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Portable Evaporative Coolers - Everything You Need to Know

If you want to keep your home cool, you can always run your air conditioner. However, as you may notice when you receive your utility bill, running an air conditioner can be expensive. While models are becoming more energy efficient, an air conditioner is still more expensive than natural ventilation.

But are those your only two options? Not at all. You can also use an evaporative air cooler, which is an efficient and affordable way to keep the house cool. Using a cooling mist can be comfortable and refreshing, and while not all homes may benefit from these machines, people in certain areas will love having an evaporative air cooler.

portable evaporative air cooler

What is an Evaporative Cooler?

An evaporative air cooler functions under simple principles of science. Essentially, these machines produce water vapor that is released into the atmosphere through the use of a fan. This vapor then cools the air and people around the room, making everyone more comfortable. If you’ve ever stood near a waterfall or even near a water sprinkler, you have probably noticed the cooling effect of water in the air.

The Benefits of Using Portable Evaporative Coolers

There are many benefits that you’ll discover if you start using portable evaporative coolers. Perhaps the most important, however, is the energy efficiency. If you want to cool your space without using a lot of electricity, evaporative coolers are a great option for cooling the home. While the specific numbers vary, estimates that evaporative air coolers use only 15 to 35% of the electricity used by air conditioners; that means you could reasonably expect to use a third of the electricity as you would when running the air conditioner. They also say that an evaporative cooler costs about $1,000 less on average than an air conditioner, but most homes will actually want both in their homes, as an A/C is preferred if the temperature is significantly hot.

Another benefit beyond cooling, and one particularly for those concerned about the environment, is that evaporative air coolers have no emissions. Unlike other cooling systems, evaporative coolers have no refrigerant or compressor, and release no toxic chemicals into the air. The only real carbon footprint from this machine comes from the electricity use, which is much lower than air conditioners.

They also boost the level of moisture in your home. Portable evaporative coolers are great for regions with dry climates, particularly areas in the western portion of the United States. Traditional A/C systems can take moisture from the air, so using an evaporative cooler may be much more preferable. Proper moisture levels not only benefit the health of people living in the home, they can also help preserve wood furniture and woodwork found inside the house by reducing excessive drying.

Evaporative coolers also stand out because they can be set up with little to no effort. Unlike a typical air conditioning system, you can place your portable evaporative air conditioner wherever you like, and there is no need for the expense, or the hassle, or installing the unit. Essentially, you can buy the cooler and install it in any of your rooms. While cleaning and sanitizing is recommended, you won’t have to spend lots of time or money with installation.

Okay, so we discussed the benefits of evaporative coolers in general, but what about the benefits of portable evaporative coolers?

Having one that you can easily move from room to room, or even take with you to different locations, will allow you to efficiently use your evaporative air cooler as you see fit. If you want to add moisture to a child’s room, for example, you can run the evaporative cooler in that place; if you want to take it with you to the office, you have that option. This versatility and convenience is what makes portable units stand out.

Protecting Your Evaporative Air Cooler from Leaks

Your evaporative cooler will use water-soaked pads to create moisture in the air, and a reservoir of water is required to keep the moisture flowing. On occasion, you could have leaks from the cooler, which can obviously create a wide range of issues in the home. The leaks could be coming from a problem with the float valve, a leaky pad, a crack in the reservoir, or gaps in the water lines. If leaks are an issue, there’s a strong chance it will stop working properly, so have it inspected or take it in for repairs if there are any issues from seepage or complete leaks.

Where Are the Best Areas for Evaporative Coolers?

Evaporative coolers are sometimes called “swamp coolers,” and because of this nickname there can be some confusion as to where the appliances are best suited. Because the coolers release moisture in the air, they are best for areas of the country that are hot and dry, which most obviously points to the southwestern region of the United States.

However, there are areas in the northern portions of the western United States that also benefit from evaporative coolers. They are not, however, ideal for swampy, humid areas like Louisiana or Florida.

If you have mold issues then we do not suggest an evaporative cooler as it could make a mold problem worse.

Portable swamp coolers are a match for places that with dry air and hot like Arizona, California, New Mexico, and west Texas. These areas are not only hot, but the air is lacking in moisture. Therefore, using an evaporative cooler in these locations is ideal. Sylvane, a retailer of household appliances, classifies areas of the country that are best for using evaporative coolers. According to their map, most of the western United States is ideal for these machines, while the eastern portion, including all of the southeast, is not good for evaporative coolers.

Buying the Right Sized Evaporative Cooler

Proper size is essential for purchasing a portable swamp cooler. A cooler that is too small for your space will not give you the ideal comfort and won’t cool the home properly. A cooler that is too large, however, may expel too much moisture; finding the right balance is key. To find the right size, you need to one with the right CFM rating, which stands for Cubic Feet per Minute.

To start, you’ll need to know the size of your living space, which is measured in cubic feet. To measure this space simply measure the square feet, then multiply this number by the height from floor to ceiling. You will then divide this number by 2. Let’s say your room is 450 square feet with 8-foot ceilings. The cubic feet would be 3,600. Divide by two and you get 1,800. This means you need a swamp cooler with a CFM rating of 1,800.

You should also consider the water capacity of the cooler. This is useful if a CFM rating is not specified by the manufacturer. The capacity will give you a good indication for how much space the unit can properly cool. (Some have direct-hose hookups, which means capacity is limitless. In this case, the principle doesn’t apply.) If you find a unit with 1 to 3 gallons, you can use if for small bedrooms, offices, and kitchens. If it has up to 7 gallons of capacity, you can used it effectively for mid-sized areas, such as dens and living rooms. If your evaporative cooler has a capacity of 7 to 12 gallons, then you likely have one that can effectively cool an area about the size of a large living room, large open kitchen, or large bedrooms. Up to 16 gallons and you’re looking at a unit that can actually dispense enough moisture to cool an outside area, such as a screened-in porch or pool deck. Over 16 gallons and you can use if for massive spaces like industrial facilities and sports arenas.

Swamp Coolers vs Air Conditioning: What’s the Difference?

If portable evaporative coolers are so useful and affordable, why don’t we use them all the time instead of running the air conditioner? After all, that would be a more effective use of our money.

Unfortunately, portable evaporative air coolers simply aren’t powerful enough to cool indoor areas when the temperature is extremely hot, even when used with other cooling appliances and cooling systems like a box fan or ceiling fan.

Air conditioners use a chemical process to cool the air. This process takes a lot more energy that simply running a fan over a damp sponge, which is essentially the process from an evaporative cooler. Evaporative air coolers can only go so far; if the temperature is in the 90’s and even into the 100’s, you’ll likely want to operate the air conditioner instead of the evaporative cooler to remove the warm air.

whole house fan for air cooling

A More Energy Efficient Option

If you live in a relatively dry area that cools down at night, another option is a whole house fan. A whole-house fan system uses up to 90% less energy than air conditioning and it can cool the whole home better than an evaporative cooler since it has a high air flow and does introduce humidity into your home unless it is very humid outside.

Enhance Your Home with Products from Oransi

You can have the benefit of clean air in your home. Visit Oransi and you’ll find a wide range of options for air purifiers, including large items for commercial spaces and small, quiet units that can be run in a child’s bedroom.