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FredHernden's blog

What the heck is a Swamp Cooler?

 Having recently moved to Albuquerque, I am noticing a lot of things that you just don't see back in Florida. The first thing I came across was the use of Evaporative Coolers, or "Swamp Coolers" in place of the standard refrigerated type of air conditioning systems. Ok so how can you say Albuquerque, or as my son refers to it as the big sand box, and the word Swamp in the same sentence? Strangely enough, there are a high percentage of homes here in this area that uses them for cooling in the hot summer months. What is a Swamp Cooler? I'm glad you asked!

A Swamp Cooler, or Evaporative Cooler uses evaporation to lower the temperature of the air. They are used primarily in the hot and drier regions of the southwest to not only cool the air, but add much needed humidity to the air as well. In ideal conditions, a Swamp Cooler can reduce the air temperature by 30 degrees! The basic principle of evaporation, a little electricity, and very simple technology create cold air flow.

A small pump pumps water into fibrous pads, soaking them thoroughly. Then a fan motor pulls the air through the pad which is always wet with fresh water. When the air is very dry, like it is here in New Mexico, as it goes through the water soaked pads, some of the water evaporates into the air and adds humidity. The cooler air is pushed through the duct and into the building. A Swamp Cooler works best when the temperature is more than 80 degrees outside, and the humidity is less than 30 percent.

The units are generally mounted on the roof, but I have seen them attached to the side of the building as well. Because they are pumping the cool air into the house and not recycling, a window must be opened somewhere in the house or a vent must exist to relieve the pressure. My neighbor told me that you have to play with which windows to be left open, I am told that the window in the room you want to be the coolest is the best one to leave open. I am still experimenting with that!



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