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Not Ugly Fans & AC Units To Buy Now So You Don’t Melt Later

When I first moved into my apartment, I thought I had gotten a total bargain. 1100 square feet? A bedroom and a dining room? A private garage? A prime location? BOXES CHECKED. 

I thought the place was probably haunted, or infested with bugs, or super loud, or maybe it just had terrible neighbors — and it turns out that honestly, any of those would be preferable because the reality is this: RENT IS VERY CHEAP WHEN YOU LIVE ON THE SURFACE OF THE SUN. 

It’s officially summer in LA and my apartment is currently oscillating between a downright chilly 80 degrees (around 4 AM, the coldest time of day) and a balmy 91 degrees, which, as it turns out, is super not fun when you’re kinda legally obligated to be home ALL THE TIME. 

I know that it’s starting to heat up slowly in the rest of the country but guys, PLEASE learn from my mistake: the time to install your summer fans or AC units is NOW and not when it’s already sweltering outside. You know what’s not fun? Carrying a 60-pound box upstairs into an apartment that is somehow hotter than the outdoors and then trying to figure out how to install your first-ever window unit while you’re crying and sweaty. AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS. 

And plus, shipping can be dicey right now, so if you think you’re going to be home and it’s going to get hot, this is something that you really should consider now rather than later. 

ANYWAY, I’ve been researching for the last couple weeks and I wanted to share some of the not ugly ceiling fans, portable fans, portable A/C units, and window A/C units that I’ve come across. Every single one that I linked up is also highly rated performance-wise (because you know, not melting is in my own self-interest) and I promise that this is as aesthetically appealing as it’s going to get. I also don’t want to brag but I did find THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WINDOW UNIT (I know, that doesn’t seem possible) so STICK AROUND. 

Okay. We’re getting started with ceiling fans because I’ve shown you my hideous monstrosity and maybe you can help me make a decision…

Ceiling Fans

The name of the game here is pretty simple: most of the time, you just want this to blend in with your ceiling. There are a few use cases for a more statement fan, though, and you can see one in action in this old-world Spanish bedroom reveal.

1. Flute LED Ceiling Fan | 2. Zonix LED Ceiling Fan | 3. Blade Flush Mount Ceiling Fan | 4. Spitfire LED Ceiling Fan | 5. Minka Aire Roto Distressed Koa Ceiling Fan | 6. Haiku C 3 Blade Smart Ceiling Fan | 7. Copper Grove Mills Modern White LED Ceiling Fan | 8. Peregrine Industrial Ceiling Fan | 9. Zonix 52″ LED Ceiling Fan

That said, I’m very into the all-black options (they read more like a cool, modern art installation and less like “I just need a utilitarian thing to circulate air in my house”). I also think these all-wood pieces could really warm up a space (aesthetically, not literally).

As a side note: almost all of these are available in a variety of finishes and with light/no light options. So if you see a shape you like, they probably offer the same fan in whatever color and with whatever light configuration you’re searching for. (If not, Google the brand and it will probably come up in a separate listing.)

Portable Fans

PORTABLE FANS, BABY. Oh boy. There is nothing wrong with the standard-issue oscillating floor fan (I have one in my kitchen!) but if you’re looking for something a little more design-y and high tech, a tower-like #2, #6 or #8 will be your best bet.

1. Stadler Form Otto Fan | 2. Lasko 2510 Oscillating Tower Fan | 3. VFAN Mini Classic Personal Vintage Circulator | 4. Dyson Pure Hot+Cool Air Purifier | 5. Arden Pedestal Fan | 6. Peter Tower Fan | 7. Vfan Vintage Table Top Fan | 8. Bladeless Tower Fan Oscillating 9 Speed | 9. Table Fan

If you have a larger, open-concept space, something smaller that you can easily bring with you from room to room is ideal. #3 and #9 are cute and portable.

Closing this section out with a personal co-sign on this Dyson. I actually bought this exact one Black Friday about 4 years ago and it’s definitely an investment, but it does double duty as a heater in the winter. (Cause yes, my incredibly hot apartment also gets incredibly cold in the winter. Love those 1930s single-pane windows!)

Portable AC Units

I’m going to level with you: AC units are the category where we sort of start getting into “passable” territory. No one is ever going to walk into your living room and look at your portable AC unit and be like, “OH MY GOSH, WHAT A WORK OF ART!” It’s not like, a Frame TV.

1. Frigidaire Gallery 550-sq ft Portable Air Conditioner | 2. LG 115V Dual Inverter Technology Portable Air Conditioner | 3. Frigidaire 8,000 BTU Portable Room Air Conditioner | 4. hOmeLabs 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner | 5. MN Series 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner | 6. Whynter 14,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner | 7. Amana 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner | 8. Hisense 400-sq ft 115-Volt White Portable Air Conditioner | 9. LG 500-sq ft 115-Volt Black Portable Air Conditioner

BUUUUT, these are as good as it gets — they have the highest ratings and the least amount of visual clutter (on the front end, at least). They’re a little more “this looks like a friendly robot” and a little less “why is there a 1980s copier obscuring the view from my window?”

It’s important to keep in mind that these all need to be vented — so you still need to keep them near a window, and a lot of the time they come with a BIG OL’ gray tube (the big-ness and gray-ness varies depending on the strength), but if you find one that fits the dimensions of your space, it can be fairly easy to mask. When it comes to cooling-down power, though, these can’t be beat.

This is the route you have to take if you have horizontal sliding windows. A few years ago my mom had surgery. When her surgeon came out to tell me that she was fine (and that he had been able to pull off a less invasive procedure than anticipated), I was 100% sure that he was the most handsome man in the world. A future google search for his photo proved otherwise. ANYWAY, we learn to love the looks of the things that are saving our lives. Case in point: portable window units.

Window AC Units

First: I TOLD YOU I HAD FOUND A BEAUTIFUL WINDOW UNIT AND I DELIVERED, DIDN’T I? These are made by a company called July and they’re currently only taking pre-orders…but you know I signed up for that list. This ash front kind of looks like it could blend in at the Mountain House, which is REALLY SAYING SOMETHING.

1. Frigidaire Cool Connect | 2. The Small | 3. Soleus Air® Exclusive 6,000 BTU ENERGY STAR® Saddle Air Conditioner

#3 isn’t actually stunning, but GUYS, you can install it without worrying about it falling out the window (or about the weight of your AC somehow cracking your window, which is my new current fear — window unit owners will understand). Anyway — NO TOOLS. Nothing to screw into your window sill! If I had to buy one today, I think this would be my personal pick. I’d install it, get to know how hard-working she was and then I’d learn to love her, like a modern-day She’s All That.

But when it comes to overall looks, availability, and functionality: this Frigidaire one is the current winner. If you need an A/C unit that blends in and you need it right now, this is the best option. I know, because I’ve spent about 14 hours looking at window units, and truly — these are the only 4 worth recommending.

ALRIGHT. THAT’S IT. Please chime in, because as I wrote last Monday, I am very lonely and would be really excited to learn about your HVAC situations. I’d also like to see any links to fans/ACs that you’re eyeballing personally, or, you can tell me what it’s like to live in a place that doesn’t feel like a hot car from May through October. (And maybe I can live vicariously through you.) LET’S CHAT, okay???

Opener Image Credit: Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Old World Meets Modern; The Master Bedroom

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4 years ago

Not about fans, and I don’t live in a hot country, but do you have window coverings that you can use to cover the windows during the day when the sun shines through them and heats up your room? If you do, then closing the blinds / curtains / shutters will make a big difference.
The best solution I think is having exterior shutters that shut out the light, while you have the windows open to allow in air. You get this in a lot of the hotter areas of Europe and it makes a huge difference.

4 years ago

Get those curtain clips that are like clothes pins and mess around clipping up anything fabric (sheets, quilt, etc). It’s a bit boho, but it will cool your space plus if you experiment you’ll probably find what colors you are liking/hating and at the cost of a curtain rod, clips, and a few patchable holes.

4 years ago

Yep, this. My last house had a backyard that just fried all day, but buying blackout curtains and keeping them closed made a huge difference to how hot it got inside.

Sure, they might not have been the most aesthetic things, but it’s not like I was home to look at them all day, and when they’re pulled at night you’re asleep.

I’m just about to move into a new condo though, and I am absolutely trying to track down that Soleus air unit.

Sarah A
4 years ago

Solar shades. not the thrifty solution, but we still can see the outside and keeps things much cooler.

4 years ago

Yeah you’re right that exterior shutters are the best option, and they are almost nonexistent in the US. Other than the fake, immovable plastic ones that builders use to make a house’s walls look less blank.

Designing a building for the local climate has been the out-of-the-box approach for a while now, probably since the invention of the air conditioner.

4 years ago

Never even realized shutters could be used for that – many of the US houses that have them are in coastal areas and they have them for hurricane protection (you shut them so that flying debris doesn’t break your windows). That makes sense though, and explains what they were used for on southern plantations in the pre-AC days – we literally call them plantation shutters in a lot of cases!

4 years ago

Lived in a hot country. I think the first thing that you need to do is to make sure that there passage for air circulations on opposing sides of the room. E.g., open windows/door on opposing walls. Add fan to blow onto one side, and follow the wind movements. Also keep the ceiling fan on.
Finally, if possible, add awning\curtain or somthing similar. Anything to make no direct sunlight towards you interior. Hot floor=hot room.
It might not be a lot but it actually helps. Especially if you have the air outside is cooler, you have hopes.

4 years ago

yes! thanks for the ideas. You read my mind with this article. We are having the same problems.

4 years ago

We bought a Haiku fan from Big Ass Fans and are very happy with it. It’s quiet, has many settings, and you can control it with your phone. It also looks nice and is streamlined (we have lowish ceiling and have it with the dimmable light).

Julie P
4 years ago
Reply to  Miriam

I have the Haiku too. AMAZING AND POWERFUL. Looks fine with a typical 8 ft ceiling.

I also strongly recommend UV removing window film. It really helps keep the interior cool!!!

4 years ago

Hey EHD team – I don’t like to ever leave points of criticism in a public space, but just wanted to mention something I’ve noticed recently. As I’ve been quarantined, I’m using your blog a TON lately as a resource for updating some rooms in my house. The categories you created with the new website make so much sense for easy searching in theory, but it doesn’t seem like posts are being tagged correctly for the categories to actually be useful. For example, I go to Shop > Shopping Guides but the 2 super shopping useful posts that I reference often (the Complete EHD Online Resource Shopping List and and your Favorite Household Basics) are not showing up in that category. I go to Rooms > Living Rooms for inspiration and Sara’s living room (which I love and have been referencing for inspiration on mixing wood finishes) isn’t in that category. Even today’s post that I’m writing this comment on seems like it should be in the Shopping Guide category, but it’s not. More often than not, I find myself simply googling “emily henderson X” to find whatever topic I remember you writing about that I can’t find for myself… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  Laura

I had the same problem the other day–I was looking for the Complete EHD Online Resource Shopping List and couldn’t find it in the “Shopping Guide” category. I ended up just going through all the recent posts to find it, which took awhile but was worth it because that list is clutch. I also read the blog every day and agree that in principle, the new categories are a good idea.

4 years ago

Re attractive ceiling fans: After searching for months and looking at just about EVERY ceiling fan on the internet, I bought two 52″ Hugh ceiling fans (made by Fanimation); white for the bedroom and dark bronze (almost black) for the living room. I love them both. The Hugh is beautiful, sleek, low-profile and quiet. This fan is a style chameleon: it looks right at home in my 112-year-old house and would also look lovely in a more modern home. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I enjoy lying in bed admiring the look of my ceiling fan. Weird, right?

4 years ago

You have no idea how much this post means to me! I’ve been telling my husband we need to update the fans in our house for a year. We have your EXACT “before” fan and after seeing this post he’s been shamed into action. You are my hero!

4 years ago

I used to have the #1 Frigidaire window air conditioner in my old apartment. I loved being able to use wifi to turn it on before I got home. (Back when we used to be able to leave home.) But I would have been all over that saddle design one. I hated losing half the view / light. But mostly I hated not being able to open the window at all while the AC was installed. I also have the large Vornado fan on the pedestal stand. It is amazing.

4 years ago

I have to admit I love having central AC in my house. I grew up in a house from the 1880s so it was all window AC units. Then when I was in law school, I had student housing in an old apartment building which had windows that no AC unit could fit, I tried a portable unit but that didn’t fit in the window either. Then in an apartment with my boyfriend/now husband we had a ground level apartment and so we never left the window AC in the window. Every morning when we left for work we took the AC out of the window and then put it back in when we got home. We got really good at quickly removing and replacing the AC unit every day. Our first house only had central AC in half the house. When a prior owner added an extension they decided to cheap out and not extend the ducts (which they totally could have), and just put wall units in. The house was never a consistent temperature. New house finally has good AC! It was like the number 2 thing on my requirements for house!

4 years ago

I don’t have anything to say about fans or AC window units. I have central air. And I live in Ohio, where it currently is 50 degrees. There will be a day in my near future where I will have the heat and the AC going on the same day.

I just wanted to say hi, and thanks for making a post about fans/ac so entertaining. 🙂

Hopefully the end of being held hostage in our homes will end safely and soon.

4 years ago

What about those in wall ac units you see all over areas when you travel-I saw them in Costa Rica, Thailand, Italy and Spain! Any thoughts on these units? Like where to put them so they are not so conspicuous.

4 years ago
Reply to  Glazer

I think those are mini splits that you’re referring to? We almost installed them in our house! But they are a little bit more involved than any of these options, which can be stored when not in use. But they are apparently great affordable options that work amazingly well if central AC isn’t an option!

4 years ago

I have two additional recommendations, that I own and can attest to.

ceiling fan:
(there is an adapter that can be used to connect it to Google/Alexa, which is v /coool/)

window ac unit:
i have this in my bedroom and it works great! we actually have central AC, but the bedrooms are on the top floor of an old 50’s house, so they still get pretty warm.
we decided on the window unit so we don’t have to crank the AC for the whole house just to cool down one room. now we can turn this on an hour or so before we go to sleep and be good to go

4 years ago

So this is not a design tip at all but when you feel like you are so hot you’re going to melt put a cold flannel on the back of your neck or an ice pack behind your knees…it actually makes a massive difference when you need instant relief and can’t be bothered taking a shower. Also can leave your front door open? Even if that’s the only bit of your apartment that is not the same side as the windows it will help with flow. I lived in an unairconditioned apartment in Sydney with windows down one side for years and open door saved me!

Roberta Davis
4 years ago

I just read this am that this is supposed to be a super-hot summer! We have no air conditioning and all of our windows are sliders. So far (20 summers here)- having our skylights open and a second-floor window open at night makes it cool down at least by about 3 am! (Seattle area marine layer makes it cool at night!) I open the wondows when it’s cool and close them in the morning when it starts warming up, and close the shutters. It still gets pretty hot on the hottest days and I’ve thought about putting in central air, but then I think I would never open the windows, and fresh air smells so much better. But in LA, AC is a must! I had a college friend whose parents traveled through India most of the time. They would put wet sheets over themselves and blow a fan across it at night to cool themselves.

4 years ago

Caitlin! … GET SOME FLIPPIN’ CURTAINS, GIRL! Honestly, seriously, do it. It’s ridiculous to spend on a new fan just coz it’s ugly and still not have curtains or blinds! I live in Australia and it. Is. Hottttt. (We’re heading into winter at the mo’.) Even if you don’t like block out blinds, you can have block out curtains and crack ’em open for some natural light. For cost effectiveness, I strongly suggest horizontal blinds with block out curtains. (yes, not super-sexy-cool-design-wise, but seriously functional and not so bad as vertical blinds) You can have both fully closed for hideously hot days, or for when you’re allowed to go back to a workplace and you’ll come home to a cooler house … AND … for now, with WFH, you can have them closed at night and open the curtains with the blinds opened to whatever extent you like for natural light. I really think this is a good example of choosing the mature choice, where function comes first, then form, since you’re renting. It’s a case of allowing your future self to look back proudly and say that you did a great thing for staying cool (or warm in LA’s… Read more »

4 years ago

I have the Vornado VFAN Mini Classic, and it’s perfect for my nightstand. We do have AC, but we don’t always run it at night, and I now sleep warmer than my husband.

4 years ago

I live in a townhouse in Baltimore, which gets stupid hot and ungodly humid in the summer. My house has A/C, but it doesn’t travel up to the second floor that well, so last summer I had quite a few nights of sweating through my sheets. Because while the temperature might drop overnight, the humidity NEVER DOES.

So I want to get a window unit for this summer….but my biggest hesitation is that my bedroom faces the front of my house, and I don’t like the aesthetic of having the butt of a window unit hanging out of the front-facing window.

Someone please tell me that I’m ridiculous and my comfort is more important than this! (But if anyone understood my aesthetic hesitations, I feel like it would be this crowd lol.)

4 years ago

The fact that no one applauded your She’s All That reference boggles my mind. COME ON EVERYONE THAT WAS A MASTERPIECE. Love ya Cait and yeah…curtains. My bedroom gets SO stinkin’ hot (1920s windows for the NOT win) and the only thing that keeps me from melting (besides the fan, something called a Bed Jet haha look it up, save your life but talk about UGLY, and well…okay fine…central A/C) is drawing the curtains, specifically during the day time so that at night, it’s not 90 degrees back there. OKAY BYE.

4 years ago

Wow, schoolhouse electric’s fan price has nearly doubled since you last posted it in 2008

4 years ago
Reply to  HM


4 years ago

I feel your pain, years ago at college in Oregon we had no ac and summers temps often in the low 100s.
In my home area (temperate coastal rainforest) in SE Alaska, most of the summer we are 60 and raining. Most homes are overglazed to bring in views and max light on our typical overcast days. (A lot in common with Scandinavian countries.) However, in the rare sunny stretch the temp inside our well-insulated homes is high 90s with high humidity. Too hot for cool blooded Alaskans. Our daylight hours are long too, the sun sets at 915 pm today, so when it’s hot we pull out all the tricks: cold evening shower, blackout curtains in the day, fans, cold drinks, and wen possible avoiding home until the sun goes down. Afterall, those hot days are perfect for a bonfire on the beach wearing vacation clothes and an evening swim in the frigid ocean!

4 years ago

oh my gosh, you missed the best ceiling fan ever – Irene from Matthews Fan Company. You can get it with light kit or without (we were searching for a no light ceiling fan and the bottom of these blades are so beautiful), from 42″ to 60″ span, and so many fun color combinations including a walnut and black or walnut and textured bronze that are so elegant. We have this in our living room and two bedrooms!

4 years ago

Also just thought I’d share a story from 17-ish years ago. I was living in Manhattan in a 278 square foot apartment. My friend and I were returning from a long weekend in Los Angeles and landed at about 10 pm to the hottest most humid New York City has ever been (I mean, it felt like that …). In the taxi on the way home I called some store whose name escapes me, and reader, this is why there is no city like New York: IT WAS DELIVERED AND INSTALLED THAT NIGHT JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT.

Now I’m in a 2000 sf house in Wisconsin with central air, but my heart will always be on E 35th St between 2nd and 3rd <3