Evaporative Cooling: What You Need to Know

With Australia’s scorching summer heat setting in, we’re all up to our necks looking for a cooling solution that makes the seasonal transition a bit easier.

That’s why this blog’s topic of banter – evaporative cooling – is a timely one. There are plenty of good reasons to make evaporative your preferred cooling option.

So, let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of evaporative cooling.

The Basics of Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling, often referred to as “swamp cooling”, is a method of cooling air with the help of water evaporation. In simple terms, hot and dry air is transformed into cooler, more moisturised air.

This happens as the evaporative cooling units draw in hot, dry outside air, pass it over water-soaked cooling pads, and then circulate the now cooled moist air inside. Got that? Good.

Sometimes, the oldest tricks are the best, and the brilliance of evaporative coolers lies in their simplicity. When we perspire, and a breeze goes by, we feel colder − that’s evaporative cooling at work too. It’s a natural process, just mechanically tweaked by evaporative cooling devices for our comfort.

What Happens If You Don’t Open Windows?

You should keep your doors and windows open when using evaporative cooling. Now, you may ask why that is so essential. Well, to answer that, imagine running your evaporative cooler with all windows and doors shut.

The cooler continues to pump cool, moist air into your home. But with nowhere to go, the humidity level within the space begins to build up.

This humidity can become a problem. Because the evaporative cooling effect relies on the evaporation of water into dry air, as the air becomes saturated with humidity, the effectiveness of the evaporative cooling process begins to dwindle.

So, the answer to the question is straightforward. When you don’t open windows or doors using evaporative cooling, you end up with a humid environment and a less effective cooling system. So, let your swamp cooler breathe, folks!

A Metro Heating and Cooling tech installs an evaporative cooler

Are Evaporative Cooling Systems Any Good?

Whether evaporative cooling systems rank well against traditional air conditioners is a question whose answer tends to oscillate depending on where you are and what your cooling needs are.

An evaporative cooling air conditioner, for instance, is absolutely ideal if you find yourself in drier locales, where the mercury tends to soar. They offer a constant supply of fresh air that also filters out dust particles and outdoor contaminants.

However, if you reside in areas with high humidity, these units might not be the most efficient. When the surrounding air already has a high moisture content, the cooling capacity of evaporative units tends to taper off.

In comparison to standard air conditioning systems, evaporative coolers are also simpler, both in terms of construction and operation.

Simplified workings mean fewer parts that can go wrong, ensuring optimal performance for more extended periods. Energy efficiency is another evident benefit. Evaporative cooling can chill your living spaces while consuming significantly less electricity, helping you keep energy bills in check.

The evaporative cooling system won’t recycle air unlike the majority of air conditioning units. Unless you fancy a home environment dense with the stale, recycled air, this is a significant plus. As previously stated, most evaporative cooling systems necessitate the opening of doors and windows, promoting a continuous supply of fresh air.

Let’s Talk About the ‘How’

Understanding how evaporative cooling works can help underscore why hiring a professional to install your evaporative cooling system is of the essence.

Incoming hot air from the outside is sucked into the swamp cooler and directed over evaporative cooling pads that are kept damp with the help of a water pump.

As the warm air passes over the soaked pads, the water evaporates, causing the air temperature to significantly drop.

In an evaporative cooler, the fan speed is crucial. And, to ensure the process runs smoothly, you need a trained professional.

They are well-versed with all hardware parts like the fan, water pump, and filter pads, and they have the knowledge and experience to fine-tune everything to your requirements for maximum effectiveness.

Consider the Disadvantages

While evaporative cooling boasts many benefits, it’s also essential not to turn a blind eye to the disadvantages it may come with.

Despite the energy efficiency and fresh air, evaporative cooling may not be the best choice for homes in humid climates, as previously mentioned.

The moisture content of the air in these regions is already high, making the cooling effect of evaporative systems less pronounced.

It could also be argued that the constant need to keep doors and windows open for effective performance could compromise security. Apart from this, the cooling effect of evaporative coolers does tend to be somewhat less potent when compared to the traditional air conditioners.

Is Evaporative Cooling as Good as Standard Air Conditioning?

This really is a question of horses for courses − air conditioning units and evaporative cooling systems each have their unique advantages, benefits and drawbacks.

On the one hand, air conditioning can offer more uniform climate control and can operate regardless of external humidity levels. Yet, it involves running costs that are higher and doesn’t offer the same level of energy efficiency as evaporative cooling.

On the flip side, evaporative coolers are a great energy-efficient, cost-effective alternative to air conditioning, particularly in dry, arid environments. However, their efficiency can diminish substantially in humid environments, and they may not offer the same level of comfort for those who prefer a drier climate.

Installing an evaporative cooler

An Eco-Friendly Choice

The use of evaporative cooling technology has another advantage: it leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Traditional air conditioning systems often rely on refrigerants like hydrofluorocarbons, which are major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.

Evaporative coolers work with water, with zero need for harmful chemical refrigerants, making them an environmentally friendly option.

Moreover, evaporative cooling operates on less electricity, translating to less reliance on energy sources that contribute to carbon emissions. So, if you’re keen on reducing your environmental impact, opting for an evaporative cooling system is one conscious decision you can take.

Saving Energy with Evaporative Coolers

A significant advantage of evaporative cooler units is, undoubtedly, their energy efficiency. When compared to traditional cooling power, these innovative cooling devices require about 50% less energy to operate.

This minor detail can significantly streamline your energy consumption during the blistering summer months, resulting in substantial savings on your power bills. Not to mention, the lesser energy your cooling system consumes, the lesser our dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

Talk about being cost-effective and eco-friendly.

Always Call the Professionals

While DIY may seem enticing, particularly with all the self-help guides floating around on the internet, this kind of project would be illegal and potentially dangerous.

The importance of professional involvement in the installation and maintenance of evaporative cooling work cannot be overstated. You must always hire a professional heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician to install an evaporative cooling system.

The Many Benefits of Evaporative Cooling

Now it’s time to consider the many benefits of evaporative cooling systems and how they can be used in different households.

1. Cool Down Specific Zones

Unlike traditional central air conditioning systems, evaporative coolers deliver you the flexibility of cooling specific zones within your space. With “zoning”, or the ability to cool distinct zones independently, you can customise your indoor climate depending on the usage of each zone.

For instance, in a home setting, your living room may be occupied more frequently during the day, while bedrooms are primarily used at night. Here, you’d want to cool the living zone in the daytime and switch to the sleeping zone at night.

This kind of personalised zoning helps in optimising energy usage and ensuring everyone’s comfort. A professional installer can guide you in laying out the most effective zoning strategy for your property, thereby maximising your evaporative cooler’s performance and your comfort levels.

2. The Importance of Fan Speed

Determining and setting the correct fan speed is a key aspect of evaporative cooling functionality. The fan speed ultimately determines how quickly the cool air is circulated within your space. Too slow, and the cooling effect might not keep up with the rising temperature. Too fast, and your surroundings might become uncomfortably chilly.

Some might argue that the faster the fan speed, the cooler the environment. However, remember that these units work on the evaporation process.

If the fan speed is exceptionally high, the outside air might pass through the cooling pads too quickly, not allowing enough time for optimal evaporation. The result could be cooler air that is less efficient because it still contains a considerable amount of heat.

Professionals understand these nuances, and know how to adjust the fan speed, ensuring the evaporative cooler works at its best. They account for external weather conditions, the specific zone distribution, and the moisture content in the air, making sure the fan speed contributes positively to the overall performance of the evaporative cooler.

An evaporative cooler installed by Metro Heating and Cooling

3. Calculating Optimal Running Costs

When it comes to running costs, evaporative coolers generally fare better than traditional air conditioning systems due to their energy-efficient operation. However, several factors determine this cost. These include:

  • Local energy rates
  • Duration of usage
  • Size of the area to be cooled
  • Local weather patterns
  • Maintenance practices
  • Cooling requirements

Professional installers and consultants usually help you with these calculations, giving you a more precise idea of running costs. They help factor in all variables, ensuring you get a comprehensive picture of the running expenses.

Moreover, when it comes to maintenance, such as replacing cooling pads or fixing leaks promptly, professional advice helps you prevent inflated costs down the line.

Remember, preventive maintenance is always a cost-effective solution, and a well-maintained system consumes less energy for optimal performance.

Hence, hiring professionals for installation and upkeep leads to consistent top-notch performance and longer lifespan of an evaporative cooler.

For Your Peace of Mind

If you’re considering investing in an evaporative cooler, that’s probably how you’ve stumbled upon this blog.

Well, that’s your good fortune. Because the takeaway message is simple: always hire a professional when it comes to choosing and installing an evaporative cooler. It’s the only legal way to do it and the only way you can fully relish in the benefits of evaporative cooling with added peace of mind.

That way you’ll ensure the system’s optimal performance and maintain the longevity of your evaporative cooling unit. Here’s hoping you’ve gained some insight into evaporative cooling and its inherent benefits. Until next time, stay cool!

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.


Published: 6 February 2024