When the days get hot, your home can get quite uncomfortable. The solution most people go for is an air conditioner, the greatest invention ever! However, ACs take a lot of power which costs a lot of money.
Depending on the size of your house, how much you use your AC, what times you use it at, and where you live, you could be spending $50 to over $600 a month in electricity bills. So what can you do?
One solution is to get an evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler or desert cooler or wet air cooler. These are ventless and don’t use a hose like portable air conditioners do. For those who already know you want one of these and just want to know what good options there are, here they are.
Popular Evaporative Cooler Models
5. SPT SF-608R
In case you’re looking for air conditioners, see Popular ACs
What is an Evaportive Cooler?
It’s basically a device that cools the air by evaporation of water. While air conditioners use refrigeration cycles or vapor compression, evaporative coolers takes advantage of the significant drop in temperature from the transition of water to water vapor. Since it does add moisture to the air, in really dry climates, it’s even more useful in making people comfortable.
How Evaporative Coolers Work
These coolers work by pulling in hot, dry air from your room or surrounding area. That air passes through a moist pad which absorbs the heat. This causes the moisture to evaporate which cools and humidifies the air. This air is then circulated back into your room. This can result in the temperature of your room dropping by several degrees.
Here’s an illustration of the process.
Evaporative Cooler vs Air Conditioner
Let’s look at the important differences.
- Uses up to 10 times less energy than air conditioners which makes it more efficient.
- Can cost 3 times less than running an AC.
- No installation required unless you buy the window type to save floor space.
- It’s similar to a portable air conditioner with no hose or exhaust.
- Can be used outdoors.
- Ventless. Just add water.
- Uses a natural process to cool your home down which won’t add any ozone-harming pollutants or chemicals to the environment.
- Doesn’t cool the room as much as an air conditioner.
- Doesn’t work too well in humid weather. Works best in hot, dry climates.
- Takes up floor space. You also need to find a place to store it during the winter season.
- Need to have door or window open to circulate the air. Otherwise, it will circulate humidified air which can make the room feel humid.
- Standard ACs can cool a room down to around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once installed, it doesn’t take up any floor space.
- Wide variety of options to choose from.
- Can be used in any climate.
- Uses a lot of electricity.
- Installation is required. Most fit it through their window but in some cases, you may need to cut out an opening in your wall.
- The unit itself typically costs more.
If you don’t want to or can’t install an air conditioner, then you can buy a portable air conditioner. The only problem with these is that you will need to run a hose out the window or door for ventilation which means you need to figure out how to seal any open spaces that allows outside air to come into the house.
For people searching for portable air conditioners without a hose or ventless air conditioners, evaporative coolers is the answer.
You may be wondering if evap coolers can cool your room as well as air conditioners. Under the right conditions, it can. You have to make sure you buy the right size for your home, have a fresh supply of air by opening a window or door, and maintain the device properly. The weather conditions also has to be right. In reality though, in most cases, an AC will cool down the room more. Of course, it’s almost much more expensive to run.
When buying an swamp cooler, the main differences you’ll find when looking at different brands and models is cooling capacity and functions.
Most models will have different cooling options, fan speed, timer, and a water level indicator. Some will have an automatic water refilling process.
When buying one, the models you see will let you know what sort of square footage that unit is good for. For a normal sized bedroom, 250 square feet should be plenty. They typically go in increments from 0 to 250, 250 to 500, 500 to 1000, 1000 to 2000, and 2000 and up.
There are evap coolers that are big enough to use at outdoor training facilities.
You might also see the CFM or cubic foot per minute which is the amount of air that cycles through your room every minute. Another way to find out how big of a cooler you need is to take the square footage of your room and multiply it by the height of your room in feet and then divide by 2.
So if you have a 300 sq ft room and an 8 foot ceiling… (300 x 8) / 2 = 1200 CFM.
In this case, look for a cooler that is at least 1200 CFM. Or you can just go by the square footage recommendation. If the cost of larger capacity one isn’t much higher, it’s best to go with a stronger cooler rather than having to deal with one that isn’t strong enough for your room.
Now if for whatever reason, the CFM number or square footage number isn’t displayed by the manufacturer, you can look at the water capacity and use that as a guide.
1-3 gallons would be good for small bedrooms and the kitchen.
3-7 gallons would be good for living rooms and dens.
7-12 gallons would be good for large bedrooms, large living rooms, or even cooling multiple smaller rooms.
12-16 gallons would be for outdoor areas like the patio or garage
Anything higher would be more for commercial use.
Another bad thing about both types of cooling systems is since moisture is present, if you don’t clean the filters regularly, mold can form which can be bad for your health.
With swamp coolers, the filter should be cleaned once every 2 weeks or so using warm water and some mild detergent. This prevents build up of dust, mold, mildew, and dirt. You don’t want to be breathing that stuff in. The outside of the cooler can be cleaned with a damp cloth. You should also drain the water once a week to prevent fungus growth.
When you’re done using your cooler for the season, wipe it down, drain the water, and clean the filter. Once you’re done, run the cooler on fan only for about 30 minutes to make sure the device is completely dry before storing.
Should You Buy an Evaporative Cooler?
If you live in the south western part of the US where it’s typically hot and dry, then yes. If you live where it’s constantly humid such as the east coast, then no. You’d be better off with a regular air conditioner. These coolers work best on hot days where the humidity is below 50.
Types of Swamp Coolers
There are basically 3 types: Indoor, Indoor/Outdoor, and Outdoor.
The indoor ones are great for your bedroom, family room, den, and any other rooms that can use some cooling. The indoor/outdoor ones can be used indoors and outdoors, mainly on a patio, garage, or sunroom. The outdoor ones are mainly used in larger outdoor spaces like the pool or backyard.
Aside from the indoor and outdoor differences, there are also the portable and window mount coolers much like with air conditioners. Portable ones come with casters for easy transportation between rooms. The window mount ones are permanent fixtures to help save floor space but also to have a constant supply of fresh air without having to open a window or door.
Most will also come with an ice compartment to help cool down your room even more. Instead of just regular air, it’ll be using the air from the ice as well, helping to drop the temperature even more.
Things to Consider
Unlike air conditioners where it’s best to have your room air tight, an evaporative air cooler, you will need to have a window or door open to keep a constant flow of fresh air circulating into your home. If you don’t do this, the air in your home will keep getting more and more humid which will make your home feel uncomfortable.
Many models require you to refill the water manually. This is important to for the cooling process in these devices to work. There are models that come with a hose hook up that automatically refills the water.
So for those who are looking for a ventless portable air conditioner without a hose, evaporative coolers are a great option. They use less energy which saves you money and there’s no need to use a hose or install anything through your window or wall.
Now if you decide that you can deal with a portable air conditioner even with the hose, then here are some of the best portable air conditioners on Amazon.
4. LG LP0817WSR
If you decide that installing and using a window AC is just fine, here are some of the best window air conditioners on Amazon.
Popular Window Air Conditioners
3. LG LW8016ER
In terms of saving floor space, not dealing with a hose and being able to cool any room regardless of where you live, window ACs are the best option after central AC.
If you’ve decided you’d rather save as much money on electricity as possible, then using this Honeywell fan and taking cold showers a few times throughout the day is probably the way to go.