When you want to stay cool but don’t have a convenient place to stash a fan, the best clip-on fans have a strong clip (whether its traditional, clamp-style, or a bendable tripod) to attach to just about anything, and provide strong airflow to beat the heat. Clip-on fans are typically powered by either a battery or power cord, and choosing between the two is all about your specific needs. Battery-operated fans are more portable since they don’t need an outlet, but you’ll want to look for ones with a rechargeable or long-lasting battery to get the most bang for your buck. Corded fans eliminate any concerns about battery life, but you’ll have to stay within your cord’s length of a wall or USB outlet, depending on the fan. And before you buy a corded clip-on fan, make sure the cord is long enough to reach from the outlet to where you plan to mount the device.
Of course, while power is important, it doesn’t do much good unless the fan provides a strong breeze. The easiest way to check this is to look at the volume of air it moves, typically measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CFM, the better the breeze. For small clip-on fans, you’ll likely see air flow ranging from 100 to around 300 CFM. When CFM isn’t listed, check other specs to get a rough idea of airflow. The speed of the blades, often measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), for example, can provide a helpful clue. Between fans of the same size, the one with the higher RPM usually has a higher CFM. Speaking of size, larger fans tend to move more air in a single turn than smaller ones. While clip-on fans should be compact, look to the larger end of portable, about 6 to 8 inches, if you want to maximize airflow. When you’re not sure about the CFM or RPM of a fan, regardless of size, it can help to look at user reviews to see whether users find it can move air well.
Effective fans should also offer different speed settings to control the amount of airflow, and adjustable heads so you can direct the breeze in your direction. Other convenient features include the option to use multiple power sources and fun extras like the ability to charge your phone.
1. A Powerful Clip-On Fan
With a CFM of 306, this little clip-on fan from Hurricane can move a lot of air for its size. The 6-inch fan has a sturdy clip that can mount on just about any surface up to 2 inches thick. The fan has high and low settings to modify airflow, and it can be tilted forward or backward to get the exact angle you need.
The fan is powered by a 5-foot cord that plugs into a wall outlet. That should be enough length that you’ll probably have no trouble mounting it wherever you need it, as long as you’re indoors and won’t need to move around too much. But be sure to double check the distance to the outlet from where you’re hoping to use the fan, just to make sure the cord is long enough.
If you like this fan but would prefer a wall-mounted, pedestal, or floor fan version, Hurricane also sells it in a number of different formats and sizes, though the clip-on version is only available with this 6-inch diameter.
According to one reviewer: “We purchase two of these for the bedrooms in our camper to help circulate the air. They have plenty of power and a small profile so they are at unobtrusive which is what we were going for. […] They are well-designed quiet and move a lot of air.”
2. A Sleek Clamp-On Fan
This stylish and powerful fan from Vornado has a sleeker aesthetic than most, with an innovative design that includes an easy-to-use clamp in place of a clip. The clamp can be widened up to 1.5 inches and comes with silicone pads that provide additional stability while preventing the clamp from marking your desk or other surfaces. The fan itself is built with a unique curved blade design and cylindrical frame designed to push out a strong, targeted stream of air. While the manufacturer doesn’t provide an exact CFM for this fan, the device has high speeds ranging from 1,715 to 2,951 RPM, depending on which of its three speed options it’s set to.
Beyond different speed options, the direction of airflow is also super adjustable. The fan head can move up and down, while the stand swivels left and right. The whole thing is powered by a wall outlet, but its 6-foot cord gives you a fair amount of length to work with. The clip-on fan comes in black or white, but it’s also available as a desktop fan, which is available in additional colors.
According to one reviewer: “This fan is perfect!!! The color matches my bathroom beautifully, and it’s just the right size. The levels are great and blow very cold. I even use it while I get hot blow drying my hair! (It’s always hot in South Florida where I live...) I would highly recommend this item for personal use on a desk, in a kitchen, on a vanity, in a workshop, etc.”
3. A Rechargeable Clip-On Fan With An 8-Inch Diameter
With 8-inch blades and a 9.8 inch diameter, the Koonie rechargeable portable fan is one of the larger clip-on fans you’ll find on Amazon. When you combine the size with the fan’s three standard speed settings and one energy-saving setting ranging from 1,350 to 2,150 RPM, it’s pretty clear that it should do a pretty effective job keeping you cool, despite the fact that there’s no CFM provided. The fan’s extra-large, heavy clip can fit any surface up to three inches wide and can even act as a stand if you want to set the thing down on a table. The fan itself rotates 360 degrees both vertically and horizontally, so you’ll have no trouble getting the exact angle you need to stay cool.
The fan is rechargeable, and it can run for up to 24 hours between charges. When it comes time to add some juice, the fan has both USB-C and micro-USB charging ports for extra versatility when it comes to how you charge it. It also comes with its own USB charging cable if you’d prefer to use it. The fan is compatible with 5V-2A fast charging as well, which means it can fully charge in 6 hours if you’d like. Choose from three different colors — black, gray with blue blades, or white.
According to one reviewer: “The thing is very well made. [...] It does last a long time and at about 7 ft away will put a nice force of air on you on the low setting. Almost silent at that setting and not much louder on high. The batteries do seem to last the time they say, and the clip is very strong, large, and rubber inside, not just rubber lined, it's rubber so that it holds on many surfaces.”
4. A Super Portable Fan That Can Charge Your Phone
The unique bendable tripod legs on this FRIZCOL portable fan offer almost unlimited mounting options. Stretch them out straight to stand the fan on a desk, wrap them around the handle of a stroller, curl them around the pole of your beach umbrella, or use them to hang the fan overhead in your tent.... No matter how you mount the fan, the legs make it a great pick if you’re looking for something that you can take with you and set up whenever and wherever you need. The bendable legs also allow you to get the perfect angle of airflow. The rechargeable battery will last anywhere from 8 to 55 hours between charges (depending on which of the three speed settings you use), so it can keep you cool for days without needing to plug in. When it’s time to charge, you can plug the fan into a USB port (or into a USB adaptor and wall outlet) for about 3 hours.
Even cooler: The fan has a USB port in the back that can charge your phone, tablet, or other device if you’re running out of juice and need a quick boost. This will drain the fan’s battery faster, of course, but it’s a handy perk to have on the go.
While the fan’s CFM isn’t provided, it has a strong powerful motor, which can rotate at a speed of up to 5,000 RPM for a minute. The fan has a 5.5-inch diameter, making it super compact, and comes in just one color: a bright turquoise blue.
According to one reviewer: “This little guy moves about as much air as is possible from one this size. Battery life is good and multi-positioning of the head is also handy. The articulating ‘legs’ let you stand, fasten or hang it almost anywhere. Took it camping and it was great to have a fan to move air around the tent wirelessly. Get one.”
5. A Clip-On Fan That Can Be Used Wired Or Battery-Operated
This handy little 6-inch clip-on fan from SkyGenius comes with a rechargeable AA battery and a USB charging cord. When you’re near an outlet (or anything that can charge with a USB port), go ahead and recharge the battery or power your fan via the USB cord like it’s a corded fan. When you’re outdoors or far from an outlet, bring an extra AA battery with you and just swap it out if the rechargeable one runs out of juice, then just recharge the original battery when you get home later — it can run for up to 6 hours between charges. Having the option to power the fan with batteries or a cable is definitely convenient if you’re not sure where you’ll end up using the fan. Just know that while you can adjust the fan’s speed between low and high (and any speed in between) when using batteries, it can only run at one speed while plugged in.
The fan also boasts a padded clip that opens to a maximum width of 2.5 inches and doubles as a stand. The 360-degree rotating fan head to give you a full range of angles. Control the fan speed gradually via a dial when using battery power so that you can get the exact amount of airflow you want. The manufacturer doesn’t provide measurements in CFM or RPM, but Amazon reviewers report that it “moves plenty of air” and “puts out a good breeze for the size.”
According to one reviewer: “This is a very powerful small fan! We use it on my toddler's stroller and car seat in the summer. It works great at circulating the air to her and helps keep her a little cooler. It does need to be kept away at a safe distance because little fingers can fit through. And it's easy to charge in the car [with a] USB port. If I'm traveling with one of our dogs, it works great at getting the AC air to the back of the car to them. I just hook it onto the divider. Wonderful for the summer heat! It's also very quiet. I highly recommend this fan!”
6. A Versatile, Compact Clip-On Fan
The HonHey handheld clip-on fan is an ultra-compact, ultra-portable fan that fits easily in a bag and can be used just about anywhere. The rechargeable 4.5-inch fan is mounted to a bendable neck that can wrap around poles or handles or even drape around your shoulders. That said, if you’d prefer, it also has a durable clip at its base that opens up to 3 inches wide to clamp onto any surface.
The fan’s bendable neck also gives you a full range of adjustability to get the angle you need, and the fan has three speeds so you can have full control over airflow. The device runs on a rechargeable battery for up to 7 hours. When it comes time to charge, you can use the included 5-foot USB charging cable, which you can also use while the fan runs.
According to one reviewer: “It's powerful for its size. It's also convenient to carry and fun to use! I carried it in my bag to an outdoor bar and those of us on the hot dance floor had fun passing it around. Then I used it during a HOT June/July camping trip. I hung it around my neck when I visited a friend's campsite.”