Design-forward DTC air conditioners are a breath of fresh (and cool) air

Not only are traditional air conditioning units difficult to install, they’re also just plain ugly, and consumers have been resigned to merely tolerating both factors for far too long. But fear not: as the summer heat swells, the following direct-to-consumer (DTC) AC startups are here to provide modern consumers with refreshingly-designed units that offer consumers a cool new tool—literally.


Windmill is a brand new DTC AC startup. The design-forward brand is debuting an AC unit that has rounded corners, a display that fades after 60 seconds (minimizing light pollution), a magnetic front panel that pops on and off to allow consumers to more easily change the filter, and smartphone compatibility so users can turn the unit on before they’re even home. What’s more, the unit itself is quieter than traditional AC units and directs air flow upward, a nice perk for those who are tired of being blasted at face-level by their window air conditioners. Windmill is officially launching limited quantities of its unit in August of 2020, and if you're interested you can submit your email address on Windmill's website for early access.


Fast Company described July, another new DTC AC entrant, as “the Warby Parker of air conditioners.” This label is pretty on-the-nose, for July offers an air conditioner that is designed around both the user experience of installing and using a window AC and a more modern, appealing aesthetic. July’s AC comes in two sizes—a small and a medium, retailing for $349 and $399, respectively—and three colors and textures—woven gray textured fabric, ash wood, and white plastic—so that consumers can choose how they want their AC to look much as they would with any other piece of furniture. Similarly to Windmill, those who are interested in pre-ordering a July AC can enter their email on July’s website for exclusive preorder access. (Pro-tip: those who preorder will save 25%.)


Kapsul, our third DTC AC startup, prides itself on offering consumers the “future of smart air” via a rather chic air conditioner that is designed to take up as little window space as possible. To wit, the Kapsul W5 stands at just seven inches tall and is half as noisy as a standard unit. Kapsul’s goal is to make installation and usage as simple as possible, achieved via a flexible window seal that more easily enables the recipient to install the unit, as well as smart control that gives users the ability to program the W5 through their phones by connecting the unit to their Google Home, Alexa, or Nest. The unit is currently sold out, but otherwise retails for $599.