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  • What is a swamp cooler?

    June 27, 2013

    If you’re not from this part of the country, you may not have ever encountered a “swamp cooler” or “evaporative” air conditioner.  In dry climates evaporative air conditioners are more common, but there are some differences between evaporative air conditioners and refrigerated air conditioners of which buyers and tenants should be aware.

    Evaporative air conditioners or “swamp coolers” cool the air using water.  Water is pumped to the unit to wet absorptive pads, and a fan is blown over the pads.  As the water evaporates the air becomes cool and is circulated through the ducts of the house.  They are less expensive to operate because they don’t use much electricity to pump the water or turn the fan, and they only use between 3 and 10 gallons of water a day--about the same amount of water as a few extra toilet flushes.  And because they put humidity into the air, they cut down on the amount of dust bunnies you’ll find on surfaces in your house.

    The major downside to evaporative air conditioners is that they only work when there is less than 40% humidity in the climate.  So if you are experiencing a particularly humid day in the desert (which probably won’t be often, but can still happen every once in a while) your evaporative air conditioner won’t cool effectively.  You also need to open all your windows to create the breeze tunnels necessary to move the cool air.  Typically even on a very dry day, the evaporative cooler will only cool the house about 15 – 25 degrees below the temperature outside.  And evaporative coolers need to be switched on and off between heating and cooling twice a year which means that you’re going to have at least 2 service calls each year on your air conditioner. 

    Refrigerated air conditioning, on the other hand, can be switched back and forth between heating and cooling very easily with the flick of a switch inside the house.  The filters need to be replaced about 4 times a year, but that does not require a service call as it can be done with very little technical skill.  Refrigerated air conditioning uses more energy, but offers much, much cooler feeling air.  It is important to keep your doors and windows closed while using this kind of air conditioning as it re-circulates the same air.  In addition to the cost to operate, another downside is that it dries out the air inside the house generally making more dust on surfaces inside the house.

    Up until about 10 years ago, almost every new home built in El Paso on the entry level to middle price range had evaporative air conditioning.  If you wanted refrigerated air you had to buy a house on the higher end of the market.  But today almost all of the newly constructed homes on the market are refrigerated air even on the entry level price range, and some owners are choosing to convert their swamp cooler to refrigerated air as well for their quality of life and for resale purposes. 

    We have homes for sale or for rent to suit every taste and need, and we have very thorough market knowledge.  For more information, please don’t hesitate to talk to a member of our team.  You can always call us at 915-779-5611 or 915-584-2100 or feel free to use any of the contact forms on our website to send us a message.  We look forward to serving you!

    -The APDetails