What is a Swamp Cooler?
When summer temperatures come, it is time to start thinking of how to stay cool. If your house doesn’t have an air conditioner or other air cooling device it is time to start considering one.
Swamp Coolers are Evaporative Coolers. They cool the air by using evaporating water. The colder air then pushes warm air out the windows and cools down the house.
Air Conditioners draw in warm air and removes the heat from the air and then release the heat back into the house.
When making a decision to buy a Swamp Cooler or an Air Conditioner, make sure you have all the facts before you buy.
What is a Swamp Cooler?
A Swamp Cooler is a type of Evaporative Cooler. An Evaporative Cooler pulls air through water-saturated pads. This process cools the air down and adds a bit of water to the air.
Warm air in the house or building is then pushed out of open windows and replaced by this fresh, cooler air. Air that passes through a Swamp Cooler can be 15-40 degrees cooler when it comes out than it was when it went in.
Why is it Called a Swamp Cooler?
The idea of cooling the air using water can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians. However, it wasn’t until the 1900s that the first air conditioning prototypes began to emerge.
No one is really sure where and how Swamp Coolers got their name. Some say it is because they make the air humid. Others say it is because if the Cooler isn’t maintained it begins to smell like a swap. Whatever the answer, Swamp Coolers do a great job of cooling the air.
How does a Swamp Cooler Work?
Swamp Coolers work by taking in hot, dry air. To facilitate this process, open all windows and any doors that have screens to protect from bugs. This will allow the Swamp Cooler to pull in new air to cool and give the rejected warm air a way to get out.
Even though it is called a Swamp Cooler, Swamp Coolers need dry air to work well. Humid air leaves no room for more water to evaporate into the air. This means a Swamp Cooler does not work well in Swamps and other humid areas.
What is a Portable Swamp Cooler? or What is a Swamp Cooler System?
There are a few key differences?. The first key difference is that Swamp Coolers are continually using new, fresh air and cooling it down. Air Conditioners on the other hand often use recycled air. This is why Air Conditioners do not need open windows but a Swamp Cooler does.
Another key difference is how they cool the air. A Swamp Cooler cools the air by pulling warm air through cool water pads. This cools the air and adds refreshing humidity. An Air Conditioner uses refrigerants to cool the air by removing heat and humidity.
Another big difference is their environmental impact. Air Conditioners use refrigerants that need to be safely disposed of and can be toxic. They also use a lot of energy to run. Swamp Coolers on the other hand use less energy and no chemicals to cool the air.
Lastly, the installation and maintenance of these two coolers is very different. An Air Conditioner System can cost $3,000-$7,000 to install. A Portable Air Conditioner often costs around $200-$600. A Swamp Cooler (or Evaporative Cooler System) installation costs about $1,500-$4,000. A Portable Swamp Cooler costs about $100-$1000.
While the cost of the portable versions is similar, the cost for running these two coolers is very different. An Installed Air Conditioner can cost hundreds of dollars a month in energy bills. Whereas an Installed Swamp Cooler uses about 25% of the energy of an Air Conditioner. Portable versions use less energy all around, however, Swamp Coolers still win out by using less energy.
Air Conditioners require maintenance visits from a professional twice a year for optimum performance. Swamp Coolers only require yearly servicing. This means Swamp Coolers cost about half as much to maintain.
How Effective are Swamp Coolers?
A Swamp Cooler’s effectiveness depends on the climate. In a hot, dry climate the Swamp Cooler is able to cool the air considerably. In a damper climate, it will still work but it won’t cool the air as much.
If you live in a hot, arid climate a Swamp Cooler is probably the best option. If you live in a humid climate your Swamp Cooler will still work so long as you have plenty of windows for air circulation. If you do not have a lot of windows, an Air Conditioner would likely be a better fit.
Something to consider is how much you care about the temperature. An Air Conditioner can regulate the temperature a lot better than a Swamp Cooler. However, that regulation comes at a cost: the energy used to keep the Air Conditioner running.
How to Make a Swamp Cooler
Given the costs of installing an Air Conditioner or a Swamp Cooler, many people wonder if they can make their own. You cannot make your own Air Conditioner. However, you can make your own Swamp Cooler.
A Swamp Cooling System requires ducts throughout the house, just like an Air Conditioning System. Unless you are a contractor, you cannot make and install this type of Cooling System.
However, you can make a smaller, more portable kind of Swamp Cooler for your home. You will need:
- A box fan
- A Five Gallon or larger Bucket
- A Drill
- A kiddie pool or other large round water catcher (big enough to fit the bucket and any melted water)
- And Lots of Ice
The steps to making your own Swamp fan are fairly simple.
- Decide where to put your Swamp Fan. If you have a large house you may need more than one. This fan works in open spaces or you will need multiple for different rooms.
- Drill holes in the sides of the bucket. You want to have small holes so that the ice will not escape. Do the drilling outside or in the garage.
- Place the bucket open-end up in the kiddie pool. This will hold the water as the ice melts. You can scoop out water into ice trays and refreeze it to help save resources.
- Dump ice in the bucket. Fill the bucket with ice, make sure there is room for air to move amongst the ice cubes.
- Place the fan on top of the bucket so that it will blow air down into the ice. This air will then cool off as it runs along the ice and will escape from the holes in the bucket.
While a homemade Swamp Cooler is affordable, it is not as effective as a portable or installed Swamp Cooler.
What are swamp cooler pads made of?
Swamp Cooler Pads are where the air runs through and is cooled by the water in the pads. Swamp Cooler Pads are traditionally made of wood fibers. Some more modern versions are made of plastic or melamine paper. The pads should be replaced every 3-5 years. If they start smelling it is time to replace them.
- What if you purchase Swamp Cooling Pads and they do not fit? can you cut swamp cooler pads?
Never, cut Swamp Cooler Pads. If they do not fit quite right, you either need to exchange them or fold in the edges until it fits. If it is too small make sure it is secure, but otherwise, it will still work, just not as well.
- How to Measure Swamp Cooler Pads
To avoid the problem of pads not fitting, make sure to measure the old pad as well as the space it came from. They should be the same size, but just in case, write down the measurement for the space. Take your measurements with you when you go shopping for new pads.
You can of course have your yearly maintenance person do this for you, but if you need to change the pads in between visits. It is easy to do. Just pop the old ones out, measure for size, buy new ones, and pop them in.
The Blast Auxiliary Portable AC is a great combination of Air Conditioner and Swamp Fan. This small, portable fan can be a simple fan blowing air to keep it circulating. It has a button where you can turn the humidifier on or off.
When the humidifier is off it is a fan. When you turn it on it pulls air through a “water curtain” that has a similar purpose to a swamp fan pad, it cools the air. In addition, the “water curtain” also filters the air and removes some of the common allergens like dust and pollen.
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