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Review of Tornado Fan:
Pros and Cons of 12-Volt RoadPro® Unit


Professional driver Mike Simons has used a "Tornado Fan" and a metal fan -- both made by RoadPro® and both purchased in a truck stop -- in his truck.

On this page, he reviews the former, providing the pros and cons of using this unit.

Around August 2007, the air conditioning went out in the company truck (a Freightliner Columbia) that Mike drove for his trucking company.

Being as how it was the end of the summer, it was quite warm. After using the metal fan for some time, he ended up replacing it with another fan by RoadPro®: a "Tornado Fan."

He kept the unit in his truck through the time that Vicki began riding with him in 2009.

Unlike the metal fan, this unit was constructed mostly of hard plastic.

Tornado Fan in package on sale at a truck stop.




Mike lists the positive and negative aspects of this RoadPro® 12-volt fan that he bought as follows:



Pros

  • It had a dial-type switch to allow the user to set the speed of the blades. When "on" all the way, it really moved the air (as you would expect anything labeled "tornado" to do).
    Vicki shows the Tornado Fan's plug and switch. Notice the 45-degree angle of the plug and the dial switch.
  • It could be positioned to direct air where needed, even toward the top bunk.
  • It had a very strong clamp, which could be attached to the edge of a built-in cabinet in the sleeper area. This feature made it possible for the unit to be used while the truck was in motion.
    The Tornado Fan clamped on the edge of the cabinet. From this position, it could be angled to direct air in many directions in the cab.
  • It could be plugged directly into a 12-volt outlet. Many trucks manufactured today (at least many Freightliners) have a 12-volt outlet built into the cabinet where a small television can be placed.
    Mike plugs the Tornado Fan into the 12-volt outlet in the cabinet of his truck.
  • It was designed in a compact size.




Cons

  • It was extremely noisy. Vicki is sensitive to unnecessary noise and she says that the Tornado Fan was the noisiest fan for its size that she'd ever heard. The noise may have be en compounded by the fact that the space inside the truck is fairly small when compared to a room in your house. When Vicki rode with Mike and the truck was turned off for the night and the Tornado Fan was turned on, Vicki had to wear ear plugs in her ears just to sleep. Hearos ear plugs XtremeHearos ear plugs Xtreme
  • It was expensive when compared to some small 120-volt (household) fans. The cost of the unit shown in the photo (taken at a Pilot truckstop) is $24.99. We have seen them "on sale" in other truck stops for less. However, there are less expensive non-12-volt fans on the market.
  • It could be used only with a 12-volt power source, unlike a standard 120-volt household appliance, which can be plugged into either a standard electrical outlet or an inverter.
  • The plug had to be firmly placed in the 12-volt outlet or it could pop out. In using his product, Mike literally had to brace the plug under part of the built-in cabinetry to keep it from popping out of the outlet. For this reason, a driver who powers his/her unit from the outlet on the dash may experience difficulties in getting it to stay in place.
    To keep the Tornado Fan's plug 'plugged in' it had to be braced under the little lip on the cabinet.
  • Mike's unit caused electrical problems in his truck, about which he elaborates here...




Electrical Problems

With ongoing problems with Mike's truck's air conditioning at a time of the year when there was warm weather, he decided –- since the Tornado Fan had a clamp to hold it in place –- to use it while he was driving.

He did not immediately connect the use of the fan with this situation but he found that these gauges on his dashboard didn't work properly:

  • oil pressure gauge;
  • water temperature gauge;
  • volt gauge;
  • tachometer; and
  • speedometer.

In addition to these, the digital odometer did not record the miles he had traveled.

Mike was at a loss to know what was wrong! He took his truck to the company shop but to no avail. The fan was not plugged into the 12-volt outlet when the truck was in the shop, so the circumstances could not be traced to the fan's operation.

At least when Mike had his truck in the shop that time, the compressor on the air conditioner was replaced, allowing Mike to be able to use the A/C.

A little while later, he was parked at a shipper getting loaded and idled his truck with the air conditioner going. Before lying down in the sleeper, he plugged in the Tornado Fan for extra air circulation. After a few minutes, he realized that it was getting warm in the truck. He got up and also saw that the gauges were acting strangely again, such as he had seen before the compressor was replaced.

Because the air that the Tornado Fan was circulating was just warm air, Mike decided to turn it off and lie down again but allow the truck to keep idling. After a few minutes, the air conditioner started pumping out cold air again. He turned on the Tornado Fan again. Guess what happened a few minutes later? It got warm again!

That's when Mike put two and two together. He turned the fan off and unplugged it all together. A few minutes later, the air conditioner pumped out cold air.

A third time, Mike deliberately plugged in and turned on the Tornado Fan and closely watched his instrumentation. They went down. He turned it off and watched the instrumentation come back up. Then he tried it again and the same thing happened.

The Tornado Fan worked well when the truck was not on. We were parked at a truckstop in Milton, PA, in June when the temperature overnight was pretty mild. (Pennsylvania now has a no idling law for big trucks.) Mike turned off the truck, opened the sleeper berth vents and turned on the Tornado Fan. Though very noisy, it worked well all night.

Truck instrumentation in a Freightliner Columbia.

To this day, Mike does not know why the Tornado Fan he bought adversely affected his truck's instrumentation when the truck was on. (This photo shows all of the instrumentation working correctly).

Vicki asked Mike if plugging the fan into the 12-volt outlet on the dash had the same effect and he said that that outlet in that truck did not work, so we couldn't test it.

Furthermore, as all of Mike's other appliances are powered via the battery-connected inverter, Mike did not have any other 12-volt appliances to test in that outlet.

It is possible that there was a problem with that truck's wiring, or that the power drawn by the Tornado Fan caused a short or trip in the electrical system. However, it is a moot point for us because using the unit when the truck was on caused problems.



Bent Plug Design

Another feature that some drivers may consider to be a "pro" that other drivers may consider to be a "con" is the fact that the plug of this unit was designed with a 45-degree angle. This feature may make grasping the switch to change the fan speed more convenient.



Conclusion

As is commonly the case with other 12-volt products we've reviewed, the performance of the Tornado Fan left a lot to be desired in our opinion. Mike modified for Vicki the familiar phrase "you get what you pay for" by saying, "With 12-volt products, you don't get what you pay for."

Other drivers (and other users of this 12-volt appliance) may have had a different experience from ours. However, we recommend that if you want to use a fan in your truck and you have an inverter, just use a standard household fan and skip the RoadPro® Tornado Fan.






truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: Every consumer must determine for himself or herself if any product or service is worth the cost. One measure of the value of a product is the warranty. Just like the metal fan, the RoadPro® Tornado Fan that Mike bought had only a 90-day limited warranty. Most household appliances have at least a one-year warranty. Let the buyer beware!

If you are concerned about the cost of the type of inverter that you connect directly to your truck's batteries, remember that you can buy the type that plugs directly into your cigarette lighter. From this, you can use appliances that draw no more power than it can provide. Consider saving yourself the cost of the cheaply made but expensive to buy RoadPro® Tornado Fan and just get a household type fan and inverter.

Did you know that you as a professional truck driver can write a review -- like the one on or linked from this page -- to help other truckers in the worldwide trucking community? You can even earn money in so doing.








Return from Review of Tornado Fan: Pros and Cons of 12-Volt RoadPro® Unit to our Product Reviews page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.







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