What Exactly Is A “Swamp Cooler?” Are They Effective?

Like many homeowners, you may be searching for ways to lower your cooling costs. A swamp cooler is a promising option that you might come across.

What’s The Difference Between A Swamp Cooler And A Swamp?

Swamp coolers are also known as evaporative coolers. They can be used to keep some homes cooler. We’ll get back to those “some” later, but let’s start with sweat.

Yes, sweat.

Our sympathetic nervous system signals our sweat glands that our body temperature is rising. Different parts of our bodies produce different types, but they all serve the same purpose: to cool down. The heat that is taken with sweat from the skin (we won’t go into the physics lesson) helps to lower our body temperature.

Evaporative coolers, which are roughly the same size and shape as a room air conditioner work in a similar fashion:

  • From the outside, warm air is drawn inside.
  • The air moves over a water-saturated pad.
  • Water evaporates in the air and cools it.
  • The room is cooled by a fan.
  • The cooler air outside is displaced from the warm air in the room.

How Does A Swamp Chiller Differ From An Air Conditioner?

Standard air conditioners continuously circulate the same air, while evaporative coolants rely on constant, warm outside air. Swamp coolers also don’t use a duct network like central air conditioners. Instead, air flows through the windows and doors of the home to various parts.

Air conditioners must use some sort of refrigerant to cool their air. However, these chemicals are often harmful to the environment. Evaporative coolers require just water.

One of the best things about swamp coolers versus air conditioners is the cost to install and maintain. Evaporative coolers can be much more affordable to install and maintain. On average, they consume about half the energy of traditional AC units.

Why Is A Swamp Cooler Only Good For Some Homes?

Swamp coolers can only be used in dry environments. They work by adding moisture to air so already humid conditions may get stickier rather than cooler.

Two things are required to determine if a swamp cooler could make a big difference in your life: the wet and dry bulb temperatures. The easiest way to find the dry bulb temp is to look at your thermostat, and take note of the temperature inside your home. The wet temperature is the difference in how hot or cold your home would feel if it had 100% humidity. Simply cover a thermometer using a wet towel sock, then run a fan along with it.

Now calculate the difference, which is the wet bulb depression. A swamp cooler can reduce the temperature by up to 95%. As the web temperature and dry bulb temperatures rise, which they will, the swamp cooler’s effectiveness diminishes drastically. You’ll be disappointed by your results if the web bulb temperature exceeds 70 degrees F.

What Maintenance Are Swamp Coolers Required?

You should not hesitate to throw out your Santa Fe AC for an evaporative cooler. They require a lot more maintenance. The pads will need to be changed or cleaned at least monthly. Otherwise, they will smell. This is why evaporative coolers have earned their swampy name. A pump and filters will also be required. You will need to regularly clean and scrub the reservoir, as mineral deposits can build up over time. Finally, evaporative cooling units are mounted on the roof. This can cause damage to your home and make it more difficult to do your monthly maintenance.