The 10 Best Evaporative Coolers

Updated April 17, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 46 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Evaporative coolers are essential to the comfort of millions of people in hot and dry climates. Also known as swamp coolers, these devices consist of a filter that's saturated with water and situated in front of a fan. The water evaporates, cooling and adding humidity to the air in the room. They work best in arid environments, and they're especially helpful alongside air conditioners. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best evaporative cooler on Amazon.

10. Essick Air Champion

The Essick Air Champion is an interesting solution to parched and stuffy working conditions. It takes up a full window and actively draws fresh air from the outside, providing all the ventilation you'll need for effective operation.
  • good for barns and utility buildings
  • not a replacement for hvac systems
  • installation can be tricky
Brand Champion
Model N37W
Weight 180 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Luma Comfort EC111B

The 500-CFM Luma Comfort EC111B is a popular model that works great in medium-sized rooms of up to 250 square feet. The main water tank is particularly easy to remove and clean, helping to ensure the air output is as fresh as possible.
  • power use comparable to a 100w bulb
  • easy remote control operation
  • not for large or outdoor spaces
Brand Luma Comfort
Model EC111B
Weight 21.3 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

8. Arctic Cove EVC500

The Arctic Cove EVC500 is a simple appliance that moves a considerable amount of air. The reservoir is easy to fill and the evaporating medium is simple to clean or replace. Oscillating louvers help to distribute the treated air evenly through any room.
  • strong and reliable construction
  • fan is a bit noisy
  • beeps loudly with every button-push
Brand Arctic Cove
Model EVC500
Weight pending
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. NewAir AF-310

The NewAir AF-310 is a low-profile pillar of convenient cooling power. It oscillates at a 60-degree angle to maximize effectiveness over small spaces. If you like your cubicle a little bit colder than the rest of the office, this is the choice for you.
  • won't clutter your room or workspace
  • one of the most affordable options
  • ineffective in areas over 100 sq ft
Brand NewAir
Model AF-310
Weight 14.7 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Portacool Cyclone 130

The Portacool Cyclone 130 is a heavy-duty answer to indoor and outdoor comfort needs. It features a very solid and durable design made of high-impact polymer. This is the perfect choice for industrial applications, like construction sites or large workshops.
  • hose connection for nonstop water
  • nearly maintenance-free
  • too large for home use
Brand Portacool
Model PACCY130GA1
Weight 113 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

5. Sunpentown SH-615F

The Sunpentown SH-615F is engineered to cool small spaces inside your home. It employs an ultrasonic humidifier to keep your air comfortable silently when it's too chilly for evaporation. Its cooling pad is imbued with an antibacterial treatment that keeps mildew at bay.
  • among the quietest units
  • cheaper than a lot of competitors
  • airflow slightly lower than ideal
Brand SPT
Model SF-615H
Weight 16.4 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. OEMTools 3-Speed

The OEMTools 3-Speed is more suited to industrial settings than in-home use. It's designed specifically for keeping you comfortable during long afternoons spent welding frames or crawling under vehicles. Cupholders and a tool tray on top make this a very practical choice.
  • three sizes up to 10k cfm
  • high-impact wheels withstand abuse
  • bigger and heavier than most
Model 24887
Weight 23 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Hessaire MC37M

The Hessaire MC37M is a large and versatile option that's big enough to help with multiple rooms or even an outdoor patio. Three air intake panels give its filters more surface area than other units and, therefore, more cooling power.
  • effective for spaces up to 750 sq ft
  • maximum cfm rating of 2200
  • locking casters for easy placement
Brand Hessaire Products
Model HESMC37A
Weight pending
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Quilo Quiet

The Quilo Quiet is one of the most impressive choices in a notably energy-efficient category. It'll cool and humidify your home effectively, especially if you live in the desert. You won't hear this one working, and your electricity bill shouldn't feel it, either.
  • patent-pending brushless fan motor
  • works best in close quarters
  • minimum power usage under 8 watts
Brand Quilo
Model QE1SKS
Weight 15 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Honeywell CO30XE

The Honeywell CO30XE is a reliable choice from one of the heavy hitters in heating and cooling technology. Pumping out 525 CFM, it's the perfect size for keeping your bedroom or living room at a pleasant humidity level. It's controlled electronically and includes a remote.
  • larger sizes available if needed
  • well-priced for such a popular brand
  • nearly 8-gallon water capacity
Brand Honeywell
Model CO30XE
Weight 35.9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

The Principles Of Evaporative Cooling

The human body regulates its temperature in a variety of ways -- including constriction of blood vessels and the burning of stored fats -- none of which is as common and conspicuous as perspiration. Sweating is the body's primary vehicle of thermoregulation, and can help a person maintain a stable internal body temperature even during intense exercise or in a hot environment.

Sweating works to cool the body down thanks to the effects of evaporative cooling. The average healthy adult can produce between two and four liters of sweat per hour during vigorous exercise, and in the right circumstances this sweat will be able to properly evaporate in order to maintain a healthy internal temperature. The concept is simple: the more you sweat, the cooler you will be. The efficacy of evaporative cooling can be hampered by an extremely humid environment, however, and as we'll see this can have an affect both on human thermoregulation as well as on machinery designed to regulate ambient air temperatures.

Simply stated, evaporative cooling is the process of lowering body or air temperature by releasing water vapor. The process of evaporation absorbs and holds onto latent heat, effectively reducing temperatures. For the athlete who has just finished a race, the body is cooled as the heat is carried away from his or her body. When it comes to cooling the air temperature itself, the heat removed from the air and transferred into the water vapor reduces the ambient temperature.

Evaporative cooling has been used as a form of air conditioning for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations variously employed fountains, tunnels cut down into underground water sources, and "windcatchers" to help keep themselves cool. Today, the same principles employed by the ancients and by your own body can be found in play in the form of the evaporative cooler, an energy efficient air conditioning system that is highly effective under the right circumstances.

Where And When To Use An Evaporative Cooler

If you live in an area prone to high humidity, then an evaporative cooler is probably not the right air conditioning solution for your needs. The cooling created by these units depends on the water stored in their reservoirs or fed in by a water line to efficiently evaporate in order for them to create cool air that can be circulated down into a residence or place of business.

As many evaporative coolers much have access to exterior air, these units might also be a poor choice for anyone who lives in a region with exceedingly poor air quality.

If, however, you live in a relatively temperate zone, an evaporative cooler might be a fine choice for your air conditioning needs. And if you live in an exceedingly arid and hot area, such as in an actual desert climate, then an evaporative cooler might just be the best solution to your HVAC demands. Using one of these units during the long, hot days of summer in a dry region can mean the difference between marked discomfort and a pleasant interior. As evaporative coolers tend to add a bit of moisture to the air they cool, they can be especially well appreciated in those driest areas.

Some evaporative coolers are portable, suitable for setup in a garage, a single large room, or in a smaller office. Others are much larger, able to cool many rooms of a home from a single fixed location. If you think your area is suitable for evaporative cooling, then take the time to consider which unit is right for your needs and preference.

Choosing The Right Evaporative Cooler

Once you have established that your home or workplace is a good candidate for an evaporative cooler based on the average ambient humidity levels and temperature, you must next decide how large a unit you will need. This decision is of course predicated on the size of the area you need cooled.

If you just need to cool down a single bedroom, an office, a garage or workshop, or another single, contained space, there are compact evaporative coolers that cost little more than a hundred dollars, that use only a couple dozen pints of water per fill, and that, over the course of their lifetime, will afford you significant energy savings as opposed to using a traditional vapor compression or absorption-style air conditioning unit. Remember, an evaporative cooler is not just an effective way to keep cool in a dry area, but is also a cost effective approach, too.

On the other end of the spectrum are portable evaporative coolers that cost closer to one thousand dollars, but that can lower interior temperatures by as much as thirty degrees Fahrenheit (or more under the right circumstances, should you even want a temperature that cold) and which can cool hundreds of square feet of interior space.

With a large, powerful evaporative cooler, you can even bring the ambient temperature of outdoor areas lower as well. The units blow cold air around, which helps, but also fill the air with cooling moisture, which can help maintain a cooler, more pleasant temperature even outside on a hot, sunny, dry day. Thus the purchase of a high end portable evaporative cooler could help you be more comfortable inside your home, in the back yard, working in an office, or making sure the customers at your shop or restaurant are offered a pleasant and safe environment.

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Last updated on April 17, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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