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Forgetting about motor noise, are all household fans such as window fans and table top fans equally noisey? Is there a type of blade or grating that is quieter than others for the same amount of circulation?

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There are some interesting designs that Apple Computer has made related to asymmetrical blades, but I doubt that that technology is in house fans. –  Pigrew Jul 18 '13 at 13:14

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It's more about the blade speed than it is the shape. The blades in common fans are not highly engineered airfoils, so I don't think you'd find one with an especially quiet profile. Though from an engineering perspective, that is possible, I just don't think you can find it in portable household fans. This article describes sources of noise in fans http://www.comairrotron.com/acoustic-noise-causes-rating-systems-and-design-guidelines, and also lists how fans are rated for noise. Perhaps searching on those terms will point you to quieter options.

For a given amount of circulation, choose the largest diameter fan that is acceptable for your purpose, and run it at a lower speed. At lower speeds you should also find any vibration noise minimized, but you can still isolate it from its supports. Such as placing it on a soft rubber mat for a portable fan.

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