Today’s inside training / riding inside is a lot more complex than it used to be for me. Software, hardware, ERG modes, etc… if you are like me, then one of the last things on your mind when getting into indoor training is fans!
Recent changes to the amount of indoor training I was doing had me rethinking the cooling situation. After figuring out the bike, the right turbo trainer and all the other bits and bats, my attention became focused on temperature and really getting a great fan that assisted in my workouts.
Coming from a less windy place
Initially I had purchased a small fan (the one far right in above photo), emphasis on small, and size quite frankly because I didn’t want an imposing stand fan in my living space, so size was key. At a more recent point I had also come to the conclusion that the fan I had wasn’t enough and took the easy route and just bought another, same model in order to get some more airflow.
Noise and waking the family
Low noise has always been important , since I trained in the mornings while my wife was sleeping close by. Noise is still of importance regardless, as I believe one should be able to get good air flow with a balance of fan noise, the days of poorly designed stuff shouldn’t be tolerated with all the computer tools available to optimize the engineering.
Air speed and volume
My indoor riding set up is part of a larger room which basically led my attention to how the air moved and airspeed. Since the room was larger the circulation rate would be smaller per given fan, so it was important that in my area of training I could feel the affects of the air on my skin to cool me down, so air speed is important.
In this case I had always had directional fans, having something that would directly blow on me was not an issue. The stream is focused and off skin evaporation can take place, the trick is to find a fan that covers your body well. The “envelope of air”.
Obviously turning down the heat in the home can initially help, and one thing to note here is there is an initial temp difference between working out in a garage vs a living area. The testing and empirical perspective here is based from working at 69 degrees ( 20.5 Celsius ) so you might want to take into account the rate at which heat dissipates in your own environment. Regardless, when you start breaking a sweat, what is keeping you cool is the evaporation of sweat from your skin, thats what the air flow / fan helps with.
The fans up for review here are somewhat happenstance, a natural progression of trying to make my environment better and can lead you to choosing the right fan from the start.
FAN 1: HONEYWELL HT900 – $20
My original fan was a small Honeywell Fan about 11″ in diameter with three speeds. These fans are small, sit on the floor and easy to aim having a built in pivot with a few positional stops. This was relatively inexpensive at around $20 and picked up at Target. This was also the fan that I ended up purchasing two of, as one was not sufficient.
- Size: 9″ x 9″ and 12″ tall
- Noise: 41, 43, 47 db
- Air Speed: 2.7, 3.5 and 4.1 mph
- Electrical Power: 30W
In Use: The downside is the fan is comparatively not that powerful, the plus side of this fan is that it is very quiet, the noise of your bike and trainer will drown out the sound of this fan. At its most powerful setting the fan was only 46db, the other plus is that you can have two for ~$35 and you can aim them at different parts of the body. Because the output is fairly weak, you have to keep them very close to the bike (electrical outlets may be of consideration). I found two of these fans to be just ok on a medium intensity workout and hearing a laptop or tv was not a problemLink to the Honeywell HT900
FAN 2: VORNADO 460 – $50
The second fan was a 12″ Vornado fan with promise of higher air flow using Vortex air circulation (?) but still having the advantage of being a small size and directed easily. This has 3 speeds the same as the Honeywell. This was around $50.
- Size: 9″ x 7″ x 12″ tall
- Noise : 49, 52, 61 db
- Air Speed: ~3.5, 4.2 and ~7 mph
- Electrical Power: 36W
In use: the highest setting was the most notable setting, much greater airflow over the Honeywell but much louder. The unit measured over 60db at this setting which seemed too loud for its given output. For me this was just a smidge too loud to listen to a youtube video on my near by laptop while riding. The envelope of air on this fan was pretty good and certainly usable on the highest setting.Link to Vornado 460
FAN 3: LASKO U12104 – $56
The third fan was technically more of a blower, i.e. a cylindrical cage that rotates horizontally and pushes are out perpendicular to the orientation of the motor. This is more of a style which industrial fans or flood equipment use. In theory this provides a better noise to to air volume, as they can have a large blower cage that produces a lower noise when compared to an axial fan.
This unit is very similar to the Lasko U15617 (next fan), but its a smidge smaller in height and an inch smaller in width. Both use the same blower configuration and I dare say a very similar motor. The fan angle can be adjusted over large range, the nozzle rotates over 90 degrees. This unit is also has 3 speeds and 2 electrical sockets that, giving it extension cord functionality. Could be useful.
- Size: 12″ x 10″ footprint x 12″ tall
- Noise : 54, 58.5, 63 db
- Air Speed : 12.2, 13.5 and 14.5 mph
- Electrical Power: 120W
In Use: Generally these next fans are a big step up. With higher speed and volume of air, the speed of the air output of this unit is about the same as the larger U15167 but this one is slightly louder, the noise is higher frequency, not annoying in any way, just different. On setting 2 this unit measured at 58.5dB. The envelope of air is slightly smaller compared to the U15176 but this is very marginal and shouldn’t affect cycling. So if you are looking for a unit with a smaller footprint this is the way to go.Link to Lasko U12104
FAN 4: LASKO U15617 -$66
This unit is a little bit bigger than the prior fans. It is a little bit taller and wider, but in my mind still classes as small and sits on the floor. It also has 3 speeds and an adjustable angle air nozzle. This model also has a circuit breaker and two electrical outlets on the side of the unit.
- Size : 11″ x 15″ footprint and 15″ tall
- Noise : 53, 57, 59 db
- Air Speed : 12.2, 13.4 and 15.8 mph
- Electrical Power : 120W
In Use: Like the prior fan, this was a big step up. First off at the lowest setting the airflow was greater than both the Vornado and Honeywell.
The shape and area of the airflow is great for a cyclist as you can easily set it up to target your full upper body. The air does not reach down to your feet unless the fan is positioned further away. The unit is certainly powerful enough to do that.
Fan setting 2 is all I needed when using taking on an extended VO2 workout, Setting number 2 was also about the limit of listening to a youtube on my nearby laptop. At this setting it measured at approx. 57db, which makes sense when you also take into account bike noise.
A couple of other nice things about this style fan was that the angle of output is very adjustable to any position.
If I were to do this again, I wouldn’t have gone the least expensive route first. Low cost fans simply don’t make enough air to really assist you if you are serious about a effective training session. If you are training with moderate to high effort, then either of the Lasko units will more than satisfy you. If you want a slightly quieter but slightly larger size option go with the U15617. Fan setting 3 on the Lasko’s you probably won’t use, unless you are training in a very warm environment. So its good to have that option.
Understanding noise is important if you plan to watch movies or listen to youtube over speakers.You will find fans with 60db or less are the most enjoyable for your training, above 60db and it becomes difficult to make out spoken voice with ease. Likewise, size can be important, and the fans I tested here are pretty small and can be placed under a desk. This was more of a factor of having a training setup in a small space.
My choice is the Lasko U15617
Note: none of these fans have a remote control, its really not common place. There are some aftermarket controllers that can be used, i’m investigating this as we speak.
Side note : I haven’t tested this (since its a $250 fan), the Wahoo Headwind is designed specifically for cycling. It can control fan speed by linking to heart rate or moving speed. Cool features. Worth $250? um… dunno.
- Air speed was measured with an anemometer at 40″ from the fan grill. This was to represent a reasonable / usable distance to rider. My current training setup is 37″ from fan to bars, so this replicated a “skin feel” of air.
- Noise was measured on the iphone using a sound frequency app, Decibel X. measurements were averaged.
- Power consumption was takin from electrical ratings labels directly from the fans.
I’ve been using a simple 20 inch box fan, only $18.97 at The Home Depot, set to level 1, placed on a box directly behind me, works great in my garage.
Box fans can be a great garage option, they provide high airflow for the $. A few things to be aware of for a non garage setting, they are larger and you need to have the space! hence good for garage use 🙂 , depending on the fan they can be on the noisy side, running around 55 – 65db, they also need some creative thinking to angle and position as they don’t have those features built in to direct air, also the armature tends to be somewhat unbalanced due to the low price and can create a vibration, so if they are propped against something, you can get noise or rubbing.