With rising heating and cooling costs, HVAC contractors in Colorado Springs frequently get questions about swamp coolers and their effectiveness in our area. Also known as evaporative coolers, there is new curiosity about these appliances and whether they are an appropriate replacement for air conditioners. Before you overhaul your system, here are answers to common questions about swamp coolers.
What is a swamp cooler?
A swamp cooler is an appliance that cools air through water evaporation. It operates on the principle of air cooling as it blows across water. Swamp coolers do not contain refrigerants, but instead use water to cool the air.
They are frequently closed like a window air conditioner unit, but can also come in portable units, like a space heater. People also buy kits or parts to build them, as they are a fairly simple technology.
How does it work?
The swamp cooler normally hangs in a window like a small air conditioner. It works by processing air through a series of damp pads and blowing it through the house once cooled by the water. The pads stay wet through a series of pumps that transfer moisture from the air into the pads.
Since swamp systems rely on airflow, there is not the same requirement to keep your home or office airtight to maintain cool temperatures. Air from the swamp cooler needs a way out, so keeping doors and windows open help it, rather than hurt it. Swamp coolers can use a duct system like central air conditioning, but they need to be larger in order to accommodate the needed airflow.
What are its advantages?
Swamp coolers work great in dry climates, like ours here in Colorado. Air conditioners also dry the air, which works great in excessively humid environments. Since swamp coolers use water as the way to cool air, they also add humidity for uncomfortably dry days. People who face skin irritation or allergy issues due to dry days often enjoy the effects of the swamp cooler.
They are also inexpensive to build and install. While installing a central air conditioning system can cost thousands, it is estimated that swamp coolers cost anywhere from $700 to $1,000 to install. They also use one third as much electricity as air conditioning units and do not use any ozone depleting chemicals.
Can it replace my air conditioner?
Cooling effects depend upon the difference between wet and dry bulb temperature. Wet bulb temperature is the projected temperature if humidity is at 100 percent. You take it by covering a thermometer with a wet cloth and measuring the temperature as the cloth and thermometer are exposed to the air. Dry bulb is the current ambient temperature. The web bulb temperature needs to be lower than the dry bulb temperature for the system to work.
In high humidity environments where the ambient temperature feels hotter than it really is, there is no cooling effect because the humidity keeps the water pads inside the swamp cooler from cooling the air. In dry climates, the wet bulb temperature will be significantly lower than the dry bulb, which means the cooling effects will be more pronounced. Colorado offers an ideal environment for that reason.
Swamp coolers can prove more optimal in areas that are not always inhabited. Placing one in a shop or barn offers cooling advantages without spiking your utility bill.
For more information on swamp coolers and other cooling options, contact the HVAC contractors in Colorado Springs at BullsEye Plumbing Heating & Air.
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