I Tested A Really Ridiculously Good-Looking Air Conditioner

Photo: Alexandra Polk
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, wreaking havoc on our interior designs and our 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 2021'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; designed to be more energy-efficient and eco-friendly than its prehistoric predecessors, equipped with features that make it 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 us.
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The Windmill AC, $395 (Back In Stock!)

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 the 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.

The Hype: 4.8 out of 5 stars and 100 reviews

I was 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).

According to me (a Cool Peep): "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. So, although I didn't do the work myself, I do think their quick work attests to Windmill's easy install claims. 
The Windmill AC in Alexandra's NYC apartment window.
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. "
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July AC, $385

The first attractive summer status symbol air conditioner we ever laid eyes on, July, JUST restocked for the first time in months for everyone on its waitlist — just make sure to use this link for limited-time access. 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. When fully stocked, they come in six different colorways, 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."
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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, smart temperature control, and can double as a humidifier.
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The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 45 reviews on Google
Cool Peeps say: "5-star service and product. The air conditioners I purchased exceeded my expectations, particularly how quiet they are which was most important to me. The service was spectacular and I have no hesitation recommending TOSOT to anyone!"
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Kapsul, $799

The Kapsul AC unit goes beyond attractive and enters the realm of futuristic hi-tech home decor. If I saw this in someone's apartment, at first glance I probably would not know what it was — now, we know it as "the future of smart air". These units, as shown on-site, can be installed safely within minutes by just one person thanks to its ergonomic, easy-to-pick-up handles and slender 7-inch height. You can also easily control a Kapsul from your phone, receive stats on air humidity, and control multiple devices at once to efficiently cool larger spaces. Once you're done with it for the summer, unlike most units, you can easily pull it out of your window and pop it under the bed until next year.
The Hype: 4.5 out of 5 stars and 72 reviews
Cool Peeps say: "Easy to set up (luckily fit my window perfectly without the expanding side panels but do be careful to measure!), quiet, and extremely efficient. Directing the air up works great with my ceiling fan then moves it around. In the midst of a heatwave, it cooled the room down completely and fast; I only needed to run it an hour or two even when the temperature hit the mid-90s."
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