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Will Your Swamp Cooler Work Once It Gets Hot?

fan-hot-office-manAh, the swamp cooler: a fixture in homes in our part of the country and virtually unheard of elsewhere. A swamp cooler wouldn’t work in some climates. Its name is a bit deceptive, as a damp swampy area would not be ideal for its installation. Rather, a swamp cooler is perfect for a dry, hot climate like we have in New Mexico.

But a swamp cooler isn’t perfect. Unfortunately, there are certain circumstances, even in our dry climate, in which a swamp cooler can struggle to work properly. Can you count on your cooling system to work when you need it most?

The Difference Between Swamp Coolers and Refrigerated Air

First things first: let’s talk about the differences between a swamp cooler and a conventional central air conditioner that uses refrigeration for cooling. A conventional air conditioner will use more energy with standard use. However, that’s because the cooling process is more precise, removing heat from the air in order to cool it down to a reasonable temperature setting on your thermostat.

A swamp cooler has fewer components and is a lot less complex. It relies on a scientific concept: that warm, dry air moving over water (or through a cooling pad soaked in water) will lose some of its heat as water evaporates, cooling the air.

Few mechanical components are involved with a swamp cooler: essentially a fan, motor, and cooling pad are actively involved in the cooling process. This means a swamp cooler may last for longer, and it costs less. However, there are times when central air conditioning is preferable.

When Swamp Coolers Struggle

Here’s the deal: your swamp cooler will only cool your home by about 10 degrees. In addition, it will struggle immensely, and likely will not work at all, when its humid outside. If you’re new to New Mexico and swamp coolers, you might be new to monsoon season, the time of year a swamp cooler is simply not an option.

On the other hand, central air conditioners will have trouble cooling a home to a low temperature when it is 100°F outside as well. However, it will do a better job of cooling, and in humid weather your refrigerated air system will cool and dehumidify.

Dealing with a Hot Home

When it’s too hot or humid outside, some people pair their swamp coolers with window units and other temporary cooling solutions. The problem is that these are highly inefficient and often don’t work the way you’d like them to. They may use more energy than central air conditioning would, and they will wear out faster and do a poor job of cooling the home completely.

Retrofitting Central AC

So is retrofitting central air conditioning into your home worth it? Possibly. This is a conversation to have with a technician after weighing the pros and cons of each. A new central air conditioner will cost more to install, but you get total control over the temperature with a central thermostat. You can even get the same cooling power with a ductless system if you lack the ventilation for conventional AC installation.

Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. installs and services swamp coolers and central air conditioners in Kirtland, NM. Don’t waste your time with the run-around. Give us a call and let us do it right the first time!

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