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AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. #4110672 05/30/16 04:40 PM
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3for3 Offline OP
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I live in a desert climate in Southern California. My house currently has a central AC unit that is about 18 years old and not very effective at cooling anymore. An AC tech said I should seriously consider just buying a new unit.

I am thinking of going with a new AC system, or a central Evaporative Cooler (aka swamp cooler).

My research shows that a swamp cooler is less expensive to purchase and operate, and does a decent job cooling an entire home in hot dry climates. But, does it cool down enough, or will I regret not buying an AC? I have no experience with swamp coolers. Temperatures will be in the mid 90's to low 100's and very dry for a few months here.

Anyone here use a central swamp cooler unit, and can give feedback on their effectiveness, and other pros and cons?


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110683 05/30/16 05:10 PM
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rshaw125 Offline
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18 years old is not necessarily done. I have one in a rental that is 38 years old. A few parts over the years but works fine. Maybe it just needs some maintenance?


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110685 05/30/16 05:14 PM
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dishdude Online Content
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Swamp coolers are gross, they're pretty much a giant humidifier. I would consider one for a warehouse or garage, but not a house.

As far as effectiveness, as soon as the humidity gets above 20% they are useless.


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110699 05/30/16 05:31 PM
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spackard Offline
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Mainly you use them where there is a lot of air exchange, as in commercial kitchens. Most doughnut houses have them. Air is cooled but then you don't get that cool because your body uses evaporation to cool itself and the humid air slows that.

Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110708 05/30/16 05:40 PM
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mehullica Offline
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Look into a good whole house fan. Use one here on cooler nights, & in 100 degree days it says comfortable

Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110731 05/30/16 06:19 PM
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Fsharp Offline
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We had a whole house swamp cooler growing up in western Colorado. I remember it worked great to cool the house. Remember you're going to have to go up on the roof to clean it and change the evaporation pads out every once in a while. I think they're great if the climate's dry enough to use one.

Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110767 05/30/16 06:53 PM
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I live east of Redding Calif and have a swamp cooler is all I use for cooling. The Aspen type pads are higher maintenance than the Master Cool pads. but you can double up the Aspen pads which work better than any other type pads. Doubling the pads gets me up to a 20* drop in temps from the ambient temps when the humidity is low. The secret with a swamp cooler is they work be air flow so a window at the opposite end of the house has to be open . Adjust the air flow by seeing if a tissue paper just starts to slide down the screen when the cooler is running. An air conditioner works better. It is 95* now and the inside thermometer reads 78.

Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110776 05/30/16 07:01 PM
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CT8 Offline
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I live east of Redding Calif and have a swamp cooler is all I use for cooling. The Aspen type pads are higher maintenance than the Master Cool pads. but you can double up the Aspen pads which work better than any other type pads. Doubling the pads gets me up to a 20* drop in temps from the ambient temps when the humidity is low. The secret with a swamp cooler is they work be air flow so a window at the opposite end of the house has to be open . Adjust the air flow by seeing if a tissue paper just starts to slide down the screen when the cooler is running. An air conditioner works better. It is 95* now and the inside thermometer reads 78.

Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110782 05/30/16 07:05 PM
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azjake Offline
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Originally Posted By: 3for3
I live in a desert climate in Southern California. My house currently has a central AC unit that is about 18 years old and not very effective at cooling anymore. An AC tech said I should seriously consider just buying a new unit.

I am thinking of going with a new AC system, or a central Evaporative Cooler (aka swamp cooler).

My research shows that a swamp cooler is less expensive to purchase and operate, and does a decent job cooling an entire home in hot dry climates. But, does it cool down enough, or will I regret not buying an AC? I have no experience with swamp coolers. Temperatures will be in the mid 90's to low 100's and very dry for a few months here.

Anyone here use a central swamp cooler unit, and can give feedback on their effectiveness, and other pros and cons?

Here in Phoenix we have the 3+ month monsoon (mid June to end of Sept), where humidity often gets too high for evap to work. Do you have the same in the SoCal desert? If so, you will need an A/C for that time. Generally once the dew point gets above 55 degrees evap is less effective, and can actually make it more miserable in the home. And yes, you need to keep on top of maintenance with an evap.

Last edited by azjake; 05/30/16 07:07 PM.

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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110792 05/30/16 07:16 PM
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Im in Apple valley. Almost every one uses swamp coolers.got mine running right now but it's getting too cold so I'll turn it off in a minute.

The electrical cost between a swamp cooler and as is hundreds a month!


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: mehullica] #4110798 05/30/16 07:21 PM
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Al Offline
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Originally Posted By: mehullica
Look into a good whole house fan. Use one here on cooler nights, & in 100 degree days it says comfortable

When you bring night air your house will turn into a mildew and mold disaster..just ask me how I know.


Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: Al] #4110815 05/30/16 07:37 PM
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AZjeff Offline
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Originally Posted By: Al

When you bring night air your house will turn into a mildew and mold disaster..just ask me how I know.


When the relative humidity is in the teens or less (it's 8% here right now) mold caused by night air is not a problem. This ain't Pa. (I lived in western Pa for 48 years).

We have a cooler that I haven't put water in for years. Run the fan in the early morning to pull cool air in for the day. We do fine with 2 window AC units that run in the evening. You can feel the humidity in the air when you walk inside and the swamper is running, and as said, during the summer monsoon season they pretty much don't work.


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110821 05/30/16 07:46 PM
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double vanos Offline
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My experience here in Bisbee, Az. is confined to our 700 sq ft bungalow which started out with a swamp cooler. They are nasty IMHO as they are always pumping moisture into the house. And we've had a few leakage problems, mostly due to my mother in laws lack of maintenance. They also tear up electrify AND water.
We switched over to 2 small high seer window A/Cs and the house is cooler, drier and cheaper to keep it that way. The electric bill is about the same, but the water bill is back to minimum charge. Also, the A/C units take little in the way of upkeep.
If you stay on top of the occasional sales, they're not bad to purchase either. As a matter of fact I have one in reserve that I purchased during a sales event at Lowes.


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110871 05/30/16 08:45 PM
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AZjeff Offline
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OP, I see right now in your location it's 61% RH and dewpoint of 56deg. A cooler would do nothing at those levels. Best for you to check average RH & dewpoint for the hot months and see if it makes sense.


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Re: AC vs. Evaporative Cooler. [Re: 3for3] #4110950 05/30/16 09:58 PM
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3for3 Offline OP
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Great feedback from you all, thank you.

It is sounding like a new AC system is the way to go. It does get hot and humid here at times, and I would like to have a system that cools the house no matter what the humidity levels are outside. Plus the required swamp cooler maintenance mentioned, does not sound good to me. I don't want to be on the roof several times a year changing filters and dealing with water levels, leaks...

AC for the win, year round usage no worries.

The AC tech that came out to service the AC unit said it wasn't really worth putting any money into the old unit. He recommended I shop around for a new one.


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