View Full Version : portable swamp cooler...

07-17-2006, 02:08 AM
So, I got meself one of these things that can be described as a portable swamp cooler (not a fan with a mister). Instead of spraying water into the air that blows out of it, the fan draws air across a mesh that is saturated with water to cool the air that gets blown out of it. Sure it humidifies the air, as it cools, but I prefer it to be more humid that it gets around these parts.

The manufacturer calls it an "Air Cooler/Humidifier/Purifier". /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif The stinking packaging included usage instructions, which were all 'no brainer' type instructions if you ask me. Everything the manual had in it I could have figured out on my own within 5 minutes of using the thing.

What the packing did NOT include was "recommended" usage scenarios, or how to use the device to obtain optimal cooling effect/performance. That is besides the suggestion of adding ice to the water reservoir to add to the cooling effect.

Any of you ever mess with these things? I have it sitting on the floor, and it does blow air that is cooler than the ambient temp, but it does not seem as capable as I thought it might be. Especially, since my first few hours of use have probably been the same way many people are using them. The results aren't very satisfactory, if you ask me. I've noticed that the houses that use them draw air from outside ... erm ... never mind ... I think I just answered my own stupid user question... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif

07-17-2006, 02:17 AM
Never mind that. We need a 3D model update. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

07-17-2006, 02:46 AM
kinda hard to do when I'm melting into my chair.. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

07-17-2006, 07:53 AM
walmart - 5000BTU window unit - Less than $100 - nuff said.

Swamp coolers don't work well in areas that see more than 50% humidity. Besides, you really don't want it more humid (and still hot), you want it dryer and cool. If I had a humidifier in my house, I would start my own thunderclouds in the living room.

tony barnhill
07-17-2006, 09:32 AM
Swamp coolers are used all over Florida & Louisiana.

07-17-2006, 11:29 AM
Sounds like you got it Nunyas... Gotta pull dry air from the outside through that mesh. Put it in a closed room and you'll make a nice tropical rainforest microclimate.

07-17-2006, 11:57 AM
We used to call those things evaporative condensers. I had one in Oklahoma when I was in the Army. It worked pretty well. But, when I brought it back to New York, it didn't work worth beans. Too much humidity. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/hammer.gif

07-17-2006, 12:11 PM
When I was stationed in El Paso, they had them for cooling the barracks - in the desert climate they were fantastic! The baracks where like an ice house all the time. Back home in Arkansas, the things don't work worth spit /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/nonod.gif Poor man's A/C is to set box fans in the windows to setup a thru-house breeze, works ok, but I sure am glad I can afford a real A/C unit! /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif

07-17-2006, 01:05 PM
I'm gonna hafta do some minor re-arranging to get the mesh full access to my window. As it is, air is only passing through maybe 25%-33% of the mesh while the remaining parts are covered by the wall. Still, it got cool enough near dawn this morning to force me under the blankets... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif

I think I'll keep experimenting with it for the next week or two. If I'm still not happy with its 'heat of the day' performance, I may take it back and exchange for a 5000BTU window AC.

07-18-2006, 05:40 PM
They work okay mounted inside a room too, so long as you have the room vented to the outdoors.

Here's the way to look at it, a swamp cooler only makes a room cooler if the air leaves the room before the water changes state, so crossflow ventillation is key.

We run a swamp cooler on the house, as long as we keep a window open or door, it does pretty well.

07-18-2006, 06:21 PM
yeah... I've figure that much out... I've the cooler completely in a window now. So, all the air that passes through it comes from the outside. I've also a window fan blowing air in next to the cooler. On the other end I've another window fan exhausting hot air out of the "sky light". The setup seems to be working fairly well now, but the one full day that I've had it set up in this manner was rather mild (mid 80s and 50% humidity). Since the humidity was unusually high that day, the cooler didn't have as much effect as just having the air circulate unidirectionally.

Still, I think if I'm not satisfied with the performance on a really hot day, I may take it back and exchange for a 5000BTU window unit.

07-24-2006, 08:50 PM
well, I gave up on this device. I tried everything I could think of to make it more efficient, and to attempt to make it cool my place even a little. Instead, the bloody thing ended up creating a 10 degree heat index in my place. So, it felt hotter in doors than out. Saturday was the final straw, and convinced me that I was better off with just window fans.

I think part of the problem might have been the fact that the device did not use constant running water which would have provided cool water to the evaporation element to cool the air with. Instead, this thing had a 10L reservoir that sat nearly stagnant, with the exception of the pump that pumped the water to the top of the evaporation element. On a dry day all 10 liters of water would be used up within 24 hours. But water that isn't being actively cooled will warm up quickly and the "cooler" will begin heating the place...

Thinking back on the design of this product, I believe I could improve upon it, by adding a radiator to it to cool the water (so it's at least cooler than air temp!). Possibly even adding auxilery hookups for fresh running water, and a circulation system to prevent any water that accumulates from warming to room temp. Heck, even a small peltier device with heatsinks in the reservoir and a cooling fan on the opposite side would have made a difference. Anything that would have prevented the water from becoming room temp would have made the product 100 times more effective. Their only solution for making the water cool was to have the user dump ice into the reservoir and a sepparate ice melting tray up top. That worked a little, but the effects of the ice were short lived.

At any rate, I got my money back already, and now considering a 5000BTU window unit. Unfortunately, if I get one, I'll have to do some wood working to make it fit in my windows, because they slide side ways to a maximum width of 22", but they're nearly 46" tall. I've much to consider in regards to staying cool this summer... that goes for me B also.

07-24-2006, 08:57 PM
My window unit from Wal-mart is only about 14-16 inches tall - what kind of wierd crap do they have out there?

Or are you saying you have sideways sliding windows?

07-24-2006, 09:34 PM
yyyyup... that's what I'm saying, Kenny. I don't remember seeing sideways sliding windows until I came out here. Errrrr... I take that back, we had sideways sliding windows in the barracks when I was in the Marines, too. *shrug* Either way, they're not very friendly for window A/C units... and I don't plan to fork out 5 bills for a "portable A/C" that has a foot print larger than bigfoot, especially when space is at a premium...

07-24-2006, 09:36 PM
That's the beauty of stucco construction my friend....

another opening is always a sledgehammer away /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif


07-24-2006, 09:41 PM
hmmmmmmmm..... I can only imagine the look on my land lord's face as he sees me standing there with a sledge in hand and a brand spankin' new window waiting to be fit into the hole i just banged out... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/jester.gif

07-24-2006, 09:45 PM
Or the look of the guys face watching you try to fit that window in the B. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/jester.gif

07-24-2006, 09:50 PM
Windows???? you don't need no stinkin windows.

just make an air conditioner sized hole, build a frame outta 2x4s, make a little shelf on the outside for it to sit on, and make it pretty with some casing.


07-25-2006, 08:02 AM
1/2 inch plywood... painted to match the exterior to fill the 40x15 inch gap above the A/C? With some foam 'round the edges to keep the cold air in. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thumbsup.gif

07-25-2006, 12:04 PM
I've noticed that a single 5000BTU unit might be near it's cooling limits with my place. The guides on the boxes say a 5000BTU unit is good for about 150 sqft (10'x15'), and my place is pushing that limit at 12'x14' plus a few more sqft for the closet and bathroom area. The problem with that is the windows (there are two) only open to 22" wide. There aren't many units that'll fit into a 22" wide space that can cool a place larger than a 5000BTU unit can. I think I noticed a 6000BTU unit that might be able to fit into the space I have available, but the price jump from a 5000BTU unit to a 6000BTU unit seems a bit steep. I can almost get two 5000BTU units for the price of one 6000BTU unit, but I'm almost afraid of what that might do to the power bill... heh

Maybe it's time to break out the math and see how much power I'm using with all the fans I'm running and plan to add for better airflow, and then compare to what the power consumption will be with A/C....