When you think about how to keep cool when it's really hot, air conditioning springs to mind. But there is a ventless portable alternative that is cheap to run that I'll be investigating here and in subsequent posts on this site.
I'm talking primarily about the humble swamp cooler, or evaporative cooler to give it the right name. This is a cooling unit that is very simple in construction and operation, yet can provide surprisingly effective results in the right circumstances.
Unlike true aircon units which chill the atmosphere that passes through them by using a motorized air compressing system that forces air through a refrigerant gas filled heat exchange assembly, a swamp cooler simply uses a regular fan to generate a room temperature breeze.
That breeze is pushed through a wet membrane and reduces the temperature of the atmosphere by evaporation. Because there is no motor or refrigerant process involved, there is also no subsequent hot exhaust that must be vented to the outside.
You can read about the history of evaporative cooling to get a better insight into this form of climate control and its roots.
This setup provides several major benefits over traditional air conditioners, but also has one major drawback as I will now explain:
Pros and Cons of Evaporative Air Coolers
The benefits are fairly obvious when you look at how the unit works:
- Low production and manufacture costs means a low purchase price tag
- Low running costs as energy is only needed to run the fan
- Highly portable and lightweight
- Ductless, or vent free meaning it can be sited anywhere
The major downside is that because of the way in which the unit chills the atmosphere, it does not work so well when the humidity level is high. This is because for the "air chilling by evaporation" process to work, there needs to be low levels of already evaporated moisture in the atmosphere (low humidity).
When it Works it Works!
This is great if you happen to live in an area that has high summer temperatures but low humidity levels (under 50%), as these coolers are capable of dropping the ambient temperature in a room by 30 degrees or more. This is a considerable amount and can make a room very comfortable indeed to be in when the weather is really hot.
For anyone living in such conditions, you can take advantage of the several massive benefits of this type of cooling solution over regular aircon and save yourself a great deal of money on both purchase cost plus ongoing running costs because energy consumption when compared to the power hungry alternative is negligible.
Another often overlooked advantage of these devices is that that also work amazing well as portable outdoor coolers. They are capable of blasting cold air at people who would otherwise be feeling hot on terraces, porches and patios in the sun.
The best part is that since they use so little energy to produce cold air, they are not considered wasteful when used outdoors in this way!
Here's why they are so frugal with their energy use:
Typically the internal fan will use 30-50 watts on standard size portable units, up to 100 watts on larger units. As the fan is generally the only energy-using component of a ventless portable evaporative cooler, that's all the electricity the unit will need to use.
A standard model portable aircon can use as much as 2 kilowatts of energy (larger units up to 3 kilowatts) by comparison. When you see the stark difference between the energy consumption of the two types of cooling devices, it become patently obvious which is the better choice when climate circumstances are right.
The cost saving can be quite considerable over time.
Imagine reducing your energy bills by that kind of factor and you can see the attractiveness of these simple yet effective room chillers!
When it Doesn't Work it Doesn't!
On the flip side, it's not so great if your atmosphere is humid (typically 50-60% or higher). That's because the higher the humidity, the less effective a swamp cooler is at chilling the atmosphere.
When the humidity reaches 100%, the chilling capability is reduced to zero. In that case, you should opt for a regular air conditioning solution for your home.
But this article is not about what it cannot do. It's all about what it can do for those that are lucky enough to live in a region that has low enough humidity to allow one of these babies to show off just what it is capable of.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you can count your blessings while you do the math on your household budget. And just see how much you will save by ditching the power hog HVAC in favor of a high powered evaporative cooling solution for your home.
Source: Evaporative Cooling
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Posted on Tue, Jan 13 2015 in Air Conditioning | 0 Comments
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