Are you shopping for an evaporative swamp cooler?
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What's in this Guide
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This buying guide recommends and reviews the best evaporative swamp coolers you can purchase online. We also discuss when and how to use a swamp cooler and how to select the best one for you.
NOTE: You may prefer a conventional AC, especially if you live in a humid climate. Check out our reviews of the top portable ACs and the best window ACs, if so.
On this site we also review the best portable air conditioners for smaller rooms, boats, and RVs.
When to Buy an Evaporative Swamp cooler
First off, let’s make it clear that a swamp / evaporative cooler is not suitable for all climates and weather conditions.
An evaporative cooler humidifies the air to cool it, so it is best used when the weather’s hot and dry. This allows water to evaporate more effectively and cools the room faster.
In other words, evaporative coolers are the best option for people who live in hot and dry regions like the southwest US.
A swamp cooler can still be useful in humid areas like Florida or Louisiana. However, you will need to ventilate the room to prevent moisture from building up. As a result, the room will take longer to cool down.
If humidity levels are too high, the room may feel uncomfortable and clammy even when the windows are open. If that happens, you can switch to a window AC or a portable AC. Then wait until it cools down to use your swamp cooler – at night, for example.
Why would you want to switch AC systems at night?
Because evaporative coolers are more energy efficient and far quieter to operate than condenser-based air conditioners.
Know What to Expect
Amazon has many negative reviews about swamp coolers that are in fact great units.
Mostly, the negative reviews are from customers who should have purchased a window or portable air conditioner due to the environment they wanted to cool.
To avoid wasting money on an appliance that isn’t right for your cooling needs, make sure you understand the following two points:
1. Swamp coolers do not work well in high humidity
This map by Luma Comfort, the makers of the Luma Comfort swamp cooler, shows where to find swamp coolers:
Do not buy a swamp cooler if you are on the right-hand side. It will make your room hot, humid, and uncomfortable.
To cool down properly, an evaporative cooler must be in a warm and dry environment.
2. Swamp Coolers Cannot Make A Room Feel Super-Chilly.
Although a swamp cooler will cool the room to a comfortable temperature, it won’t make it feel cold. That is what an air conditioner can do.
A condenser based air conditioner can lower the room temperature to 10-30 degrees below outdoor ambient temperature.
If you have a swamp cooler, this does not apply. Usually, swamp coolers can cool a room by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, perhaps 20 in very dry and arid conditions.
Best Evaporative Swamp Coolers
950 sq. Ft
- 25″ x 17″ x 37″
Best for medium size rooms
320 sq. Ft.
- 18″ x 13.9″ x 33.7″
Best for small rooms
- 13.6″ x 12.2″ x 29.5″
Best outdoor swamp cooler
460 sq. Ft.
- 22.4″ x 17″ x 44.5″
500 sq. Ft.
- 20″ x 10″ x 28″
425 sq. Ft.
- 16.5″ x 13.4″ x 31.5″
250 sq. Ft.
- 12.8″ x 11.2″ x 34.5″
Best for garage or workshop
6400 – 9700 CFM
3600 sq. Ft.
- 62″ x 30″ x 70″
Phoenix Manufacturing BW3004
Best window swamp cooler
600 sq. Ft.
Capacity not listed
- 40″ x 30″ x 28″
Best personal swamp cooler
45 sq. Ft.
- 6.69″ x 6.7″ x 6.87″
The Hessaire MC37M’s powerful airflow makes it ideal to use in any room, even large open-style living spaces.
It is useful in your garage, porch, or gazebo. However, cooling performance decreases in open spaces.
The Hessaire MC37M cools rooms almost as fast and efficiently as an AC in low humidity levels.
Depending on the environment, the temperature difference between inside and outside can reach as high as 25 degrees.
The multiple intake panels on the Hessaire MC37M cooling system make it so efficient. In addition, the Hessaire MC37M cools air from three sides instead of one like swamp coolers.
This allows cooling large volumes of air more quickly and efficiently.
Its media type is another reason for its excellent cooling performance. The pump carries water to the rigid media hi-density XeL50, which has a larger evaporation surface than other media.
A large surface area can increase the speed and amount of evaporation which in turn improves cooling performance.
The Hessaire MC37M is surprisingly compact, and it takes up very little floor space.
You can also transport it easily thanks to the heavy-duty casters. It can be moved from one room to another or taken outside.
You must regularly refill the Hessaire MC37M tank with water, just like all evaporative coolers. The full tank will last approximately 12 hours. To ensure that the tank is always topped up, connect a hose.
Limitations & Issues
Many customers complained that the Hessaire MC37M was too powerful. It is a good thing, but it can cause problems if you want less cooling on a colder day.
Although the Hessaire MC37M has settings to adjust fan speeds, it is not sufficient. It would have been fantastic if the fan speed was lower.
We also missed remote control, a built-in timer, and an auto shut-off when the water level drops.
Although it isn’t the quietest portable AC, the Honeywell AC portable AC is significantly quieter than other portable ACs with 12,000 BTU.
So if you need a lot of cooling power and minimal noise, we recommend this model.
The Honeywell 525-729 CFM is a great evaporative cooling system for most rooms. Although it isn’t too large, it has enough airflow for cooling a bedroom, living room, or home office of 320 square feet or less.
It can be used outside on your porch, in the backyard, or on your deck. It is weather-resistant.
The Honeywell evaporative cooler is small but has the largest water tank among our selections. It can hold water for several hours without needing to be refilled.
You can connect a hose to provide a constant water supply if you want to add water.
It is easy to fill the water tank with water by removing it.
You can add ice to the dedicated compartment for hot days. Cooler air will flow through the ice quickly, and it will cool down. This cooler is only suitable for temporary relief.
Honeywell coolers also come with a carbon filter that removes dust and allergens. In addition, the remote control can set the timer and adjust the fan speed. You can also swing the vents and turn on the unit.
The Honeywell cooler is small in size. It has a narrow and tall design. Because it doesn’t require vertical space, it will fit into most spaces.
Limitations & Issues
The Honeywell evaporative cooler is loud even with the fan at its slowest speed. It will be even louder if you use it in an enclosed area.
The DeLonghi EV250WH is a great option for cooling your bedroom or home office. Although it’s not powerful, it cools areas smaller than 250 square feet. Ft. efficiently and quickly. It is also quieter than other evaporative coolers.
Every five hours, the 1.1-gallon tank needs refilling. But, unfortunately, there is no way to connect a water hose.
DeLonghi’s EV250WH has a washable filter, built-in ionizer, and a washable filter. This ensures that you get clean and cool air. You can also use the remote control to select different modes, set timers, and swing the vents.
Additional functions include sleep mode, ionizer, and natural modes.
We love the included ice pack. When you need to cool it faster, place it in the freezer.
The DeLonghi EV250WH is compact and portable. It can be moved easily from one room to the next with its casters.
Limitations & Issues
You should not attempt to install the DeLonghi EV250WH cooler in any room greater than 250 square feet. 1 ft. A fan will make it even better.
It is not recommended for outdoor use unless you place it very close to your body.
Evaporative cooling works great outdoors. Swamp coolers are more efficient than portable ACs when cooling large areas. However, they work just as well outdoors as indoors.
Most swamp coolers are best when it is within easy reach of you. You will need something more substantial if you want to cool your entire outdoor area or porch.
Honeywell CO301PC’s airflow rating is between 830 and 1000 CFM. This is quite powerful.
The cool air combined with the high-pressure blower can easily cover a large deck or garden.
The Honeywell CO301PC is useful for large indoor spaces of up to 460 square feet. This is especially great for large, open rooms.
The double honeycomb pad makes the Honeywell CO301PC ideal for outdoor and large rooms. In addition, the thicker soak pad holds more moisture, which results in faster cooling.
Honeywell CO301PC is quite heavy. This is not surprising. The casters make it easy to wheel the Honeywell CO301PC outside.
The tank is 5.3-gallon, and you will need to fill it up regularly. The tank will be notified by a low water alarm when it is time to top up. You can also connect a hose for a continuous supply of water.
The control panel of the cooler can control it, or you can use the remote control. You can also set an auto-off timer using the remote control.
The Honeywell CO301PC’s rugged weatherproof design keeps it protected outdoors. It can withstand moderate outdoor exposure.
Limitations & Issues
Honeywell CO301PC is an evaporative cooler that costs $199. However, it’s well worth the price, considering its cooling power and durable design.
The Honeywell CO301PC can be used on your porch, next to your hammock, or at a barbecue party. You don’t need to breathe in dry, stuffy outdoor air. Instead, simply wheel the cooler outside and connect a garden hose or fill the tank. Then, enjoy cool, humid air.
You don’t need to worry about humidity buildup because you are outdoors.
We believe the Hessaire MC18M is the best affordable evaporative cooling unit for people who have big rooms to cool on a budget. It is less expensive than more expensive units that cool far smaller spaces.
Unfortunately, the build quality is partly why this unit is less expensive. It can be a bit delicate. We recommend taking care when assembling the unit and handling it.
It works great, other than that.
The oscillating vents produce a lot of air, 1300 CFM. This is enough to cool 500 sq for rooms smaller than 500 sq.
The honeycomb evaporative media used in this unit has a higher density, which allows it to hold more water. This allows for faster cooling.
Another issue is that the cooler consumes water quickly. If the fan speed is high, the tank needs refilling every three hours. The tank will last approximately eight hours at low speed.
That said, it is easy to fill the 4.8-gallon tank and add water while it is running. You can attach a garden hose to the cooler instead of refilling it constantly.
This Hessaire evaporative cooler does not have a remote control. All functions are accessible from the control panel. There are two modes available: cooling and fan-only. There are two fan speeds available for each mode: High and Low.
Limitations & Issues
As discussed earlier, the build quality is also an issue. However, the Hessaire MC18M cooler is still a great buy. It will last as long as any other swamp cooler if you take care of it. In addition, it comes with a 1-year warranty for your peace of mind.
Some customers also complain about the refill frequency. This can be solved by connecting a garden hose to the tank.
Finally, the Hessaire MC18M doesn’t come with remote control. This is a minor inconvenience but a big deal for lazy people who don’t want to get off the couch or out of bed to adjust the cooling rate.
The Whirlpool WPEC12GW swamp cooler is the smallest of our picks. It’s a great choice for those with limited floor space. It measures 16.5×13/4×31.5 inches – it sits tall and narrow.
The Whirlpool WPEC12GW has a 214 CFM airflow rating. According to the manufacturer, it can cool rooms up to 425 sq. Ft., but we doubt that.
For small areas, less than 150 square feet, a 214 CFM swamp cooler works well.
This matches what customers have reported in their reviews. In large rooms, this unit only delivers a temperature drop of two to three degrees.
For this reason, we recommend it for smaller spaces and as a personal cooler.
Although the Whirlpool WPEC12GW does not come with remote control, the control panel contains all functions, including a timer and wind modes (natural, normal, and sleep), as well as fan speeds.
You’ll need to refill the 1.59-gallon water tank every so often. Unfortunately, the cooler does not have a garden-hose adapter.
Limitations & Issues
The Whirlpool WPEC12GW’s cooling power is the main problem. It is less than what the manufacturer would have it believe.
214 CFM does not have enough airflow to cover spaces larger than 150 square feet. Ft.
The Whirlpool WPEC12GW has a single problem: it lacks remote control. To change a setting, you must stand up and walk towards the unit.
Luma Comfort Portable Evaporative Cooler is one of the few swamp coolers that don’t look like a giant grey or black box.
The bottom is still boxy, but the top has a rounded shape for the fan and vents. It looks great in all black and matches almost any decor.
This cooler is small and tall, making it an ideal choice for rooms with limited space. In addition, it is easy to move from one room to the next with its rollers at its bottom.
Luma Comfort offers 500 CFM of airflow. It is perfect for rooms with 250 square feet or less.
The unit comes with remote control and a digital display.
You can adjust fan speed, set a timer, and change the cooling mode with the remote control.
You will need to refill the tank often because it is small. A full tank will last approximately 6-7 hours, depending on fan speed.
The cooler includes an ice pack for faster cooling. Store the ice pack in the freezer, and use it in your cooler to cool it when it gets too hot. You can also add your cubes of ice to the cooler.
Limitations & Issues
A garden hose adapter would be a great addition, considering the tank’s small capacity. You have to refill your tank approximately every 6-8 hours.
This means that you can’t leave it on all night (considering an 8 hour sleep period).
They could have also ensured that the tank was large enough to last for 8-9 hours.
The Cool-Space AVALANCHE-36-VD is for industrial/commercial use in warehouses, restaurants, and factories.
It’s also great for cooling large garages or workshops at home.
This is also a great option if you own a commercial venue or workshop.
The AVALANCHE 36-VD is large and heavy, as expected. It is 295lbs in weight and measures 62x30x70 inches. It is easier to move due to the heavy-duty locking casters. However, you will need to locate the best spot for it and keep them there.
It holds 46 gallons. The tank is highly durable and can work for hours without the need to attach a garden hose.
The AVALANCHE 36-VD cools large spaces by using a 36-inch direct drive fan. This allows for a lot more air to flow through the cooling media. The AVALANCHE-36-VD has an airflow range of 6400-9700 CFM. This is ideal for areas up to 3600 sq. Ft.
Consider getting more than one if you need to cool a large area.
The cooling media is an 8 inch thick, cross-corrugated pad with resin that keeps away algae.
The AVALANCHE 36-VD cools large areas well with its large cooling media and powerful fan. However, if the fan is running too high, it can become cold. If it is sweltering, turn the fan speed down.
It can also become too humid. Like any swamp cooler, keep several windows and doors wide open to allow fresh air to flow in and prevent humidity from building up.
Limitations & Issues
The AVALANCHE 36-VD is very expensive. However, the high price is justified as it’s an industrial-grade swamp cooler.
A residential evaporative cool is a better option if you have a tight budget.
Weight is another issue. The AVALANCHE 36-VD is impossible to move about often, but you will find it easier to keep it in one place.
It can be uncomfortable to work in large spaces when it’s hot. The AVALANCHE 36-VD keeps your work environment cool and humid. Thus, it is not only comfortable but also provides safety.
You can be sure of the high quality because the AVALANCHE 36-VD is manufactured in America. The warranty is good for five years.
Window ACs are quiet and powerful and take up very little space. The same goes for window swamp coolers.
The Phoenix Manufacturing BW3004 swamp cooler sits nicely on your windowsill, with most of the fan and motor noise sitting outside.
It is, therefore, quieter than floor swamp coolers.
The BW3004 cooler has a 3000 CFM airflow and can cool spaces up to 600 square feet. This cooler is ideal for large bedrooms or open-plan living rooms.
It plugs directly into an AC outlet, so there is no need to hardwire.
Limitations & Issues
Portability is the main drawback of the BW3004 cooler. You cannot move the cooler from one room to another like a floor swamp cooler on wheels.
This window unit is ideal for cooling a particular room. However, a conventional floor swamp cooler is better if you want to move the cooler from one room to another.
The Evapolar evaLIGHT can be used as a desk fan or bedside fan but has decent cooling capabilities. It cools the air by cooling it down to 5-10 degrees below ambient temperature.
Evapolar can fit at your desk or your bedside. You can also use it as a camping tool by plugging it into a solar generator or power bank.
This is a personal space cooler, so be realistic about your expectations. To feel the cool breeze, you must be within a few steps of it. The cool breeze covers an area of 45 sq. Ft.
The tank can hold only 35 oz water. A full tank can last for about 4-5 hours. So you can leave the tank on all night but need to get up in the middle to refill it.
The integrated LED lighting is a great feature. This is a great option for lighting moods or as a nightlight. But, of course, you can also turn it off if you are not happy with it.
Limitations & Issues
It is a hassle to fill the small tank, which can be quite annoying. It’s understandable. A larger tank would have made it more convenient for desk and bedside use.
The tank’s ability to leak is another problem. The cooler can leak if it isn’t on a flat surface or disturbed a bit.
The LED light is also very short-lived.
The Evapolar EvaLIGHT is a cost-effective and efficient way to cool down without purchasing a room swamp cooler.
This is especially useful if you don’t want to change the climate around you (e.g., in an office). It can cool only your area.
Evapolar evaLIGHT emits very little noise, making it a great choice for those who are sensitive to sound.
What is an Evaporative/Swamp cooler?
Have you ever sat on a lake during a hot day and felt a cool breeze blowing toward your face? The same principle applies to a swamp cooler.
An evaporative cooler has four components:
- Water tank – Holds the water needed to cool the air
- Cooling media – This is where the air is cooled
- Pump – Pumps water from the tank to cooling media
- Fan – Pulls warm air out of the vents and over the cooling pad.
The water is soaked into the cooling pad/media by the pump. The fan blows warm air on the pad as the wind blows across the lake.
Warm air causes water to evaporate from the media. The air becomes cooler as a result.
The cool, humid air from the vents is cooler. For even cooling, the fan circulates it throughout the room.
Air cooling is dependent on the ambient temperature and relative humidity. Swamp coolers work best when the air is dry and hot.
Different Types of Swamp/Evaporative Coolers
The most popular type of evaporative coolant is the portable swamp cooler. These coolers are large enough to cool a whole room but are movable from one room to another.
Window swamp coolers are similar to window ACs but use evaporative cooling rather than a compressor. As a result, a window-mounted swamp cooler offers excellent cooling performance and minimal noise.
Personal swamp coolers: These mini evaporative coolers are small and portable. They cool the immediate area around the unit. Personal swamp coolers are great for your desk, bedside, or coffee table.
Outdoor swamp coolers: These evaporative coolers perform the same as indoor ones. Outdoor swamp coolers are larger, more powerful, have larger fans and motors to move cool air over a greater area, and withstand the elements. To save you time refilling the tank, most have a connection for a garden hose.
Industrial swamp coolers: These huge units blow out vast amounts of cool, evaporative air. These coolers are ideal for large open spaces such as warehouse floors or factory floors, and they are also valuable for garages or workshops.
Pros & Cons of Swamp Coolers (vs. other AC types)
Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Swamp Cooler
1. Cooling Capacity (CFM)
When buying an evaporative swamp cooling system, it is crucial to measure the size of the space you want to cool in square feet.
A cooler that is too big for your room will make your space both humid and uncomfortable. If the cooler is too small to fit in the space, it will only be a fan.
The cooling capacity of an evaporative cooler is not measured in BTUs like air conditioners. Instead, they are measured in CFM or cubic feet per minute, which is the amount of air they cool. This makes sense because they function through evaporation, and rate of air flow controls the amount of water that can be dispersed into the air per hour.
A cooler with a high CFM will cool a larger room more quickly and take care of large rooms. The calculation to determine the correct CFM is dependent on the room’s volume in cubic feet.
To calculate the correct evaporative cooler CFM for a room, multiply the square feet of the room by the ceiling height and divide it by 2:
Square Feet x Ceiling height / 2 = CFM rating for a room of that size.
For example, a cooler size of 1,200 CFM should effectively cool a 300 square feet room with standard 8ft ceilings:
300 sqft x 8 ft high / 2 = 1200 CFM
NOTE: Unlike sizing a condenser unit’s BTUs, you don’t need to worry that much about matching room size to the correct CFM exactly.
For a 300 square foot room, you can use a swamp cooler with 500-800 CFM. Ft. It will cool the space slower. And it will maintain that temperature once it cools down.
We recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations if you aren’t sure which size cooler to get. The maximum cooling area of the cooler will be on the manufacturer’s label.
2. Indoor or Outdoor Use
3. Water Tank Refills
A swamp cooler should have a minimum of 5 gallons capacity.
Higher-CFM units vary between 1-3 gallon tanks which is enough for 3-8 hours of cooling.
4. Garden Hose Adapter / Continuous Water Supply
A swamp cooler that can cool the tank and connect it to a garden hose is a great option.
This allows you to connect a hose for a continuous water supply.
Additional Features to Consider
Remote control: This makes it possible to adjust settings from anywhere without getting up and walking to the cooler. Important at night.
Timer: This is useful for nighttime use. The timer can be set to turn the cooler off after a certain number of hours.
Casters: This feature is essential unless you’re buying a window unit. Casters make it easy to move the cooler between rooms.
Swinging vents: These help distribute the cool air exactly where needed.
Low water warning: This will let you know when it’s time to add water.
Filter: Most swamp coolers have a washable or replaceable air filter that removes dust and allergens from any air flowing through them. Some also include a water filter to prevent mineral contamination from tap water.
Although a swamp cooler is not be for everyone, it offers many benefits over an air conditioner.
Used in the right environment, a swamp cooler can bring a room down to a comfortable temperature while making much less noise and using less energy than any other kind of cooling system.
I hope this buying guide helped answer most of your questions. If you have another question, please leave us a comment below.
I’m a degreed ME (mechanical engineer) who is passionate about machines of all kinds. I created MachineWonders.com as a way to connect with others who love machines like me – or need help choosing one for their needs, application, or situation.