Your Guide to the Best Whole-House Evaporative Cooler

Summer might be the favorite season of many people. However, the only thing that can ruin the fun during summer days is the unwelcome heat.

Of course, a lot of people go for air conditioners to maintain a heat-free climate in their houses. But air conditioners can be pricey, power-consuming, and not very eco-friendly.

For this reason, we’d like to introduce the beauty that is a whole-house evaporative cooler. In this article, we’ll help you understand why it might be a better option than an air conditioner.

Also, we’ll discuss its benefits, types, and recommend our favorite brands.

Table of Contents

What Is an Evaporative Cooler?

An evaporative cooler is a device that depends on the evaporation of water to cool the environment that you keep it in.

As opposed to an air conditioner, it doesn’t do its job based on refrigeration. For this reason, an evaporative cooler uses a lot less energy.

However, this isn’t the only difference between these two devices, but we’ll discuss the others later on.

Instead, let’s find out how exactly an evaporative cooler works.

How Do Whole-House Evaporative Coolers Work?

It’s quite easy to understand how a whole-house evaporative cooler does its work.

The first thing you should know is that an evaporative cooler is best for dry-air environments. Since it depends on evaporation, it increases the moisture levels inside your house.

Therefore, it can be a nice, whole-house replacement for a humidifier.

Now, let’s discuss how the cooling cycle goes.

This system uses a highly efficient cooling unit that gets installed into your house’s ductwork. The cycle begins when the hot outside air is sucked into that unit.

After that, the hot air passes through cooling pads inside the unit. These pads absorb the water from the air, which later evaporates.

When evaporation occurs, the temperature inside the cooler drops. Later, the fans inside the cooler push this cold air outside through the ductwork of your home.

Finally, the cool air will come out of the house vents, maintaining a nice, chill temperature in every room.

Evaporative Coolers Vs. Air Conditioners

A lot of people might confuse evaporative coolers with air conditioners. This is why we’ll discuss their differences in this section.

Cooling Method

As we pointed out before, the main factor that makes them different from each other is the technology used in both of them.

An air conditioner uses refrigeration, in which the inside air of your house is cooled over and over. Of course, this might not be a healthy solution for the residents who need fresh air regularly.

As for an evaporative cooler, it uses evaporation to maintain a cool temperature inside your home. Therefore, it constantly filters in fresh air from the outside, then disposes of it by the end of the cycle.

Power Consumption

The second thing you should know is that these two cooling systems are also different in power consumption.

An air conditioner uses so much more energy than an evaporative cooler. Therefore, it’ll affect your electricity bill a great deal.

Also, since it’s more power-consuming, an air conditioner isn’t the best eco-friendly option on your list.

Impact on the Environment

Evaporative coolers are greener than ACs, and not just because ACs consume more electricity.

An air conditioner relies on refrigerants that can be harmful to the environment such as CFCs. However, an evaporative cooler only uses water to cool hot air.

As someone who cares a lotfor the wellbeing of Mother Nature, I’d prefer to get an evaporative cooler over an air conditioner.

What to Consider When Buying a Whole-House Evaporative Cooler

Now, picking one evaporative cooler over the other might be a tricky chore. The market includes many great options, and choosing the right one requires plenty of thought.

Luckily, we’re here to tell you what to focus on before making your decision.

Type

An evaporative cooler comes in many shapes and sizes. Determining the right one for your needs should be the first step in your journey.

Portable Evaporative Cooler

This one is the most affordable you can find. It’s easy to pick up from place to place, and it can cool relatively small areas like a 300-square-foot room.

However, if you’re looking for something to cool your entire house, a portable cooler isn’t the one for you.

Down Discharge Unit

This cooling unit is installed on the roof of your house. It works to cool the entire house by capturing hot outside air and filtering it through cooling pads.

As we previously mentioned, the cooled air travels through the house’s ductwork, then enters every room through the vents.

Side Discharge Unit

This unit works the same way as its previous sibling. The only difference is in installation since it’s built up into the side of your house. Therefore, it pulls the outside air on the sides and not on the rooftop.

Again, it works to make the temperature drop in every room in the house.

Window Unit

A window unit works just like the previous two, but again, it’s the installation that’s different. This one fits into a window instead of the rooftop or the sides of the house.

Cooling Pads

Can the type of cooling pads have any effects on your choice? The answer is yes. They can range in cost, performance, and maintenance.

There are two main types of cooling pads that an evaporative cooler might use. These are fiber pads and rigid media pads.

Fiber Pads

Fiber pads are more popular because they’re less expensive than the other type. However, they can require you to change them pretty often because they’re only about 1-2 inches thick.

They might be more affordable. But in the long run, you might find yourself spending plenty of money to replace them.

Fiber pads work best in units with multiple inlets.

Rigid Media Pads

These are made of corrugated sheets and come in a thickness of about 8-12 inches. Therefore, they can last longer than fiber pads.

Yes, they’re more pricey, but they also require less maintenance.

Rigid media pads are better suited for coolers that have only one inlet.

CFM Rating

A cubic-feet-per-minute rating determines how long a cooling device should take to entirely cool a certain area.

In the market, you’ll find evaporative coolers ranging from 3,000 to 8,500 CFM. Wondering how to calculate the right CFM rating that your house needs? It’s pretty easy.

All you have to do is find out the area of your house, multiply it by the height of your walls, then divide it by 2.

For example, my house is 1,500 square feet with 8-foot walls. We’ll multiply 1,500 by 8 to get 12,000. Then, dividing it by 2, you get 6,000 CFM, which is the exact rating I should look for in a cooler.

Installation

Some types of evaporative coolers are easier and less expensive to install than others.

For example, a wall-mounted unit is easier to install and maintain than a rooftop installed cooler. Also, its installation and maintenance might cost considerably less.

In addition to that, a rooftop evaporative cooler might be prone to leaks with time. Yet, despite its expensive maintenance costs, it might be more efficient than a side unit in providing centralized cooling.

After all, making your decision depends on your budget, how big your house is, and where you want to install your unit.

Our Top 5 Picks for a Whole-House Evaporative Cooler

Now that you know how to pick one, it’s time to browse some of the best products in the market.

1.   Champion Downdraft 4900 CFM Evaporative Cooler

The first product on our list is this nice evaporative cooler by Champion. Let’s find out what makes it one of our favorites.

For starters, this 4900 CFM cooler should be able to cover a living area of about 800-1,800 square feet.

This cooler might not come with a motor, but the one that you’ll have to purchase for it will be responsible for its performance. Its design allows it to be used with 1-speed and 2-speed motors.

The cabinets of this unit are made of galvanized steel, which is water and weather-resistant.

When it comes to user reviews, the majority of those were delighted with this cooler’s performance. Some commented on its 1-piece bottom pan, which prevents leakage.

Others admired its sturdy construction and easy installation. However, one point seemed to be popular among users, which was the price. A lot of people favored this cooler for its value for the price, which is why it makes the top of the list.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Anti-leak button pan
  • High-performance parts and construction
  • Great for houses with an area of 800 to 1,800 square feet
  • Midrange price

Cons

  • You might have to change the cooling pads frequently

2.   Champion Downdraft 6500 CFM Evaporative Cooler

Here’s another great product by Champion that you might be interested in. While this one might seem similar to its sibling, you’ll find that it’s quite different in price and performance.

The first thing that you probably noticed was the CFM rating of this cooler, which is 6500. Therefore, if you have a larger house with an area of about 2400 square feet, there’s almost no room for hesitation about this cooler.

Again, you’ll have to buy the motor separately. But just like its predecessor, you can make it work with both 1-speed and 2-speed motors.

As for the price, it’s still in the midrange region, only slightly more expensive than our first candidate.

Pros

  • Quick installation and maintenance
  • Anti-erosion construction and finish
  • Suitable for houses with an area of 2,000 to 2,400 square feet
  • Moderately-priced

Cons

  • The pads might require constant replacements

3.   MasterCool 7000 CFM Evaporative Cooler

The first advantage that this cooler has over the previous two is that it comes with a motor. This is why the price might seem over-the-top.

Second of all, it comes with a higher CFM rating, which is great if you have a house larger than 2,400 feet square.

With its 2-speed, 1-HP motor, it can be rooftop mounted to provide your whole house with strong and centralized cooling.

As for its durability, you should know that it comes with a tough polyester coating to withstand the outdoor weather. Also, every part is made of high-performance materials, whether they’re the fans, the air pumps, or the mesh screen.

A lot of customers liked how it does its work, commenting on the quality of air produced by the thick cooling pads. However, some people had difficulties when they tried to clean the unit.

Pros

  • Comes with a motor
  • Can cool houses larger than 2,400 feet square with efficiency
  • Sturdy parts and weather-resistant coating

Cons

  • Might be pricey for some people
  • Might be hard to clean

4.   Bonaire Durango 7000 CFM Evaporative Cooler

If you have a large house but don’t want to break the bank to purchase an evaporative cooler, we suggest that you take a look at this one.

Yes, it’ll give you a 7000-CFM performance without the price of the previous product. Not just that, it can be both wall-mounted and rooftop-mounted.

Another reason why we like this cooler is its 2-speed motor. It should allow you to control the airflow with ease.

However, some people have reported several drawbacks. For instance, the unit fan can be quite loud.

Also, others commented on the weak packaging, which might result in damaging the unit.

Despite these issues, a lot of people liked how the unit was easy to install and maintain.

Pros

  • Side and down discharge unit
  • Cools an area of 2,400 square feet
  • Easy installation and maintenance
  • Moderately-priced

Cons

  • Loud fans
  • The packaging needs improvements

5.   Hessaire 3800 CFM Side-Draft Evaporative Cooler

Here’s our final candidate! This wall-mounted Hessaire cooler can be perfect to use in small houses around 600-1,100 square feet in area.

Also, it’s a budget-friendly choice since it’s much more affordable than the other options. Of course, it comes without a motor, so you’ll have to pay some extra cash to buy one anyway.

Its cabinets are made of galvanized steel. In addition to that, its structure is coated with anti-corrosion material to increase its longevity.

As for the installation, you should find it pretty effortless.

All in all, we recommend this cooler for someone with a compact home. It should work its magic to cool all the rooms with equal strength.

Pros

  • Simple installation
  • Great for compact homes (about 1,100 square feet)
  • Solid, welded structure and durable materials
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Loud fans
  • There have been complaints about unfinished edges in the unit
  • Might start leaking after a few months of use

In Conclusion

We understand that the heat can be overwhelming sometimes. This is why buying a reliable whole-house evaporative cooler might be your best bet.

Our personal favorite is the Champion Downdraft 4900 CFM Evaporative Cooler. We like how it combines powerful performance and a decent price.

Also, due to its 4900 CFM rating, it can cool about any average-sized house. With its solid build and weather-resistant materials, it might be what you need for a rooftop evaporative cooler.

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