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Evaporative Cooler vs. Air Conditioner: Pros and Cons

Aircon Comparison

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What's in the article?

Deciding whether to get an evaporative cooler or an air conditioning unit for your home or office space? In this article, we compare the two appliances to find out which of these air cooling systems provide the most cost-efficient, and the most effective cooling effect!

What is an Evaporative Cooler?

Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers or air coolers, use evaporative cooling to lower the temperature of the room. Evaporative cooling relies on evaporation, where excessive heat turns water into water vapor, resulting in cooler temperatures. Evaporative coolers work using this principle to cool air surrounding it, lowering the temperature of the room.



Evaporative coolers are low-cost appliances. You can purchase a small evaporative cooler for your personal space for as low as $100. Though, higher-end swamp coolers tend to provide cooler air. In terms of operating costs, evaporative coolers work at $0.06 to $0.88 per hour, which is more cost-efficient than operating a portable air conditioner.

Space Requirements

Evaporative coolers require very little space as they do not have an exhaust hose or outdoor unit like air conditioning units do. They can be placed in the corner of the room, or near your work station for effective cooling. An evaporative cooler is perfect for small areas and personal spaces as they provide fresh air at a low cost.


Swamp coolers are low maintenance units as they rarely require repairs or maintenance. As long as the swamp coolers are cleaned regularly, they should be able to last for years as evaporative coolers are durable air systems.

Energy Efficiency

Evaporative coolers are highly energy efficient. Because they use the principle of evaporative cooling, the energy used in these systems is low. Swamp coolers use up a fraction of the energy used by conventional air conditioning units - around just 15% to 35% of the energy needed to run a portable air conditioner!


Cooling Power

In terms of cooling power, evaporative coolers are at a huge disadvantage. Evaporative coolers do not use any refrigerant or chemical coolant to cool the air, so they cannot provide the same cooling effect as air conditioning units. They do not work well in high-humidity areas, and cannot effectively cool medium to large spaces.

What is an Air Conditioner?

An air conditioning unit provides cool air to the room, lowering the room temperature according to the desired temperature set on the thermostat. Air conditioners work by expelling warm air outside, and turning room air cold using refrigerants or chemical coolants. The result is a cooling system that significantly alters the temperature of the room.


Cooling Power

The cooling capacity of an evaporative cooler cannot be compared to the cooling power of an air conditioning system as AC units use refrigerant to cool the air, while the exhaust unit expels hot air out of the room. The result is a significant drop in room temperature, which is helpful during summer months, and on particularly hot days.


Depending on the model of the unit, air conditioners are relatively easy to clean and maintain. Not only are there numerous air conditioner repair companies available to professionally maintain your air conditioners, most units have accessible filters and coils for general cleaning, and can self-diagnose issues for at-home troubleshooting.


While it may seem like air conditioners are costly, many models have been made to be cost-efficient both for the initial purchase and the operating costs. Unless you're purchasing a central air conditioning unit, you can find a good-quality portable or window air conditioner at $100 or more. Higher-end units, however, will provide better performance.

Space Requirements

Air conditioners come in multiple types and models - suited to fit a wide range of home and office spaces! Portable air conditioning units take up no more space than a swamp cooler, and provide a cooling comfort that dehumidifies the indoor air, and lowers the room temperature to a desired degree, which a swamp cooler cannot achieve.


Energy Efficiency

The main con of an air conditioner over a swamp cooler is its energy efficiency. While many air conditioning models are made to be energy efficient, a swamp cooler still uses much less energy than air conditioning units do. Larger air conditioning units with powerful compressors use up more energy as well.

Evaporative Cooler vs Air Conditioner: What's the Difference?

Factors Evaporative Cooler Air Conditioner
Budget Budget friendly. 4.5 out of 5 rating Cost-effective units are affordable. 4 out of 5 rating
Energy Consumption Low energy consumption. 4.5 out of 5 rating Latest technology in terms of energy efficiency, but still uses more energy than evaporative coolers. 4 out of 5 rating
Space Requirements Space requirements vary per model. 3.5 out of 5 rating Space requirements vary per model, with many units suitable for a wide range of spaces. 3.5 out of 5 rating
Cooling Power Inefficient cooling capacity 1.5 out of 5 rating Generally provides adequate cooling. 4 out of 5 rating
Maintenance Low maintenance units. 3.5 out of 5 rating Units are durable with proper maintenance. 4.5 out of 5 rating

The Verdict

In terms of cooling capacity, an evaporative or swamp cooler cannot compete with an air conditioner that both cools the air, and expels the warm air out of the room. If budget and space are not constraints to your decision, then an air conditioning system is the way to go. However, if you are limited in budget, space, and energy efficiency, then an evaporative cooler is your best bet.

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Staff Writer

This article is written by our passionate staff writers who seek to share our knowledge from our business

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