Evaporative cooling is a great alternative to air conditioners. One of the major downsides to air conditioners is that they are not energy efficient. This can result in high electric bills.
Evaporative coolers, also referred to as swamp coolers, are much more energy efficient and can save you money on your energy costs. Reducing your energy use will also have less of an impact on the environment.
Portable Evaporative Coolers
Do you have a small to medium-sized area you want cooled or stay in one room most of the day during the summer? If so, you may want to consider getting a portable evaporative cooler to cool down the area or room. They work well for spaces up to 700 square feet, depending on the size of the portable cooler. Going this route will be the most energy efficient and lowest cost option.
Window Evaporative Cooler Units
If you want to cool a large area or your entire house, a window evaporative cooler unit is more suitable. Once again, these are more efficient than window air conditioning units. They generally cool areas within 400 to 1,600 square feet depending on the model.
Where Evaporative Coolers Should be Used
Not all locations are suitable for using evaporative coolers. They work best in warm climates with low humidity, such as the southwest United States. In high humidity environments, they are not very effective. This is why evaporative coolers are rarely used in areas such as the eastern United States.
If you are unsure about the humidity in your area, you should research to find out what the averages are during the warmest months of the year. The humidity may also be lower during the warmest part of the day, so that is another factor to consider.
Ideally, the humidity should frequently be 40% or lower during the hottest times of the day. Although, the lower the percentage the better. This will ensure that using an evaporative cooler is worthwhile and effective.
In the chart below, you can see the estimated cooling temperatures for evaporative coolers depending on the air temperature and relative humidity. Keep in mind that these values can vary with different models of evaporative coolers. Also, using an evaporative cooler with an appropriate coverage area for your uses is important when trying to achieve the optimal cooling temperature.
It is not uncommon for someone to purchase an evaporative cooler without doing the proper research. Many times they will leave a negative review online or complain about the effectiveness of the product despite living in a humid environment. For this reason, it is important to pay close attention to reviews to make sure that the reviewer lives in an appropriate area for evaporative coolers.
Selecting the Right Type and Model
As mentioned above, the two main types of evaporative coolers are portable and window units. Portable units are ideal for rooms, apartments, garages, small houses, and small cabins. Their coverage usually ranges from 125 to 700 square feet.
Window units are ideal for houses up to 1,600 square feet in area. They are generally more expensive and maintenance intensive than portable units. They also require installation, though it is fairly straightforward and similar to installing a traditional air conditioner window unit.
There are several brands to choose from when looking for an evaporative cooler. Some of the top portable evaporative cooler brands are Port-A-Cool, Luma Comfort, and Sunpentown. We have full reviews on the Port-A-Cool Cyclone 2000 and Port-A-Cool Cyclone 3000. Reviews are also available for the KuulAire PACKA53, Luma Comfort EC110S, and SPT SF-608R Portable Evaporative Air Cooler units.
If you are shopping for a window unit to cool you house, you will need to take into account the CFM rating. The CFM rating measures the airflow of evaporative coolers by cubic feet per minute (CFM). This number is important to know when trying to cool a large space.
If the CFM of an evaporative cooler is too low for a specific house, it will not be cooled sufficiently and the temperature will still remain relatively high. On the other hand, if the CFM is too high, an oversized unit would have been purchased with the cost being higher than needed. Thus, it is important to determine the appropriate CFM rating for your home. The following steps show how to calculate the CFM rating.
- Calculate the square footage of space you want cooled.
- Take this number and multiply it by how tall your ceilings are.
- Divide this figure by 2 to get your recommended CFM rating.
For example, if you live in a 1,250 square foot house then you would use the formula below.
1,250 square feet x 8 feet ceilings = 10,000 / 2 = 5,000 CFM
Thus, you would need an evaporative cooler with a rating of 5,000 CFM or higher. Residential models generally range from 3,000 to 8,500 CFM.
Maintenance should be performed according to the owner’s manual provided with your evaporative cooler. However, a general rule of thumb is to carry out monthly inspections of the unit. Basic maintenance consists of draining the water to avoid mineral build up, and regulating the water and belt levels. It is also recommended that the pads are inspected and cleaned on a regular basis, and replaced if needed.
Other Benefits Compared to Air Conditioners
As noted previously, evaporative coolers are more efficient than air conditioners, using 75% less electricity, and sometimes even less. In addition, there are several other advantages. The maintenance and installation costs are lower. Maintenance is also easier as there are only two mechanical parts, the water pump and the fan motor.
Evaporative coolers do not contain any ozone damaging refrigerants, as opposed to air conditioners. Additionally, the pad within the cooler acts as an air filter, which is capable of removing various air contaminants.