Last updated: August 10, 2021

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In summer, evaporative coolers are very advantageous: when the temperature in a house or office becomes unbearable, nothing is better than a refreshing breeze. However, installing an air conditioner or air handling unit is too complicated, as the structure of a building may have to be changed and the exhaust hose of the air handling unit must first be routed outside in a complicated way.

In this evaporative cooler test 2021 we will help you find the right air cooler. We support your purchase decision by listing and explaining the different types of evaporative coolers.




Summary

  • The fan generates an air flow and directs the air through the cooling battery. In this way, the air is actually cooled. At the same time, a good unit also increases the humidity. Even if the room temperature does not drop according to the thermometer, it still feels more pleasant.
  • Good units can lower the room temperature by a few degrees. The smaller the room, the better the effect. They also fill the room air with moisture and swirl it around. As the water evaporates on our skin and creates a cooling effect, the perceived temperature drops.
  • Air conditioners use special refrigerants that work in a closed circuit to cool the intake air. Compared to air coolers, more energy is consumed (heat is generated). The technical structure of the equipment is reflected in the price. Therefore, the evaporative cooler is a good and cheap alternative to air conditioners.

The Best Evaporative Coolers: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for evaporative coolers

The principle of operation is unknown, and the credo is: when you get out of the swimming pool, you feel cold at first - hardly influenced by the outside temperature. The feeling of cold is only caused by the evaporation of the liquid film on the skin. This is precisely the advantage of the evaporative cooler:

Evaporative coolers work more selectively than air conditioners, which largely cool the temperature of the entire room.

Water is drained from the water tank and pumped through the circulation system. Through evaporation on the user's skin, the generated humidity creates a cool feeling. The colder the water in the water tank, the stronger the cooling effect. The circulating water in the equipment is the main difference to conventional fans.

In addition, three built-in filters ensure that dust particles are filtered out of the air. It is important that the initial indoor humidity is not too high to get the best performance from the evaporative cooler. The criteria you can use to compare evaporative coolers include:

Weight and size

Evaporative coolers are mobile devices. Therefore, they tend to be smaller. Nevertheless, they come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. It all depends on personal taste and the space available. If the room is rather smaller, a tabletop air cooler is recommended. Or an evaporative cooler in the form of a narrow, taller column.

Power consumption

Although conventional air conditioners usually consume a lot of electricity, air coolers are relatively economical.

An air cooler is a good choice for sustainable cooling.

However, the following also applies: The higher the cooling and circulation capacity, the higher the electricity consumption. When buying, make sure that the unit has an energy-saving mode. For air coolers, "energy-saving mode" usually means the lowest fan level. Air coolers save more electricity than other air conditioners.

Cooling capacity

Due to their simple construction of water tank and fan, air coolers can reduce the room temperature by a few degrees Celsius at most. Since the cooling capacity is strongly dependent on the circulation capacity, this must also be taken into account.

The larger the room, the higher the cooling and circulation capacity should be. For most units, it is up to 2,000 watts, only a few units have an even higher cooling capacity.

Another factor that strongly depends on the cooling capacity is the humidity indoors. If this value is high and the air is already humid, the cooling effect is weaker.

Also note that ice or cold water heats up quickly depending on the room temperature. To maintain the cooling effect, you must change cold water or ice regularly.

Volume

Compared to classic air conditioners, air coolers are usually very quiet. However, a higher output usually means a greater operating noise. Make sure to compare the decibel information of the manufacturers.

Refrigerant

You may already be familiar with classic air conditioners: the cooling circuit uses chemical refrigerants. If the chemical refrigerant leaks out of the system, it can endanger your health. The evaporative cooler, however, has no chemical reagents. Here, only cold water, ice or cooling batteries are needed, and you have easy maintenance.

Decision: What types of evaporative coolers are there and which is the right one for me?

In the following table you will find the advantages and disadvantages of evaporative coolers.

Type of evaporative cooler Advantages Disadvantages
Evaporative cooler with Peltier element small size, low weight usually compressor
Evaporative cooler with HEPA filter removes pollutants more expensive
Evaporative cooler with ioniser no additional filter material ozone in small quantities as a by-product
Evaporative cooler with water/ice/cooling batteries the more water, the more capacity more expensive to maintain
Evaporative cooler with rechargeable battery - -
Evaporative cooler with dehumidifier specific value setting not mobile if line available

In the following section, the different types of evaporative coolers are explained in more detail.

Evaporative cooler with Peltier element

Evaporative cooler with Peltier element

The Peltier element is an electrothermal transducer based on the Peltier effect (after Jean Peltier). When current flows and the temperature is different, a temperature difference is generated. This generates electric current.

Peltier elements can be used both for cooling and – if the direction of the current is reversed – for heating.

The common abbreviation for Peltier components and Peltier coolers is TEC (thermoelectric cooler). The Peltier element has a size of approx. 4x4x0.5 cm and two power connections, one positive and one negative. The following video helps us to explain the Peltier element in more detail and in a more understandable way. The biggest advantages of Peltier elements are as follows:

  • the small size and low weight
  • moving components, gases and liquids are avoided

On the other hand, the cooler always needs refrigerant and in most cases a compressor

Advantages
  • small size
  • low weight
  • avoid gases and liquids
Disadvantages
  • refrigerant
  • mostly compressor
Evaporative cooler with HEPA filter

Evaporative cooler with HEPA filter

The abbreviation for HEPA comes from the English and stands for: High Efficient Particulate Air (Filter) In German, this means something like a “highly efficient particulate filter”. The HEPA label is used for particle filters that are used in air purifiers, for example.

To obtain this label, a standardised degree of separation must be achieved. HEPA particle filters can be used to clean small particles in indoor air that can be harmful to humans. On the one hand, allergens such as pollen or animal hair are captured, on the other hand, small particles such as fine dust or diesel emissions are captured.

Advantages
  • removes pollutants like pollen
  • no harmful chemicals
Disadvantages
  • more expensive
  • no targeted biological cleaning
Evaporative cooler with ioniser

Evaporative cooler with ioniser

An ioniser is an electrical device that reduces air pollution caused by dust, pollen and spores. It can also increase people’s standard of living by increasing the density of ions. To do this, ions are generated in the ioniser and released into the indoor air by a small fan. Ionisers are very compact devices that can even be installed on a table or in the form of a cigarette lighter in a car.

Compared to air purifiers, the purchase price is also favourable and there are many devices for less than 50 euros. One advantage is the way it works and the associated elimination of additional filter material. It is only necessary to clean the collection container or the dust collection plate from time to time.

This can be done by vacuuming or rinsing, which saves time and money.

Advantages
  • no additional filter material
  • quick cleaning
  • compact units
Disadvantages
  • ozone in small quantities as a by-product
Evaporative cooler with water/ice/cooling batteries

Evaporative cooler with water/ice/cooling batteries

The mobile cooling unit is equipped with a water tank that must be filled regularly. After activating the cooling function, the water in the integrated water tank starts to evaporate, cooling the indoor air. Additional cooling packs or ice inserted into the water tank improve and accelerate the cooling performance.

Advantages
  • the more water, the more cooling capacity
Disadvantages
  • regular refilling
  • calcification
  • maintenance more costly
Evaporative cooler with battery

Evaporative cooler with battery

This is the same principle as the evaporative coolers mentioned above. The unit must also be filled with water. In addition, the cooling capacity can also be increased by ice. The cold air is distributed in the room by a fan.

Evaporative cooler with dehumidifier

Evaporative cooler with dehumidifier

The dehumidifier can prevent mould growth and allow clothes to dry indoors. Doctors recommend a humidity of 40 to 60 percent. This value can be set specifically with such devices. The dehumidifier extracts water from the room air. The condensate is collected in a container. You can set the target humidity with digital controls.

When the set value has been reached, the dehumidifier switches off automatically. In devices with hose connections, consumers can conveniently lower them in a few simple steps. Some dehumidifiers have integrated pumps that make it easier to drain the water.

Advantages
  • no mould formation
  • targeted value setting
Disadvantages
  • Maintenance effort
  • not mobile if pipe available
  • no fixed interval depending on humidity

Guide: Frequently asked questions about evaporative coolers answered in detail

In our guidebook you can read frequently asked questions about evaporative coolers. And we try to answer them as best we can.

What is an evaporative cooler?

The evaporative cooler is essentially a large fan that can take in warm air through a submerged mat. As the water in the interior evaporates, the air is cooled and blown into the room.

Verdunstungskühler-1

Instead of a normal fan, it is much better to use an evaporative cooler to get a pleasant air in a room.
(Image sources: Ava Sol / unsplash)

The temperature can be controlled by the airflow intensity of the fan. The size of evaporative coolers depends on the amount of hot/cold air they can exchange per minute and the energy required to operate them. Evaporative cooling works best in dry climates because it evaporates liquids more easily.

How effective are evaporative coolers?

Using an air cooler for cooling is a completely natural and cost-effective cooling method without the high energy consumption requirements of the air conditioning system used for the cooling process. For this reason, the air cooler is not always an air conditioner that produces cool air regardless of temperature and humidity.

How much does an evaporative cooler cost?

Evaporative coolers are not as expensive as air conditioners. You can buy an evaporative cooler for 40€, but you can also buy one for 200€. Of course, it depends on the features the cooler has to offer. Price differences are related to size, cooling capacity, power consumption and brand.

Of course, the price also depends on the filter systems. Before buying, it is important to find out what types of evaporative coolers there are. To do this, simply scroll up again to the different types of evaporative coolers.

What are the advantages of an evaporative cooler?

Air coolers are much cheaper than air conditioners and can be used effectively when needed. Above all, the flexibility and mobility of these devices are decisive advantages over permanently installed air conditioning systems.
Advantages of evaporative coolers disadvantages of evaporative coolers
They work on the principle of natural evaporation they have only low cooling potential.
No special refrigerant is required It is mostly only a perceived and not measurable temperature decrease.
They have a simple structure Efficiency decreases with increasing humidity.
They are easy to transport No dehumidification of the air is possible except with an integrated dehumidifier.
They have lower energy consumption and an energy-saving cooling strategy. They are only effective at low humidity.
The low noise level makes them suitable for bedrooms They are not recommended in warm and humid climates.
They are cost-effective and have low investment and operating costs...

Why should I buy an evaporative cooler instead of an air conditioner?

In summer, an air conditioner can be a blessing and a curse as it can provide cool air. However, in many cases it is very dry air that causes colds and respiratory irritation. In addition, the purchase costs are considerably higher than for air coolers that rely on evaporation.

Verdunstungskühler-2

Air conditioning cools the air, but dries it out.
(Image source: Mustafa Shehadeh / pixabay)

The air conditioner uses the refrigerant circulating in the units to operate. In short, the refrigerant is pumped through a closed circuit that alternates between liquid and gaseous states. The work of the air cooler is much simpler. The core is a fan combined with a water tank to cool the air.

Water is pumped or sucked into a special cooling pad or mat, and the fan pushes air through the pad or mat. This cools the air flowing from the unit into the room.

What are the alternatives to an evaporative cooler?

Air conditioners or fans can be cited as alternatives. But why an evaporative cooler is better than an air conditioner has already been answered in the previous question. Fans also cool the air in a room, but they are usually louder.

Verdunstungskühler-3

It is much easier to study or work with cool air.
(Image source: Radu Florin / unsplash)

The following table lists the advantages and disadvantages of evaporative coolers and their alternatives.

evaporative cooler air conditioner fan
constant cooling constant cooling fast, spot cooling
not very cost-intensive cost-intensive cheap
humidification of air very dry air -
portable directly mountable or portable portable

Image source: Bueckert/ 123rf.com

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