Air Conditioning Versus Evaporative Cooling

To methods that are often used to cool a home or building are air conditioning and evaporative cooling. In an air conditioning system, a refrigerant is compressed using a motor in order to transfer heat from the inside air to the outside air. With evaporative cooling, a fan is used to blow air across a damp pad or mesh to extract heat from the air through evaporation. This cool air is then pumped into the home. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

Operating Cost

At evaporative cooler costs much less to operate than an air conditioner. An air conditioner comes with multiple motors (often as many as four), a compressor and other components that need a lot of power to operate. An evaporative cooler as a single fan that drives air across the surface, which means it costs little more to operate than a fan or a fish tank.

Maintenance Issues

Evaporative coolers do need a bit more maintenance than an air conditioning system. This is because evaporative coolers have to be regularly cleaned to keep mold from building up. The pad used in the unit also has to be replaced once or twice a year. Of course, you also have to replace the filter on an air conditioner regularly. Moreover, if your evaporative cooler stops working, it's relatively easy to fix and the parts are inexpensive (at most, you might have to replace the water pump, fan or a switch). With an air conditioner, you will usually have to call in a professional (such as one from A/C Repairs, Inc), and parts can be expensive.


Evaporative coolers work best in dry, hot climates. They will not provide a constant supply of cold air in the way an air conditioner will. On a very dry day, and evaporative cooler can drop the inside temperature by as much as 30°F. However, on a humid day evaporative coolers don't work very well. They also raise the humidity level inside a home or building. Air-conditioners will cool a building anywhere at any time of the year. They can often drop the temperature inside by as much as 50°F. On the other hand, air-conditioners also dry out a home or building, which can be uncomfortable for the residents.

One advantage that evaporative coolers provide is that they offer a supply of fresh air for the home. Air-conditioners generally recycle the same air over and over again by pumping it out vents and drawing it back in through registers. This can make the air inside the home become a bit stale.