How Do Evaporative Coolers Work?

Here, we cover everything about evaporative coolers: the science behind them, their types, pros and cons, and if they will be right for you.
Carolina Evans
Carolina Evans
Research Writer
Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s ho read more
Reviewed By
Richard Powell
Richard Powell
Expert Consultant
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may read more
Last updated: September 11, 2023 is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here

Heat can be quite uncomfortable, especially during the summer months. In most homes, you find the air conditioning running more often than usual and will in turn cost high electricity bills. Some energy-saving options would still keep your house cool without making you spend a lot on bills.  Evaporative coolers are one way you can achieve this. The question that comes to the mind of most people is do evaporative coolers work? 

There is a reason why most folks are turning to evaporative coolers as a cooling option. However, you want to be sure that you are not purchasing an HVAC system impulsively. You probably want to know if evaporative coolers work as well as an air conditioning system. We will be looking deeper into the effectiveness of the evaporative coolers in this article.

What Is Evaporative Cooling?

Evaporative coolers, also referred to as swamp coolers, are a type of air-cooling system that works by utilizing the process of evaporation and transforming it to cool air. Normally, the water turns from liquid to gas when it evaporates. Even when it evaporates, the energy particles separate from the water and cause the temperature to drop. Evaporative coolers come with an electric-powered fan to absorb the hot and dry air through its dampened pad and then release cool air into the room. Evaporative coolers do not consume as much energy as air-conditioning units, and they also don’t require a refrigerant to function. You can learn more about the mechanism behind evaporative coolers here.

How Does It Work?

How Do Evaporative Coolers Work?
This type of cooling system uses a simple evaporation process to lower the temperature around the room. Evaporative coolers are designed with a cooling fan, a thick pad, water reservoir, and other essential controls to give a cool temperature. Some coolers come with filters to improve the air it releases. These improved evaporative coolers are recommended because they reduce allergens and prevent mold from thriving around the environment, which can cause respiratory problems. 

If it comes with a water pump, it can also streamline the absorption process for cooling. Some evaporative coolers allow users to insert ice packs to get cooler air. According to reviews, an effective and high-quality cooler is the homeLabs Evaporative Cooler, which uses ice packs. It is a reliable humidifier that will cool your home.

Evaporative coolers also come with other essential parts and accessories that aid their functionality. You can change between varying speeds to control the temperature of the fan i.e., if you want the cooler at its highest or lowest.

Some models come with a remote control making it easy to set the preferred temperature without leaving the comfort of your seat. There are also the oscillating parts for the fan movement and other parts which makes it possible for the evaporative cooler to work effectively.

Is It Effective?

Evaporative coolers work well and have proven to improve the air significantly when installed. However, they do not work like central cooling systems and can only cool a limited area. Depending on the size of the room where it is placed, the air coolers might not work for larger spaces. Evaporative coolers work like normal cooling fans, but they can cool a significantly wider area than electric fans.

Types of Evaporative Coolers

There are different types of evaporative coolers sold today, and they can be classified into four types. They include:

Lightweight Coolers

The lightweight evaporative coolers are portable and easy to move around. They can be used for cooling small spaces like your outdoor patios, single room, or even your garage. There are, however, some large-sized coolers that can cool bigger spaces around 500 to 3,000 square feet. According to most reviews, a sturdy and more effective cooler is the Honeywell CO60PM evaporative cooler which cools up to 1,000 square feet. It is the best cooler for home use.

Indoor Evaporative Coolers 

The indoor coolers can easily be installed in a window or wall opening to cool the air around the room. It can also be used for smaller room spaces like your garage or living room.

Outdoor Evaporative Coolers 

How Do Evaporative Coolers Work?
The outdoor coolers, also called the down draft coolers, can be installed on the roof of the house and used to cool the entire home.

Side Discharge Coolers

The Side Discharge Coolers cooler, also known as side draft coolers, are used to cool the house. You can fix this cooler on the side of the building, and there are some models that can be placed on the roof.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Evaporative Coolers

There are two major reasons why evaporative coolers are beneficial. One is because they conserve energy and the other reason is that it is a sustainable option. Evaporative coolers won’t weigh down on your electricity bills because they need very little power to function. The amount of power it consumes is about seven times lesser than an air-conditioner.

Also, the evaporative coolers do not use much power, and it also lowers your carbon footprint. They require only water and not any chemical refrigerant, which makes it a safe option. It does not harm the environment. One of the drawbacks associated with evaporative coolers is that they don’t cool as much as air conditioning systems.

Even though it brings in cool air, you can’t get that freezing temperature air-conditioning system produces. The temperature control of evaporative coolers is limited.

Also, the cooler can use up to 25 liters, depending on the fan speed. Although, it can only work effectively in dry and hot climates. Evaporative coolers won’t have any effect when installed in homes or places with humid climates. 

Will an Evaporative Cooler Be Right for Your Home?

The only way you can determine if evaporative coolers work for your home depends on certain factors. If you live in a highly humid environment, evaporative coolers may not work the way you want them. However, if you live in a dry climate, evaporative coolers will certainly work for your home. This type of cooling system is designed for dry and hot climates. If you have a larger space, you will need an evaporative cooler with wider coverage. According to the reviews, users prefer the portable and effective Hessaire MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler, which cools up to 3000 square feet. It is one of the best coolers for homes.

Evaporative Cooler vs. AC

There are many differences between the Evaporative coolers and air conditioning units. The two cooling systems use different technologies. Air conditioning systems usually have their tubes and coils connected outside because they release hot air from inside the house to outside. According to reviews, the Rollibot Rollicool COOL310-19 offers cool air using smart technology. It is a reliable cooling system.

Evaporative coolers use the evaporation process to cool the air in the room naturally. They don’t consume energy like air-conditioners. Evaporative coolers also do not make use of ductwork like the central air-conditioning system.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a sustainable and energy-saving option to cool your home, evaporative coolers may be just what you need. They are also more affordable than the central air-conditioning system and will still keep your home cool. Hopefully, we have been able to provide answers to the question “do evaporative coolers work?” for anyone searching for one. They work especially in dry and hot climates effectively. You must find out the cooling coverage before investing in one. You can do this by measuring the cubic feet per minute rating of the evaporative cooler. You can also find the square foot rating indicated on some models, this way; you can decide if it is what you need.

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