Review: NewAir Tower Cooling Fan (AF-310)

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Summer is finally here in Vancouver, the temperature now creeps up to about 25C+ almost every afternoon. Since it’s not too common for us to have centralized HVAC system; fans and air conditioners are something almost every household would have.

Out of curiosity, we discovered another type of fan, they are called Evaporative Cooler or Swamp Cooler. The idea is similar to putting a bucket of ice behind the fan, and the air comes out at the front will be cooler. Rather than me explaining the physics poorly, here’s the link for the explanation. Swamp coolers work best in areas with low humidity like a dessert, but in Vancouver, my place averages between 40-50% humidity. We bought the NewAir unit from Amazon during a Prime Day sale.

The AF-310 is about 35″ tall, it is slightly shorter than the Seville Classic fan that we love. There is a drawer type compartment for a water tank at the bottom, inside of it there are 2 hoses and a water pump. Unfortunately the drawer cannot be physically removed from the fan and I will have to be creative when I need to clean it. One of the biggest difference is the lack of physically oscillation in the AF-310. The vents has diffusers that can do 60 degrees of oscillation, not so wide compare to other fans. NewAir claims this has a 312 CFM, but I really find it very noisy at the highest speed and I prefer it at medium.

The AF-310 can be used as a regular fan too, the cooling function can be turned on by pressing the “Cool Air” button. What it does is pumping the water from the tank, through the hoses, and run water through a “curtain” that is made of mesh and fabric so the air that travel through the curtain would carry moisture to make air feels cooler. It even comes with a ice-pack if you want to lower the temperature more. The curtain is accessible from the service door at the back and it needs cleaning once a few weeks. While the idea is sound, but how good does it do? Let’s see with a thermometer test between the Seville Classic and the AF-310

On the right is the AF-310 and left is the Seville Classic. I run the fans for 10 minutes to warm up and settle the temperature down. At the vent, the AF-310 is 25.1C comparing the Seville Classic is 25.6C. While I don’t find the result very impressive, but dropping 0.5C with just room temperature water is not bad at all. The Seville Classic basically just blow air around the room. When I put my hands in front of both units, the air from the AF-310 feels much cooler, it feels like I am in front of an opened fridge. This experiments tells me that fan does not “cool” air and reduce temperature, it is just a device to move air around.

How about other functions? I tested the swing, timer, mode, speed and they all work as advertised. The various modes in my opinion is useless, it simply creates more noise as it alternative between low, medium and high speed. The high speed is very loud and I cannot sleep with it. The swing function activates the diffuser movements, and it creates a creaking noise and slight vibrations along the plastic at one direction; I am able to fix the noise by velcro strapping the 2 diffusers together to stop the vibrations.

We further test it at night time, and can admit we “feel” cooler air in our bedroom. Wife is happy with the performance so it will stay. I am able to increase the cooling performance by adding 2 ice pack and a tray of loose ice.

There are some issues:

  • Water pump can be noisy at times and it often doesn’t work immediately after turning on. It will throw a “no water” alarm frequently and I will have to let the fan work a while and it will eventually pump the water.
  • The drawer is not removable, I see screws at the bottom that I might be able to remove it for cleaning.
  • The fan can blow water mist (and make everything wet) if it is set at “high” when “cool air” is activated at the same time. This can be fixed by setting it at “low” then change to high after.
  • Various mode is useless.
  • High speed is annoyingly loud.
  • The included remote is only as good as an on/off switch. other functions is better off at the control panel.
  • Beep sound is quite loud.

For $100 during a sale, I think it certainly does it job to cool air without a high electric bill. If you need a second fan at home and willing to speed a little more, I think this is worth it. If you are thinking this as a poor-man’s air conditioner, then it will disappoint. Quality is also another concern, this is the replacement unit as the first one is extremely loud. Amazon is able to replace this immediately when I raised my concern.