There are numerous projects that require thermal management. For example, a custom built theater cabinet might need cooling. By installing an axial fan in the systems enclosure, you can easily control its temperature. This guide will help you find the appropriate fan for any project.


Step 1: Case Size


Determine the size of fan you want, based on the size of your projects enclosure and the amount of cooling needed. Larger fans deliver more airflow but may not fit in the enclosure. Some systems require two fans, one to suck cool air in and another to push the heated air out. Fans come in a range of standard sizes. They are stated in length x height x width. For example, a 120x120x38mm means the fan has a 120mm by 120mm square frame and is 38mm thick.

Step 2: Current and Voltage


Fans come in two currents, AC and DC. Each current has its own set of voltages. For more information, please read this guide on currents and voltages. If you are planning to power the fan by plugging it into an electric outlet in North America, you would want an AC 120V fan. Keep in mind that 120V is equivalent to voltages ranging from 100-125V i.e. AC 115V is the same as AC 120V.

Step 3: Connector Type


AC fans are available in two types of connectors, lead wires or terminals. Lead wires are two black wires and terminals are two metal prongs that stick out from the fans case. For more information, please read this guide on connectors. Generally, terminals are recommended over lead wires due to its versatility. You can attach a power plug cord to the terminals and easily plug the fan into an outlet. Or you can convert the terminals to wires by using a wire cord.

Step 4: Other Specifications (Not Required)


Most people are finished after Step 3. This is because once you have determined the size, voltage, and connectors; you have a fully functional fan that can be plugged into an outlet and start cooling. However, further customization is also possible. Fans can have different bearing systems, explained in detail on this bearing guide. Fans are also available in different speeds, explained in detail on this speed guide. There are other specifications that will generally not affect most users, more information can be found here.