If you live in a hot, dry climate, a swamp cooler may be just what you need to economically and quickly make your home more comfortable.
Air conditioners and swamp coolers are very different appliances. An air conditioner is designed to remove humidity and heat from an environment. A swamp cooler is designed to add humidity to an environment.
An air conditioner works with a refrigerant and a compressor and evaporator, similar to a refrigerator. The refrigerant (Freon is one example) is passed through an evaporator, where the refrigerant absorbs heat from the environment and turns into a gas. The refrigerant is then pumped to a compressor where pressure is used to turn the gas back into a liquid, and the heat released by this phase change is vented to the outside. An air conditioner reduces humidity because the water vapor in the air tends to condense on the evaporator. This condensed water is drained away, thus reducing the relative humidity inside the air-conditioned space. An air conditioner is designed to keep humidity levels in a range of 40-60%.
An air conditioner requires a substantial amount of energy to run, because an electric motor is required to pump the refrigerant through the system and to operate the compressor. In addition, a fan moves the cooled air through ducts to all parts of the building in a central air system or directly into the room in the case of a window or wall-mounted air conditioner.
A swamp cooler, or evaporative cooler, on the other hand, is simply a fan that blows through or across a medium that is dampened. A swamp cooler can be as simple as a fan blowing across a container of cool water. Most commercial swamp coolers consist of a box frame that supports wet pads. A fan blows air through the pads. Because swamp coolers are used in dry climates, the air absorbs water from the pads and the temperature drops. The process is similar to the way you feel cooler when a breeze blows against your skin when you’re sweating.
A swamp cooler can use 75% less energy than an air conditioner because it is only using energy to operate a fan motor. However, a swamp cooler will not be effective in a humid environment. It can also use a large amount of water, depending on just how dry the ambient air is.
If you live in a dry climate, maybe a swamp cooler is the right choice to help you beat the heat without breaking the bank. Check out these tips for making a swamp cooler at home.