The best evaporative cooler
On those uncomfortably warm days, an air conditioner is not the only option you have to cool the air. An evaporative cooler draws the hot air through moist pads, which absorb the heat as the water evaporates. Since these devices can significantly increase the humidity, they are designed to be used mostly in dry or arid climates.
There is a wide variety of evaporative coolers available, and knowing your needs is the best way to shop for one of these money-saving devices. Our favorite, MasterCool's Down-Draft Evaporative Cooler, is installed on the roof and can cool your entire home. To learn more about the types of evaporative coolers available, continue reading our shopping guide.
Considerations when choosing evaporative coolers
Portable vs. permanent evaporative coolers
The many types of evaporative coolers can be broken down into two broad categories:.
A desktop evaporative cooler can be moved from room to room and is most effective when placed nearby. A floor model, on the other hand, is usually best used in open environments such as a deck or a patio. If an evaporative cooler is used inside, you will need to open a window or a door in order to keep the humidity to a tolerable level.
Evaporative coolers can be installed in a window, mounted on the roof or side of your house, or installed on the ground outside of your home. These models cost significantly more and will likely require hiring a professional to install, but they are better suited for cooling your home's interior and may even feature specialized ventilation to help combat high humidity.
Here is a shortlist of some of the other elements you will need to consider when shopping for an evaporative cooler:
Coverage area and reservoir tank capacity
It is important to purchase an evaporative cooler that is properly sized for your needs. Match the square footage of a model to the area you wish to cool.
The larger the water reservoir is in your unit the less often you will need to fill it. Some models connect directly to a hose so you don't have to worry about the constant filling. Once the water is gone, your evaporative cooler will no longer cool the air. A low-water alert is the best way to make sure this doesn't happen.
Settings, modes, and alerts
The best evaporative coolers have two or three speeds, so you can adjust the airflow to your particular needs.
Some models have a built-in timer, which allows you to easily turn the unit on and off at designated times, so you can return to a nice, cool home after a day of work.
If you'd like to be able to operate your evaporative cooler from a distance, make sure it comes with a remote or is Bluetooth or WiFi compatible.
A small desktop evaporative cooler only costs about $40, but a portable floor model can cost between $100 and $300. For a permanent installation, you can pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 and up, depending on the size of the unit.
Q. How much can an evaporative cooler lower the temperature?
A. The answer to this question depends on your particular climate. In arid locales of around 90°F, an evaporative cooler may be able to lower the temperature by as much as 20°F. In areas that are excessively hot (above 100°F) or in humid climates (the eastern half of the United States), you may not feel much of a difference.
Q. What kind of maintenance does an evaporative cooler require?
A. Evaporative coolers require very little maintenance. Typically, you need to occasionally clean out the water reservoir and change the cooling pads as dictated by the accompanying instructions.
Evaporative coolers we recommend
Best of the best: MasterCool's Down-Draft Evaporative Cooler
Our take: A whole-house down-draft evaporative cooler designed to work in arid climates.
What we like: The downward discharge of this unit provides optimum cooling. It features two speeds and is capable of covering an area up to 23,000 square feet. This model has a protective polyester coating for added durability and a UL-recognized, thermally protected pump for increased safety.
What we dislike: Because it is a rooftop model, maintenance can be a bit difficult.
Best bang for your buck: Hessaire's Portable Evaporative Cooler
Our take: A portable evaporative cooler that covers up to 950 square feet and can be easily wheeled from location to location as needed.
What we like: This three-speed unit is affordably priced and it is manufactured to be more efficient than other models in its price range. It can run for three to four hours on a full tank of water and can be connected directly to a hose for constant water supply.
What we dislike: A unit this large must be used outdoors or in a space that is not completely enclosed as it can create a great deal of humidity.
Our take: A multipurpose evaporative cooler that is designed for use in large open spaces, such as backyards, patios, and garages.
What we like: This model can be used as a fan, an evaporative cooler, or an air purifier. The unit comes with a convenient remote and it features three blowing speeds, a timer, and a large reservoir tank.
What we dislike: The included ice packs only last about 25 minutes.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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