Operating a Swamp Cooler in a Humid Environment

December 8, 2020

Have you heard people say that a swamp cooler will not work in a humid environment like ours in Tampa, FL? This is a myth—you can still get your swamp cooler to provide you with cold air even if you have high levels of indoor humidity, so long as you understand how they operate.

Here are some issues to consider as you seek to get your swamp cooler operating correctly even in a humid environment.

Understand why the humidity is as high as it is and keep the cycle going

First, if you’re dealing with very high levels of indoor humidity, it’s important that you understand why.

Your swamp cooler uses the evaporation of moisture to create a cooling effect that it can then send throughout your home, similar to how your skin cools down when sweat evaporates off of it. The appliance has a large water tank that soaks a membrane, and air passes through it, grabbing the moisture and reducing the temperature. The cool, moist air then gets sent into the home by the fan to allow you to enjoy cooler temperatures.

Eventually, the air in your home will reach a saturation point at which the evaporation process no longer works, because the air cannot possibly absorb more moisture.

This doesn’t mean you can’t use your swamp cooler any more, just that you have to properly cycle the air. If you open up a window to let in dry air from outside, you can also allow the moisture from inside to get out. Creating a cross-draft in the room makes it easier for moisture to escape, which helps you to maintain a dry enough atmosphere in the room to continue creating cold air with your swamp cooler.

You might be concerned that opening up windows will allow hot air inside, but the benefits are larger, as you cycle the air better and allow the swamp cooler to continue generating cold air.

At what humidity does a swamp cooler stop working?

While a swamp cooler will not completely stop working if you live in a more humid environment like Tampa, FL, there are some situations in which it will be less efficient, and therefore not an ideal choice for a cooling appliance.

If, for example, you live in an area that averages greater than 60 percent humidity for much of the year (think Florida or other southeastern states), you cannot expect the swamp cooler will work like an air conditioner. While you may get some cooler air, you won’t be able to as effectively cool the house as you would with an air conditioning unit, which also dehumidifies the air.

This is why swamp coolers are ideal for warm, dry environments, such as those in the American Southwest. It takes much longer to reach the saturation point in an area that is hardly humid at all.

For more information about using a swamp cooler even in humid environments, we encourage you to contact an HVAC contractor in Tampa, FL at Kenny’s Air Conditioning & Heating Services, Inc.

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