Swamp Coolers: Simple and Reliable Evaporative Air Conditioning

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If you live in an area where the weather conditions are frequently hot and dry, you might be in need of an evaporative air conditioning system, otherwise known as a swamp cooler.

Here is a look at whether a swamp cooler might be the right choice for your home and what the difference is between one of these and a traditional home air conditioner.

Air Conditioning

Your climate

Understanding how swamp coolers work and the regular climate that your home is exposed to, will help you decide if you should choose evaporative air conditioning or not.

The process of evaporative cooling is pretty simple itself and is something that naturally occurs in the world around us. Anyone who perspires in hot weather will be using that sweat which evaporates, to allow our body to become cooler.

In just the same way that you notice the cooling effects of cold air when you step out of a pool on a hot day, this is just another example of the fundamentals of evaporative cooling.

The cooling effect is created by dry air passing over water and allowing the dry air to absorb some the water. Residential swamp coolers make use of this natural process and uses a fan to draw warm air into the unit, where it is then allowed to pass over water-moistened pads and becomes cooler air which is then circulated throughout your home.

Spot the difference

There are basic differences between a swamp cooler and a more traditional air conditioner unit.

A standard air conditioning system works by forcing cool air into your home through a series of ducts and relies on the house being closed up, so that it can draw humidity out of the air. This type of system uses a compressor, condenser and evaporator in order to complete the cooling process.

A swamp cooler will need to move hot air out of your house whilst pulling cooling air in to be cooled. This means that having windows and doors opened will directly affect the level of cooler air flow within the house when you have a swamp cooler.

It is possible to have a swamp cooler that uses a duct system, but the disadvantage is that the ducts would need to be larger than regular air conditioning ducts due to the fact that the swamp cooler produces a larger flow of air.

Making the right choice

Climate is a key factor and in the right conditions a swamp cooler will often prove to be efficient and economical as well as being reasonably environmentally-friendly.

You will generally find that the evaporative process might prove to be less efficient in a more humid area, making a traditional air conditioning unit a more viable choice in those climate conditions.


Most HVAC contractors will be able to service your unit for a reasonable charge as swamp coolers don’t normally require lot of maintenance overall.

If you have a portable swamp cooler, the filter and water curtains will need to be cleaned every fortnight but for window-mounted systems, you will be looking to carry out some primary maintenance tasks at the start of spring and then when you shut it down during the winter.

Swamp coolers are simple and often reliable, so if you have the climate for one, they could be a good choice.

Aaron A. Pierce is an air conditioner contractor. He enjoys sharing his home improvement insights on the web. His posts are available mostly on DIY and home improvement blogs.

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