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Should You Choose an Evaporative Air Cooler?

Having an air conditioning unit when temperatures outside become unbearable is a good idea, but there are a few limitations to these units, no matter how much they manage to cool you down.

Evaporative Air Cooler

Often consuming a lot of electricity and some of them not being suitable for use in the same room where you’re staying, air conditioning units do a good job, but at a cost. With evaporative air coolers, things are a little different, so let’s discover what these babies can do and where you can buy some really good ones.

Top Picks

Best Overall: Hessaire 5,300 CFM Evaporative Cooler

“We liked the first so much we bought another one! If that doesn’t tell you satisfaction, then I don’t know what does.” (Customer review)

Best Portable Unit: Portacool Cyclone 130 Portable Evaporative Cooler

Designed with four caster wheels that make it easy to move this evaporative air cooler around, the Portacool Cyclone 130 is here to prove that portability doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the number of available features.

Budget Pick Option 1: Hessaire MC18M 1,300 CFM Evaporative Air Cooler

“This product is just what I needed and allowed me to lounge in comfort.” (Customer review)

High Reservoir Capacity: Portacool Cyclone 140 Evaporative Cooler

With a water tank that holds up to 40 gallons of water, the Portacool Cyclone 140 is an evaporative cooler suitable for people who don’t want to deal with refilling the tank way too often.

Best for Outdoor Use: Honeywell 2,100 CFM Portable Evaporative Cooler

The power and design of this Honeywell evaporative cooler makes it a perfect choice for outdoor venues or large indoor open spaces.

Budget Pick Option 2: SPT SF-614P Portable Evaporative Air Cooler

In spite of its low price, the SPT SF-614P evaporative air cooler doesn’t fall short of features and quality that you want to see from this specific type of product.

What is an Evaporative Air Cooler?

Evaporative air coolers are known for their ability to consume up to 70 percent less energy compared to traditional air coolers, but they are products that bring way more advantages to the table. Because they use non-ozone-depleting refrigerants, they have just enough power to keep temperatures inside the room pretty low.

Basically, an evaporative air cooler is an air conditioning unit that uses evaporation to cool down the air inside a room. As water evaporates, it switches from liquid to gas, with the high energy particles being the ones that leave the water first, causing a temperature drop.

A lot of people talk about evaporative coolers using the terms “swaps coolers”, but are two types of products one and the same? A swamp cooler functions on a principle that’s very similar to that of an evaporative air cooler, but there are a few differences between the two: an evaporative cooler is designed for continuous use, but swamp coolers are usually whole-house systems that connect to your home’s main water line.

How to Choose an Evaporative Air Cooler

If you’re not sure what to look for when scouting the market for a suitable evaporative air cooler, we’ve put together a list of features that make a difference when selecting such a product:

  • First of all, take a look into the area that a certain cooler model claims to be able to cool off. If you purchase an evaporative cooler of small capacity and expect to cool the air inside a large room with it, you are bound to be disappointed.
  • Next, take a look at the cooling pads used. These pads are essential for the proper functioning of an evaporative air cooler. There are two types of suitable cooling pads available on the market. First, you have the honeycomb cooling pads, which have a higher density, they are made of cellulose, and their design very much resembles that of a honeycomb. They are more efficient in terms or cooling, but they also tend to cost more. The other option is aspen or wood wool cooling pad. They don’t provide that much cooling compared to honeycomb pads, but they are more budget-oriented.
  • Take a look at the water tank capacity too. The smaller the tank, the more often you are going to have to refill it with water in order for the evaporative air cooler to work, and that’s a job that not everyone wants to do too often.
  • Power consumption is also important, but keep in mind that all evaporative air coolers consume less electricity by default. However, it is always a good idea to check the different power ratings of any plug-in device you’re thinking of purchasing.
  • An evaporative air cooler can come with a bunch of additional features that are more or less useful for you. This list of features includes: speed control (allowing you to regulate airflow by adjusting the speed of the fan), remote control (some units come with remote controls that grant access over the entire array of settings from a distance), air-swing delivery system (which are there to make sure that cold air is blown in all directions and covers a large portion of the room), or a timer function (making sure that you can program whenever you want your evaporative air cooler to shut down automatically).

Pros & Cons of Evaporative Coolers

A lot of people tend to avoid buying evaporative coolers because they are not really sure what could make this product better compared to other cooling solutions that are known for being more popular. If you’re the least bit confused about what an evaporative air cooler can do, let’s look at some of the advantages and drawbacks that it offers:

Pro: It’s very energy efficient. As we mentioned earlier, evaporative air coolers can save up to 70 percent energy compared to other air cooling solutions, and especially when compared to a traditional air conditioning unit. If you live in a hot and dry climate and you find yourself in need of constant air conditioning, an evaporative cooler can save lots of money on your electricity bill in the long run.

Con: It doesn’t work that well in humid environments. When it’s placed in an environment with loads of humidity, the system isn’t that efficient. Even more, it is susceptible to corrosion and condensation when the humidity level in the air is too high.

Pro: It might be good for allergies. That’s because the unit can trap allergens such as pollen and dust particles, cleansing the air for people who suffer from allergies. However, don’t mistake in thinking that an evaporative air cooler can replace an air purifier.

Con: It tends to create salts and mineral deposits. However, this is typically a drawback in areas that have hard water. Also note that the pads inside it needs to be kept moist at all times while the system is functional, so that’s a little bit of a downside if you’re not invested in making sure the pads are moist.

Pro: They are easy to install. Unlike other types of air conditioning units, evaporative cooling systems won’t mess with ductwork and don’t require a high amperage circuit (as other air conditioning units do). Furthermore, aside from easy installation, maintenance is also a breeze, as these units are designed with less parts that are inexpensive to repair or replace.

The Best Evaporative Air Coolers

Hessaire 5,300 CFM Evaporative Cooler

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The Hessaire evaporative air cooler is a regular beast, and one that offers a cooling air experience and a bunch of different features that are definitely worth mentioning. Let’s start off by talking about the two different filling options: you can either use the hose adaptor and connect the unit to a water source or you can choose to refill the tank manually (a tank that holds up to 14.6 gallons of water).

The unit is designed with a variety of features that make it attractive to a wide variety of users. The three fan speeds are perfect for when you want to be able to adjust the amount of cooling air dissipated in the room. The drain located on the underside of the tank makes emptying a breeze. The oscillating louvers can be set to emit air left or light, while the humidifying feature is there to combat dry air and increase the moisture inside a room.

Portacool Cyclone 130 Portable Evaporative Cooler

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Next up, we have the Portacool Cyclone 130 portable evaporative air cooler, a product that delivers cool air for areas that measure up to 700 square feet. It features centrifugal air delivery, being capable of lowering room temperature with 20 to 30 degrees. The two fan speeds grant control over how much cooling air is emitted in the room. The adjustable louvers will direct cool air to various locations inside the room.

You have the possibility to manually add water to the tank, but the system is designed for continuous fill as well if you connect it to a water source. The water adjustment valve controls the water flow depending on the level of humidity inside the room. There is also an integrated safety feature to turn off the machine when water levels are low.

Hessaire MC18M 1,300 CFM Evaporative Air Cooler

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Designed for indoor and outdoor use, the Hessaire MC18M is a budget-oriented pick for those of you that want a portable and cost-effective product. The caster wheels and the top carrying handle make it easy to move this evaporative cooler around, making sure that it is transported wherever needed. It offers you the possibility to manually or automatically fill the water tank, depending on what you find most convenient.

It sports adjustable louvers for redirecting cold air in multiple areas around the room, and comes with a rugged exterior that’s UV-resistant for outdoor use. The water level indicator is useful because it always lets you know how much water is left in the tank so you can estimate when a new refill is required.

Portacool Cyclone 140 Evaporative Cooler

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The Portacool Cyclone 140 is an evaporative air cooler that brings power and the best of technology right to your home. It features a 40-gallon water tank that can provide up to eight hours of use with a manual fill, and up to 22 hours with the continuous water fill setup. The water level indicator will always tell you how much water is left in the tank and, once it’s empty, you will see that thanks to the empty reservoir indicator.

The water adjustment valve grants you control over the water that comes through the hose, while the pump shut-off feature will turn the pump off when there is no water left in the tank. If you want, you can use the fan-only mode when the water tank is empty, making this unit double as a fan.

Honeywell 2,100 CFM Portable Evaporative Cooler

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Let’s welcome the Honeywell CO610PM model, a product that’s designed for large open rooms and outdoor venues, making this the perfect companion for a hot outdoor summer wedding or a BBQ party by the pool. It comes with a variety of features that make this an excellent product. It has an ice compartment tray that speeds up the cooling process on hot summer days by simply filling the compartment with ice.

The chassis is weather-resistant, which makes sense considering that this product is mainly designed to be used outdoors. The pads have a three-media system for better performance and efficiency. The caster wheels make it super easy for you to change the position of the cooler as you please.

SPT SF-614P Portable Evaporative Air Cooler

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When it comes to portable units suitable for people on a budget, there is always the SPT SF-614P evaporative cooler to consider. Designed with a honeycomb cooling pad, this is a system that delivers a series of impressive benefits considering the fact that this is one of the cheapest evaporative air coolers you’re going to find.

It comes with three cooling speeds that allow you to adjust the airflow and deliver more or less cooled air inside the room. The swing option is perfect for rooms where multiple people are sitting and waiting for that breeze of cool air. The unit integrates a timer, so that you can program it to automatically shut down after a few hours of use. There is a LED control panel for easier settings adjustment, a large water tank to work with, and a rapid airflow system that allows the fan to process 294 cubic feet per minute.

FAQ

How effective are evaporative coolers?

Evaporative air coolers are very effective as long as they are being used in dry environments. What’s even more important is that the evaporation efficiency doesn’t drop that much over time, making these units a good long-term investment.

Do evaporative coolers cool a room?

Yes, evaporative air coolers do a good job in cooling a room, but you need a fresh air source for them to work properly, something along the lines of an open window.

What is the difference between an air conditioner and an evaporative cooler?

Air conditioning units use the power of refrigerants to cool down the air inside the room, and then blow the cold air inside the room by using an integrated fan. If air conditioning units basically use chemical power and work in fully-enclosed environments, evaporative air coolers are more efficient in open environments. They basically have a fan, a thick pad, and a water recipient that all work together to cool down the air. The hot air is sucked into the unit through the fan, air which then passes through the pad that absorbs water from the reservoir. As the water molecules on the surface evaporate, the air temperature inside the cooler drops.

Are evaporative coolers healthy?

Since they produce no aerosols, evaporative air coolers are typically healthy. However, you need to make sure you provide proper maintenance and keep internal parts clean if you want the quality of the air to stay fresh.

Bottom Line

You have endless options when it comes to selecting an evaporative air cooler. Aside from the fact that they consume a lot less energy compared to other types of air conditioning units, they are easy to install and don’t require making sure all windows are fully closed for the units to be efficient. They are easy to maintain, with replacement parts being fairly inexpensive, and the initial upfront investment isn’t thousands of dollars, making these units a purchase worth considering if you live in a dry environment.