Do Evaporative & Swamp Coolers Work in High Humidity?

Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, are popular in dry climates because they don’t require much energy to operate. But do evaporative coolers work in high humidity?

Evaporative and swamp coolers do not work well in high-humidity areas and are not recommended as they actually add to the humidity levels in a home. The evaporative cooler won’t function if the relative humidity is too high because the air won’t be able to hold any more moisture.

Evaporative and Swamp Coolers

If you’re someone who lives in a high-humidity climate, you may be wondering if an evaporative cooler is a good option for you.

There are a few reasons why you might want to consider using an evaporative cooler. First, they are typically less expensive to purchase and install than air conditioners.

Second, evaporative coolers are more energy-efficient than air conditioners and can save you money on your energy bill.

Finally, evaporative coolers can be used to cool both indoor and outdoor spaces.

According to the US Department of Energy (DOE), an evaporative cooler can successfully reduce the ambient temperature by 5 to 15 degrees, but only in dry climates will evaporative coolers work effectively.

One of the main challenges people face is understanding how effective evaporative cooling works and whether or not they are effective in humid environments. It is important to consider the comparison between evaporative coolers and air conditioners before making a decision.

In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using an evaporative cooler in humid conditions and help you decide if it is the right cooling system for you.

Do Evaporative and Swamp Coolers Work in High Humidity?

If the humidity is too high, the air will not be able to hold any more moisture, and the evaporative cooler will not be able to work. However, if the humidity is just right, the evaporative cooler can be a great way to keep cool in high humidity.

If you’re looking for an alternative to an evaporative cooler, there are a few options worth considering.

One option is a dehumidifier, which can help to remove excess moisture from the air and lower humidity levels.

Another option is an air conditioner, which can also help to reduce humidity levels in addition to cooling the air.

Whatever option you choose, be sure to research it carefully to ensure that it will meet your needs.

Evaporative Cooler Humidity Chart

This wonderful chart was borrowed from Sylvane and shows a breakdown of where evaporative coolers are more likely to be effective.

Do Evaporative Coolers Work in High Humidity?

Category A represents climates ideal for evaporative coolers.
Category B represents climates where the use of an evaporative cooler is less ideal.
Category C represents climates that should avoid using evaporative coolers and instead use an air conditioner for the best relief.

How Humidity Effects Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative cooling is only effective if the air is dry. When the air is already saturated with water vapor, evaporation cannot take place, and the cooling effect is lost. That’s why high humidity can be such a problem during summer heat waves.

With less evaporation taking place, the air temperature can become stiflingly hot. Humidity can also make it feel even hotter than it actually is.

When the body sweat doesn’t evaporate quickly, it can lead to an uncomfortable feeling of being sticky and wet.

In extreme cases, high humidity can even lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

So next time you’re feeling uncomfortably hot and sticky, remember that it might not just be the temperature – it could be the humidity as well.

How Evaporative Coolers Work

Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, work by using the evaporation of water to help cool the air. They are commonly used in arid climates, and they can be an efficient and inexpensive way to keep your home cool. Here’s how they work:

As water evaporates, it sucks heat from the air around it. That’s why you feel cooler when you sweat on a hot day.

Evaporative coolers work by circulating water through a moist pad and then blowing the cooled air into your home.

The air is cooled as it passes through the wet pad, and the moisture helps to keep the air circulating in your home humidified.

One advantage of evaporative air coolers is that they don’t use Freon or other chemicals to cool the air. That means they don’t put off harmful emissions like a standard air conditioner.

They also use less energy than traditional air conditioners, which can save you money on your power bill.

However, evaporative coolers only work well in dry climates, and they need a constant supply of water to operate properly.

So if you live in an area with humid weather conditions, or if you’re not prepared to keep your cooler filled with water, an evaporative cooler may not be the best option for you.

The use of Freon in air conditioners is being phased out, as it depleted the ozone layer. The ozone layer helps protect us from harmful UV radiation that causes skin cancer and cataracts.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Does Evaporative Cooling Increase Humidity?

Many people believe that evaporative cooling, or swamp coolers, lower the humidity in a home. However, evaporative coolers actually increase the humidity in a home. Evaporative coolers pull air through a wet pad, which then evaporates the water and cools the air.

So the process of evaporation increases the humidity in the air. In fact, if the humidity in the air is too high, evaporative coolers will not work properly.

So, while evaporative coolers can help to cool a home, they will also make the air more humid.

Evaporative Cooler vs. Swamp Cooler

Swamp coolers operate on the same principles of evaporation as evaporative coolers, and the phrases are sometimes used interchangeably. Although the origin of the word is unclear, evaporative “swamp” coolers are just a slang term for a standard evaporative cooler.

If there is a difference at all, it could be due to size. A whole-house evaporative air conditioning device is typically referred to as a swamp cooler, but evaporative coolers can be any size, including small, portable models.

Large cooling systems called permanent swamp coolers are made to chill an entire house.

These systems typically consist of a number of sizable water pads that receive a steady flow of water from your home’s main water line.

Warmer air is vented out through exhaust vents, while cool air comes in from a system located on the roof and flows into your house.

Portable swamp coolers, on the other hand, are compact enough to fit just about anywhere and may also be taken outside providing there is access to an electrical outlet.

Portable swamp coolers don’t need any specific installation and may be filled with water from a garden hose or tap.

Swamp Cooler Humidity Limit

Most people are familiar with air conditioners, which cool the air by removing humidity. A swamp cooler, on the other hand, does the opposite: it adds moisture to the air in order to lower the temperature.

Swamp coolers are most effective in hot, dry climates, and they can be a much more energy-efficient alternative to air conditioners.

However, swamp coolers have one major downside: they have a limited ability to remove humidity from the air.

As a result, they are not an ideal choice for use in humid climates.

In addition, swamp coolers can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew if they are not properly maintained.

For these reasons, it is important to consider both the climate and the maintenance requirements of a swamp cooler before making a purchase.

Can You Put Ice in a Swamp Cooler?

Most people assume that adding ice to their evaporative cooler will speed up the cooling process and leave them feeling more comfortable. However, this is not actually the case. In fact, adding ice to the water can actually slow down the evaporation process and leave you feeling less cool.

The reason for this is that ice cools the air around it, which slows down the evaporation of water.

As a result, the air in your evaporative cooler will be cooler than the air outside, making you feel less comfortable.

So if you’re looking to stay cool this summer, ditch the ice and enjoy the benefits of evaporative cooling.

At What Humidity Do Evaporative Coolers Become Ineffective?

In conditions of high temperatures such as 85°F or greater, and low humidity of below 50% relative humidity, evaporative coolers perform best. For temperatures below 75°F and high humidity of over 60% relative humidity, evaporative coolers are the least effective.

Do Swamp Coolers Work in High Humidity?

Swamp coolers are often used in hot, dry climates to help keep homes cool and comfortable. However, they are not recommended for use in high-humidity areas. This is because swamp coolers work by evaporating water, which then circulates through the air.

This process can actually increase the humidity in a home, making it more uncomfortable. For this reason, it is best to avoid using swamp coolers in high-humidity areas.

Instead, opt for air conditioners or fans, which will help to keep your home cool and comfortable without increasing the humidity levels.

At What Temperature Do Swamp Coolers Stop Working?

Generally speaking, most swamp coolers will continue to work until the temperature drops below about 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, the air is too cold for evaporation to take place, and the swamp cooler will no longer be effective.

However, some newer models of swamp coolers are designed to work in a wider range of temperatures and may be able to provide some cooling even when the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Evaporative Cooler vs. Air Conditioner

There are a couple of different types of “air conditioners” – evaporative coolers and refrigerated air conditioners. Evaporative coolers work by passing air over water to humidify it, then blowing the humid air into your home. Refrigerated air conditioners work by cooling the air inside your home using a refrigerant.

Evaporative coolers are more energy efficient than refrigerated air conditioners, so they’ll save you money on your energy bill.

They’re also great for people with allergies because they help to filter out pollen and other allergens from the air.

However, evaporative coolers only work well in dry climates – if you live in a humid climate, an evaporative cooler will actually make your home MORE humid.

Refrigerated air conditioners are less energy efficient than evaporative coolers, but they can be used in any climate.

They also don’t do anything to improve the quality of the air inside your home – in fact, they can actually make allergies worse because they recirculate the same air over and over again.

However, many people prefer the way refrigerated air conditioners feel because the air is colder than the air from an evaporative cooler.

So, which is better? It depends on your needs. If you’re looking to save money and live in a dry climate, an evaporative cooler is a great choice.

If you’re looking for cold air and don’t mind spending a little extra on your energy bill, a refrigerated air conditioner is a better choice.

Does a Swamp Cooler Add Humidity?

Swamp coolers add humidity to the air, as the evaporation process increases the amount of water vapor in the air. As a result, swamp coolers should be used with caution in humid climates. Swamp coolers are most commonly used in arid climates and can be an energy-efficient alternative to traditional air conditioners.

Final Thoughts

If you’re struggling to keep cool during the hotter summer months, an evaporative cooler may be a good option for you. Evaporative coolers are typically less expensive to purchase and install than air conditioners, and they are more energy-efficient.

Additionally, evaporative coolers can be used to cool both indoor and outdoor spaces.

But do evaporator coolers work in high humidity? The catch is that evaporative coolers work best in dryer climates for maximum efficiency, so if you reside in an area where there is high humidity, evaporative coolers won’t help you much.


Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.