Swamp coolers are great for the high desert.

They’re inexpensive, relatively simple to maintain, and they give us moist, cool air for our homes. However, if you talk to many people about them, you’re bound to encounter some people who down right hate swamp coolers. They’ll complain about their cooling capabilities, their smell, their maintenance, and more. So, what’s up with this discrepancy?

Swamp cooler maintenance swamp coolers

Well, like any other mechanical system, swamp coolers require upkeep to stay working at their best. There also have been drastic improvements in swamp cooler design and construction in recent years. If someone’s only experience with swamp coolers is with an obsolete unit, then they’re obviously much more likely to detest them. In this series, we’ll take a look at some tips for swamp cooler maintenance, when it’s time to replace your old swamp cooler, and what you might want to replace it with.

Swamp coolers are more environmentally friendly and cheaper to operate than refrigerated air. So why doesn’t everyone use them?

Swamp coolers work by harnessing the energy of evaporation. They take hot, dry air and turn it into moist, cool air. This is both their greatest strength and their biggest weakness. By harnessing the natural power of evaporation rather than relying on an electric compressor and refrigeration cycle, they are able to do their cooling work with far less energy than a refrigerated air conditioning system. However, this also means they only work when the humidity is low. When humidity is high and the air is already waterlogged, there can’t be any evaporation, and therefore there can’t be any cooling. This is why the geographical reach of swamp coolers is so limited. They only work in places with high heat and low humidity throughout the summer months, like the high desert of the southwestern United States and parts of Australia.

Check back soon for How to maintain your swamp cooler, when to replace it, and what to replace it with, part 2. In the meantime, check out our page on swamp coolers.