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Portable Outdoor Air Coolers

When would you use an evaporative air cooler outdoors?

Don't overlook this clever way to keep guests cool in summer with portable AC on a porch, patio or terrace!

That's right, you don't just need to keep the interior of your home super cool when the weather is really hot. People spend a lot of time in the garden, on the patio or terrace and milling around the pool if you have one.

Sure you can jump in a pool to cool off, but what if people are not dressed for the pool, or you don't even have one?

Here is a great way to make sure your guests are kept nice and cool while they party outside or just for yourself when you want to relax with a book without getting frazzled by the sun!

Using Outdoor Swamp Coolers

best outdoor swamp coolerThe first thing you need to know is that swamp coolers are just perfect for using outside because they use hardly any power yet still manage to blast out a serious amount of cold air, so they're economical and that means you're not being wasteful.

If you were to use a regular air conditioner outside, you'd be guzzling way too much electricity for the benefit it provides.

Oh, and the power bill that later drops through the door... won't make for happy reading!

The second thing is all about convenience and logic. OK, going with logic is not everyone's favorite thing to do, but there's a lot of sensibility in this. Because of the way a swamp cooler works, it only produces cold air.

An air conditioner produces both cold and hot air (through its exhaust vent).

Here's the logic part: When you run an air conditioner outdoors, you get a blast of cold air right at you, but your neighbors get the blast of hot air in the other direction that you don't want. That's because it has to go someplace!

A swamp cooler on the other hand does not have an exhaust vent for hot air... because it doesn't doesn't need one. That's because it does not produce any hot air!

The convenience is easy to see: Swamp coolers have NO VENT!

You can place them wherever you need them and they'll faithfully produce plenty of chilled breeze to keep you and/or your guests nice and comfortable no matter how hot the day (or evening for that matter) gets. Try doing that with a portable air conditioner and its nasty, trailing, heat-spewing ugly corrugated plastic vent!

Maximizing Outdoor Evaporative Air Coolers Effectiveness

If you have already read though some or all of this website, you'll know by now that this type of air cooler is not good for humid atmospheres. Their effectiveness when used indoors is greatly reduced by high humidity in a room.

But outdoors it's a different story altogether. Unless you happen to live by the ocean, a large river, lake or other large body of water (in which case your outside air will probably be very humid), you can use this kind of cooler and it will still produce a blast of cold breeze even when the humidity is up to (and even above) 60%.

That's because the air outside is constantly moving and excess moisture will dissipate into the atmosphere and be carried away by any breezes that are present. That will leave plenty of scope for the machine to do its thing and provide you with that nice cold breeze.

To capitalize on this fact, you can use an Evap on your porch or terrace (especially when they are partially enclosed and it will keep the temperature down in that area more effectively than you would think.

What is the Best Swamp Cooler for Outdoors?

The best model for outdoor use will depend somewhat on what you're going to be using it for or where it's going to be put. For open areas like a patio, terrace, porch or under a gazebo for example, a high powered portable evaporative cooler is best to ensure a powerful blast of chilled air is produced that will go a long way.

Below are some of my own recommendations of high powered swamp coolers that are perfect for outdoor use:

Note: As a Sylvane affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Honeywell CO60PM Commercial Indoor/Outdoor Portable Evaporative Air Cooler

Here is my own personal selection for outdoor use that I have found to be surprisingly effective even around the pool. I like the Honeywell for a number of reasons, not least of those being:

I use it mainly by the pool or wheel it around the patio to wherever there are people milling to give them a pleasant surprise!

It's also great for standing just outside the gazebo facing inward to keep it really comfy under there.

You can grab one of these great coolers from Sylvane by clicking the image above right that will open the relevant page on their website where you can get full details and the current price.

Update 2021: The Honeywell is not my only outdoor swamp cooler any more, although it still works great. I decided I needed another and wanted to try a different brand to see how they compared. So I bought the Hessaire below from Sylvane and here are my thoughts:

Hessaire MC61M 5,300 CFM 3-Speed Portable Evaporative Cooler

I wanted more power from a second swamp cooler to blast a lot of cold air across my newly enlarged patio area, so I chose this 5,300 CFM model from Hessaire for a number of reasons.

First, it is outright powerful! Rated to cool an area of 1,600 sq ft indoors, it seemed perfect for an outdoor setting that needed high power.

It did not disappoint!

In fact, this made in the USA cooler moves a huge amount of air to where it's needed fast and cold!

Simple to Use

The controls are all manual, which is perfect for someone like me who always manages to misplace remotes! I just hook up the hosepipe and turn on the water to make sure its tank is filled, set the dials on the control panel and turn it on.

The first time I used it, I was shocked at just how strong the blast of cold air was when I stood right up close to it. So I moved it to the far corner of the patio so it wouldn't blow anyone over (couldn't resist adding a little joke there)!

Continuous Water Flow

With the hosepipe attached and the water turned on, the cooler keeps running without needing any attention for hours. Perfect for cooling my guests when I'm holding a barbecue and folks are milling about on the patio all day.

The cooler has a big 14.6 gallon tank if you need to run it inside without the hose attached and that will keep it running for about 3-4 hours before needing a refill.

Click the image above right to visit the Sylvane website page where you can get all the details about this cooler including the current price and free shipping information when you want to buy one of these for yourself.

So that's my own recommendations along with the whys, what's and wherefores of using these units outside covered. But there are other places to use these appliances that you may not have thought of...

Put a Portable Swamp Cooler in the Gazebo!

How about putting one of them in your garden or porch gazebo when you have guests around? Or even if you just like to sneak under there to get out of the sun but still enjoy the outdoor experience to relax and read a book or listen to some music on your headphones, you can be comforted with a cold breeze to ward off the heat of the day.

With no messy venting needed, a swamp cooler is the perfect thing to give you a cooler environment under your gazebo while not costing you a fortune to run it. This type of appliance costs pennies to run as the fan is the only real user of electricity and they are generally rated at around 100 watts or less.

Compare that to the several kilowatts of an AC and you'll see how much they can save and why they make such a non-wasteful way to keep coolest outside in summer.

Reduce the Temperature in a Greenhouse with a Swamp Cooler!

Inside a greenhouse, it is meant to be warm to protect vulnerable plants and to make things grow better, but on really hot days, it can get so hot in there some plants can wilt. is there a simple, cost effective solution?

Oh yeah! You can even keep the temperature in your greenhouse down on the hottest days by wheeling in your portable evaporative cooling unit and letting it take the edge off the heat!

To make it work best, you should crack open a few window vents to allow some air flow and to reduce the moisture level in there. It might only make a few degrees difference, but your plants will thank you for taking the heat off them!

Chill the Summerhouse Cheaply

outdoor evaporative cooler for a summerhouseAn evaporative cooler placed in the summerhouse will help keep that external place in your garden nice and comfortable for the children to play in. Kids love playing make-believe stuff in a summerhouse but it can get very hot inside them on hot days, so take the edge off with this cheap-to-run, safe and ecologically sound solution!

The kids will be able to enjoy themselves and you won't need to worry they might be getting dehydrated or uncomfortable when the mercury rises a little too high.

A Cool Tree House!

If your kids are lucky enough to have their own tree house, you can make it more comfortable for them to play in during the hottest summer days by putting a smaller evaporative air cooler in there for them.

You can buy units that are very lightweight and easy to move. So lifting one up into a tree house is no problem and they can run off an extension cord and keep the place from overheating.

A Cool Outdoor Tent or Fort

Another thing kids love to do in summer is camp out in the garden in their own tent or fort. But if you live in a place where the nights stay really hot, being in a plastic sided tent can get pretty hot and sweaty for the kids.

Cool things down with one of the appliances that are super lightweight and very small so they don't take up much space but can still provide a welcome chilled breeze to keep things nice and comfortable in there.

OK, so there are some great ideas for using one (or more) of these great machines outside the home to keep things feeling more comfortable on those real hot days in summer. Again, as I've already mentioned, their effectiveness is reduced in very humid climates but unless you are really unlucky to have very high humidity in your area, you can usually get away with some humidity and still enjoy a shilling blast of air from these amazing devices.

Very Humid Areas: But just in case you're not sure, check with your local weather station for the quality of the air in your area to be sure. You should NOT buy one of these if there is a lot of humidity (60% or higher) in the atmosphere where you live because you may be disappointed.


Posted on Wed, May 20 2015 in Air Conditioning | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on "Portable Outdoor Air Coolers"

Cook says:
May 3, 2021

Harold, yes it does and yes you can!

It's a really great cooler and so powerful. I think you're going to like it a lot. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Harold says:
May 2, 2021

I'm looking for a big swamp cooler for my own patio and after reading your update on this page, that big Hessaire cooler looks about right. Just one question. Does it have replaceable media pads and are they user replaceable? Thanks in advance!

Cook says:
May 16, 2018

Patsy, it will be fine if the humidity is low enough and you allow some cross flow of outside air to circulate in the porch. Check with local weather stations for humidity levels first.

PAtsy massey says:
May 14, 2018


Amber says:
March 28, 2018

I bought an evaporative cooler for my porch last summer. It was such a welcome addition to an otherwise hot and sticky place that no one wanted to sit in during the hottest days and evenings. After the cooler was set up, the whole family enjoyed our first outdoor summer evening meal in comfort as the machine blasted really nice cool air at us. Added bonus it also kept the bugs away while we ate!

Now we're already getting ready for another summer and the cooler is right there where it needs to be. I checked it out and it still works perfect. It's a Portacool model. Not cheap but worth every cent!

Jennifer says:
November 9, 2017

Helen, if you're in FL too, a swamp cooler will struggle to make that damp air cool. I'm just outside Tampa and tried it, but when it gets real hot the humidity goes up too and you just get more damp air blown at you.

I knew it would be tough but I tried it anyways. Best I got was when the weather cooled and it got less humid the swamp cooler blew out lovely cold air, but I didn't really need it them. Ended up the following summer buying a portable AC that I vented out a hole my handy neighbor bored through the wall. Darn thing's expensive to run, but it keeps the space cool.

Helen sica says:
November 9, 2017

I , too, want a reply as. Have similar situation., lanai with plastic windows and doors in attached lanai. What kind f swamp Cooler should I use?

Thomas Simmons says:
August 7, 2017

I have a 12×12 lanai in Florida. It is enclosed with acrylic windows. What would be the way to cool this space.

Cook says:
July 8, 2017

Hey Veronica, unfortunately swamp coolers do begin to lose their cooling effectiveness at over 60% humidity.

At 90% humidity, a swamp cooler would perform no better than a regular fan. Under those conditions if you really need some cool air, a portable AC would provide it, just at a higher cost in energy usage.

Veronica Eichorn says:
July 8, 2017

I just moved to eastern NC ,One block from the ocean. My screened in (3 sides) porch
is too humid and hot. Was told evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) would help.
But humidity here reaches 90% and most coolers state over 60% is not good!
Will I waste my money buying said cooler?? I am confused coming from dry climate
of California! l help like to eat in my lovely porch!!