Walk down any street in New York City and you’ll spot dozens of window ACs. They’re as unsightly on the outside as they are indoors. I have three different brands in various rooms and all of them are hideous.
Enter the Windmill air conditioner, which is one of the most elegant and understated window air conditioners I’ve seen. Of course, an AC has to do more than look good; it has to work. For this Windmill Air Conditioner review, I found that it gets the cooling job done effectively and quietly, despite a relatively low BTU count.
Plus, it comes with an intuitive app and connects to Alexa and Google Voice Assistant, making it one of the best smart air conditioners in the market.
Windmill Air Conditioner review: Price and availability
The Windmill AC comes in two sizes. The original 8,300-BTU unit covers spaces up to 350 square feet and costs $415. The new 6,000-BTU model is made for spaces up to 250 square feet and costs $365.
That’s on a par with our favorite smart air conditioner, the LG Dual Inverter (9,000 BTU for $488), but pricier than the second choice, the Midea U Inverter (8,000 BTU for $359).
Windmill Air Conditioner: Installation
Installing the Windmill AC is a breeze — as long as you can lift 60 pounds. I could not, but fortunately, I was able to rope a burly friend into helping me. If you’re flying solo, the company offers premium installation service via TaskRabbit.
My 6,000-BTU unit came fully assembled, including the side panels. The box also included adhesive and non-adhesive foam insulation, scissors to cut it and screws.
If you live on an upper floor, you will likely want to install a support bracket (not included) as a safety measure. I’m on the ground floor and have window grilles, so this wasn’t an issue for me.
The window needs to be double- or single-hung with a minimum opening width of 22 inches and a minimum height of 13 inches.
The instructions are so clear about how to apply the foam and situated the unit that installation took us only about 20 minutes. That’s around the same amount of time it took my colleague Mike Prospero to install the Midea U Inverter.
Connecting to the Wi-Fi via the Windmill app, was also simple. The box even comes with a piece of paper with a QR code, which prompts you to download the app.
Windmill Air Conditioner: Design and remote
Let’s face it: Most window air conditioners are ugly. Their function is to cool your home, not provide decor.
Windmill wants to change that. Its AC is sleek and stylish, coming in a matte white with rounded corners and a minimalist perforated front panel. The Windmill is much more aesthetically pleasing than the boxy Kenmore model that previously occupied the spot.
Next to the display, which auto-dims after 60 seconds, are a series of small, unobtrusive buttons that control the power, temperature, Wi-Fi, fan speed (low, medium, high, auto) and mode (fan, cool, eco). When it’s time to clean the filter, an LED light will turn on as a reminder.
The antimicrobial activated carbon filter sits behind the front panel and can be washed. The company suggests replacing it every three months, depending on usage.
Unlike most window ACs, the Windmill emits air from the top, rather than the front. While this means you can’t blast cold air on your sweaty body, the upward flow is preferable in most other situations. The company says the 45-degree angle is better for room circulation (remember that hot air rises and cold air falls). And it’s certainly better if your AC is positioned next to your bed, so you don’t have cold air blowing directly on your face while you sleep.
The slim, matte-white, palm-sized remote has the same controls as the unit itself. I have a feeling it will get lost at some point. Fortunately, the Windmill can be controlled via app or Alexa and Google Assistant (more on that below).
Windmill Air Conditioner: Performance
I admit I was a little dubious about whether a 6,000-BTU air conditioner could really cool my 250-square foot living room. The Windmill has proven to be quite the workhorse, though.
Within minutes of turning it on, I felt a difference in temperature. I think that the upward airflow really does make for superior circulation. It required about 30 minutes to go down from 78 degrees to the set temperature of 70. The smaller size Windmill AC should be adequate for a bedroom or office (or if you live in an urban center, possibly your entire apartment).
The Windmill is also fairly quiet. Not quite a whisper level, but definitely much quieter than my old Kenmore. The technical specs say the noise registers at 48 decibels, which is somewhat higher than the Midea. For reference, that’s similar to the sound of a running refrigerator or a soft conversation. The company is still working on incorporating inverter technology, which should not only make its units even quieter but improve energy efficiency.
Speaking of environmental impact, Windmill touts its use of an eco-friendly refrigerant (R32) with 68 percent less global warming potential than what’s commonly used (R410a). The company also offsets the carbon emissions created by its products with the help of partner Pachama. They are waiting for an Energy Star rating, which is expected by late July.
Windmill Air Conditioner: App and smart home control
Windmill offers a mobile app for iOS and Android. I used the box’s included QR code to download the app to my iPhone. I turned on the unit’s Wi-Fi pairing mode and easily connected it to my app.
The app has the same controls as the remote. You can turn the AC on and off, raise and lower the temperature, adjust the fan speed and mode. A lightning bolt icon takes you to a Power & Energy tab, which displays the AC’s power usage while it’s running. Tap the three-dots icon at the top right for more details about the unit and additional settings, including night mode.
Initially, I couldn't find a scheduling function in the app, which seemed odd since smart air conditioners typically let you set up a custom schedule. However, after getting some assistance from the company, I found the Automations tab at the bottom of the main screen of the app, rather than where I had been looking for it (on the individual screen for the AC).
This makes sense, since you can create automations that control more than one Windmill AC. For instance, you could schedule all your Windmills to turn on at a specific temperature during your commute home. That way, you return to a cool home. Or you can select only bedroom units to auto-adjust at night, while everyone sleeps.
I found myself using the app more often than the remote, mostly because the remote sits next to my couch while I take my phone into other rooms and outside the house. If I forget to turn off the AC before I leave home, I can take care of it wherever I go.
The Windmill supports Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands, but the company is still working on Apple HomeKit and IFTTT compatibility. I don’t have an Echo or Nest, so I wasn’t able to test the voice functionality. Other reviews indicate it works smoothly.
Windmill Air Conditioner: Verdict
Function usually rules over form when it comes to window air conditioners, but the Windmill AC manages both well. It’s powerful enough to cool small rooms, while attractive enough to blend into your existing decor. When summer ends, I won’t be itching to take it out of the window or hide it with a cover.
Installation is easy, the app is handy and the quiet operation is a relief. No longer do I have to turn the volume on my TV way up so I can hear dialogue over the sound of a groaning air conditioner. Among the best smart air conditioners, you may also want to check out the Midea U air conditioner if you want a quieter, and less expensive model. But for its price, design and features, the Windmill is a great option for a window AC.