How To Use A Swamp Cooler — Detailed Guide

A swamp cooler is also known as an evaporative cooler. Like an air conditioner, swamp coolers ensure that your home stays cool even in hot environments. But instead of using massive electricity like air conditioners do, these coolers work by the simple principle of evaporation. To use a swamp cooler;

  1. Fill the reservoir with cool water.
  2. Wait a while for the pads to soak up
  3. Point the fan to the area you want to cool
  4. Open the windows a bit.
  5. On hot days, you can use it with a dehumidifier

Many people wonder if they should purchase a swamp cooler or endure the heat till they can get an air conditioner. Although to many, swamp coolers don’t produce much cold air as ACs, they are also very effective in cooling. Swamp coolers don’t take as much electricity as air conditioners, so you get to spend less. Also, when used correctly, they release cooler than air conditioners.

In this article, we would be looking at what swamp coolers are, how they work and how you can use them effectively. So, let’s get into it. When we’re done, it won’t be difficult to decide if you still want an air conditioner.

What is a Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler goes by several names. Some of them include the swamp box, evaporative cooler, and wet air cooler. This device cools the air in your room through the evaporation of water. Isn’t that cool? It uses the fact that when water evaporates, it absorbs a large amount of heat. For instance, when you’ve just finished exercising and you’re sweating profusely, you feel cool when that sweat begins to dry. That means the liquid on your skin is turning to vapor.

Swamp coolers are very effective in getting your house cool using much less energy. Swamp coolers do not make use of compressors. So, if you’re staying in arid areas, you get to enjoy the cool air as a result of evaporative cooling. This saves you energy consumption, money, and equipment for conditioning.





How to Use a Swamp Cooler – How a Swamp Cooler Works

Before we talk about how evaporative cooler works, it would interest you to know that these coolers do not provide refrigerant air, but cooled air. So, do not think of the refrigeration cycle when picturing the swamp cooler. There are no condenser coils, compressors, evaporator coils and fan, and metering devices. Instead, it uses a simple yet effective cooling system.

Swamp coolers are constructed with filter pads on the back, sides, or both. These filter pads play a big role in the cooling process. The pads are usually kept damp with water from an external source or from the internal reservoir. These pads suck in warm air from the environment. The water on the pad is evaporated as warm air passes through it. As the water evaporates, heat is removed from the air.

So, your swamp cooler takes in warm air and lets out cool air. This cool air ends up cooling your room, or a larger area depending on the size of the machine.

You may think of putting ice in your swamp cooler to provide cooler air. But, this does not work. The temperature of the water does not have a great effect on the cooling produced by your swamp cooler. For instance, if you throw ice into the reservoir, it may even take time for the ice to melt. So, nothing much happens when your swamp cooler should be releasing cool air. Even when the ice is melted, you don’t see much difference in the air released.

So, instead of wasting money and ice, target your swamp coolers to the right places. This would be explained better below.

Find out how to turn on your swamp cooler here


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Ways to Use a Swamp Cooler

Anyone can use a swamp cooler. But, not everyone can enjoy it to the fullest. The best swamp coolers to pick for your home should be window-mounted, roof-mounted, or ground-mounted. A window-mounted swamp cooler is very easy to install. The roof-mounted cooler is more difficult to install but also more efficient. The ground-mounted swamp cooler is easy to perform maintenance on. Also, you never have to worry about water leaking from the roof.

You need a swamp cooler that can generate enough power to cool your entire house. You need swamp coolers that can create between 20 and 40 air changes per hour. An air change is when the air in your house has been circulated once. The blowing power of swamp coolers is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The CFM of our house or a room is the volume of that particular place divided by 2.

Below are ways to use the swamp cooler effectively –

  1. Use it when the dew point is below 55 ⁰F

As mentioned above, the best time to use a swamp cooler is when the humidity is low. A low humidity means the dew point is also low. Knowing the dew point of your environment is much easier now because we have the internet. You can easily check the dew point on weather websites and apps.  If you know the temperature and humidity of your environment, you can also use an online dew point calculator to get the dew point.

  1. Open windows

When using swamp coolers, it is important that you let the air out. The air going out should be at the same rate that the swamp cooler is producing cool air. So, don’t open too many windows. Also, you should only open windows where you want to cool. Shut all the windows in rooms no one is inhabiting. This is important if you want to enjoy the cool air in a particular room.

  1. Set the speed

Do you know that you can adjust the speed of your swamp cooler?

Yes, this is very possible. You can set the swamp cooler to any speed you prefer. The higher the speed, the cooler your home gets. But, lower speed equals higher efficiency. So, ensure you set the speed to whatever meets your needs.

  1. Try out the fan option

If the weather outside is nice, you may decide to store your swamp cooler for later use. But, sometimes the weather outside is nice while your room is a bit warm. In cases like this, you should try the fan option. This allows the swamp cooler to cool your room with outside air.

  1. Use a dehumidifier –

This is very useful if the weather is too hot for you to open the windows. So, instead of air leaving the room at the same rate the swamp cooler releases it, use a dehumidifier. The dehumidifier reduces the humidity of the room for you.

So, a water tank collects the excess moisture in the air. The dehumidifier boosts the efficiency of your swamp cooler. Many people use it alone to cool the house in the summer during a humid day. But you can put it near the air intake grill of your swamp cooler to achieve the best results.




  1. Prime the pads

What does that mean?

The filter pads in your swamp cooler need time to absorb water fully. Before turning on your cooler, give about 15 minutes for the pads to absorb enough water. So, when you turn it on, it would release air at its fullest cooling capacity. Else, you would have to wait a while before your room starts getting cool.

  1. Maintenance

Like every other appliance, you have to maintain your swamp cooler. When you clean it properly, it runs more efficiently. Ensure that you clean it before use in the summer, after you’ve left it during the winter season. You should also try to do a mid-season inspection, so you don’t leave it unused for a very long time. The things you should clean in your swamp cooler include the water tank and exterior. Also, check the cooling pads for mildews and cracks. Clean the air intake grills and fans properly.

  1. Plant something

What do plants have to do with swamp coolers?

A whole lot!

Some plants reduce humidity in your home. Having them around when using a swamp cooler is a big bonus. These houseplants absorb moisture from the environment to satisfy their water needs. So, your house will be a little drier while it runs.

Some of these plants include Aloe, Peace lily, Euphorbia, Cacti, Succulents, Bromeliads, and English ivy.

Watch this video to learn more about how a swamp cooler works:


You would find swamp coolers in areas such as Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. What is common in these places is that there is less moisture in the air. Swamp coolers add more moisture in the air. You would enjoy your swamp coolers better when you use it properly.

To enjoy the cooler, use it seasonally in dry climate, open the windows, run a dehumidifier, grow houseplants that will suck moisture, place it in the right position, use cold water, and prime the pads.

Meanwhile, you may want to put ice to cool the room better. But, this doesn’t really work. The ice lets out a gust of cold air, which makes it good if you just finished heavy exercise. But, it doesn’t make much difference than when cooling the room with normal water.