Evaporative ‘Swamp’ Coolers

KDpoolguy

Bronze Supporter
Mar 5, 2017
593
Palm Desert, CA
Since I figure many of us out here have pools in the desert regions of the South West, then there’s a high likelihood of us having evap coolers together.
I’d like to start a thread about dabbling in operating and maintaining Evaporative Coolers, or the venerable Swampers as we know them out here.
I’ve got an Aerocool 6800 CFM side draft unit. I’ve become an expert on these things. Anyone care to join the discussion?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
15,910
Bedford, TX
Kevin,

I used to live in Tucson and the whole house was cooled by a single swamp cooler.. It would freeze you right out of the house. It worked so well that when we moved to the DFW area we tried one.. The next day we went Air Conditioner shopping.. :mrgreen:

Swamp coolers work great, are cheap, and easy to fix.. But they only work in a very limited section of the US..

Jim R.
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
1,221
Fresno, CA
We have used evap coolers for 10 years and are familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. We have found the Bonaire system to be the best to date for efficiency and easy maintenance. HOME We find the unit will drop the temp 20 degrees below outside air temps unless the outside humidity rises which only happen rarely here. We always run the cooler at night and wake up to temps in the 60s. Many folks here use whole house fans or attic fans to pull in cool morning air. Filtering the air with water is better, my opinion.

For the days temps rise above 102f or humidity is high we have ac. We researched a ductless ac system and installed a three head Fujitsu unit which is a game changer. Highly efficient and each head (room) can be run independantly.
 

KDpoolguy

Bronze Supporter
Mar 5, 2017
593
Palm Desert, CA
Oh boy @Jimrahbe, I know Houston and the monsoon high humidity seasons are rough. I miss Houston, such a Tony town, and they play 80’s music at all the bars—my kind of town.

We have had evaps and ACs in each of our homes, actually their both independently ducted so if the dew point is under 50, the swamper comes on. We had a short monsoon season this summer and I had already shuttered the cooler 2 weeks ago, only to get insanely dry weather this week and I had to recommission it.

Just today, using my IR thermometer I was getting 65 degrees out of the vent when it was 95 outside (24 dew point). It was glorious and really helps keep the moisture up and the chapstick down.
@Oly I used a Fujitsu mini-split on a commercial office space job I did where the office we built them had poor air flow from the package unit above. They darn near froze themselves out, even on a 110 day. They are easy to self install if you can stomach drilling through the stucco. Great system! We have a portable 1 ton AC for the master bedroom since it’s chepaer to run that than out home AC. Our new home has 2 banks totaling 8 tons of AC, but it’s a $$$ to run when we’re sleeping. Now we run the swamper at night and have blankets over us enjoying fresh outdoor air piped in. I love it, and the electrical bill is nada. I have to say Our old home, in March 2017, we only ran the swamper and our monthly electrical bill was...$47! Normally it’s $120 that time of year. With the AC on in July-Aug our bill was $425, actually not bad for desert living. The high bills are only 2 bills July-Sept.
 

Oly

Gold Supporter
Jun 28, 2017
1,221
Fresno, CA
Issues with evap cooling systems are the types of pads used, fan speeds (noise), water quality (hardness), location in home, ease of maintenance and sanitation.

The old standard shredded cedar pads are fantastic for about a week but begin to grow mold and breakdown quickly. There are synthetic pads that are so much better. All pads must be cleaned regularly and if the water is high in calcium it will foul the pads eventually. Water can be filtered and bleading and flushing systems will slow the concentration of salts. I find the use of a zinc anode helps to keep the system sanitized. I also clean our unit every 30 days and the system design makes this job a snap or a chore.

I like more fan speeds and use the low setting most often to reduce noise. Opening windows or vents on the opposite end of the house allows a positive pressure to move out warm air. Having double hung windows, or vents placed high in each room moves out warm air. Keeping screens clean helps air flow. Also venting into and out of the attic from each room is an option. Ceiling fans are another tool.

Many older homes here were built before ac and modern insulation. It is interesting to see how they designed cooling solutions. Screened porches on the north side of the home are common, transom windows high on the walls, fans, wise use of shade trees and vines and of course swimming pools.

I find there is an interesting bias against the use of evaporative systems, maybe because of bad experiences or perceptions, even the name "swamp" coolers is telling.
 
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Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
620
Corona de Tucson, AZ
Kevin,

I used to live in Tucson and the whole house was cooled by a single swamp cooler.. It would freeze you right out of the house. It worked so well that when we moved to the DFW area we tried one.. The next day we went Air Conditioner shopping.. :mrgreen:

Swamp coolers work great, are cheap, and easy to fix.. But they only work in a very limited section of the US..

Jim R.
Dew point has been in the 60s in Tucson for about a month now. I have been working in a factory that is swamp cooled and it worked so poorly this year that equipment overheated. They are installing AC... For the equipment.... It's been miserable...
 

KDpoolguy

Bronze Supporter
Mar 5, 2017
593
Palm Desert, CA
I heard from a commercial construction HVAC guy that the large ‘A/C’ units in say a Costco warehouse store are actually Evaporative coolers with chillers, to chill the water. Anyone know if that’s legit?
I’ve worked with many restaurants and it’s fascinating to see the use of Evaporative coolers in their make-up air systems (to make-up the negative pressure of the hood vents.
 

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
931
OV, CA
Swamp coolers are a rare sight in central CA... But when the conditions are right, when its hot and the breeze is warm, I will spray water up into the big oaks in my back yard.. and make a swamp cooler that covers quarter acre!
 
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proavia

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
1,678
Chandler AZ
I heard from a commercial construction HVAC guy that the large ‘A/C’ units in say a Costco warehouse store are actually Evaporative coolers with chillers, to chill the water. Anyone know if that’s legit?
I’ve worked with many restaurants and it’s fascinating to see the use of Evaporative coolers in their make-up air systems (to make-up the negative pressure of the hood vents.
I don't think its an evaporative cooler as that would increase the humidity - and probably wouldn't work well in humid climates. More than likely, its a commercial chiller setup.

Here's a link I found explaining the basic differences between an air conditioner and a chiller type setup.
You can Google - commercial air conditioner chiller plant - for lots of other links.