As for performance, the July Air Conditioner functions pretty ordinarily. It cooled my (rather large for New York) bedroom very quickly. And it was noticeably quieter than other AC units I’ve encountered—think “lively office ambiance” (if anyone can actually remember such a thing) as opposed to the “4-lane highway outside your window” that most traditional window units mimic.
The design isn’t perfect. Adjusting the mode and temperature is a bit wonky with the conditioner’s included remote, thanks to the fact that you can’t see the starting temp unless you’re standing over the unit. Saigol told me this decision was made with people with small bedrooms in mind, where a bright screen right next to your face might inhibit sleep. But if your bed isn’t right next to your unit, dialing in the temperature or mode without getting up to look out the readout is not currently possible.
The July is supposed to ship with support for an app that would fix this issue, but that app was unavailable at the time of testing. The app, in addition to letting you see the settings from your phone, would also allow you to turn on the unit before you return home, or to adjust the temperature with Alexa or Google Assistant. It should be said that these aren’t new advents in the aforementioned home cooling universe—Wi-Fi connectivity and smart features are widely available in new (non-venture-capital-backed) AC units.
Less conventional are the company’s environmental claims. July says it uses an “environmentally-friendly refrigerant” called R32 that produces a third less “harmful emissions than most units on the market today.” It also says that the unit uses 10 percent less energy. It’s not clear where these comparisons come from exactly, and it isn’t in my wheelhouse to test these claims, but they sound good. Also of note: the July does come with a decent 30-day trial period (something you definitely won’t get if you buy an AC from P.C. Richard & Son) and a limited one-year warranty.
After three weeks living with the July, a period marked by a Covid scare that prevented me from leaving my apartment, my trial period was up. Co-founder Erik Rauterkus arrived promptly on a Monday afternoon, unhooked the AC unit from my window, pulled the frame bracket out, slid the remote into his pocket and walked out of my apartment. As the week progressed, I hesitated to put my old monstrous LG unit into the open window. Why ruin the view? Everything was fine for a few days, until a heat wave hit. I found myself sweating through even the breeziest sheets, covered in bites from bugs entering through my open window. So I bought an AC bracket, found that it was incompatible with the weird windowsill of the converted brownstone I live in, and so my roommate and I clumsily drilled the unit into the sides of the sill. It was a pain.
My LG air conditioner has none of the curb appeal of the July AC unit—though if you’re the kind of person that would call it a legit eyesore, you might care too much—but it works perfectly, and I can read the temperature setting from across the room. At $330, it offers the same features as the July (energy saving modes, Wi-Fi capabilities) for a little bit more than the direct-to-consumer air conditioner’s currently discounted pre-order price. And unlike the July, if I wanted to buy a new one today, I could. (If you wanted to buy a July today, it’s not clear when you’ll actually get it—people who ordered when it was announced back in May are only starting to receive them now. The folks at July say you’ll get one in September.)
When the July does actually become available, it should be a solid choice in its price range, especially if looks and noise-level are big factors for you. Neither matter all that much to me when it comes to air conditioning, however. For me the resounding, undeniable win for the July is the breezy installation.