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What is a Swamp Cooler?

When it comes to cooling your home, you’ve probably heard of a number of different options. There are central air conditioners, mini-split systems, ductless mini-split systems, cooling fans, and much more. However, there’s one possible option that may have caught your attention: the swamp cooler. With a name like that, it’s almost certainly the perfect invention for a hot, humid Florida summer, right? Well on this blog, we’ll take a look at how these devices work and discuss why you should avoid them as a possible option.

The Central Premise: Evaporative Cooling

If you’ve ever dipped your finger in water and then gently blown on it or placed it in front of a fan, you’ve probably noticed how the side of your finger that’s facing the moving air feels cold. This is because of a scientific principle known as “evaporative cooling.” Essentially, this principle states that the process of changing a fluid from a liquid to a gas state is a reaction that requires heat, thus extracting it from the environment around it, making that particular area feel cool. This same principle is what causes sweat to keep you cool and getting out of a hot tub to feel so frosty.

Evaporative cooling is the central premise that makes a swamp cooler function: they blow air over water to evaporate it, creating cool air that they then pump into your home. This is a simple, efficient, and remarkably effective way of keeping your home cool in a less-complicated and energy-efficient way. Most swamp coolers are just a few parts: a blower fan, pump, water, and synthetic or wood-shaving pad. The pump keeps the pad damp and the fan forces air over it, causing the water to evaporate out of the pad and cool the air, which is then forced into your home.

Should You Buy One?

However, unlike an air conditioner, swamp coolers are significantly more dependent on both indoor and outdoor conditions. While an air conditioner and a swamp cooler both cool your home, they use counteracting principles to do so. Air conditioners de-humidify the air, causing water vapor to condense and drain away, leaving the cool air in your home nice and dry. However, swamp coolers do the opposite, they use water evaporation to cool the air, thus making it more humid.

As a result, this means that swamp coolers require dry air in order to function optimally. Thus, contrary to their name, swamp coolers actually aren’t really all that great of an option in the sticky, damp air you find in swamps. Because Florida weather is often similar to what you’d find, swamp coolers are not ideal choices for cooling homes in the hot and humid weather found in Florida summers. They’re only effective in areas where the air is consistently warm and dry, such as in deserts like you’d find in the American southwest.

Furthermore, unlike a full central air conditioning system, a swamp cooler can only do one thing: cool. Central climate control systems that have an indoor condenser and outdoor heat pump units give you the option of reversing the coolant flow through the heat pump, meaning they can both cool and heat your home, making them an ideal choice for all seasons. They also tend to function better in more-humid climates because of the increase in airborne water vapor, allowing it to condense more rapidly and cool air more effectively. While they also work in dry-air climates (air everywhere has water vapor in it, just at varying levels), they’re a more ideal choice for an area like Florida that’s so often stricken with immense humidity levels.

To find out more about cooling options for your home, speak with a Palm Beach County heating and cooling specialist from Phoenix Air Conditioning, LLC! Call us today by dialing 888-660-4337 to schedule your service appointment.

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