Before You Buy That Evaporative Cooler - Things to Know
One of the main benefits associated with evaporative coolers is that they can help circulate new air around your home, and can help increase the amount of available humidity in areas that are relatively dry.
Their natural cooling processes makes them friendly for the environment, while their budget-friendly prices and simple maintenance procedures are perfect for individuals who want to stay cool while saving money and time.
But as with anything in life, there are a few important considerations that you need to make before purchasing a portable evaporative cooler (or any type of evaporative cooler for that matter).
This guide will talk briefly about how evaporative coolers work, followed by discussing the different types that are available along with their features, benefits, and how they can make a positive impact on your home.
Evaporative Cooling 101 - Functionality and Benefits
As you already know, evaporative coolers can help keep your house or building cool, but how?
- Basically, these systems contain evaporative cooler parts that will help evaporate water, which in turn, gets released as cold air.
- When working properly, they can lower indoor temperatures to about 30-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Owners can help control airflow by opening their windows and doors and allowing the unit to push out all of the warm air that has accumulated inside.
- Evaporative coolers also help moisture to the air, which often helps lengthen the lifespan of wood and fabrics sine it keeps them from drying out.
- Finally, evaporative coolers can promote better health since they remove dust and allergens from the air.
Evaporative Coolers vs. Air Conditioners
Evaporative coolers can be used alone to help cool down a home or building.
Although the debate rages on, there's a lot of evidence to suggest that evaporative coolers are a much better option for homeowners.
- For one, they require lower maintenance and installation costs, and use about 75% less electricity.
- Unlike air conditioners, they don't release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Plus, they don't require you to keep your windows and doors closed, something that keeps stagnant air trapped inside of your home.
- For individuals who live in exceptionally dry climates, evaporative coolers can be much more effective at keeping your cool than an air conditioner.
- Instead of just pushing around old, dry air, these coolers will circulate new, cold air around your home.
Now that you understand how evaporative coolers work, their benefits, and how they match up against air conditioners, let's talk cover exactly what you need to know before purchasing one.
Choosing Between the Different Types of Evaporative Coolers
First off, it's important to note that there are many different types of evaporative coolers. They are as follows:
- Portable Evaporative Coolers: Portable evaporative coolers are better designed for smaller rooms or spaces in a home, and can effectively cool up to 300 square feet of living space.
- Window Units: Commonly referred to as "Through-The-Wall" units, these are designed to cool either single rooms, entire houses, or even garages.
- Down Discharge: Down discharge evaporative coolers are installed on top of a roof, and then discharge their cold air in a downward motion to help cool the entire home.
- Side Discharge: As their name might imply, these units are usually installed on the side of a home or building, and perform the same basic functions of helping cool down the inside air.
As you can see, evaporative coolers come in many shapes and sizes. In general, if you only need to cool down a single room, portable models are probably a better option. However, if you need to cool down an entire house, then the latter models are going to be more effective at doing this.
To help you make an even better decision as to which evaporative cooler is right for you, it's important to look at the types of pads that a particular unit uses.
The two main pad types that you'll encounter are rigid media pads and fiber pads.
- Fiber pads are usually the more inexpensive option of the two, but generally require more maintenance (and you might need to replace them more often).
- Rigid media pads are more expensive, but can last for years and don't need to be maintained that often.
Fiber pads are constructed from cellulose fiber or synthetic fiber, and are around 1 to 2-inches thick on average. They do require regular maintenance, and are better designed for evaporative cooler units that have inlets on many sides. As one of those parts of an evaporative cooler that are very important, fiber pads will ensure that the unit is able to produce cold air and increase air moisture.
Rigid media pads are constructed from stacked corrugated sheets, and are better suited for evaporative coolers with single inlets. While they do require a larger upfront investment, they will last longer and will require less general maintenance. Rigid media pads are anywhere between 8 and 12-inches thick, they allow air to pass through them at a lower velocity (which leads to more humidity), and finally, keep rooms a few degrees colder than fiber pads.
Looking into Ease/Price of Installation and Overall Flow
As you know by now, evaporative coolers come in many shapes and sizes, and are also constructed from different parts.
But now, let's talk briefly about ease of installation as well as overall air flow.
- The majority of whole-house evaporative coolers will be mounted on the roof, allowing them to blow air in a downward direction into the home. For cooling an entire home, these are probably the most common that you will see.
- However, if you're searching for convenience, a wall-mounted or "horizontal" unit will be better. They are not only easier to maintain but they do reduce the chances of experiencing a roof leak.
Both unit types will typically be centralized within a home so that they can effectively cool and reach all rooms within the building. In general, installing a roof mounted system will cost more than installing a wall mounted one, but this can also depend on your geographic location as well as the structure of your particular home.
What Are "CFM Ratings"?
An evaporative cooler will be rated based on the amount of airflow that it's able to provide over a given space. And the measurements are done in cubic feet per minute (CFM).
- As a general rule of thumb, residential models range anywhere from 3,000 to 8,500 CFM.
- If your home is larger than average, a CFM count of 7,000 or more would probably be ideal, and if your home is about average (or even smaller), anything between 3,500 and 5,500 would suit it just fine.
- Remember that the regular maintenance of your evaporative cooler will be the best way to ensure peak efficiency in the unit.
Other Accessories and Considerations to Keep in Mind before Committing to a Unit
Some evaporative coolers come with something called a "Purge Pump". These are basically designed to purge water every six to eight hours automatically.
As a result, mineral buildup within the unit is less likely to occur. Purge pumps can make a particular model much more costly, but are generally worth it over the long run.
A "Ceiling Vent" is also another accessory to watch out for. They are better suited for homes in which the owners are worried about keeping their doors and windows open due to a security issue.
These ducts will essentially push the warm air through an exhaust which will leave the home through another area, like a roof vent.
Choosing an Evaporative Cooler That's Most Size Effective for Your Living Space
- For instance, if an evaporative cooler is too small for your home, then it won't effectively cool down all of the rooms inside of it.
- Likewise, if it's too big, you'll find that keeping your home cool will be easy, but you'll be wasting more energy in the process.
To help you find the right size evaporative cooler, let's learn how to calculate CFM. With CFM, simply divide the cubic feet of your living space by two.
For example, if a living space is made up of 900 square feet, and has 8-foot ceilings, use the following formula: 900 x 8 / 2 = 3,600 CFM.
According to this example, you would need to purchase an evaporative cooler that has a CFM of at least 3,600 in order to keep a 900 square foot living space cool.
Evaporative Coolers Are Most Effective in Dryer Climates
Although evaporative coolers are most effective in dryer climates, they can be used in any home or building where you want to stay cooler, increase the quality of the air, and decrease dryness.
Purchasing an evaporative cooler doesn't need to be difficult, and as long as you follow the tips and advice presented in this guide, you shouldn't have any problem finding one that best suits your home.