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Do Swamp Coolers Actually Cool?

Swamp coolers are potentially a very effective cooling technology. Under the right conditions, they can cool air temperature by up to 30° F. This makes them an efficient alternative to air conditioning.

Here’s how swamp coolers create cooling, and what determines how much cooling they can provide.

How Swamp Coolers Cool the Air

“Swamp cooler” is a slang term for evaporative coolers. Evaporative coolers work by evaporating water. Evaporating water takes energy, and evaporative coolers take that energy in the form of heat from the air. It works the same way that sweat cools your body. When sweat evaporates from your skin, it takes energy, and that energy comes from the heat in your body.

This is such an effective cooling method that almost all plants and animals use it. It’s how your dog is cooling off when it pants. Your cat may groom excessively to make its fur wet so they cool off when it evaporates. Pigs wallow in mud so the water can evaporate and cool them off. Plants release water through their pores to cool off. Since plants also depend on water to stay rigid, this is why they wilt in the heat.

How Much Cooling Can Swamp Coolers Provide?

To evaporate water and cool the air, swamp coolers depend on the air being hot and dry. The air has to be hot, because this is the only way that it can supply the energy that evaporates the water. The air also has to be dry because if the air is already full of water (i.e. it’s very humid), not as much water will evaporate.

For very hot, dry air, a swamp cooler provides a lot of cooling. At 125° F and 2% humidity, an evaporative cooler can drop the air temperature to 83° F. In air that’s not as hot but more humid, the cooling is much less significant. At 80% humidity, a swamp cooler will only drop 75° F air to 72° F. However, this is a theoretical maximum. How much a swamp cooler can actually cool depends on the evaporative media and the amount of air the cooler can move.

how evaporative media works illustrationEvaporative media is designed to soak up water so that more of it contacts the air. Think of the difference between having a little water on your arm and having wet hair or wet clothes. With wet hair or wet clothes, you cool off a lot more because the hair or fabric lets more water contact the air and evaporate. More efficient evaporative media let swamp coolers approach their maximum efficiency, so that the air coming out of the swamp cooler might be 20° or 30°F cooler than the outside air. Less efficient evaporative media might reduce potential cooling by as much as half.

How much space a swamp cooler can cool depends on how much air the cooler can move. In general, assume that a swamp cooler can cool one square foot of area for each four cubic feet of air it moves per minute. This is a rough estimate, and it assumes that you’re cooling an area where you can’t trap the air – you have to be constantly providing cool air – but it gives you an idea. The more air a swamp cooler can blow, the more area it can keep cool.

Portacool Evaporative Coolers Provide a Lot of Cooling

Portacool evaporative coolers take full advantage of the cooling potential these machines can provide. That’s because they utilize the highly effective Kuul Comfort evaporative media and have very powerful fans. The Kuul Comfort evaporative media is highly engineered and manufactured from high-quality US-sourced materials to provide cooling that approaches the maximum possible. In addition, Kuul media is designed to meet the specifications of Portacool devices, ensuring the most effective results. This exceptional quality media is combined with fans that can drive as much as 22,000 cubic feet of air per minute, allowing you too cool just about any space.

Plus, Portacool evaporative coolers have been made in the USA since 1990, and we offer best-in-class warranties and customer service to make sure everyone gets the cooling they desire from their Portacool.

To get your Portacool evaporative cooler, please contact a local or online retailer today.