Evaporative swamp coolers are usually the first thing that comes to mind when we think about cooling solutions for the summer. For most people, the air conditioner is the priority, and the box fan covers any deficit.
But, did you know that swamp coolers are just as useful, if not better, than the above options – for specific applications?
Powerful, reliable, and extremely energy-efficient, they guarantee a powerful cool airflow and do an outstanding job in dispersing the cool air throughout the room. Better still, most modern evaporative coolers are portable for flexible use and offer endless features and controls for a great user experience.
We’ll discuss more about the coolers shortly, including how they work and how to pick the right one for your needs. But if you’re short on time, the following are seven exceptional options to consider.
We’ve picked these products based on several key considerations, including performance, features, ease of use, price, and warranty.
Best Portable Swamp Coolers
1. Luma Comfort EC111B Portable Indoor Tower Fan with Evaporative Air Cooler and Humidifier
The model EC111B is a unique residential cooling appliance. Designed for spaces up to 250 square feet, it’s a 2-in-1 evaporative cooler (swamp cooler) and 500 CFM fan, making it the perfect air conditioning solution for arid climates.
Simply fill the 1.8-gallon tank to use it as an evaporative humidifier or switch on the oscillating fan to quickly add a cool breeze into your room. You can also use both features simultaneously.
A 7.5-hour automatic timer means you can program the fanning or cooling to run for a specific period and stop automatically once the period elapses. You can monitor the remaining time and other settings on the convenient digital display.
The fan system offers three-speed levels, i.e., Low, Medium, and High. This is in addition to the two operating modes (Fan and Cooler). It can also work as a humidifier to add valuable moisture to your room for improved indoor air quality. A built-in ice tank for extra cooling and a water level indicator for easy use are the other standout features.
Above all, this is a highly portable appliance. It measures 15.65 x 11.70 x 35.35 inches, weighs about 16.2 lbs., and arrives with castor wheels for easy mobility.
- It’s a 3-in-1 cooler, fan, and humidifier
- The Oscillating and is powerful at 500 CFM
- Eco friendly (doesn’t use Freon or other chemicals)
- Features remote control
- Backed by a 1-year warranty
- No smart controls such as smartphone app
- It’s best for small to medium-sized spaces
2. Hessaire MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler
Hessaire is another familiar name in the HVAC market, and the model MC37M is a testament to the quality of its products. Compact yet powerful, it’s the best and most effective cooler on the market for its size, according to many experts.
The unit packs a powerful blast of cooling potential thanks to the patented winged prop design and three high-density rigid media panels. For the best cooling performance, turn on the cooler and select the desired fan speeds (there are three speeds, i.e., Low, Medium, and High).
Then switch on the pump to saturate the internal Xel50 cooling media and turn on the swing delivery system for automatic oscillation. It can deliver up to 3,100 cubic feet of air per minute.
The AC offers manual and continuous fill options. If you choose manual fill, the 10.3-gallon tank guarantees at least 4.0 hours of self-contained cooling. The continuous fill option allows you to run the cooler longer. Simply hook up the included garden hose (with float valve), and you’re ready to run the cooler for as long as you wish.
The model MC37M weighs about 40 pounds and measures 24 x 16 x 38 inches. It’s equipped with lockable castor wheels for mobility and is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.
- It’s a two-in-one cooler and fan
- Ideal for up to 950 square feet
- Features automatic overheating protection
- Reasonably quiet at 59 decibels (max)
- 1-year manufacturer warranty
- No remote control
- It’s a bit pricey
3. Frigidaire FEC1K7GA00 Indoor and Outdoor Evaporative Cooler
The Frigidaire indoor and outdoor evaporative swamp cooler offers an efficient, eco-friendly alternative to traditional air conditioners.
It’s a 10.6-gallon cooler that can also be connected to the standard garden hose for continuous outdoor use. Whichever way you choose to use it, you’re guaranteed up to 1,650 CFM of airflow – one of the highest rates in the market.
You don’t always have to use it at maximum capacity, though. Three-speed settings, i.e., Low, Medium, and High, mean you can save on water and electricity with lower CFM rates. Extra thick cooling pads cover the evaporative cooler’s back and sides to maximize evaporation with the extra surface area. The pads are easily removable for cleaning
The cooler arrives with Intensity Cooling easy-glide casters, allowing you to position the unit anywhere or take it to the garage, warehouse, or workplace for additional comfort.
It’s recommended for areas up to 650 square feet.
The 41.9-pound cooler measures 27.4 x 41.3 x 17.2 inches, making it one of the bulkier coolers on this list. It is ETL listed for safety, so you don’t have to worry about accidental electric surges. A built-in function automatically cuts power to protect the user in case of an issue. A 1-year warranty backs the product.
- Three fan speeds, up to 1650 CFM
- Oversized tank + hose hook-up option
- Extra thick cooling pads included
- Portable designed with castor wheels
- No remote control
- No smart features
4. NewAir AF-310 Portable Indoor Evaporative Air Fan and Humidifier
If you’re just as excited by style as you’re appreciative of the performance, the model AF-310 from NewAir would be a superb acquisition.
It’s a compact 11.5 x 13-inch unit that fits nearly anywhere and easily cools areas up to 100 square feet, with speeds up to 310 CFM. Moreover, it doesn’t use Freon or other chemicals, instead of relying on natural evaporation to pump cool, fresh air into your home.
There’s plenty more to love about the Model AF-310. For one, it’s a two-way cooler that comprises an evaporative cooler and tower fan. Choose the energy-efficient evaporative cooler function to add moisture to cool your room while boosting humidity levels or the tower fan to blow a cool breeze of air across the room. You can also use the two functions simultaneously.
Another attraction is the multiple controls. The NewAir offers three-speed settings (Low, Medium, and High), three cooling modes, and a convenient timer function for maximum convenience. It also includes a remote function, so you don’t have to leave the sofa. An easy-read display screen with push-button controls makes it easy to control the cooler.
You may also want to know that it’s one of the most affordable products on this list. The 11.6-pound unit comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty
- It’s a two-in-one cooler and fan
- Slip design and compact footprint
- Intuitive comfort settings
- Easy to use, with remote control
- Backed by a 1-year warranty
- Not ideal for large spaces (over 100 sq. ft.)
- No castor wheels for mobility
5. Honeywell CL201AE 470-760 CFM Fan & Humidifier with Ice Compartment and Remote
Honeywell evaporative coolers offer an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way to cool your home. Much like a breeze flowing across the lake or the refreshing cool air you’d feel near a waterfall, the swamp coolers generate a cool, comfortable natural breeze that will instantly turn even the hottest house in the aridest area into a relaxing, refreshing space.
This particular product, the model CL201AE, is a low-power (250 watts) 470-760 CFM unit designed for small to medium-sized spaces up to 280 square feet.
It features honeycomb cooling media and a carbon dust filter for optimum cooling and allows for adjustable humidity control. The 5.3-gallon tank isn’t the largest but comes with a top-loading ice compartment for increased cooling.
The unit features an easy-access control panel from where you can control the speeds and timer. It has three operating speeds, i.e., Low, Medium, and High. Aside from the control panel, you can also use the remote to control the cooler from the sofa’s comfort.
The 14.6 x 18.9 x 32.9-inch cooler + fan combo weighs 23.4 pounds and is equipped with side handles and castor wheels for mobility. A 1-year warranty backs it.
- Powerful performance, up to 760 CFM
- Oscillating louvers for widespread air dispersion
- Features carbon dust air filter
- Easy control with LCD screen and remote control
- One-year manufacturer warranty
- Small tank (5.3 gallons)
- No external hose connection
6. OEM Tools 23976 3-Speed Evaporative Cooler
If the budget allows, this product from OEM tools, though the most expensive on this list, is also one of the best evaporative swamp coolers currently. It comes in a compact size but outperforms much larger coolers.
It’s also energy-efficient, impressively quiet, and throws cool air further. The three XeL50 media files (most evaporative coolers only have one) also guarantee a larger air intake surface while reducing the air propeller’s pre-rotation. The result is lower static pressure and greater cooling efficiency.
It has a large 10.3-gallon tank that runs for at least four full hours on a single refill. However, you can also opt for the direct-connect-to-hose solution for continuous cooling. The continuous refill option is especially recommended for outdoor use. Whichever method you choose, the cooler delivers up to 3,100 CFM.
We also love that the cooler is molded with UV-resistant polypropylene resin for a strong yet lightweight design suitable for outdoor use. The oscillating design allows for broad are coverage and added comfort, while the GFCI plug means you can use the cooler outdoors without any worries, even if there’s light rain or excess moisture.
It’s a 37 x 17 x 25-inch unit that weighs about 41.2 pounds, making it a tad bulky. However, the castor wheels make mobility a non-issue.
- Powerful 3,100 CFM fan
- Ideal for up to 950 Sq. Ft.
- Features a 1/5 PH 3-speed motor
- Molded with UV-resistant polypropylene
- Large castor wheels ensure mobility
- Limited one-year warranty
- No remote control
- Most expensive on this list
7. PureAir Today HEPA Air Purifier and Evaporative Cooler
Finally, the Pure Air Today 3-in-1 model AHS-PA-20190 is the only ARCB (California Air Resources Board) and ETL certified True HEPA air purification system that simultaneously provides a powerful airflow, comfort-enhancing evaporative cooling, and hygienic humidification. It captures particles as little as 0.3 microns, ensuring that your indoor air is fresh and healthy.
The fan features an intelligent 4-fan speed motor that allows you to operate the fan manually, at incremental speeds, or automatically via the four-mode functions (i.e., the intelligent, sleep, cooling, and humidifying mode). A smart mode (auto-detection) is also present.
A timer function means you can program the unit to go off after 1-8 hours. You’ll also love the smart memory (retains settings in the event of a power outage). An easy-read screen displays temperature, time, and functional status. The 7-liter water tank is easy to remove for refilling, cleaning, and general maintenance. It can run for 10 straight hours on a single refill.
Other highlight features of the model AHS-PA-20190 include swing arms for static or left-to-right motion covering 80˚ and infrared remote control. Although it’s reasonably compact at 11.25 x 13.25 x 32.25 inches and weighing 21.6 pounds, large castor wheels are included for greater convenience.
- It’s a 3-in-1 cooler, fan, and humidifier
- Features 8-hour timer and auto-shutdown
- Features water pump protection system
- Bamboo filter, with HEPA filter technology
- No mention of warranty
What’s a Swamp Cooler?
The swamp cooler, formally known as an evaporative cooler, is an electrical appliance that cools air through natural water evaporation. It takes warm air from outside, removes the heat from it, and releases cool air into the room on the other end. Most swamp coolers use a fan to force the cool air out of the unit and blow it throughout the room.
Swamp coolers are often contrasted with traditional air conditioners that rely on electricity-powered refrigerants to extract heat from the air passing through the system. The refrigeration process can raise cooling costs substantially.
The swamp cooler completely eliminates the refrigeration process by relying solely on water and an electric-powered fan. The result is much lower cooling costs.
How do Swamp Coolers Work?
Swamp coolers have a water tank in their base that you need to fill with water. Alternatively, some have a special mechanism that allows you to hook the cooler to the home’s water supply system via a hose. The hose may or may not be included in the package.
Whichever approach you choose, a pump inside the cooler circulates water, speeding up the process of evaporation. As the water evaporates, the temperature of the air inside the cooler drops. Depending on the cooler, the temperatures inside may drop by as much as 15˚C or higher.
The cooler, “water-soaked” air then gets absorbed into panels built into the cooler’s sides and, as the fan circulates, is blown outside the unit and throughout the room by the fanning action. The fan typically sits towards the top of the unit.
A critical cog in this process is the evaporative cooling pads. It is at the pads where the water evaporates, and the air passing through is cooled. The standard swamp cooler pad comprises fluted cellulose sheets that are glued together. The material is then chemically impregnated with special compounds for a long life of reliable, rot-free service.
A unique water distribution system spreads water over the surface of the pads. The built-in fan then creates negative pressure, causing air to flow through the pads.
Since evaporative air coolers rely 100% on natural evaporation, the relative humidity at the given time is critical. The swamp cooler performs at peak capacity when the relative humidity is lowest, typically in the afternoon, when it’s hottest.
Advantages of Evaporative Cooling
We’ve already mentioned the greater energy-saving potential as a key reason to choose swamp coolers over traditional alternatives, especially the air conditioner. Some studies show that you’ll save 25% in energy costs with the swamp cooler than air conditioners. Other vital advantages include;
They actually Cool Air
Sometimes swamp coolers are compared to box fans – because they’re both used in cooling. The difference is swamp coolers actually lower ambient temperatures. Box fans don’t. Instead, the box fan merely circulates air, creating a cool sensation on the skin without changing air temperatures.
It’s more Environment-Friendly
For one, air conditioners need more energy to generate those cool conditioners. More importantly, ACs use refrigerant gas to chemically condense hot air and eventually dump the heat outside the house. Both of these are bad for the environment. Many refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbons, damage the ozone layer and are twice as bad for the environment as carbon dioxide.
Ease of Installation
Although some units are bulky and generally designed for fixed positioning, most swamp coolers are portable for flexible use throughout the house. Therefore, installation isn’t needed. Even the heavier ones sometimes feature handles and caster wheels for mobility. This is a massive advantage over the complex and often-expensive AC installation process.
High Volume Cooling
Evaporative swamp coolers are a lot more powerful than the average air conditioner. They deliver a more powerful coo airflow, with some units generating more than 3,000 cubic feet of cool air per minute. Even the strongest air conditioners rarely reach half this figure. It’s a quality that makes swamp fans the better solution for large-space applications, spanning 1,000+ square feet.
Disadvantages of Evaporative Cooling
Unfortunately, evaporative air coolers also come with a few drawbacks that you must keep in mind as you head shopping. These include;
It’s only practical in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas
This is perhaps the biggest downside of swamp coolers. They are only practical in dry and hot desert conditions where the relative humidity is low. If you live in an area where the relative humidity is reasonably high year-round, the swamp cooler would be unhelpful.
If you choose the evaporative swamp cooler, you must refill the tank whenever it runs empty. You can always get around this process by hooking the hose for a constant water supply. But that creates a new challenge – the risk of water damage.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Swamp Cooler
Without dwelling on prices, which tend to range from several hundred to a few thousand dollars, the following are the most important factors to consider;
Size in CFM
This is the most important consideration when buying an evaporative air cooler. To calculate the ideal CFM for your room/application, measure the volume of the room/application (volume = length x width x height) and divide it by two. Therefore, for the average 2,600 square foot home, a 2,600 x 8/2 = 10,400 CFM cooler is sufficient.
It’s advisable to add 20% to the CFM value if your ceiling is higher than eight feet, if more than two people regularly use the space, or if the room is exposed to direct sunlight.
Water Tank Capacity
The tank’s size is especially important if you’ll rely on refilling rather than hooking a hose for continuous water flow. In that case, a larger tank is better as it gives you longer intervals before refills. The good thing is that most swamp coolers have very large tanks, some up to 10+ gallons.
Another factor to consider alongside the water tank capacity is the run time or how long the cooler can run on a single refill. Run time often depends on tank size but may also depend on CFM and other factors. Some models can run for 12+ hours straight.
The majority of swamp coolers feature a unique “fan” mode in which the cooler circulates air throughout the room without engaging the evaporation process. This process, therefore, doesn’t require any water and can be an effective alternative to the box fan. Better still, a few units also double as a humidifier to add moisture to the indoor air.
These are two features you want to consider as they can prove valuable throughout the year. More importantly, check to ensure that you can engage each function separately, pair any two, or use all three together as you wish.
Features and Functions
We’ve already mentioned continuous flow vs. manual refills as a vital factor. Three other features to consider are oscillating louvers, caster wheels, and the construction material. Oscillating louvers help spread the cool air across a wider space. In the absence of oscillating louvers, make sure you’re getting a unit with adjustable louvers.
Caster wheels facilitate mobility. Fortunately, nearly all portable swamp coolers have wheels. You may also want to check for the presence of handles. Finally, the best swamp coolers are made from ABS material, an extremely durable type of plastic.
The unit’s aesthetic appeal is worth considering, too, especially if you plan to host it in one of the living areas. Pick a model that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. While at it, check the physical dimensions, too, including the weight. A lighter, less bulky model is more comfortable to move around.
Most importantly, never overlook the warranty. For one, the swamp cooler must have a warranty. If it doesn’t, find a different one. Also, make sure it’s a comprehensive warranty, i.e., one that covers most potential issues, and long enough for your peace of mind.
Portable Swamp Cooler FAQs
- How effective are swamp coolers? Swamp coolers are incredibly effective, especially if you live in hot areas with low relative humidity. They are very powerful, adding tons of cool air to the room, and impressively efficient compared to other home cooling solutions.
- Are swamp coolers better than the AC? It depends on the comparison terms. Traditional air conditioners are obviously better at the job, i.e., cooling. They are also more practical in most areas, unlike swamp coolers that only work well in desert-like climates. However, swamp coolers are more powerful and more energy-efficient.
- How do you maintain a portable swamp cooler? Basic swamp cooler maintenance involves wiping the outer housing periodically with a damp cloth. Make sure also to clean the evaporative media once a month using lukewarm water and mild detergent. Above all, swamp coolers must be shut down at the end of every cooling season for professional maintenance.
- What size swamp cooler do I need for my house? The easiest way to determine the best size swamp cooler for your home is to determine the house’s volume (length x width x height (do this for every room and add)) and divide the figure by 2.
- Can a swamp cooler make you sick? No, a well-maintained swamp cooler cannot make you sick. If you’ve heard stories of people getting sick from swamp coolers, it’s most likely due to poor maintenance. The dirty filters and stagnated water insider the unit can be a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other disease-causing organisms.
Evaporative air coolers, also popular as swamp coolers, are a worthy alternative or complement to air conditioners, fans, and other home cooling solutions. They are powerful, energy-efficient, and very environment-friendly.
Also, they are easier to install than conventional air conditioners and far easier to maintain too. If you’re in the market for a cooling solution, you should strongly consider getting one.