Difference Between Air Conditioners and Evaporative Coolers

13 Apr
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There are many ways that you can effectively cool your home, office, or work area, no matter how great or small it is. Thankfully, air conditioning and climate control technology gives us a variety of effective options for keeping our immediate environment at a comfortable temperature. 

One question we get quite often in our field is “what is the difference between air conditioners and evaporative coolers?” Many people believe that cooling technology is cooling technology, and as long as the result is a cooler environment, it doesn’t really matter how you get there. The reality is that the most effective method for cooling your immediate environment is dependent on several key factors. That being said, there are some unique benefits of using evaporative coolers vs. air conditioners and vice versa, depending on your needs and circumstances. 

Key Takeaways on Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, are great for cooling large areas, especially in dry, hot climates and weather. Here are some of the key takeaways and top things you need to know about evaporative cooling, including some of the unique benefits and costs associated with it: 

  • They are economical to use and operate. 
  • Evaporative coolers are very energy efficient. 
  • They work really well in hot, dry climates. 
  • They produce fresh clean air to circulate around your home or surrounding environment. 
  • They are inexpensive to install. 
  • They require very little in terms of maintenance. 
  • They are environmentally friendly and have very low carbon monoxide emissions. 
  • Evaporative coolers add cool moisture to the air. 
  • They allow for open doors and windows. 
  • Evaporative cooling units don’t make a lot of noise while they are running. 

Overall, there are a lot of unique benefits that come with installing and using an evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler) in your immediate vicinity. 

Key Takeaways on Traditional Air Conditioners

Air conditioners and AC units are what we think of when we consider cooling in homes, offices, and other climate-controlled areas. Here are some of the key takeaways, unique benefits, and costs of using a traditional air conditioner vs. other methods of cooling. 

  • They have a higher operating cost than other cooling systems. 
  • Air conditioners also use more energy than evaporative coolers and other forms of cooling. 
  • Air conditioners are effective in any climate imaginable, both humid and dry weather. 
  • They use recirculated air to cool the air in the surrounding indoor environment.
  • They have much higher upfront installation costs than other forms of cooling. 
  • Air conditioners require regular cleaning and maintenance. 
  • AC units have much higher emissions in comparison to other cooling systems. 
  • They remove moisture from the air, to take advantage of dry cooling.
  • They are very effective in enclosed spaces like homes, rooms, and offices. 
  • They can make a lot of noise when they are running. 

Air Quality of Evaporative Coolers vs. Air Conditioners

Evaporative coolers work best for circulating outside air throughout your home, office, or the environment they are set up in. This keeps fresh air in the area and keeps it from becoming stale. Traditional air conditioning unit technology takes the air from within a home or area, processes it through the cooling system, and recirculates that cooler, interior air within the home. This process is efficient but can lead the inside air to feel staler. 

For air conditioning units to work at maximum efficiency, you need to make sure that your windows and doors are closed. Conversely, you can use evaporative coolers with windows and doors open. 

Operational Costs of Evaporative Coolers vs. Air Conditioners

Most evaporative cooling units or swamp coolers are incredibly energy efficient, which makes them a nice choice for people who want to pick a cooling solution that is a little more economically conscious. One of the reasons that many people really like using evaporative coolers for keeping an area cool is because they cause far less to install and they are very inexpensive to maintain and repair. 

With that, you can get evaporative coolers that are mobile, so you can roll or relocate them to different areas that you need them in. As long as you give your evaporative cooler some minimal seasonal maintenance, it should work in tip-top shape for years to come. Evaporative coolers work best and most efficiently in areas that are dry and hot. They don’t work as well or seem as effective in areas of high humidity. 

Operational costs of air conditioners are relatively low as well, but they do require more in ongoing maintenance. Since many AC units are housed outdoors, they need a little more maintenance than indoor evaporative coolers. The benefit of a central air conditioning unit is that it can efficiently cool a larger area than an evaporative cooler. 

Moisture levels of Evaporative Coolers vs. Air Conditioners

Evaporative coolers add moisture to the air in your surrounding environment. It works to cool your home, office, or immediate area through the process of evaporation. That makes them great for people with dry eyes and dry skin. Traditional air conditioners work to remove moisture from the air, to make the air less wet and humid. 

Environmental Concerns of Each

Traditional air conditioners take a lot of energy and power to run and typically have higher levels and rates of emission than evaporative coolers. The upside is the AC units are powerful enough to cool an entire house or a large indoor area. Evaporative coolers have much lower emissions than AC units. They also cause far less noise pollution than traditional air conditioning units, if that is a concern in your area. 

Other considerations

The type of cooling system that you choose is largely dependent on when, where, and how you intend to use it. Swamp coolers and evaporative coolers are great for hot, dry climates and cooling smaller areas, whereas ACs provide a dryer air and are able to larger areas much cooler.

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