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Is Evaporative Cooling The New Greener Air Conditioning?

Written by Duncan under Air Conditioners, Evaporative Coolers | No Comments ""

As the clocks go forward and Spring has sprung we seem to be experiencing a few days of pretty decent weather.  The consensus view of most forecasting agencies seems to be that this Summer is likely be warm – none of them are using the barbecue word just yet though!   So what does a good Summer mean?  Time to look at getting out the fans, evaporative coolers, air conditioners and air purifiers in advance of what could be a heatwave!

Many people might now be considering a portable air conditioning unit for use in the home or office as the nights lighten and the days warm up.   Folk who want to keep cool and reduce their energy consuming carbon footprint in the process are increasingly turning to evaporative coolers.   These use the simple process of evaporation to achieve a cooling effect and while they aren’t as effective as more conventional air conditioning units, they do have the advantage of being far more compact and easier to position as they don’t need an exhaust hose.  The only moving part  that consumes any electrical power is a fan which blows air through a moist fibrous matrix mat,  so they are much more energy efficient.

Evaporative coolers tend to have a large water tank filled with cold water or a mixture of cold water and ice (some models allow you to add more ice).   This water is then fed over a filter mat, air is sucked in through the unit and blown out through the moistened filter and it’s the mechanical process of evaporation that provides the cooling effect – exactly the same as occurs when we sweat.  Because there is no compressor, evaporative coolers are far quieter than air conditioner units, but that same lack of compressor also means that they are not as effective as air conditioners in cooling down a larger room.  Evaporative coolers are less controllable too as they don’t have a method of regulating the air temperature which is being expelled – all you’ll get is cold and a bit colder if you add more ice.  They also need to be in a room with plenty of ventilation otherwise the humidity will rise and the moisture being introduced to the room will cease to evaporate.

To work at their best, they need to positioned by an open window or door.  It’s advisable to have another window or door open on the other side of the room which will push air out and create a good through-flow of air.  Despite all these seeming drawbacks, evaporative cooling appeals to some as it does have much lower running costs than refrigerant based portable air conditioners and evaporative units are certainly much cheaper to buy initially.  The need to have a door or window partly opened to create a “flow-through” effect however may mean they are not the ideal solution for places where there are allergy sufferers and more conventional air conditioning units that can operate with doors and window closed may be the better option.


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