Avoid These Common Swamp Cooler Mistakes

AF-351 Image9Those living in hot, dry climates can attest to the fact that evaporative coolers are an extremely effective way to cool and humidify homes. As a low-cost alternative to traditional air conditioning, evaporative cooling uses the natural power of evaporation to cool the surrounding air.

When water evaporates, it absorbs a large amount of heat from its surroundings, like when you splash water onto your skin on a hot day. The result is an immediate cooling sensation caused by the rapid evaporation of moisture on the skin.

Evaporative coolers use very simple technology to create cold airflow. A large box contains a fan that is surrounded by wet pads, with a pump that circulates water to keep the pads wet. The fan blows air through the pads, evaporating the water, and the cooled air is blown into the house.

Not only does an evaporative swamp cooler cool the air, but it can make the atmosphere more pleasant by adding moisture and increasing humidity levels. Also, unlike traditional air conditioners which constantly re-circulate the same indoor air, evaporative coolers constantly bring in fresh air from the outside.

However, despite these benefits, evaporative air coolers can present some limitations, and choosing the wrong type of cooler for your home can leave you suffering in the heat. Here are four common mistakes consumers make when choosing an evaporative cooler:

AF-310 Image71. Purchasing the Wrong Type of Cooler for a Given Environment

Although evaporative air coolers are cost-effective, energy efficient, and relatively easy to maintain, they only work effectively in climates where the air is dry - particularly in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit with humidity levels below 50 percent. As the humidity in the outside air increases, the effectiveness of the evaporative cooling process decreases.

In a humid environment, very little water will evaporate and so little cooling will take place. For humid climates, a portable air conditioner may be more suitable, as the refrigeration cycle used in these units reduces the humidity in the air and decreases the overall temperature.

2. Choosing the Wrong Sized Evaporative Cooler

For an evaporative cooler to work effectively, the size of the room must be taken into consideration. While a portable air conditioner's output is rated by BTU's, evaporative coolers are rated by CFM's, or the cubic feet per minute of air that the unit can blow into a home. Also unlike portable air conditioners, there's no harm in purchasing an swamp cooler that's a bit bigger than your room's requirements.

The simplest formula to use to calculate the correct sized needed for your room or home involves finding the cubic feet of the space being cooled and dividing that number by two. This quotient will give you the CFM rating for the proper-sized evaporative cooler. For example, if you have a 2,000 square foot home with 7 foot-high ceilings, you can calculate the CFM's like this:

2000 x 7 = 14,000 cubic feet

14,000 / 2 = 7000

CFM Needed = 7,000 CFM

Therefore, for a room with the above dimensions, you would require an evaporative cooler with a CFM rating of 7,000 or above.

3. Insufficient Temperature Change

Evaporative coolers have been shown to be an effective alternative to standard air conditioners throughout the desert regions of the United States, but many consumers may not be aware the limitations when it comes to temperature control.

The overall effectiveness of an evaporative cooler depends on two factors: the outside temperature and the humidity level. They work best in the hottest time of the day and when humidity levels are below 50 percent (the lower the humidity levels, the better).

The chart below describes the approximate temperature changes you can expect, relative to temperature and humidity:


4. Insufficient Exhaust

Although swamp coolers do not need to be vented like portable air conditioners, the air that is forced into a room or home needs some sort of exit path in order for sufficient cooling to take place, such as an open door or window. Without exhaust ducts, there needs to be enough space for exhaust and proper airflow, and this should be taken into consideration before installation. As a general rule, it's recommended that a 2-square-foot opening be allowed for each 1000 CFM the evaporative cooler provides.

If you need help choosing the right evaporative cooler for your home or office, give our cooling experts a call and we'll help you make the right choice. To see our full line of evaporative coolers for sale, click here.

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