Best Swamp Cooler Pads: The Best Options of 2021 Reviewed

| Last Updated: May 27, 2021

Swamp coolers are an environmentally friendly alternative to air conditioning. Energy savings and the low environmental impact of these units excite consumers in areas where swamp coolers work well. Ensuring that the evaporative cooling pads are kept in good condition will maximize these benefits.

It makes sense that you’d want to buy the most eco-friendly, good quality, and affordable pads the next time you have to change them.

In this article, we look at some of the pads available on the market to compare their pros and cons.

Comparison of the Best Swamp Cooler Pads

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Can easily be cut to size to fit
  • Comes with all hardware accessories needed
  • Heavy-duty design promises years of use
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  • Engineered and made with high quality materials
  • Specially designed for rigorous cooler usage
  • Designed for simple maintenance, removal, replacement
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  • Best for the Money
  • Provides 7% cooler air with faster air delivery
  • Biodegradable stitching gives fiber stabilizing grids
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  • Best MasterCool Swamp Cooler Pads
  • Can easily be installed in existing cooler
  • Strong construction offers higher efficiency
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Factors to Consider Before Buying Swamp Cooler Pads

Several factors are important when considering the purchase of replacement pads. In this day and age, environmental factors are important, as is the impact on your wallet and the longevity of the item. Let's look at these three factors individually.

Environmental Consideration

We’re all aware of the damage done to the environment by waste, and we should all be looking at ways to reduce the waste we produce. When we throw things away, we should consider the effects that the waste products have on the environment and whether to recycle the items. Some pads are extremely environmentally friendly, while others aren’t. 

Life Cycle Cost

You should consider the energy expended to push the air through the pads and into the room. Also, consider the cost of replacing the pads and labor costs if you hire someone to change them.

Longevity and Materials Used

The life of the pad is an important consideration when looking to replace your pads. Some materials, such as aspen, will shred quickly and don’t last long, but they are relatively inexpensive. Synthetic fiber pads will last longer but are environmentally unfriendly. Buying good quality pads will ensure that they’ll last as long as the materials permit and provide superior performance.

Unit Size

Ensure that the pad you select fits your cooler with no gaps at the sides. Cut material purchased in a roll to fit lengthways, but fold the sides to fit the holder. Use the manufacturer's recommended pad thickness to ensure effective airflow. 

Pad Thickness

Most natural aspen fiber pads come in standard thicknesses of one or two inches. In comparison, paper pads measure up to eight inches thick. The thicker the pad, the cooler the air will be. This is because the air has more wet pad material to pass over before it’s vented back into the area to be cooled. 

Review of the Best Swamp Cooler Pads 

Having surveyed the swamp cooler pads available on the market, here is a list of the best in each category.

DIAL MANUFACTURING 3412 Yhl1012 36' X 24' Spin Roll Cooler Pads

PROS

  • Biodegradable
  • Top marks for cooling
  • Absorbs water extremely well
  • Gives the air a nice woodsy smell

CONS

  • Deteriorates fast
  • Blocks water pipes and pumps
  • Fibers can become dislodged from the weave

Specifications

Size: 36” wide X 24 feet long

Manufacture: Aspen fibers

Thickness: 1” or 2”

Equipment: Will fit most models of swamp cooler (not those that take a rigid pad)

General Notes About Pros/Cons

  • The most significant issue with this type of pad is the way that it flakes as it deteriorates.

  • This deterioration means that it needs to be replaced at least annually but more likely mid-season.

  • The flakes fall into the water and can cause blockages for the water reticulation system and cause a bad smell.

  • Despite these faults, the superior cooling effect of these pads can’t be dismissed.

  • The biodegradable nature of these pads is very attractive.

Review

This is a natural product with exceptional cooling ability. The fibers swell when wet, making a thick, damp mat through which the air must pass. This thick mat prevents sagging, so there will be no places where hot air will pass directly through the pad without being cooled. 

This exceptional cooling is worth the hassle of replacing the pads regularly and ensuring that the water reticulation has an adequate filter to stop the aspen flakes from blocking the reticulation equipment. Once replaced, the old pad is biodegradable and can be tossed on the compost heap or discarded with household waste.  

Bottom Line

These are superior, natural pads that provide an exceptional level of cooling. They’re simple to install, do the job, and give the air drawn into the room a woodsy smell reminiscent of the outdoors. They do have some drawbacks, but they aren’t serious enough to prevent the pad from scoring our top spot.

Portacool PARKULJ24000 Kuul Replacement Evaporative Media Set for Jetstream 240, PAC163SVT, PACJS1600

PROS

  • Long-lasting
  • Easy to install
  • Super efficient
  • Biodegradable
  • Strong structure
  • Fits the designated coolers very well

CONS

  • Only fits the designated coolers
  • Can smell bad when first installed

Specifications

Size: 12” wide X 24” long

Manufacture: Cellulose paper in geometric pattern

Thickness: 6”

Equipment: Specifically designed to fit Portacool evaporative coolers

General Notes About Pros/Cons

  • These pads are very sturdily built and will last for three to five years.

  • They are very thick, which is the requirement for the model of cooler they are designed to fit, but this means they are not suitable for all makes of cooler.

  • The cellulose paper absorbs water very well and provides excellent cooling.

  • The paper's geometric design ensures that there are no gaps through which hot air can pass.

  • These pads are fully biodegradable.

Review 

These pads are made from thick cellulose paper that swells when wet to make a very thick wet barrier that stops dust and cools the air passing through it very well. The paper's geometric design ensures that it’s very well supported, and it’s rare to see sagging or open spots that allow hot air to pass straight through. 

The pads are made from top-quality material in the USA. This quality ensures that they don’t need to be replaced at short intervals and last through several summers. When you need to replace the pad, the old one is biodegradable and can be placed in a recycling bin.  

Bottom Line

These are well-made, long-lasting pads, made from natural cellulose fiber. They are specifically designed to fit the Portacool range of coolers. For the right cooler, they will provide a high level of cooling for a long time. The disagreeable smell will put off some people, but it fades with time.

Best for the Money:
PPS Packaging Inc. 46IP

PPS PACKAGING COMPANY #46IP 29x29 Aspen Cooler Pad

PROS

  • Fresh, woodsy smell
  • Manufactured from aspen fibers
  • Pads absorb more water due to an open structure
  • The stitching firmly holds the fibers in place, reducing flaking and sagging
  • Open structure allows more area to be exposed to the air, improving the wicking
  • Pads have a biodegradable mat of stitching across them to hold the fiber mat to the covering net

CONS

  • Lasts better but still requires annual replacement
  • Aspen fibers will flake. The cover improves but doesn’t eliminate this

Specifications

Size: 29” wide X 29” square

Manufacture: Aspen fibers

Thickness: 6”

Equipment: Generic product 

General Notes About Pros/Cons

  • These generic pads are excellent value for money as they are made of top-quality materials and have improved installed life.

  • The pads have a thick mat of aspen fibers knitted openly to provide more real estate for the air to pass over.

  • Aspen fibers absorb water very well and, of all the products used to make pads, they retain water the best.

  • The cover and stitching make the pad very attractive in terms of sagging and fibers flaking off.

  • These pads are fully biodegradable.

Review

These pads are made from a thick mat of aspen fibers with a cover stitched over the mat to hold it in place, eliminate sagging, and prevent the fibers from flaking. The weave of the fibers is in an open pattern that presents more area for air to be exposed to the cooling effects of the water, making these pads some of the best at cooling on the market. 

These are top-quality pads, made in the USA and designed to fit most makes of cooler. The old pads can be discarded in household waste or placed on the compost heap.   

Bottom Line

This is a top-quality product manufactured from natural vegetable fibers. They are sized to fit most coolers and shouldn’t be cut to fit but rather folded to fit. The pack contains six pads, and with the quality and material of this brand, the pads are sure to last a lot longer than in the past.

Best MasterCool Swamp Cooler Pads:
MasterCool 110133-1

MasterCool 8 inch Rigid Media Pad for 4800 CFM, 110133-1

PROS

  • Strong and durable construction
  • Manufactured from natural cellulose fibers
  • Easily installed in your existing evaporative cooler
  • Manufactured in a multi-layer design, ensuring efficiency
  • No harmful emissions as the product is GREENGUARD Certified

CONS

  • Only fits certain types of coolers
  • Has an unpleasant smell when first installed

Specifications

Size: 22.25”  x 41.25” 

Manufacture: Cellulose fiber (CELdek) 

Thickness: 8” 

Equipment: Coolers that take 8” rigid pads

General Notes About Pros/Cons

  • These replacement pads are manufactured from cellulose fiber.

  • The multi-layer geometric design ensures long life for these filters.

  • They slot very easily into the coolers that require this type of filter.

  • The unpleasant smell, when they are first installed, fades with time.

  • These replacement pads are certified to emit no harmful products and are biodegradable.

Review

These thick, absorbent, and effective pads fit very easily into coolers that require this type of filter. You must ensure that you purchase the correct filter for your cooler as they can’t be cut or folded to fit. 

They are manufactured from cellulose fiber that is formed into cardboard-like sheets. The pad's geometric design ensures that the air is exposed to as much wet card as possible while passing through the pad. This ensures maximum cooling. 

These are very high-quality pads manufactured in the USA and suited to the harsh conditions found in the country's southwestern areas. As these are manufactured from natural materials, they are biodegradable.   

Bottom Line

This is a top-quality product that will slip easily into your cooler. The cardboard is manufactured from good quality cellulose and has superb water absorption ability. The thickness of the product ensures that air is exposed to the water's cooling properties for as long as possible. The geometric design ensures strength and eliminates sagging and hot spots.

Best Aspen Swamp Cooler Pads:
CENGOY Dial Aspen Pad 3411

'Dial 3411 30' x 24' (288') Aspen Pad Roll for Evaporative Swamp Coolers'Dial 3411 30' x 24' (288') Aspen Pad Roll for Evaporative Swamp Coolers

PROS

  • Biodegradable
  • Top marks for cooling
  • Absorbs water extremely well
  • Manufactured from aspen fiber
  • Gives the air a nice woodsy smell
  • Retains water very well, leading to energy savings

CONS

  • Deteriorates fast
  • Blocks water pipes and pumps
  • Fibers can become dislodged from the weave

Specifications

Size: 30” wide X 24 feet long

Manufacture: Aspen fiber

Thickness: Standard 1”

Equipment: Generic product 

General Notes About Pros/Cons

  • This roll of aspen mat is very economical as the pad can be cut to the length desired.

  • The roll is manufactured from virgin aspen fiber and knitted into a thick pad with exceptional cooling qualities.

  • Aspen fibers are the leader in water absorption and retention, so the pump doesn’t need to run continuously, leading to energy saving.

  • The pads cut from this roll are fully biodegradable.

Review

The roll of replacement matting is very economical. You can cut the required length and retain the rest for the next replacement. The roll shouldn’t be cut widthways but rather folded to fit. The thickly, densely knitted virgin fibers soak up water very quickly and, more importantly, retain it for a long time. 

This means that the water pump doesn’t have to run continuously, leading to additional energy savings. The roll is manufactured in the USA, and this top-quality product won’t disappoint. As these are manufactured from natural materials, they are biodegradable.    

Bottom Line

This is an excellent product, and your replacement pads can be easily cut to length from the roll. Aspen fibers are renowned for their water absorption and retention qualities, so the pads cut from this roll will satisfy the most discerning of cooler owners.

What Purpose Do Swamp Cooler Pads Serve? 

Swamp cooler pads are needed to hold the water used to cool the air. Hot air is drawn in from the environment by a fan. As it passes through the wet pad, the water in the pad evaporates and removes the heat from the air. 

At the same time, the air gains humidity. This cooled, humid air is then pumped into the premises.  As the pad is intended as a water storage medium, those made from natural fibers work best as they will absorb and retain the water better than man-made products.

Who Makes the Best Swamp Cooler Pads?

As with most consumer products, there are many brands available on the market. Equally, some are better quality than others. No one wants to be left stranded with a cooler not working at the height of summer, so let's look at the top brands to consider when purchasing replacement pads for your cooler.

Champion Cooler Company

The Mastercool range of replacement pads is manufactured by the Champion Cooler Company, a subsidiary of Essick Air Products, Inc. Essick Air is a family-based company that has been in business for over 90 years, producing evaporative coolers and their replacement parts. All the products are designed, built, and manufactured in the USA to a superior level of quality. 

Dial Manufacturing

Dial Manufacturing, Inc.'s core business is to provide accessories and replacement parts for various types of air conditioners, including evaporative coolers. The plant is based in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s been managed by the same family since it started over 55 years ago in 1965. 

With representatives based in the metropolitan areas where evaporative cooling is popular, Dial understands this industry's unique requirements. This in-depth knowledge, combined with an in-house design and manufacturing team, results in exceptional quality products that are recommended by original equipment manufacturers.

PPS Packaging, Inc.

This company was founded in 1976. Since then, they have consistently produced a quality line of cooler parts and accessories. They are well known for their innovative approach to product design. 

Their Aspen Snow-Cool Premier Cooler Pads, with their patented improvements, continue to hold a good share of the market. PPS Packaging products are marketed worldwide and have an enviable reputation for quality. The company is known as dependable and attuned to customer service.

Types of Swamp Cooler Pads

There are three major types of swamp cooler pads. Two of these types, aspen, and synthetic fiber, will fit any cooler that takes a one or two-inch-thick pad. The third type of pad, rigid, will fit a specific type of cooler that needs an eight-inch thick pad.

Aspen Pads

Aspen pads are made from fibers culled from aspen wood. These fibers are knitted into a thick mat, one or two inches thick, and then either cut into square pads or made into rolls. Aspen wood wool is a natural, highly absorbent material that retains water well, but a drawback is that the fibers tend to flake with age. 

These flakes can cause blockages in the water reticulation system. These pads need to be changed often.

Synthetic Fiber Pads

The bright blue synthetic fiber pads are manufactured from synthetic fibers knitted into a tight mat. These pads don’t retain water as well as aspen pads, but they last considerably longer. 

Because they don’t retain water very efficiently, they don’t cool, as well as aspen pads. Being synthetic, they can be taken out, washed, and reused, which makes them a popular consumer item. They clog easily with calcium and other minerals found in water.

Rigid Pads

These pads are large, fat blocks of a cardboard-type material manufactured from cellulose fibers. As their name implies, they are rigid, solid, and manufactured in a geometric pattern. The natural cellulose absorbs water well, and the thick pads make for exceptional cooling. 

They are also solid and don’t sag, nor do you have hot spots where air passes freely without being cooled. These pads should be inspected each year and cleaned, but they should last between three to five years, depending on how hard the water is.

How Often Do You Change Swamp Cooler Pads?

Changing the cooling pads in your swamp cooler depends on several factors:

Type of Material

Aspen fiber pads will deteriorate within a few months, while synthetic fiber and rigid cellulose pads will last around three to five years.

Water

The hardness of your water will affect the life of the pads. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind the minerals that are dissolved in the water. In areas with high calcium content, the sediment left behind will reduce the lifespan of the pads. 

Atmospheric Conditions

The amount of dust and other pollutants in the air are a factor in these pads' lives. Excessive dust, smoke, and other pollutants are trapped in the pads and can affect their longevity.

Winter Storage

Leaving the pads in the housing during winter can affect their lifespan. Freak weather conditions can cause serious damage to the pads, which should be packed away over winter.

Water Level in the System

Allowing the water level to drop to where it no longer circulates will cause the pads to dry out. If this happens regularly, it can cause damage to the pads.

From the above, it’s clear that many factors affect the service that the pads will give you. As a rule of thumb, aspen pads should be changed at the start of every season and could require changing halfway through. The fiber and rigid pads will need regular cleaning but should last several years.

Conclusion

Each type of cooling pad has its own quirks, and the one you choose will depend on your personal circumstances. Those pads made from natural fibers absorb and retain water far better than the synthetic type. Being biodegradable, they have little impact when discarded. The synthetic type of pad will last longer but won’t cool as effectively as the natural fiber products.

People Also Ask

To help you decide what is best for you, here are a few common questions asked by our consumers.

Can You Double Up Swamp Cooler Pads?

Yes, you can double up the thinner type (aspen or synthetic fiber) pads, but beware of blocking the airflow. Your cooler is designed to draw air through a certain thickness of the pad. Making it considerably thicker may present you with problems of airflow and getting the pads wet.

Can You Clean Swamp Cooler Pads?

You can clean the blue synthetic fiber pads and the rigid pads.

Does Putting Ice in a Swamp Cooler Help?

It’s a common fallacy that adding ice to the water will result in cooler air. For water to evaporate, it needs to warm up.

Adding ice to the water works against the basic physics on which the swamp cooler is based! Simply use cold water from the tap as this is the most efficient means of getting the water to evaporate. 

Never, ever place dry ice in the water as the cooler will blow carbon dioxide into the premises, which will be very dangerous for the inhabitants.

How Long Do Aspen Pads Last?

Aspen pads must be changed at the start of each season. They may last the entire season, but it’s more likely that they’ll have to be changed partway through the hot season.

Can You Cut Swamp Cooler Pads?

You cannot cut the rigid type of pad. You can cut the aspen and synthetic fiber pads, but manufacturers recommend that you fold the pads to fit rather than cutting. Replacement pads purchased in a roll will have to be cut to length to fit your cooler.

My name is Bob Wells and I am a retired HVAC tech from Washington state. I am currently retired and no longer do much with HVAC, however, I feel like I have a lot of knowledge in the subject and I wanted to create a website where I could talk about what I've learned and help upcoming HVAC techs. Find more info about me and HVAC Training 101.