I Tested A Really Ridiculously Good-Looking Air Conditioner

·8 min read

Window air conditioners are a necessary evil. No matter how heavy, leaky, noisy, energy-sapping, and eyesore-y, these units may be, they’re a summertime staple we simply cannot avoid. The hot-as-heck months of June, July, and August have long been ruled by these clunky cooling titans crowding our windowsills and wreaking havoc on our interior designs and monthly utility bills. But it seems as if that reign may be coming to an end because, lately, we’ve noticed a crop of what can only be described as really ridiculously good-looking air conditioners popping up across our social media feeds.

Call it another drop in the pond of 2022’s design-forward household utilities (ahem, eco-friendly and internet-famous cookware), but there’s been a sudden surge of brands — like Windmill and July — exclusively dedicated to making very attractive air conditioners. On top of a silhouette so unencumbered it borders on invisible, this recent class of what we’re calling “the status AC” matches its beauty with brains. They are designed to be more energy-efficient and eco-friendly than their prehistoric predecessors and come equipped with features that make them easier to install, faster cooling, and air-purifying. (More on this below with my personal review of how the gadgets pass real-life inspection inside hot city apartments.) For a longing look at the best window air conditioners we’ve laid eyes on, keep scrolling. You’ll find need-to-know details on the top four models along with first-hand feedback from the cool customers who actually own them (I am one of those cool customers). The dark days of shutting off thunderous ACs during Zoom meetings and hiding unsightly units behind curtains are behind you.

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The Windmill AC, $415 $395 (Back In Stock!)

The Hype: 4.8 out of 5 stars and 100 reviews

Right now, the Windmill AC is the talk of the town along with its main competitor, July AC. This unit hides in plain sight — its elegant and thoughtfully designed vents (located on the sides) blow air upwards for better, more quiet airflow; its auto-dimming LED lights won’t keep you up at night; its curved edges help the unit blend seamlessly into the background. Windmill also uses a “responsible eco-friendly refrigerant (R32) with 68% less global warming potential” for its units, and the brand partnered with tech company Pachama to offset inevitable carbon emissions. You can also control it from anywhere as long as you have your phone handy, so no more running up the electric bill when you forget to shut it off before leaving the house.

I was also lucky enough to receive an 8,300 BTU unit from Windmill Air and put it to the test in my ~350 sq. ft. living room (that’s consistently drenched in NYC summer heat). As a reviewer, I slightly flubbed on testing out the installation kit because…I didn’t install my Windmill AC. Instead, two men from TaskRabbit towed the unit up my four-floor walk-up and had it running in my living room within 15 minutes. Although I didn’t do the work myself, I do think their quick work attests to Windmill’s easy install claims.

After install, setting up The Windmill was a complete no-brainer — the remote has four simple buttons, Power, Mode, Temp, & Fan and the sleek digital display tells you the room’s current temperature, the mode you’re using, and whether it’s connected to wifi. This brings me to the best feature: The Windmill Air app. With a single *boop* to my phone, I can turn my AC on from anywhere in my apartment (or even before I get home) so I don’t walk into a humid swamp. I can put it on a schedule, connect it to Alexa or a Google Assistant, and just be in complete control of my AC whenever I want. 

In terms of function, I think it is a great addition to a small living room or anywhere in your space that has a social atmosphere. I say this because it does not measure up to the arctic blasts that roar from my clunkier, louder air conditioner in my bedroom — but, the Windmill blends seamlessly into my apartment and provides a nice source of cold air without interrupting my casual conversations with guests. 

So while it may not be the over-the-top cooling experience I sometimes crave, I still recommend it. Looking at the bigger picture, there’s still so much I love. This unit gracefully cools down my living room in the background, goes completely unnoticed by guests, and looks great while doing so. The app also assuages any fears of me losing the remote (which I did for my other unit). And, thanks to my tightly sealed-off window, I plan to not remove it for years if I don’t have to. Three cheers for the Windmill AC — true “beauty and brains” really does exist.

Shop Windmill

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LG 9,500 BTU DUAL Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Window Air Conditioner $449

The Hype: 4.2 out of 5 stars and 124 reviews.

The LG Dual Inverter Air Conditioner features Wi-Fi capability, 9,500 BTU, a washable filter, and an estimated cooling area of 450 Sq. Ft. While LG is not the trendiest of brands, what you lose in indie-ness, you gain in trustworthiness. LG is one of those appliance brands that you can never go wrong with, from fridges and washers to vacuums and, of course, air conditioners. Here, you get the best of both worlds: a pleasing-looking unit with all the reliability of an established brand.

Our Associate Deals Writer, Mercedes Viera, got an AC unit of their own to review, so I’ll let them weigh in more on how it looks — and works.

“While not as aesthetically pleasing as some of the other units on this list, this puppy can definitely cool down a room I honestly couldn’t be happier with this AC unit,” they explain. “My room is small small, with my queen-sized bed taking up most of the real estate and because that’s the most precious item in my life, this AC needed to cool down my room enough for me to want to snuggle underneath my very thick duvet. It does that and so much more. After a long day out in the hellscape that is summer in NYC, coming home to the cool oasis of my bedroom is a godsend. I have no idea how I managed before this!

“It’s very quick to cool down the room too when I’ve been gone for a while — we’re talking under 10 minutes if I put it at 65 degrees. While it’s Wi-Fi enabled and I could theoretically turn on the unit through an app, regardless of where I am, I haven’t needed to do that yet. If you’re not a fan of a pretty loud AC unit then this might not be your vibe, but if you’re like me and you love the white noise then this is absolute perfection. The only downside is the little light to clean the filter turns on after you have it on for a certain amount of hours, regardless of whether it actually needs cleaning or not. In my experience, since I got it in June, it’s turned on twice and I’ve cleaned both times, and both times, I’ve found there’s at least something to clean — nothing super dramatic.”

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July AC, $449 $399

The Hype: 4.9 out of 5 stars

July ACs look hip enough to be sold at Urban Outfitters but pack the icy punch of the typical clunky cooling machine you whip out every summer. They come in five different colorways and three premium materials, and you can purchase an air-purifying filter to do some extra cleansing. Some fancy features include but are not limited to: four cooling modes, three fan speeds, Alexa & Google Home compatibility, and automatic shut-off. July also partners with Carbonfund.org to, “…offset the carbon emissions for one year’s use of every July [the brand] sells.”

Shop July

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TOSOT 8,000 BTU Tranquility Window Air Conditioner, $359.99 $309.99

The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 45 reviews on Google

We think TOSOT, one of the least trendy brands on this list, deserves a little more recognition. TOSOT truly wants customers to “sleep like a baby,” with each unit’s sleek front panel and a sound level of 42 decibels — for context, light rainfall checks in at 50 dB while the average library remains at 40 dB. Although its nearly silent design is the star of the show, the Tranquility Window Air Conditioner also quickly cools down small spaces (8,000 BTUs), has adjustable vents for optimal airflow and smart temperature control, and can double as a humidifier.

Shop TOSOT

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