Swamp coolers are an effective method for cooling indoor spaces. However, depending on the climate where you live, evaporative cooling might not be the most effective option for you.
Thus, understanding how evaporative air coolers work will help you decide if this is the right cooling solution for you.
How Evaporative Cooling Works
Evaporative cooling occurs naturally all around us. For example, you feel it when you step out of a pool on a hot day and immediately feel a chill. These cooling effects occur because as dry air passes over water, the dry air will absorb some of the water.
This absorption occurs when the temperature and vapor pressure of the water attempt to equalize with the air. As a result, water molecules turn into gas molecules and heat switches from the higher air temperature to the lower water temperature. Since the air circulates naturally, the area around it is cooled.
To consistently cool your home, residential evaporative air coolers build on this natural phenomenon, using a fan to draw warm, stale air inside the unit, where it passes over water-moistened pads to be cooled.
During this process, the air is cooled up to 20 degrees. Then, the cool, rejuvenated air is circulated throughout your environment. Since the cool air is continually circulating and creating a breeze, your ambient temperature will feel lower than the actual temperature.
The key to effectively cooling your home with an evaporative cooler is hot, dry air such as what is found in desert areas like the southwestern United States. In fact, evaporative coolers are most effective during the hottest times of the day and when humidity levels are below 60 percent.
Although the name "swamp cooler" sounds like it would cool muggy, swamp-like conditions, these machines would actually be ineffective in warm, humid areas like the southeastern United States because the air is so heavily saturated with moisture.
Evaporative coolers tend to work best when relative humidity is 60% or less; however, evaporative coolers can work in humid conditions when they are used in semi-outdoor (loading bays and docks, garages) and outdoor conditions (sporting events, festivals) for moisture evaporation.
Because of the potential for moisture build-up indoors, an open window or door is required for use and not recommended for indoor use in humid climates. For people living in more humid climates who are searching for a cost-effective alternative to traditional central air conditioning systems, consider portable air conditioners or window air conditioners.
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