What is a Swamp Cooler? And Why Should I Buy One?

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Top Five Reasons to Purchase a Swamp Cooler


The estimated cost of operation is 1/4 that of refrigerated air, and power consumption is only limited to the fan and water pump, as opposed to an air conditioner's compressor, pump, and blower.

Easy and Inexpensive to Install

The estimated cost for installation can be 1/8 to 1/2 that of traditional air conditioners.

Improves Air Quality

Because swamp coolers require adequate ventilation, this constant and high volume airflow through a building dramatically reduces the age-of-air.

Acts as a Humidifier

They add moisture to the air and can keep you comfortable. In dry areas, this much-needed moisture helps keep wood furniture and fabrics from warping and drying out.


They can be used in a variety of situations such as homes, offices, or industrial areas - as long as the climate is dry.

How does a swamp cooler work?

In the hot Southwestern summers during the 1920's, people would often rest on screened-in "sleeping porches." On especially hot nights, water-soaked sheets or blankets would be hung outside these screens, with electric fans set up to pull the night air through these moist cloths.

The set-up allowed residents to experience cooling comfort before the advent of modern air conditioners or cooling systems. While this process has become more refined, the above example reflects the technology of the modern swamp cooler.

If you live in a hot, arid climate, a swamp cooler is one of the best ways to stay cool, and costs much less to operate than a standard air conditioner. By combining the natural process of water evaporation with a simple air moving system, swamp coolers can reduce the ambient temperature by as much as 20, 30 or even 40 degrees. They are a true low-cost, low technology alternative to standard refrigerated cooling.

What is evaporative cooling?

We've all experienced the power of evaporative cooling at one point or another. The evaporative cooling principle can be likened to putting on a wet t-shirt and standing in front of a fan. If the climate is dry and the humidity is low, the cooling (and sometimes even chilling) effect will be instantaneous. As the water evaporates, it uses up the heat in your skin and in the air as energy to transform itself from a liquid to a gas.

On the other hand, in areas with high humidity levels, this process will only result in dampness on the skin and in the air. The air has too much moisture for evaporation to occur, so no noticeable cooling will result.

Portable evaporative coolers use the same principle to cool the air, by pulling hot, dry air through a water-moistened pad. As the water evaporates, the air cools and is blown into the building with a fan.

What types of swamp coolers are available?

swamp-cooler-diagramThere are typically two types of swamp air coolers: direct and indirect. Direct evaporative cooling lowers the ambient temperature by changing water to vapor, and warm, dry air is transformed to cool, moist air which is blown into the room. Indirect evaporative cooling involves some type of heat exchanger so that the cold is transferred indoors, but not the moisture.

Typically, those used in residential or industrial settings utilize direct evaporation. The appliances are mechanically simple, consisting of an enclosed plastic or metal box with vented sides and a centrifugal fan. An electric motor and water pump moisten pads that are made of fiber or corrugated materials.

In order to cool, the fan draws warm air through the unit's side vents and through the damp pads. As the air evaporates the water from the pads, they are constantly re-dampened in order to continue the cooling process. These cooling pads can be constructed of materials such as excelsior, plastic, or melamine paper, and the pad's thickness plays a great part in cooling efficiency due to the increased surface area.

How big an area can an evaporative swamp cooler cover?

PACJS2400 Image1Swamp coolers can come in a wide variety of sizes, from hand-held, personal coolers, to whole-house coolers that are permanently mounted on the roof, or placed by the exterior walls or windows of a building. Portable swamp coolers, which typically include casters for easy mobility, can cool spaces from 150 square feet up to 7,000 square feet, depending upon the size of the unit.

In addition to being able to providing reliable and cost-effecting cooling for homes, larger swamp coolers are also perfect for industrial and commercial applications such as automotive garages, warehouses, and agricultural areas. They use very little electricity and have a large cooling area, making them suitable for outdoor use, such as athletic fields, concerts, and stadiums.

Click here to view our selection of portable and commercial swamp coolers available, and get free shipping on hundreds of in-stock items.


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