AC vs Swamp Cooler: Which Is The Best Option For Your Home?

For people who live in areas with a hot climate, investing in an appliance that reduces indoor temperatures is one way of improving comfort. Your budget and the climatic conditions around where you live will determine whether you go for an air conditioner or a swamp cooler. 

These two are the most commonly used appliances during the humid and hot summer season, and each of has its benefits and drawbacks. While both will help cool your home, they both do it differently. In this post, we will look at how swamp coolers differ from ACs.

Air Conditioning or Evaporative Cooler?

Climate Considerations

While air conditioners perform well in all types of climates, evaporative coolers are ideal for dry and hot climates. However, they aren’t the best in humid climates since they add moisture to the air, something that could lead to excessive amounts of humidity. This, in turn, promotes the growth of mildew and mold. 

Air conditioners, on the other hand, work well in extremely humid conditions since they dry surrounding air. With that said, an AC in dry climates will make the atmosphere even dryer, leading to eye and skin problems.

Cooling Method

ACs work by eliminating moisture in the air; they use a chemical that converts gas to a liquid then back to gas. This chemical draws moisture from the surrounding air, changing its state. It is this conversion that cools the surrounding air. 

The cooled air is then wafted out of the compressor, and the warmer air is dispersed back outside. This way, your AC lowers indoor temperatures to a degree comparable to that of a swamp cooler. In general, ACs are ideal for climates that have a high level of humidity. That way they lower humidity levels while cooling the surrounding air.

A swamp cooler, on the other hand, is excellent if you live in a low-humidity area — these appliances cool air by passing it over a damp pad. The warmth of the surrounding air causes water in the pad to evaporate into the atmosphere, cooling the air by releasing moisture into it. 

It is essential that you remember to add water to your evaporative cooler to ensure that it continues to work as it should. If the area you live in is extremely humid, an evaporative cooler wouldn’t be the best choice.

Energy Efficiency

Evaporative coolers are considerably more energy efficient when it comes to cooling a home. These appliances typically use about 35% of the energy an AC requires to cool the same space. 

ACs are more expensive to maintain considering the amount of energy they consume. Furthermore, they use chemicals to cool the surrounding air while coolers use water. If you live in a drought-prone area, a swamp cooler might not be the best option for you. Moreover, they aren’t as all-rounded as ACs since they are not suitable for use in all climate types.


ACs remove moisture from the surrounding air while evaporative coolers add it to the atmosphere. Even though they dry the air, ACs aren’t as restricted and work well in almost every type of environment.

CO2 Emissions

Evaporative coolers are environmentally-friendly compared to ACs considering that they emit low levels of greenhouse gases. Swamp coolers use water only to cool surrounding air while ACs use chemical refrigerants. As the refrigerant converts to liquid or gas, it releases CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the process.


Air conditioners require annual maintenance while swamp coolers require both daily and yearly maintenance. You have to fill the appliance with water weekly and you also need to replace the cooling pad when necessary. 

You can handle most swamp cooler maintenance tasks by yourself; but you will need a swamp cooler specialist to perform the yearly service, which typically costs less than $100. Swamp coolers require more maintenance than ACs.

ACs require annual maintenance; it is essential to ensure that the chemical refrigerant and the filter are changed. It is best to have a professional HVAC specialist handle the maintenance work for you. 

Maintaining an AC will cost you about $100 a year – that is if there aren’t any new parts being added. But if there are parts that need replacement, be ready to spend anywhere from $250 to about $2,000 on maintenance and repairs.


Air conditioners and swamp coolers prices vary depending on the capacity, type, and size of the unit. A window evaporative cooler will cost you anywhere from $400 to $1,000. The great thing about this option is that no installation is required.

Window ACs start from $345 to about $1,190 and will often require professional installation. Ductless air conditioners are quite popular today, with costs ranging from $1,800 to $2,500 – depending on the capacity.

Final Thoughts

Shopping for a cooling appliance to use in your home will require that you take the time to consider your options. There are so many factors that you need to think about when deciding whether to go with an AC or a swamp cooler. 

The most important thing to remember is: low humidity is crucial to the success of swamp coolers while ACs work well in all climatic conditions.


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