For many of us lacking upper body strength, installing a window AC unit is righteous torture. There’s installing brackets, sealing your window, and if you’re in an apartment, doing all that while praying your noodle arms don’t give out and crush pedestrians below. That’s why Midea’s U-Shaped AC’s design actually looks kinda neat.
Basically, it sort of looks like it has a half-pipe in the middle—so instead of your window sill sitting on top of the AC unit, it goes all the way down. Based on promotional images, it kinda looks like the AC unit is floating in the middle of your window. You still have to install a bracket and sidearms, but you also... get to keep using your window. If you’re in a cramped apartment with a single-window in some living areas or bedrooms, that’s actually kind of godsend. I now have central AC but back when I did have window AC units, I sort of resigned myself to losing that particular window year-round. (I did not have the arm strength or confidence to uninstall that thing myself in the winter.)
Midea claims that the U-shape is also up to 9 times less noisy because the design blocks the sound of the compressor. It says the unit’s noise levels are just 42dB, which when you consider outside ambient noise is around 60-80dB, that’s impressive if true. Midea also claims that the unit’s Full DC Inverter translates to 35 per cent energy savings and says the U-shaped AC is the “first window AC to obtain the Energy Star Most Efficient 2020 certification.” As to how that translates on an energy bill, Midea claims you’d only end up spending $US58 ($100) extra a year. Which sounds too good to be true.
The big thing here, of course, is cost. Right now, this thing is a fully-funded Indiegogo campaign with over $US1.1 ($2) million from 2,867 backers. (The company says it’s in production and expects to ship in April and May.) But if you look at the cost for just one of these, it’s a whopping $US360 ($623) with a 28 per cent discount. Considering you can get a basic window AC for about $US150 ($259), that’s a lot to swallow—especially if you’re looking to have multiple units in your home. That said, it does come with wifi connectivity and is voice-assistant compatible. Connected ACs are more expensive—and easier to program—but you can still find some on sale for under $US300 ($519).
Is this a necessary appliance? Probably not. That said, the U-shape is a smart design that could make life easier for those with weak arms or limited mobility. Here’s to hoping more AC manufacturers take a cue going forward.