Which swamp cooler is best?

When summer breezes get hot, and there isn’t an air conditioner available, a swamp cooler can help. Swamp coolers don’t provide the frosty chill of air conditioning, but they can lower a room’s temperature 9 to 25 degrees. If you live in a dry area with intense hot spells, the best swamp cooler can help you stay cool in the heat. 

For sitting in a cool breeze outside, the Honeywell Powerful Outdoor Portable Evaporative Cooler is great. It provides up to 600 square feet of chilly air, perfect for a peaceful evening on the patio in the summer.

What to know before you buy a swamp cooler

Direct vs. indirect swamp coolers

Evaporative coolers come in two basic types: direct and indirect.

  • Direct: Direct swamp coolers push air through or over water-soaked padding or ice. This cools the air and adds humidity as it comes out of the cooler.
  • Indirect: This two-stage method cools a secondary stream of air that is then combined with the primary stream coming through the fan. This type of color is best for temperatures over 100 degrees. 

Area being cooled

If you are trying to save on electricity by using a swamp cooler and not installing a window unit air conditioner, it’s important to consider the area. If all you really need is personal cooling, consider a smaller appliance that drops the temperature around one person. Do you need to cool a whole room? Some evaporative coolers can chill up to 1,000 square feet at a time.

Indoor vs. outdoor

  • Indoor: Indoor evaporative coolers are perfect for cooling down high inside temperatures. If designed specifically for use inside, they may not be able to handle temperature swings or bad weather.
  • Outdoor: Outdoor swamp coolers are a good option for summertime meals and other gatherings outside. 

What to look for in a quality swamp cooler

Automatic refills

If you are busy entertaining, it can be a challenge to remember to refill a water reservoir. You can also hook some swamp coolers to a hose for automatic refills. 

Mold-free filters

A damp filter can lead to mold and bacteria. Cold air pushed through this filter releases problematic mold particles in the air. Rigid filter materials or filters treated with mold-killing or antibacterial products reduce the chances of this happening.

Easy care

Cleaning your evaporative cooler should not require too much time. Look for coolers that you can wipe down with a damp sponge and a filter that can be rinsed or washed with mild detergents.

How much you can expect to spend on a swamp cooler

The price varies depending on the size of the cooler and whether it’s designed to be used inside or out. Expect to spend $75 for a small personal cooler and up to $1,000 for larger models. 

Swamp cooler FAQ

How do you get the best performance from your swamp cooler?

A. A few tips and tricks can help you get the best from your evaporative cooler.

  • Crack a window to help your indoor cooler work more efficiently. For larger swamp coolers, experiment with which window makes your cooler work more efficiently. 
  • Use the vent- or fan-only option for circulating air without cooling when the weather is mild.  
  • Use rigid filters instead of fiber pads. This type of pad costs more but lasts longer and cools better. It is also less prone to mold.
  • Clean your swamp cooler before the first use of the season. It’s also recommended that you clean it once a week with heavy use and before storing it for the winter.

Which size swamp cooler is best?

A. It really depends on your cooling needs. While a square footage number can be helpful, the most important number is your swamp cooler’s cubic feet per minute rating. This is how much air flows across the cooling media. 

To calculate out your optimal CFM rating:

  • Find the area of the room you want to cool by multiplying its length and width.
  • Multiply the square feet by the ceiling height.
  • Divide that number in two to get the CFM you need.

What’s the best swamp cooler to buy?

Top swamp cooler

Best Honeywell Powerful Outdoor Portable Evaporative Cooler

Honeywell Powerful Outdoor Portable Evaporative Cooler

What you need to know: This large swamp cooler is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use but really shines outside. 

What you’ll love: It cools over 600 square feet and has a CFM of up to 1,471. It has a separate ice compartment for even colder air. You can attach it to a hose for continuous, automatic refilling. A fan pushes cool air through a triple-sided honeycomb structure for better cooling. 

What you should consider: It is louder than other models.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top swamp cooler for the money

Best Hessaire Portable Evaporative Cooler

Hessaire Portable Evaporative Cooler

What you need to know: Choose this for cooling small spaces in moderate heat.

What you’ll love: The CFM is up to 1.300, and it cools up to 500 square feet. Fill this cooler manually or by attaching it to a hose. Use the fan-only mode to circulate air without cooling. 

What you should consider: This is not as effective in high-humidity climates, and you shouldn’t use it in extreme temperatures. You also may not be able to choose the color of your cooler.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Best Evapolar EvaChill Personal Evaporative Air Cooler

Evapolar EvaChill Personal Evaporative Air Cooler

What you need to know: This works best for cooling the air around one person.

What you’ll love: Direct cool air directly at a person. It cools 45 square feet for up to nine hours. Inorganic materials in its construction reduce the chance of mold and bacteria growth. It’s lightweight and quiet. It comes in three colors. 

What you should consider: This is not as effective for cooling multiple people in a larger space. It’s best for a desk or when sleeping.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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