Swamp Cooler

A swamp cooler, also known as an evaporative cooler, is a device used for cooling a home in the place of an air conditioner. Swamp cooler units are often used in the Southwest, in dry states like Nevada and Arizona.

The swamp cooler usually sits on the roof of a house and has a duct that leads down into the home. A swamp cooler essentially contains a fan and pads soaked with water. There is a reservoir of water at the bottom of the swamp cooler. To keep the swamp cooler pads wet, a water pump carries the water to the top of the swamp cooler, where it trickles onto the pads, wetting them.

The excess water goes back into the swamp cooler reservoir. The fan sucks the hot air from outside into the swamp cooler unit and through the water soaked pads. The air causes the water to evaporate from the pads, which in turn cools the air down. The swamp cooler then distributes this cooler air into the home. There is usually a thermostat in the home that can be set to turn the swamp cooler on and off.

How It Works

To understand how the evaporative cooling works, try wetting your hand and holding it in front of a fan. The skin feels cooler because of the water evaporation.

Compared to an air conditioner, a swamp cooler is an inexpensive method of cooling a home. A swamp cooler uses much less energy than an air conditioner, and the swamp cooler is easier to fix if there's a problem. Window and portable swamp cooler units are also available, but they do not cool a home as well as the roof mounted swamp cooler.

The dry climate of the Southwest is ideal for a swamp cooler, which adds much needed humidity to the air of a home. In rainy, humid climates the swamp cooler does not work well, because the water does not evaporate as easily from the pads in the unit and doesn't cool the air. However, even in areas that are normally dry, the swamp cooler will not cool effectively on humid, rainy days.