Jeff Flowers on August 15, 2017 5 Comments Sweltering heat may be great if you’re at the pool or the beach, but what do you do when those temperatures start to creep inside? If you’re like most people, you probably crank up your air conditioner and grab an ice-cold drink. There are many ways to cool down your home with air conditioning being the most widely used method. However, there are different types of air conditioners from which you can choose from, all with their own set of pros and cons. This can make your decision somewhat complicated and confusing. Below, we will take a closer look at evaporative coolers, one of the most popular types of air conditioners used by homeowners during the hot summer months, and how they differ from other A/C units. Let’s breakdown and compare how each cooling system works, the climates they work best in and the advantages of choosing one over the other. AC Units vs Swamp Coolers: How Do They Work? While both of these appliance are designed to cool your home, the do it in very different ways. Below, we’ve highlighted a quick rundown on how each of these cooling appliances work. Air Conditioners: An air conditioning unit is a box-like appliance that intakes hot air, cools it, expels heat and blows out cold air, all in the same unit. This is accomplished by a condenser coil that cools the air and an exhaust hose that expels the heat. This cooled air is pushed out into your living environment, providing you with the relief you need on a hot day. This cooled air is then circulated throughout your home, eventually finding its way back into the air conditioning unit to be cooled again. This process repeats itself until your desired temperature is reached, or the unit is turned off. Evaporative Cooler: An evaporative cooler, sometimes referred to as a swamp cooler, utilizes water-soaked pads to cool the air. This process works because a fan pulls hot air into the unit, sending it through a series of pads that helps evaporate the liquid into a gas which then blows out cooler than it was when it entered the unit. The evaporation process works similar to the effect of rubbing cold water on your skin on a hot day. How Do They Differ In Cooling? While air conditioners draw moisture out of the air, swamp coolers cool with the opposite effect by adding humidity to the air it blows out. The fan also continuously circulates air, creating a slight breeze, which will help make your body feel cooler. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Best Climates For Evaporative Coolers An air conditioner is best used in an area that has closed, continuous circulation, such as a home or office. Since they cool by dehumidifying the room, these systems work great in humid environments. The air will be more comfortable in a room that has had the humidity reduced, making an air conditioning unit the best choice for anyone living in humid areas. It’s also important to keep the area closed-off. Using an air conditioner in your garage, for example, is not a wise idea as the room is not completely closed off and the cooled air will simply drift outside. For those in dry environments, like the desert climates of the southwestern Untied States, an evaporative cooler can be an effective method of cooling yourself down on a summer day because they add moisture back into the air through evaporation. The drier air will absorb the cool moisture, resulting in cooler temperatures in your environment. In humid areas, evaporative swamp coolers are nearly ineffective because the air is already filled with moisture. Adding more moisture to the air is not recommended in humid climates. While an evaporative cooler will indeed cool down your home, it’s important that you keep the relative humidity levels below 50% in your home. Even if you live in the hottest, driest environment in the world, there are many problems that can arise if you have too much humidity in your home. Photo Credit: Honeywell The Benefits of Air Conditioners There are many benefits to buying an air conditioner instead of an evaporative cooler, especially for those living in humid climates. This is because the A/C unit reduces the humidity levels at the same time it cools the air in very humid environments. Another benefit of air conditioners are the wide variety of types and flexible placement options. Before we get into the benefits of evaporative coolers, let’s quickly review the benefits of other popular types of air conditioning. Central Air Conditioning: The most common air conditioner found in homes today, central air conditioners, also referred too as HVAC units, are great at cooling down your entire home at once. Expensive to install, replace and run on a regular basis, but a great A/C system for cooling down a full house of people. Portable Air Conditioners: Ideal for those on the move, portable air conditioning units are a great way to quickly cool down small homes, or just individual rooms within your home instead of your entire home. This strategic cooling method will not only cut your energy bills, but also save you lots of money in the process. Not to mention that it’s portable and can be moved from room-to-room at your leisure. Window Air Conditioners: One of the most energy efficient types of air conditioning available, window units have many of the same benefits as their portable counterparts. They can help cut your energy bills and save you money. However, unlike portable units, they are more difficult to install and unable to be moved from room-to-room whenever you’d like. Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners: These are essentially the same type of air conditioner as window units. However, instead of being installed in a window, they are actually installed within the wall. While very efficient and effective at cooling your home, through-the-wall units require a professional to install, as you will need to have a hole cut out of the wall in your home. This increases your overall initial costs. Mini-Split / Ductless Air Conditioners: This type of air conditioner has been growing in popularity these days. Mini-split ductless units work much like HVAC units, but are more effective at regulating the temperature from room-to-room while lowering your overall energy costs and saving you money. The downside is that installation requires a professional, and they are more expensive than other types of A/C units. The Benefits of Evaporative Swamp Coolers Swamp coolers, on the other hand, use the exact opposite methods of the air conditioners listed above to cool. Therefore, they have very different benefits associated with their use. In uncomfortably dry climates, evaporative units can serve to make conditions more livable by reducing some of the dryness from the air. Not only does this help make the air “feel” cooler, but may also help relieve some of the symptoms associated with itchy eyes, dry skin and sore throats. If you are on a budget, a swamp cooler will also be an appealing option, as they are typically a cheaper option than air conditioners. In fact, you could even build your own swamp cooler with the right tools. If you’re concerned about the environment, the natural process that occurs when using an evaporative cooler means they are very energy efficient with little-to-no emissions. Maintenance Tips for Evaporative Coolers One thing you should always know before you make a substantial purchase is the amount of maintenance that is going to be required. No matter what kind of appliance you buy, whether it’s an air conditioner or evaporative cooler, there are still some maintenance requirements that must be met in order to ensure that your unit operates in an efficient manner. First, each system comes with a venting kit that allows the hot air to leave the room through an exhaust hose. This is often done through a window, drop ceiling or wall, making this is a big factor in which system to purchase. In an evaporative cooler, the amount of maintenance depends on the type of system. A window-mounted unit requires simple measures in spring and fall to prepare for use and storage. In a portable unit, the filters and water curtains require cleaning every few weeks in addition to draining at the end of the season. Properly maintaining your unit will result in a longer-lasting machine and faster cooling during use. Final Buying Tips The decision of whether you should buy a swamp cooler or a more advanced air conditioner is a personal decision that will vary from person to person. It’s impossible for one person to say one is better than the other, as there are too many factors to consider within each of our lives. However, this choice greatly depends on where you live, how much work you’d like to do and what your housing situation is. Portable, window, or wall mounted air conditioners are strongly recommended for anyone living in humid climates because they create a drier, cooler room. Since an evaporative cooler’s main function is to add moisture to the air, they an affordable option for dry climates with low humidity levels, but even still, may not provide the level of relief that other types of A/C units can. Hopefully, this guide has helped you determine which model is best for your home. The summer heat can be miserable; I’m from Texas, I know this all too well. By picking the right A/C unit for your home, you will keep your home at cool and comfortable temperatures, allowing you to relax throughout the hot summer months.