People Are Preordering Windmill’s Smart A/C 7 Months in Advance, But Does It Live Up to the Hype?
- Value: 20/20
- Functionality: 18/20
- Quality/Ease of Use: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 20/20
- Cool-down Speed: 19/20
It’s hard to imagine that an air conditioning unit could be so popular that it’d have its own wait list, but within 24 hours of launching, Windmill had one 3,000 people strong. Four months later, the buzz surrounding the brand hasn’t subsided—if you order a unit today, you’ll receive it seven months from now, in May 2021. That may seem like a lifetime from now, especially in the never-ending saga that has been 2020, but getting an order in today means it arrives just ahead of summer (and right when you start to realize that oscillating fan isn’t cutting it anymore). With that in mind, when we had the opportunity to test one out, we jumped at it. Because, c’mon, who doesn’t want to understand the hype surrounding what could be deemed the Birkin bag of A/C units?!
We gave the air conditioner to a New York mom who was teaching a small pod of kids at home. As anyone who’s tried teaching distance learning or homeschooling can attest, it’s no easy feat—one that can be made 100 times worse when everybody’s hot and sweaty. For this family, the Windmill turned out to be a godsend, helping everyone keep their cool, even on the most scorching days of summer.
Windmill earned a lot of buzz early on for being wifi-connected and voice-enabled, so you could adjust the temperature with a simple command, or by using the Windmill app on your phone. But what really stood out to us was how quickly it could cool down a room. It’s recommended for use in rooms up to 350ish square feet, and in the basement where this one was installed, it took mere minutes to chill the space. That’s largely thanks to its top vents, which blow air up and out into the room, rather than all in one direction.
Another perk? “There’s no loud compressor noise when you turn it on and off,” our tester told us. It quietly runs in the background, which falls in line with the Windmill’s overall design: Every facet of the machine was conceived to blend in with its surroundings. It has a sleek, minimalist design, with dimming LED lights, so if you install it in your bedroom, the glare of the temperature display won’t keep you up at night.
In terms of energy efficiency, Windmill is estimated to cost $68 per year, based on the U.S. government's energy guide (which acknowledges that costs vary, depending on your local utility charges, and bases this price on running the machine for eight hours a day for three months). This puts it at the low end of similar models on the market, which range from $65 to $115 a year. At 11.9 for its combined energy efficiency ratio, it falls just short of the Energy Star criteria for a room air conditioner in its class (which is 12.0 or higher).
The one major downside, our tester found, was that she struggled to get the app to connect to the device. It seemed a bit glitchy in that regard, but otherwise, the air conditioner was so easy to use—and efficient—that she didn’t mind it. (On that note, the company said it's working on app updates to make it easier for users to connect.)
While Windmill units are sold out until mid-2021, the company is offering $60 off the machine, dropping the price tag from $395 to $335. And, since you won’t need it until then anyway, it could be the ideal holiday gift—or “yay, we survived 2020!” splurge that Future You needs.
Note: This story has been updated to include additional information about Windmill's energy efficiency.