Swamp Coolers vs. AC Units in Humid Weather

July 31, 2018

If you live in a hot, humid climate, you’re going to want a cooling system that both lowers your home’s temperature and its humidity levels. There are two main cooling options you have to choose from when working with an HVAC contractor in Tampa, FL: evaporative coolers (also referred to as “swamp coolers”) and standard air conditioners. Both will cool your home, but using different methods.

Here are some comparisons between the two to help you determine which makes the most sense for your home.

Cooling methods

Swamp coolers are ideal for low-humidity environments, as they work by passing air across a wet pad. The water in that pad then evaporates into the air, which cools it while also adding some moisture. The amount of water must be carefully controlled, which requires you to continuously add it into the cooling system to ensure it works properly. But obviously, if there’s already a lot of water in the air, you don’t want to add more moisture.

Air conditioners are good for both low- and high-humidity environments. They condense and remove the water already in the air, changing the state of the air inside the unit. The cooler air gets blown out of the compressor into the home, while the warm air gets pushed outside. This method gives you greater precision with regard to temperature control in your home, while also lowering your humidity levels.


There are a variety of installation options for both swamp coolers and air conditioners, depending on the size and type of unit you purchase and where you intend to install it. Window and portable air conditioners do not require professional installation, but central air conditioners are more expensive and require the services of an expert. You can use ductless or duct-based systems, and either will require professional configuration.

Portable and direct air swamp coolers do not require professional installation—simply place them near a hose or water hookup. Whole house units, however, will likely require professional installation.


Both air conditioners and swamp coolers come at a variety of price points. Window units will generally be between $300 and $1,000. Otherwise, direct air swamp coolers will cost $700 to $900, with whole-house units costing around $3,500 to $4,000 for both the unit and installation combined. Ductless air conditioners typically cost around $2,500, including installation, and central air can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $7,000 with installation.

Energy efficiency

Swamp coolers are much more energy efficient than most types of air conditioners, using 15 to 35 percent less electricity on average. Keep in mind, though, that they need a constant supply of water, which means, in areas that experience droughts or other water restrictions, they are not an ideal solution.

Here in Florida, your best bet is going to be an air conditioner, simply because of the level of humidity we experience on a regular basis. For more information about AC installation in Tampa, FL, contact the team at Kenny’s Air Conditioning & Heating Services, Inc. today.

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Kenny's Air Conditioning & Heating Services, Inc.