Both traditional air conditioners and evaporative coolers condition the air and are used widely. So, given a choice, which one is the best for your home? Find out in this HomeQuicks article.
Evaporative cooling, as a principle, dates back to ancient times in Egypt. Servants would fan large porous clay jars filled with water for cooling the air.
A comfortable environment has become a necessity for all today. When it comes to temperature control and cooling, we know that there are two names that make it to the list: air conditioner and evaporative cooler. Both these systems serve the same purpose―they condition the air. The difference lies in their work mechanisms. Though the final output of air for both these systems is cool air, yet there is a variation in many other factors.
Which is Better ― Air Conditioner or Evaporative Cooler?
When buying a cooling system for your home, there are many considerations. It is not about choosing either an evaporative cooler or air conditioner, but knowing what suits your requirements. Also, choosing an option that goes easy on your budget is important. To help decide which one should you go for in the house, we have enlisted the features, work mechanisms, pros and cons of both, and what differentiates them. Let us take a look.
|❏ In evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, the cooling system is, what we can call, an open process. It uses evaporation to cool the air. A pump directs the water from a reservoir (or water storage) onto a cooling pad. A fan then draws outside air, which is warm, through this moistened pad. In this process, as the air evaporates, its temperature is lowered. This air is circulated in the house. Since these coolers need hot and dry air to enable the cooling process, through evaporation, this air needs an exit as the air supply is not recirculated. So, keeping the windows open or arranging for a relief duct for this air is required in these coolers.
❏ Air conditioners use a mechanism where air passes over a set of coils. These coils are filled with a cooling substance. When hot air passes over the low pressure evaporator coil, the coolant inside the coil absorbs heat. This happens as it changes from liquid to gaseous state. To enable efficient cooling, the coolant needs to be changed back to liquid again. A compressor puts the gas under high pressure, which helps change the coolant back to its liquid state. This also creates unwanted heat, which is routed to exit through another set of coils called the condenser coils, outdoors. In this cycle, water is condensed and expelled out in a drain bucket. This is a continuous cycle. So, we could say that traditional air conditioning is a closed process. It circulates the air within the closed areas, as keeping the doors or windows open lets in warm air, which pushes the AC to work harder. So, it is most efficient in closed spaces.
|Moisture and Air Quality|
|❏ With evaporative coolers, the air quality will always be fresh, as the mechanism keeps circulating the air from outside. Comparatively, air conditioners circulate the air within the house. With coolers, the air supplied after cooling has good moisture content. We could say it works as a humidifier. So, there is an advantage of having fresh and moisture-filled air.
❏ An air conditioner comparatively fills the home with cool but dry air. Dry air may not be as healthy as moisture-filled air. Dry air may aggravate allergies, skin issues like dry skin, and dry eyes.
|Operation and Maintenance Costs|
|❏ By all means, an evaporative cooler has low installation costs and is easy on your pocket. Air conditioners require a decent investment, comparatively. The cost of operation and maintenance is also high. It requires more energy to run the AC, than it would to run a swamp cooler.
❏ Coolers may require only seasonal maintenance. The AC may, however, require regular cleaning of the filters, for effective functioning.
|❏ Both the cooling systems do well for cooling air. Evaporative coolers need hot and dry air for efficient working; hence, these systems are excellent for cooling in dry and hot climates, with low humidity levels. High humidity can cause condensation and lead to corrosion. On the other side, traditional AC runs smoothly in closed spaces. It works efficiently in any climate, and is best used in areas with relatively high humidity.|
|Energy Saving and Environment Friendliness|
|❏ An AC will use more electricity to operate, while evaporative coolers use very less electricity in comparison. There is no doubt that a standard AC takes four times as much energy, as the swamp cooler. According to the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), the monthly operating costs (in terms of water and electricity) for a cooler is one-third of the operative costs for a traditional air conditioner.
❏ Using a swamp cooler also does not harm the environment. Air conditioners use chemicals that have negative effects on the environment. Release of these chemicals depletes the ozone layer. They also emit carbon dioxide. Evaporative coolers emit this gas as well, but in much lower quantities compared to air conditioners. In the terms of noise too, a cooler produces much less noise compared to a typical AC unit.
These were all the important factors you can consider before making your purchase. Depending on your budget, climatic conditions in your area, and cooling requirements, a choice can be made.