Evaporative coolers are named for the system’s key reliance on evaporation to cool a house or building. Also known as a swamp or desert cooler, an evaporative cooler unit typically sits in a window because it relies on a flow of outside air to work properly. By drawing air over a wet, sponge-like material, the air from the outside is cooled and then transmitted into the adjacent room. In comparison to traditional air conditioning, evaporative cooling has several advantages and disadvantages.
First of all, evaporative cooling is considerably less expensive than air conditioning. Not only does it cost less to install, but it requires 1/4 of the of cost to operate. Because it has less working parts, it consumes less power than an AC unit. Because evaporative coolers are mechanically simple, they are much easier to maintain — no need to call out for AC repair on a hot day. Because of the system’s heavy reliance on water, an evaporative cooler increases humidity in the air — making it more breathable for people who live in highly dry climates.
An evaporative cooler relies on dry air to work properly, so for people who live in humid climates it is a less-ideal option. The increased humidity in the air might make it more breathable in some climates, but it can have an adverse effect on people who suffer from asthma. The added moisture in the air can also have a negative effect on home electronics because of increased risk for corrosion and condensation. Another downfall of an evaporative cooler is that certain types of cooling pads can pose a high-risk fire hazard.
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