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The Effectiveness of Evaporative Air Coolers

Last updated July. 19, 2018

Evaporative coolers are definitely the best cooling solution for the dry and hot environment.

Even in the heat of the summer, they can provide adequate cooling for maximum comfort. It is also true, however, that the machines may be restricted by environmental factors.

The evaporative cooling process depends to an extent on the interaction between the temperature of a place and the relative humidity.

This means that the effectiveness of the air cooler will depend, to a great extent, on the interaction between these two factors.

If you are considering buying an air cooler and wondering if it can work in your area, the simple answer is that an evaporative cooler (also referred to as air cooler or swamp cooler) can work everywhere.

The true question should be how effective it can be in your area.

While the air coolers will definitely reduce the temperature in many climatic conditions, the humidity of your area can significantly impact on the level of cooling it can produce.

This is due to the fact that the amount of moisture in the air will influence the level of evaporation of water into the same air. The temperature of the air will also determine the amount of water the air can hold.

This interaction between the temperature and the humidity will determine how much the air cooler will reduce the temperature and consequently the level of comfort that can be obtained with the machine.

To have a better understanding of the effectiveness of air coolers in different climates, you also need to understand the concept of relative humidity.


Relative Humidity

While humidity simply refers to the amount of water in the atmosphere, relative humidity is a concept used by meteorologists to express the level of moisture in the air and its impact on everyday life.

It is a concept that takes into consideration that fact that the temperature of the air will determine the level of water (moisture) the air can hold at any particular time.

Relative humidity is a concept that compares the amount of water in the air to the maximum amount of water air at that temperature can hold at any time. It is expressed in percentage.

If the relative humidity of a place is 30% this means that the air contains 30% of the amount of water it can hold. The implication of this is that the air can still take as much as 70% more water than it currently holds.

If the relative humidity is up to 90% (highly humid), it means that the air already has up to 90% of the water it can contain and will take only an extra 10%.

From the illustration above, it is simpler to understand that an increase in relative humidity means that the air is less likely to take up more water.

The implication of this on the evaporation is quite significant. Once the air is becoming saturated with water, the rate of evaporation reduces significantly.

The Impact of Relative Humidity on Cooling

As has been expressed before, the evaporative cooler uses the evaporative cooling process to reduce the temperature of a given place.

This process is the same natural process of evaporation that we observe in everyday life.

As the hot air pass through the air cooling units, the heat it contains is used up in causing evaporation of water.

This result in cooler air being pumped out of the machines with layers of moisture attached to them.

From the paragraph, it can be seen that the higher the relative humidity in any given place the less effective the evaporative cooler becomes. This is why air coolers are considered not suitable for some places.

It is also important to note at this point that the air cooler also increases the relative humidity of the place it is being used to cool.

As the heat energy in the air is used in causing evaporation, the water that evaporates does not go to any other place but the immediate environment.

To be exact, the moisture is directly added to the cool air that is pumped out of the air cooler. This means that as the air cooler works to cool the air, it improves the humidity.

From the paragraph above, you can see that evaporative air cooler does not only lower the temperature of the air. It also improves the humidity.

In a dry climate, this is a very desirable quality. An improved humidity in a dry climate makes the air smoother and more comfortable.

This can be beneficial for individuals with certain respiratory health problems. In a humid environment, however, the increase in humidity can have an adverse effect.

buying an air cooler and wondering if it can work in your area, the simple answer is that an evaporative cooler (also referred to as air cooler or swamp cooler) can work everywhere.

In addition to reducing the effectiveness of the air cooler, it will equally lead to some unfavorable condition like the growth of mold that can cause some health challenges.


Effectiveness of Evaporative Air Coolers

Having considered the most important environmental factors when it comes to evaporative air coolers, it is time to answer the question of how effective evaporative cooler can be in your area.

You can actually determine the answer yourself. There is a chart that shows the temperature that can be obtained by using an air cooler depending on the temperature of the air and the relative humidity.

If you can obtain the average temperature of your area during the summer months and the relative humidity you can easily find out how effective air cooler can be in your area. The table is presented below.


Reading the Table

The table above presents relative humidity in columns (vertical) and air temperature in (rows) horizontal.

The cells inside the table have the temperature that can be obtained with the use of air coolers (effectiveness).

The ideal temperature for comfort is highlighted in green. It ranges from 70 to 75% depending on the temperature and relative humidity.

If the interception of the values that represent the air temperature in your areas and relative humidity in your area is above the value that is considered ideal, that means that air cooler will not be effective in your area.

By using the table above, you can easily determine how effective evaporative cooler can be in your area.

This information will also help you to make the right decision when it comes to investing in air coolers. If the machine can be effective in your area, go for them as they have several advantages over the other options.

If it can’t be effective, on the other hand, look for alternative means of taking care of the temperature in your home.

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