Evaporative Cooler Basics
What is an Evaporative Cooler and How Does it Work?
If you've ever tried to determine the strength of the wind by holding a wet finger in the air, then you inadvertently already know how evaporative cooling works.
These units also happen to revolve around the same principle that cools people off after they swim. Being one of the oldest cooling methods around, it's also the simplest, and can save home owners thousands of dollars in installation and electricity costs.
Evaporative coolers are:
- Inexpensive, due how wonderfully simple they are.
- Great for the environment, because they release no harmful chemicals into the air.
If you move back even further in history, you'll discover that the ancient Egyptians also harnessed the principles behind evaporative cooling in their own homes.
They would basically hang a wet blanket across their doors, and when the breeze would blow in, it would cool down their living area.
These days, the process is much more sophisticated, and these devices are able to produce cool air using a variety of evaporative cooler parts (including a pad, motor, and pump just to name a few).
Where Do Evaporative Coolers work Best?
Despite what their names might suggest, a "swamp" isn't the best place to take advantage of a "swamp cooler."
In fact, in any area where there's a lot of humidity, an evaporative cooler won't make all that much a difference in temperature within your home.
It isn't clear exactly how they received their nickname (perhaps because they can develop a "swampy" smell if they aren't cleaned enough), but it's important to note that evaporative coolers are better suited for homeowners who reside in exceptionally dry or arid areas.
Evaporative coolers are based on proven, effective, and efficient technology that homeowners will be sure to love.
Evaporative Cooling Basics
Evaporative cooling is based on physics.
Whenever liquid molecules evaporative, they undergo a process by which air molecules change their state from a liquid to a gas.
As the liquid molecules become suspended in the air, they'll literally draw heat from the surrounding hot air and cool it down until both the air and water reach a point of equilibrium (a scientific term that means that the chemical interaction isn't going one way or the other).
The evaporative cooling process will also cool any remaining liquid since the hotter, faster-moving molecules will probably escape into the air.
An evaporative cooler will harness the above chemical reactions - as a homeowner, you just need to figure out how to circulate this cool air throughout your home.
If you're having difficulty imagining what an evaporative cooler looks and functions like, picture it like an air conditioner.
- The roof
- A window
- The ground (In the case of a portable evaporative cooler, on the ground in the room of your choosing.)
The primary difference between evaporative coolers and air conditioners is that evaporative coolers don't contain any complicated mix of harsh chemicals, which can be damaging to the environment.
As you'll see in more detail in the sections below, an evaporative cooler contains a few main components:
- A blower (designed to bring in air from the outside and push it through the other end)
- A pad (which stays moist to help encourage the evaporative process -- featured left).
There are many more parts associated with an evaporative cooler, but these are probably the two most important ones. Let's talk more about them below.
Evaporative Cooler Parts and Functions
As you already know, the two primary parts found in a swamp cooler include the air pump and the pad. So, what exactly do these do?
- Basically, the pad is what's going to hold the moisture.
- The pump is what's going to bring in warm air from the outside environment, cool it down by running it through the moist pad, and shoot it out the other end of the unit.
As you can see, both components can't function individually - they work together to ensure that the evaporative cooler can do its job.
Different model swamp coolers supply their pads with water in different ways. Some require the owner to do this manually, while others do it automatically.
On average, an evaporative cooler will consume anywhere between 2 and 15 gallons of water per day depending on the size of your home and how often you use it. Overall, evaporative coolers are quite durable, and generally require very little maintenance throughout the course of their lifespan.
Advantages of Evaporative Coolers
When used under the right conditions, an evaporative cooler can provide you with a wealth of benefits.
- First and foremost, they are cheap to install and build. The average non-portable evaporative cooler costs between $1,000 and $3,000 to purchase and install, while portable evaporative coolers can cost only a few hundred dollars (although they are designed for a small living area, like a single room).
- Finding replacement parts for an evaporative cooler is super-simple, and won't be a huge expense.
- Low maintenance. And whenever a maintenance procedure does need to be performed, it will generally be very straightforward and cost-efficient.
- Evaporative coolers are also healthy for the environment since they don't release toxic chemicals into the air.
- Air conditioners contribute to ozone destruction, but evaporative coolers do not.
- Evaporative coolers are also ideal because they'll remove stagnant air from your air, as well as other foreign pollutants and respiratory irritants. If you live with children who have asthma or other respiratory conditions, an evaporative cooler is recommended as it will keep the surrounding air cleaner, as well as more humid.
- Finally, evaporative coolers allow you to keep the windows and doors within your home open. As you might have already experienced when using an air conditioner, you need to keep your windows and doors closed to help prevent the loss of cold air. Unfortunately, all this does is help circulate stagnant, warm air throughout your home. A swamp cooler, on the other hand, will help circulate new air throughout your home, which is not only healthier but provides you with more flexibility as a homeowner.
Evaporative Cooler Designs, Types, and Models
There isn't a single, universal design for evaporative coolers. Like most things in life, they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. However, their main similarity is that they all contain pads that must stay moistened in order to produce cool air.
Some of the ways that different swamp coolers might differ is in the way that they supply their pads with water, as well as the ways that they distribute air throughout your home (and even their location).
Here are some of the more common types that you'll encounter:
- Direct Evaporative Cooling Units: These are used to lower your home's temperature by using dormant heating from evaporation, helping promote the state change of liquid water to water vapor. With these units, it's important to note that the energy in the air isn't going to change. The warm air is simply going to be converted into cooler, more humid air.
- Indirect Evaporative Cooling Units: Referred to as "closed circuit" cooling systems, these units will use a heat exchanger in order to function. In these types, the cooled air will never come into direct contact with conditioned air. Both indirect and direct cooling units are quite popular amongst homeowners who decide to choose an evaporative cooler for their home.
- Hybrid Units: This is when either ran indirect or direct cooling unit has been combined with absorption air conditioning or a vapor-compression system. Hybrids are designed to help increase the overall efficiency of a system.
There are also "portable" evaporative coolers. As their name might imply portable units are ones that you can move from room to room within your home.
Some of them have wheels, so that you can move them much more easily. It's important to note that with portable units, you'll only be able to effectively cool a single room or small area. Models that are non-portable will include either a roof-mounted system or a side-mounted system.
Roof-mounted systems will blow cold air into your home via a downward direction, usually with the help of air ducts that you will need to install if you home doesn't have them.
Side-mounted systems are usually installed in the place of windows, and will blow cold air into your home in a sideways direction.
Amongst the two models, roof models tend to be the most popular, but they can also require more maintenance (and cost more to fix).
Remember that if your home doesn't contain an existing duct system that can connect to your evaporative cooler, this is going to be an added expense that you'll need to keep in mind before having it installed.
Evaporative coolers are a safe, cost-efficient, and eco-friendly way to moisten the air in your home while ensuring that you remove pollutants and respiratory irritants at the same time.