'It's so quiet I forget it's even on' – the fan our shopping editor can't stop raving about
The Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan is the brand's top-of-the-range fan. It aims to improve upon the brand's popular Duux Whisper Fan and Duux Whisper Flex Smart Fan by offering more power thanks to four extra speed settings, a little more reach to its oscillating powers, smart capabilities, and – perhaps most importantly – a cordless design that means you can do away with annoying cables and proximity to a power socket thanks to its rechargeable battery pack.
It also promises to live up to its name in delivering cool air with a barely audible 'whisper'. A welcome relief if you struggle with the headache-inducing drone of a noisy fan.
However, the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan is also a hefty investment, coming in at nearly twice the price of some of the best-in-class wired fans in Ideal Home's round-up of the best fans on the market. So is the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan worth the increase in price tag? We were eager to put it to the test to find out.
Our Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan review puts the cooling device through its paces, comparing it to its closest competitors to test its ease of assembly (yes, you will need to self-assemble this fan), ease of use, performance, noise levels, and of course, its cooling powers. Read on to find out if our review team decided Duux's claims for this fan's performance were bang on the money or all a lot of hot air...
Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan review: specifications
Speed settings: 30
Oscillation: 105⁰ vertical swing, 90⁰ horizontal swing, plus combined multi-directional oscillation
Air displacement: 820 m3/hr
Other functions: natural wind mode, night mode, goal temperature mode, Smart functionality when connected to WiFi
Decibel rating: 13-50 dB
Dimensions: H60/104 x W34 x D34cm
How we tested the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan
Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan: unboxing and assembly
The Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan arrives in a fairly large box – H37 x W57 x D27cm – but the sturdy plastic carry handle is a helpful addition, making it easier to transport the box into the house on arrival, and making it simpler to get in and out of storage if you choose to store the fan in its original packaging when it's not in use.
Open the box and the first thing you'll realise is that this fan requires some self-assembly.
All of the components come packaged in white drawstring bags with numbers printed on each one so you know which bits are which. It’s a nice touch and makes the fan feel premium from the outset. Albeit a tad overwhelming at first, when you realise there are eight sections to slot together.
That said, when you come to follow the assembly instructions to build the fan... then the bag numbers don’t actually seem to correlate with any of the labels in the instruction manual... which is a little confusing. However, the assembly instructions are fairly straightforward and easy to follow regardless, with good diagrams as well as text, and only a few slight omissions.
(One important point thing to note is that the battery for the remote control and the single screw used to secure the grill guards together are in very small sealy bags, so once removed from the drawstring bags you need to be very careful not to lose these components as you’ll need them later).
To assemble the fan, I first prised the two grill guards apart and removed the cardboard which is protecting the fan blades in transit.
The first assembly step is then to slot the rear grill plate onto the motor and secure it with the locking ring. Then add on the fan blades and secure with the plastic nut. Make sure to follow the direction of the arrows on the locking ring and plastic nut to tighten as they’re the opposite way around to most threads.
Next up you need to add on the front grill guard, making sure to align the arrow on the front panel with the marker on the base panel. It isn’t entirely obvious what the ‘marker’ is to start with, but I eventually identified two dots which I assumed must be the place. Once slotted in – a step that is a bit fiddly as there’s not much to hold onto whilst you get the front grill guard into position – you then twist the front grill guard anti-clockwise until it aligns with the left marker and is secured. There is then a very fiddly little screw you need to use to secure the two grill guards together. Thankfully Duux supply an allen key in the box, so no extra tools are required for this part.
Then its time to fit the fan to the base, this slots on easily as long as you make sure to align the larger of the two pins in the motor with the largest of the holes on the base plate.
Disassembling the fan in order to fit the extension tube was a trickier affair, to begin with, however very simple once I’d located the ‘locking mechanism’ which the instructions are a little vague at describing. This turns out to be under the base.
One thing I wasn't clear about from the online description of this fan is what's meant by the fact it's 'height adjustable'. I imagined you'd have full control over the height setting between the shortest 60cm and tallest 104cm settings with the ability to move the fan head up and down on a sliding scale, but this isn't the case.
The height adjustment comes down to the addition or subtraction of the 'extension tube', so there are only two height options – the extension-tube-less 60cm height, that's perfect for sitting on top of a desk, bedside table, or sideboard, and the 104cm height that you can create by adding the extension tube in to turn the fan into a freestanding pedestal.
The versatility to add or remove the extension tube is a nice touch – and helps to justify the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan's price tag a little as you're technically getting a desk and pedestal fan in one – although you will need to store the pole somewhere when it's not in use.
All in all, assembling the fan took me about 20 minutes. So I thoroughly recommend setting up the fan BEFORE you’re feeling hot and bothered by the heat!
Once assembled the build quality feels good. The fan is a bit heavy and awkward to move into position, although the cordless design means it's really great not to have its placement restricted by access to the nearest power socket or to be faffing around with extension leads to get the fan where you need it.
However, that does mean that before you can use the fan you need to fit the rechargeable battery pack. To do this you need to turn the fan upside down – which is a little heavy and awkward to do – open the battery compartment by sliding the locking switch to ‘unlock’, remove the lid, fit the battery, and then slot the battery cover back into place and push it down to relock the compartment.
Then you need to charge the battery before you can use the fan. So that means slotting the charging dock into the base, plugging the power adaptor into a power socket, and plugging the connector into the docking station that’s now under the base of the fan.
You'll also need to set up the fan's remote control. First, you need to slide out the battery compartment – you need to depress the button on the base to do this which isn’t mentioned in the instructions – and then slot in the battery aligning the positive polarity with the + symbol on the remote. The instructions don’t say which way up to put the battery in, so I hazarded a guess and slid the battery tray shut.
By this point, I’d been assembling the fan for nearly 40 minutes and to be honest, was a bit fed up with it. However, would I be rewarded with some lovely refreshing cool air? I had high hopes.
Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan: performance
Fan assembled and fully charged, it was now time to see what the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate could do.
I just had to turn the fan on by pressing the power button on the angled neck of the fan pedestal, although I also discovered that pressing the big black control button on the fan base achieved the same thing. The power button is designed to be inconspicuous with an embossed power symbol demarcating where to press – it's a nice unobtrusive design detail, but not ideal for anyone who is visually impaired.
There didn't seem to be instructions for operating the fan via this power button, although repeatedly tapping it seemed to increase the fan speed, and after struggling for a while to figure out how to turn the fan off at the base – something not covered in the instruction manual – I discovered a long press of the power button turned the fan off.
Thankfully there are a few more instructions for operating the black 'control ring' on the base of the fan. Similarly to the power button, pressing the black ‘control ring’ will turn the fan on, and a long press will turn it off.
Once turned on the black button becomes a digital display, and the aluminium ring that circles the control button can be swiveled clockwise or anti-clockwise to scroll through the fan's different modes and settings. A flashing icon indicates which mode or setting is currently selected, and you press the black button to confirm the selection. Rotating the aluminium ring again gives you control over the functionality within that setting; so if you select and confirm the fan speed setting, rotating the ring a second time will then allow you to scroll up and down through the speed settings. Pressing the button once more will confirm the speed setting.
To be honest, it's all quite hard work to get the hang of, and when operating the fan via the base control the 30 speed settings and multiple other adjustable functions the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan offers can quickly become more of a faff and annoyance than a benefit.
However, thankfully, the fan also comes with a remote control. And operation via the remote with its clear buttons is far simpler.
As well as toggling through the fan's (perhaps a little necessary) 30 speed settings, you can also turn on the fan's oscillating function so the airflow is wafted around the room rather than being directed at one spot.
The left-to-right oscillation can be adjusted through 30, 60, or 90 degrees, and the up and down oscillation has a choice of either 90 degrees (which takes the fan direction from straight forward to pointing at the ceiling) or 105 degrees which directs the fan very marginally (15 degrees apparently) further down towards the floor. That 15 degrees didn’t really feel worth creating two settings for, but perhaps there are uses for it that I haven’t yet encountered.
There’s also a timer function that lets you set a time duration between 1-12 hours after which the fan will automatically switch off; a night mode that automatically turns the LCD display off after 10 seconds for nighttime use; and a temperature function whereby the fan will measure the ambient room temperature against your desired setting and will automatically decrease its speed once the goal temperature is reached.
All in all it’s a lot of functionality – which is great for achieving the absolute perfect airflow – but, even with the help of the remote, the settings are quite fiddly to operate, with a lot of toggling up and down with the plus and minus symbols on the remote, or pressing and twisting of the dial on the base. The breadth of adjustments available can quickly start to feel like it's hindering the ease of use rather than being an advantage, but with a little practice, and patience, there is a wealth of adjustments on offer to cater to your exact preferences.
If you’re tech-savvy then you can also connect this fan to your WiFi, whereby it's compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa. So you can shout at the controls rather than angrily pressing buttons to make it do what you want.
However, niggles at the bloated controls aside, this fan has a lot of real plus points – not least the magnetic remote control holder on the fan stand that prevents it from getting lost!
My favourite feature by far is the addition of a ‘natural wind mode’ function. As an alternative to the ‘regular mode’ which delivers consistent airflow, the ‘natural wind mode’ does what it says in its title, delivering a much more natural feeling breeze thanks to the automatic variation of the airflow. If you’re sat directly in front of the fan then this 'natural breeze' feels much more pleasant on the skin than a steady flow of air.
The Flex Ultimate is one of only two fans we've tested to offer this functionality – the other being the EcoAir Kinetic Ultra Silent Air Circulation DC Fan – and best of all, unlike the EcoAir where the shift in fan speed needed to create the variable breeze is more noticeable as the fan volume level increases and decreases as it shifts back and forth between power settings, the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan manages to achieve this functionality virtually silently.
In fact, it's the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan's quiet operation that really puts it at the top of the pack compared to other fans. A lot of fans claim to be quiet, but the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan really lives up to its name, with the DC motor noise barely getting above a whisper on its lowest settings, and still proving the quietest fan we've tested on its most powerful settings.
As one of our reviewers said, 'It's the only fan I can get to sleep with; it's so quiet. If I wasn't able to feel how powerful it was, I'd forget it was even on'. High praise indeed considering the headache-inducing drone that a lot of fans produce whilst they're operating.
This brings us to the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan's other main plus point – on its highest settings it almost rivals the super powerful MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator for most powerful and most cooling fan. The MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator just pips it to the post in delivering an icier blast, but doesn't offer the natural wind mode, and isn't quite as quiet as the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan – especially on the lower settings. So if you value silence and a gentler flow of air, the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan offers a far more pleasant user experience, in our opinion.
Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan: verdict
So should you buy the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan? Well, this fan is an investment, coming in at nearly twice the price of the second most expensive fan we've reviewed, the EcoAir Kinetic Ultra Silent Air Circulation DC Fan, and over eight times more expensive than the much cheaper Honeywell Turbo Force Power Fan, so it really all depends on your budget and how much you value the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan's five main plus points.
First, and most important in our book, this is the quietest fan that we've tested. It's virtually silent on its lowest settings which makes it a brilliant fan to have running in the bedroom overnight, and even on its most powerful settings, with its 13-50 dB noise levels, it's the quietest fan we've found.
Secondly, thanks to the rechargeable battery pack, this fan can be operated cordlessly. Yes, regular recharging of the battery pack is a little annoying (although you can also leave the docking station inserted and keep the fan plugged into a wall socket if you prefer) but it's great to be able to place the fan anywhere you want when it’s fully charged without the tangle or trip hazard of cables or extension leads.
Thirdly, the 'natural wind' mode deserves a mention of its own. It may sound trivial, but if you're sat directly in front of a fan during a heatwave, then the subtle variation in the airflow that mimics a natural breeze is far less tiring to have cooling your skin than the constant blast of a non-variable airflow.
Fourth, its Smart home capabilities mean that if, and when, you lose the remote, you can still operate this fan remotely, which means you can control the airflow without climbing out of bed in the night, or getting up from the sofa.
Despite its powerful performance, this fan also offers better energy efficiency than cheaper models, such as the Honeywell Turbo Force Power Fan that retails at under £25 but uses 40W of power to run compared to the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan's 3-32W.
However, there are downsides. Namely the price; the fact that unlike other fans, such as the similarly powerful and ready-assembled MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator, this fan needs self-assembly; and unlike the MeacoFan 1056 Air Circulator which excels at simplicity of use, this Duux model really has a little too much functionality, and its awkward controls make it a faff to operate at times. That and the instruction manual is lacking.
However, if you prize peace and quiet, and ideally want peace, quiet, and cool air, then the Duux Whisper Flex Ultimate Fan really delivers if you have the budget for its whisper-quiet design.