Essential Tips for Successful Evaporative Cooler Installation

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 4th September 2023

Evaporative coolers, also called swamp coolers, cool the air by evaporating water. They work best in arid climates. If you live in a humid area, opting for an air conditioner instead is best.

Here are some tips to help you install and use an evaporative cooler successfully.

1. Know Your Cooling Needs

Evaporative coolers are a popular cooling option for homes in hot climates. They work differently from air conditioning systems, bringing in cooler outside air to be treated and circulated while warmer indoor air escapes through open windows. This allows a high rate of air exchange, with 15 or more air changes per hour typical in evaporative cooler spaces.

Before deciding to buy an evaporative cooler, be sure to understand your cooling needs and the capacity of the unit you are considering. Determine the square footage of the space you want to cool (for example, a room in your home). This is a relatively easy measurement to make and can be done with a measuring tape.

Next, figure out the humidity levels in your area. You can do this by using a standard weather report to find the dew point and relative humidity. A psychrometric chart can also be used to find the wet bulb temperature required to calculate your cooling system performance.

Once you know the capacity of your evaporative cooling system, consider the size of your house and its layout. A larger home will need a bigger system to effectively cool it. If you are installing a system in your home, consider adding ductwork so that all rooms can be easily and efficiently cooled.

Once you know the capacity and size of your evaporative cooling system, it is important to keep maintenance costs in mind. Evaporative coolers require frequent cleaning and draining to prevent the build-up of mineral deposits in their internal components. This can reduce the effectiveness of the system over time. To avoid this, you can purchase a self-draining model or install a water filtration system to reduce the amount of sediment that flows from the pads into the fans.

2. Know Your Water Supply

The water supply is a critical component of evaporative cooling, whether you opt for portable units with a tank that needs to be manually filled or continuous-fill systems. The wet components of your evaporative cooling system need to be fed with clean, fresh water that is low in mineral content. If the water is high in minerals, this can leave crusting on all of the wet surfaces in your evaporative cooler. This can create issues with cleaning and replacing wet pads and pose health hazards when working on your evaporative cooler. Met Mann evaporative coolers have a purge system to minimize the build-up of mineral crusting on wet pads and interior components, but this cannot eliminate it entirely in areas with hard water.

Standalone and window-mounted evaporative coolers have a water drain plug at the base of the unit. This should be regularly drained to prevent the build-up of salts, which can affect your evaporative cooling performance. You can also use a 50-50 mix of water and vinegar to clean the unit and its drain plug to reduce the amount of build-up.

Rooftop evaporative coolers have a permanent water line running from the house to the unit, typically serviced by 1/2-inch plumbing tubing (copper, polybutylene, or PEX). To avoid leaks, it is important to ensure this line is connected properly to your main water supply valve and to the float valve at your evaporative cooler. It is also a good idea to have a shut-off valve installed at the evaporative cooler – this can help isolate the tubing in case of a water supply problem, as well as make it easier to access the float valve to change a filter or do other maintenance on your evaporative cooling system.

3. Know Your Evaporative Cooler

Unlike air conditioning, which relies on refrigerants to cool the air, evaporative coolers use water to add moisture. This makes them ideal for dry climates and works by using a fan to pull hot air through wet filter pads, which then evaporate and lower the temperature of the air before it’s circulated back into the room.

Because they need a constant flow of fresh air to work, it’s important that your evaporative cooling system be well-ventilated. If you have your system in a closed and unventilated space, it will simply pump humidity into that area, which can be harmful to electrical systems and electronics as well as lead to damp and unpleasant-smelling spaces.

When choosing an evaporative cooler, check its CFM rating: the amount of cubic feet of air it can move per minute. You can calculate the minimum CFM you need by determining the square footage of the room, then multiplying that number by the suggested number of times you want the room’s air to turn over per hour (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers recommends between five and nine air changes).

If the CFM rating isn’t available, you should also look at the tank size to see how much water it has, as this will indicate how many hours of operation it can provide. Keep in mind that evaporative coolers use several hundred liters of water a day, so they’re not suitable for areas with limited or no access to a water supply.

It’s also a good idea to clean your evaporative cooler’s pads regularly, as this can help reduce the buildup of salts and other minerals. This will keep your evaporative cooling system running more efficiently and ensure its long life.

4. Know Your Ventilation System

Evaporative cooling systems draw in air, cool it through evaporation and circulation, and allow warm indoor air to escape. They operate best when the environment has access to fresh air and open doors. They are not as effective in closed environments such as warehouses and are likely to worsen the situation by adding too much moisture to the air.

When evaluating an evaporative cooler’s capacity for your home or business, look at its CMH (cubic meter per hour) rating. A CMH figure is calculated by multiplying the total cubic feet of space you want to cool by the number of times you want air to change over in an hour, then dividing that result by 60. This is a rough estimate, but it can give you a ballpark figure closer to the actual capacity you need than simply looking at a cooling power rating.

Installing up-ducts in your roof to allow hot air to escape into the attic as cooler air is drawn in through the evaporative cooler. This will also help to reduce any humidity issues. It is also important to keep an eye on the cleanliness of the evaporative cooler, particularly in areas with hard water. Mineral deposits will build up on the pads over time, and this can be a major problem if not removed properly.

You may need to clean or replace the evaporative cooler pads several times in a season, especially if you have hard water. In addition, you’ll need to drain and flush the system and repair any problems regularly. You should also consider adding an air filter to the evaporative cooler, as these remove most of the dust from the incoming air and can be very beneficial for those concerned with allergies.

5. Know Your Heating System

Unlike refrigerated air conditioning, which relies on coolants to lower the temperature of the air, evaporative coolers (also known as swamp coolers) simply evaporate water into the air to reduce it. As a result, they are less expensive to operate and can add humidity, improving comfort in dry climates.

The evaporative cooling process requires a number of components, including a pump, float, water supply valve, and evaporative pads. The pumps circulate the water through the pads, and a fan forces the air to flow over them. The pads are often made from cellulose, cotton, or hemp, which absorbs and releases the water in a continuous cycle.

As the water vapor is released, it cools the air as it passes through it, and the evaporative cooler will also remove dust and other pollutants. It can even help irrigate indoor plants, improving indoor air quality.

While evaporative coolers work best when there is ample water available, they can still be effective in areas with limited water supplies. Nevertheless, it’s important to know your local water usage rates because some evaporative coolers use several hundred liters of water per hour.

If you live in a hot area with low humidity, it’s advisable to crack your windows while an evap cooler is running to increase the amount of fresh air and moisture in the air, which will help the system perform at its best. It’s also important to keep in mind that evaporative coolers require regular maintenance, such as cleaning the filters, ensuring that the water pump is working properly, and re-filling the water tank.

Knowing your evaporative cooler installation needs will help you choose the right one for your home and ensure that it receives the proper maintenance. Keeping your heating maintenance up to date can also help it last longer and keep you warm all winter long.

Categories: Tech