Bill. Cleaning is an important consideration.

Stephen Lamb

Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

Thanks Gentlemen, we have the Ryobi 18V fan. I bring my 18v screwdriver/drill with me anyway incase I need it while on the road. I also bring the 18 volt Ryobi dust-buster. Plus this unit works on AC when at a plug in campsite. Enjoy your info blogs very much, thanks again ~ Steve

TheRVgeeks

Tuesday 23rd of August 2022

Sounds like you’re getting your money’s worth from the Ryobi products, Steve! ???? Always great when things can serve double-duty!

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