If you live in the right climate and have the right expectations, a portable evaporative cooler can be a great alternative to a compressor air conditioner. And as a bonus, air coolers are energy efficient and completely effective in many cases.
Before making the decision to buy an evaporative cooler, however, it’s a good idea to take these five things into consideration. Keeping the following things in mind could keep you from making a bad decision:
1. There are two different kinds of evaporative coolers.
Although most swamp coolers work in generally the same way, you’ll have to choose between a window unit and portable model.
A window model require installation, can’t be moved very easily once it’s in place and requires that the room in which you want to use it has an appropriately sized window. Portable evaporative coolers can be moved easily, but some of them aren’t very powerful. When choosing a portable model, it’s important to get that one that’s both easy to move and powerful enough for the size of the room.
The most powerful unit I’ve located is the Honeywell Portable Evaporative Cooler, intended for commercial and outdoor use. It’s available from Amazon.
2. They don’t work in every kind of climate.
If you live in a place that’s usually humid, a swamp cooler won’t work for you. For an evaporative cooler to work, you must live in an area where you benefit from adding humidity to the air. Humidity needs to be 50 percent or less for these units to work effectively.
Portable air coolers and window coolers work by pulling stale, hot air into the unit, then passing it through water-cooled pads and back out onto those sitting near the unit. Air can be cooled as much as 20 degrees. Because this is a continuous process, the temperature in the room continues to decline as long as the unit is operating unless the outside temperature rises too quickly for it to keep up.
If it’s usually muggy where you live, a portable or window-mounted compressor air conditioner would be a better choice.
3. Swamp coolers cost less than compressor air conditioners.
If you’re trying to decide between an air conditioner and a swamp cooler, remember that evaporative coolers can save you money because they use less energy and therefore cost less to operate.
In most cases, air coolers are also less expensive to begin with.
Portable evaporative coolers and their window-mounted cousins also have fewer complicated parts that can break down over time and are generally simpler technology that’s less likely to need complicated service.
3. It really matters what size the unit is.
Air coolers can’t operate at maximum efficiency if they are too large or too small for the space in which they will be used.
For example, the Honeywell model mentioned above is a serious machine intended for difficult to cool outdoor and commercial spaces, but even on its lowest setting it would never work well in your living room. Instead, the NewAir AF351 Portable Evaporative Cooler — the best selling model on the market — is a great choice for cooling a room in a home because it’s the right size and power for the job.
5. Swamp coolers require a little maintenance.
To keep your evaporative cooler working as long as possible, you’ll need to perform a little maintenance, but there isn’t as much to as there is with a compressor unit.
For a portable evaporative cooler, the water pads or curtains and filter need to be washed with antibacterial soap every couple of weeks to prevent a buildup of harmful mildew and mold and to remove dust and dirt that can decrease the efficiency of the machine. It’s also important to empty the water from the unit and dry it before putting it away for the season.
A window air coolers need cleaning before and after the season and should be covered at the end of the season to prevent dirt from getting into it over the winter.
A portable evaporative cooler can be a great alternative to a compressor air conditioner in many situations. So can a window-mounted air cooler. And since these two types of units are more efficient than traditional air conditioners and therefore more ecologically friendly, they’re the first thing to try in any situation where cool air is needed and conditions are right.
A window-mounted or portable evaporative cooler could be just what you need to stay cool — and happy — when temperatures soar.
A full selection of portable evaporate coolers and related products is available online from Amazon. And since shipping is free in most cases, you get great value when you order from Amazon and don’t have to worry about how to get your units home.