Evaporative coolers are more fondly called swamp coolers. They have become increasingly popular in recent years because they are more cost-effective, more eco-friendly and more energy-efficient than traditional air conditioners.
Rather than use refrigerant, which is considered an enemy of the ecosystem, evaporative coolers use a more natural process to recirculate the air in a room by collecting it and passing it over a wick (more or less a wet pad) before the cooler air is released back into the room.
Let’s face facts, a typical evaporative cooler is not likely to give you the same cooling effect as a window, central or portable air conditioner, but they can certainly give you some relief from the warmth and dryness of arid regions.
Think of them as the way larger version of those hand-held spray bottles with a mounted fan that we use to spritz water in our faces while we queue up for a roller coaster in the peak of summer.
So, if you’re wondering just how good an evaporative cooler is, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you just how effective evaporative coolers are, whether or not they work better than fans, and if it’s worth your investment or you’re better off with something else.
How Effective Are Evaporative Coolers?
Evaporative coolers have been tested over time and found to be quite effective. They’re considered to be able to reduce the indoor temperature by as much as 15 degrees in some cases; that’s according to the US Department of Energy (DOE).
This natural process of cooling the air is not just effective at reducing the indoor temperature in the same way that sweating does for our bodies, but is also pretty energy efficient as swamp coolers use up way less energy than traditional air conditioners (including the portable ones).
To be specific, the DOE says evaporative coolers can reduce ambient temperature by as much as 5 to 15 degrees. However, the reality is, this appliance can only perform well in less humid regions that in wet, highly humid climates.
This is because these coolers will only release more moisture into the air without any significant impact on temperature, but will further increase humidity and make the air more uncomfortable. In dryer climates, the air has a greater capacity to absorb moisture.
Top Rated Evaporative Coolers
Do Evaporative Coolers Work Better Than Fans?
In terms of cooling the air, evaporative coolers are the clear winner. They’re built with water tanks or reservoirs from which moisture is released into the air, providing a cooling effect.
Some evaporative coolers are filled with ice cubes to make the air released even cooler for a much more pleasant effect.
On the flip side, fans mostly rely on air and pressure to produce a cooling effect, but the air is not as cool as that produced by evaporative coolers.
So, when it comes to cooling, evaporative coolers work better than fans.
On the flip side, fans tend to have more applicability than evaporative coolers. For example, a fan can be used both indoors and outdoors because the blades only need to be focused on you for effect.
Meanwhile, the moisture released by evaporative coolers will dissipate more quickly when used outdoors, with little or no effect. Furthermore, fans will do better in humid and wet regions.
Fans do not release moisture and are likely to reduce indoor humidity through air drying. Also, they will provide more relief in such situations than evaporative coolers.
Is It Worth Buying an Evaporative Cooler?
It all depends on what you need it for. If what you need is a cost-effective appliance to make your indoor air cooler and add a bit of humidity, then this is just right for you.
Note that it’s best if you live in a dry climate. In that case, it is certainly a good buy. Also, evaporative coolers are one of the cheapest air-cooling appliances to run, with much less energy cost and minimal maintenance commitments.
However, this energy efficiency is based on certain factors, including:
- The size of the unit is suitable for the space.
- The unit is maintained consistently and properly.
- Humidity levels in the area do not exceed 40-50%.
- There is proper ventilation for fresh air to come in.
- There’s also provision for air to travel out, either through a duct system or window.
Once these factors are in place, you should enjoy energy efficiency across most swamp cooler units. This is because the only things that require energy in the unit are the fan and water pump.
Therefore, if you’re thinking of investing in an evaporative cooler and you’ve considered the varying factors, it is certainly worth buying.
Pros and Cons of Evaporative Coolers
The Pros of Evaporative Coolers
1. Energy efficiency
This is simply emphasizing the point we made earlier. Evaporative coolers are between 30 and 70% more energy efficient than a small air conditioner. This saves you a lot of running costs.
2. Can work with ventilation
When using a traditional air conditioner, you’re expected to run it in a sealed home, properly insulated without gaps for the draft. This isn’t necessary with evaporative coolers.
In fact, it works best if you allow constant airflow in and out of the house to keep indoor air fresh at all times.
3. Allows fresh air in
This provision for open doors or windows makes it possible for fresh air to find its way into your home, while cool moisture is constantly added by the unit.
4. Lower initial and maintenance costs
Evaporative coolers are cheaper to buy than traditional air conditioners. The average unit is sold for between $150 and $500, even though there are a few high-end products on the market as well. This is no way near air conditioners which generally start at $400-$600 and can rise to as much as $3,000 or more. Even the maintenance cost of air coolers is cheaper.
5. Environmentally friendly
The talk about refrigerants and how they impact the ozone layer doesn’t exist with evaporative coolers. The units do not use refrigerants, but onky rely on water for cooling.
The Cons of Evaporative Coolers
There are also some disadvantages that evaporative coolers pose. These include;
- They do not perform well in wet, humid regions.
- Outdoor usage will also not offer much effect.
- Evaporative coolers do not provide as much cooling effect as air conditioners.
- Theyrelease moisture and may increase relative humidity.
How Effective Are Portable Evaporative Coolers?
Portable evaporative coolers are pretty much evaporative coolers, only smaller. These ones can be moved around easily from one room to another and may even be used as a tabletop appliance, as long as you don’t mind sprinkles of water on the table frequently.
Truth is, they are quite effective at cooling the air by introducing moisture in the atmosphere. They can also be used pretty much anywhere; in your room, home office or study.
As long as you deploy the unit in a warm, dry environment, it should reduce indoor temperature quite significantly.
Evaporative coolers have shown just how useful they are for people in arid regions for whom air conditioners would make the air drier, those who can’t afford a standard air conditioner or those who wish to cut down on energy costs.
No wonder they have become the go-to appliance, providing some level of cooling and preserving the ozone layer as well. If you’re on the market for a cooling appliance and you come across a good evaporative cooler brand, you should go for it.