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How Air Coolers and Air Conditioners Differ

Last updated Jan. 24, 2020

Air coolers and air conditioners are the most known machines when it comes to keeping homes and office space cool.

They are most helpful during summer and offer several advantages such as improved comfort and improved productivity in workplaces.

Since they are primarily used for the same purpose and share some similarities in terms of look and method of operation, many erroneously assume that air coolers and air conditioners are the same.

Even the names sound quite similar and many can't tell the difference between the two.

The truth, however, is that air coolers and air conditioners differ significantly.

Beside the fact that they are both modern machines use for combating heat, there are worlds of differences between the two machines.

The Difference Between the Two

If you are wondering why we are discussing the difference between the two air cooling solutions then you've probably not aware of the growing concerns of air conditioning.

It also means that you are not aware of the many advantages air coolers have over air conditioners.

We are going to discuss the most important points of difference between the two kinds of machines so that you can make an informed decision when you have to choose between them.

Key Differences Between the Two

To make this piece to be comprehensive, we will discuss the major differences between air coolers and air conditioners under different points of comparison.


1. Method of Operation

The most important difference between air coolers and air conditioners is the way they operate.

This singular point affects the other points we will discuss later.

The method of operation of the two machines differs significantly; while the air cooler uses a natural process referred to as evaporative cooling, an air conditioner uses an artificial process referred to air compression.

The air cooler works by taking up warm air from the environment, passing it through cooling pads that are always saturated with water and blowing out the resultant cool moist air to the area that needs to be cooled.

This process is natural and is completed by the few main parts of the machine namely fan system, water pump, and cooling pads.

Air conditioners, on the other hand, work by absorbing the heat from indoor air and releasing it outside, resulting in cooler and drier air.

This is achieved by the use of chemical refrigerants that constantly flow through a series of tubes or coils set up in a loop that connects the indoors to the outdoors.

Just as the processes employed by the two machines are different, the results they achieve are different too.

Air coolers constantly take in fresh air and deliver cooler and moist air after passing it through the cooling pads while air conditioners recycle the same air in the room, removing heat and moister from them and delivering colder and drier air.

The evaporative cooling process adds only moisture to the air but the refrigeration process may release some amount of the chemical coolants used in the process to the indoor air.

The quality of the air the two machines release also significantly.

While air coolers release fresh cool air, air conditioners release the same stale air but colder and drier.

2. Consumption of Electricity

Another major area of difference between air coolers and air conditioners is the amount of energy they consume.

Air coolers are simple machines that only facilitate a natural principle.

They are made up of very few parts and require very little electricity to run the various parts and achieve evaporative cooling.

Air conditioners, on the other hand, are powerful machines that employ a somewhat complicated process to cool indoor air temperature.

They are composed of several powerful parts that need serious electricity to keep them running and keep the process of air conditioning going.

From the points raised above, you should be able to deduce that air coolers consume very little electricity when compared to air conditioners.

This is one of the major reasons they are becoming more popular.

Some air coolers are so energy-efficient that that only use as little as 15 - 20 percent of the energy an average air conditioner will use to achieve the same level of cooling.

This is massive and can help most people and business save so much in utility bills.


3. Condition for Optimum Performance

Air coolers differ from air conditioners based on the conditions they need to perform optimally.

Air coolers can be used in indoor settings as well as in outdoor environments.

Since they take in constant fresh air and churn out cool moist air, they work efficiently in indoor environments when windows and doors are slightly opened to let in fresh air and let out moist air.

They also work perfectly in outdoor settings.

Air conditioners are indoor air cooling solutions and cannot be used in outdoor settings.

Even when they are used indoors, it is expected that the home is properly sealed to minimize the intrusion of outdoor air as that will make the process inefficient.

4. Suitability to Different Climates

One other area air coolers differ from air conditioners is in the area of their suitability to different environments.

The evaporative cooling process depends, to a great extent, on the amount of moisture in the atmosphere.

When there is excessive moisture in the air, the process is impaired and the cooling cannot be efficiently achieved.

This is the major reason air coolers are not suitable for humid environments.

Air conditioners, on the other hand, work efficiently in all climatic conditions.

As long as the space is airtight, an air conditioner will efficiently reduce the ambient temperature.


5. Impact on the Environment

Another distinguishing factor between air coolers and air conditioners is the impact they have on the environment.

While air coolers are regarded as environmentally-friendly machines, air conditioners are known for their negative impact on the environment.

As explained earlier, air coolers use the natural principle of evaporation to achieve air cooling while air conditioners use chemical refrigerants.

Air coolers also release little or no greenhouse gases while air conditioners have been found to release several harmful gases during operation.

The fact that air coolers consume very little energy and air conditioners consume so much also means a lot when we are discussing impacts on the environment.

So while air coolers are eco-friendly, air conditioners are the exact opposite.

We have tried to provide the details of the key differences between air coolers and air conditioners.

The aim of this piece is to enlighten you further so that you can make the right decision when you have to choose between the two options.

Staying cool through the summer is important but understand that how you go about it and the machines you use matter a lot.

If you have any further questions, contact us and we would be pleased to help you.