Best Window Swamp Coolers – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: May 27, 2021

In summer, air conditioners are essential for both our health and well-being, among other reasons.

There are different options for cooling our homes, but we still may need to look for something cost-effective. 

In this article, we review a range of window swamp coolers, also known as evaporative air coolers. They may be the answer to providing a cooler living environment.

Comparison of the Best Window Swamp Coolers

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Easily and efficiently cools up to 1,800 sq. ft.
  • Costs reduced by up to 28% to operate with same results
  • Includes 10 year warranty against rust-out leaking
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  • Galvanized steel cabinet resists weather
  • Package includes installation kit for easy setup
  • Can easily cool up to 600 sq. ft.
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  • Best for the Money and Best Essick Air Window Evaporative Cooler
  • Efficiently and impressively cools up to 1,600 sq. ft.
  • Pump is permanently lubricated for long life
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  • Best Small Window Swamp Cooler
  • Includes 10 year warranty against rust-out leaking
  • 2 speed motor cools up to 500 sq. ft.
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  • Best Mastercool Window Evaporative Cooler
  • Whole-house cooling up to 2,000 sq. ft.
  • 2” cellulose pad for maximum cooling and superior performance
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How to Choose a Good Window Swamp Cooler 

We have reviewed and compared different factors affecting the efficiency of these units to help you choose the correct window swamp cooler for your space. These include:

Cooling Pads

Cooling pads influence the efficiency of a swamp cooler. Available in two designs, Aspen pads cost less and are easier to install and replace. Biodegradable pads are also environmental-friendly and more effective than cellulose cooling pads, which are more expensive.

Also known as honeycomb pads, due to their appearance, cellulose pads are thicker than Aspen pads, are low maintenance, and also last longer. 

Motor

As they pump air, rather than compressing refrigerant gas like other air conditioners, swamp coolers are less expensive to run. 

Centrifugal and axial fans are used for cooling and condensing, using approximately one-third or three-quarter horsepower in comparison to other ACs using 3-5 horsepower. Axial fans are considered 80-90% more efficient.

Overload Protection

An automatic thermal-overload switch is programmed to shut the motor off if it starts overheating. It will only switch on again once the motor has cooled down.

Cooler Size vs Space

Swamp window coolers are rated in terms of CBH (cubic meters per hour). Units range between 4000 and 8000 CBH.

To calculate the size of the unit you require to cool a specific space, we calculate the volume of the space with the formula length x width x height. This is then multiplied by air-exchange times, which is based on the environment, set from approximately 20-40 air exchanges per hour. 

To further understand, see these examples:

Environment

Air Exchange Times

Normal

20-30 times/hr

Crowded Public Space

25-40 times/hr

High-temperature Factory

35-45 times/hr

Polluted Air

45-55 times/hr

Spot Cooling

90-120 times/hr

Suitable For Your Climate

Window swamp coolers use the evaporation of water to cool the air inside. Most effective in areas with low humidity, window swamp coolers work by passing air over a wet pad called a cooling pad. This evaporates and cools the air, adding moisture, or humidity, to the room.

They work best in dry areas, such as desert regions with low humidity, and are mounted in a window. They continuously require water for the unit to work efficiently, so they’re not ideal in areas with water shortages. 

Water Tank Capacity

The size of the water tank varies between the different models, but generally, they vary from between 3-5 gallons. Larger units may hold up to 50 gallons.

The larger the unit the more water it uses. There are options such as portable water tanks, which can be attached with a water line or, using ice or gel packs in the system. 

Mounting

There is a range of options in terms of installation depending on the size and type of unit. Window swamp coolers don’t require professional installation but must be installed near a water source, like a hose.

A unit meant for cooling an entire house will require ducts, or may need to be installed on the roof. This may require professional assistance.

Review of the Best Window Swamp Coolers

Used correctly in a dry area with low humidity, window swamp coolers will save you money and cool your house effectively. We chose a few well-known window swamp coolers to review and compare the pros and cons of each. 

Phoenix Manufacturing BW5002 Evaporative Window Cooling Unit with 1,800 Square Feet Cooling Capacity

PROS

  • Quiet and eco-friendly
  • Programmable drain pump
  • Also ideal for roof or wall installation
  • Peblar XT surface coating protects against corrosion

CONS

  • No major disadvantages

Specs

Area Cooling Capacity: 1200 - 1600 Sq./Ft.

Weight: 144 lbs.

Dimensions: L 36 x H 34 x W 36

Horsepower: ½ HP

Motor: 2-speed motor

Volt: 120 Volt

Review

Formerly Brisa, these Frigiking window coolers deliver quicker air cooling while using less energy than comparative models. They’re available in different models and sizes and come fully assembled. They’re also available with convenient remote control.

The BW5002 air cooler is built with the highest quality materials, such as the exclusive MIRRORSCOPIC blower shaft, offering a 90% improvement over other standard ground finish models. This means a longer life span of the bearing and shaft. 

The Peblar XT surface coating also improves longevity by protecting the unit against corrosion. Suitable for inside and outside use, it’s ideal for roof or wall installation. This unit can cost between 15% and 28% less to run while achieving the same results as similar units.

Bottom Line

The Phoenix BW5002 is easy to use, runs quietly, and does a great job cooling a reasonably-sized area for relatively low running costs, ideal if electricity costs in your area are high. If you live in a dry climate and the humidity does not bother you then this is the unit for you.

Champion Cooler N28W Evaporative Cooler, Color

PROS

  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Not as expensive as some other units
  • Effective cooling of up to 600 square feet

CONS

  • Doesn’t come with remote control

Specs

Air Cooling Capacity: 600 Sq/ft

Dimensions: L 30.25 X W 24 X H 27

Weight: 72 lbs.

Horsepower: HP ⅓

Speed: 2 speed

Volt: 120 Volt

Review

The Aircare N28W evaporative cooler is less expensive than some other models, and due to its design, is a good option for smaller spaces. It’s also lighter and easier to carry. Waterless modes and multiple fan speeds are available with this basic unit, and it’s suitable for cooling spaces up to 600 square feet, delivering 2,800 CFM airflow.

This cooling unit cools up to 600 square feet and is suitable for smaller spaces. It is not as expensive as other similar units and is compact and easy to lift and install. The cabinet is made from heavy-gauge galvanized steel, making it impact and weather-resistant, thereby offering improved longevity.

Bottom Line

We have voted this cooler runner-up because it is energy and cooling-effective only in smaller spaces. It performs best in arid and dry climates and is not suitable for areas with high humidity.

Best for the Money and Best Essick Air Window Evaporative Cooler:
Essick Air RN50W

Essick Air Window Evaporative Cooler, RN50W

PROS

  • Includes remote control
  • High airflow rate, covering large spaces
  • It can be installed horizontally or vertically

CONS

  • Heavier and bulkier than others
  • Expensive in comparison to others

Specs

Air Cooling Capacity:  1600 Sq/ft

Dimensions: L 46.88 X W 34.13 X H 34.5

Weight: 165 lbs.

Horsepower: HP 1/2

Speed: 2 speed

Volt: 120 Volt

Review

Best for large spaces, this unit is designed to cool up to 1,600 square feet with a CFM of 4,700. It offers waterless cooling by use of the fan, although this just creates a breeze, rather than cool a large area. It also has a convertible grill, which means that it can be installed horizontally or vertically.

This is a fantastic buy if you have a larger space you want to be cooled. It can be used as a fan only and can be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on the type of window it’s being installed in.  They are manufactured using heavy-gauge galvanized steel with a Polyester powder-coated finish for durability. 

The Essick Air RN50W has been manufactured with welded seams for rust prevention and arrives complete, ready for installation.

Bottom Line

We have voted this cooler best value for the money, taking into consideration the size of the area that can be effectively cooled. This unit is best used in dry climates with low humidity.

Best Small Window Swamp Cooler:
Phoenix Manufacturing WH2906

Phoenix Manufacturing WH2906 Slim Line Evaporative Window Cooling Unit with 500 Square Feet Cooling Capacity

PROS

  • Eco-friendly, cooling air naturally
  • SlimLine construction makes it a convenient space-saver
  • Manufactured from heavy-gauge steel with a Peblar XT Protective Powder Coating to prevent rust

CONS

  • Slightly louder than other coolers

Specs

Air Cooling Capacity: 500 Sq/ft

Dimensions: L 22 X W 31.25 X H 27

Weight: 59.9 lbs.

Horsepower: HP 1/8

Speed: 2 speed

Volt: 115 Volt

Review

This Phoenix Manufacturing WH2906 SlimLine evaporative window cooling unit has a 500 square feet cooling capacity. Its compact design is a space-saver. The unit operates quietly and efficiently, cooling the air by absorbing the heat with pads soaked in water and evaporating and circulating the cooled air.

The slim build makes this cooler a convenient space-saver, and also looks slick. This cooler is designed for cooling smaller spaces of up to 500 square feet and comes with easy plug-in connections.  Known for its good quality this cooler has a PEBLAR CT protective coating that helps prevent rust. 

Manufactured from heavy-gauge steel it also comes with a 10-year warranty against leakage due to rust, and a 1-year warranty on parts.

Bottom Line

We have rated this cooler best for small windows. These units are best suited to dry areas with low humidity and can be installed horizontally or vertically to work in various windows.

Best MasterCool Window Evaporative Cooler:
MasterCool MCP59

MASTERCOOL 4000 cfm Direct-Drive Window Evaporative Cooler, Covers 2000 sq. ft.

PROS

  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Covers up to 2,000 square feet
  • Slim construction takes up less space
  • Operates with optional remote control

CONS

  • It’s quite tall
  • Highest setting is noisy
  • Water tank isn’t large enough for the cooler

Specs

Air Cooling Capacity: 850 Sq./ft.

Dimensions: L 19 X W 36 X H 48

Weight: 85 lbs.

Horsepower: HP 1/2

Speed: 3 speed

Review

The MasterCool 4000 direct-drive window evaporative cooler comes with a front discharge and remote control and an easy-to-operate touch control panel. The cellulose cooling pad provides maximum cooling efficiency and is certified to GREENGUARD emission standards. The body is lightweight and easily installed.

This cooler was found to cool a house in a reasonably effective manner, using less energy than other air conditioners. It is lightweight and easy to carry and install due to the slim construction of the unit.

Bottom Line

Rated best MasterCool product. It is one of the more expensive air conditioners and looks sleek and modern when installed. These units perform best in dry climates.

How Do Evaporative/Swamp Coolers Work?

Swamp coolers work by sucking warm air into the cooler and then pushing the air over water-saturated pads. This water evaporates into the air and absorbs much of the heat. 

The cooler blows the cooled air back into the room. Because they don’t rely on refrigerants in the cooling process, they’re extremely energy-efficient and also act as humidifiers. This is due to the air that’s evaporated from the cooling pads. 

They also usually offer a waterless mode; they can also be used as heavy-duty fans, offering a cooling breeze when it’s not hot enough to require the cooling mode. 

Top Brands in the Window Swamp Cooler Space

We’ve reviewed a number of the top brands of evaporative coolers and included three of what we thought are the best options.

Phoenix Manufacturing Inc.

Offering the Frigiking and Brisa ranges of evaporative air coolers, Phoenix Manufacturing, based in America, was founded in 1975. Placing high importance on environmental issues, the company manufactures a range of both residential and commercial coolers designed to stand the test of time. 

The exclusive microscopic blower shaft finish process is a vast improvement on the standard “ground finish” widely used, which means less noise and longer-lasting parts.

Vankool

The original suppliers of evaporative air coolers, Vankool have been manufacturing these units since 2005. With a production capacity of 15,000 units per month, these units are sold in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Their facilities include ODM service, molding, plastic injection, and production based in Zhongshan City, China.

They also manufacture portable air conditioners and fans for residential and commercial purposes, each applied with the ISO9000 QC standard. Vankool is well-known for the popular Honeywell window cooler. 

Essick Air Inc.

Suppliers of the MasterCool and Champion ranges, Essick Air also offer the sleek designs of the AIRCARE line. These units look fantastic while taking up less space, and actively reducing the risk of allergies, cold, and flu viruses.

The range covers various sizes of space, offering cooling and energy efficiency.

The company has been manufacturing cooling products aimed at the dry-arid regions of the western United States for more than 70 years.

Benefits of Using a Window Swamp Cooler

If you live in a dry, arid region and are looking for a cost-efficient, energy-efficient way of cooling your home, a window swamp cooler is an excellent product to invest in. 

Eco-friendly, these coolers cool the air with an evaporative process using cooling pads, thereby emitting less C02. They can also be used in open spaces without needing to close doors and windows, such as a garage or even on the patio outside. 

A dry climate benefits from these units, as they add moisture to the air, eliminating fumes and odors and reducing dust and other pollutants. This minimizes the risk of allergies, as well as colds and the flu.

They’re easy to install and far less noisy than other types of coolers. Most of these units come with benefits such as multiple fan speeds, oscillating vents, and timers.

Common Window Swamp Cooler Problems

Window coolers do come with their problems and you should be aware of their limitations. Unfortunately, these coolers don’t work everywhere. They’re specific to dry, arid regions and shouldn’t be used in areas high in humidity.

A humid environment will slow the evaporation process down, rendering the unit inefficient. It will also serve to increase the humidity in the area and cause condensation and an uncomfortable climate.

They’re also generally not as effective in cooling as other AC types.

An unstable window could cause installation problems. The size and stability of the window are important factors when deciding to purchase a window cooler. Portable units are available but are limited to a specific space.

Swamp coolers also need a constant supply of water. The hotter the climate, the more water is required for cooling. Water supply is a consideration in terms of installation and you may need to consider a portable water tank. 

Maintenance is fairly high as the cooling pads need to be changed regularly, and the unit must be sealed correctly to prevent rusting.

What’s the Difference Between Window vs Portable Evaporative Coolers?

Inexpensive and cost-effective to run, both the window and portable swamp coolers are capable of high-energy efficiency cooling when used in dry climates.

Installation 

Although relatively easy to install, window coolers need structurally sturdy windows to be mounted in, whereas a portable cooler can be moved from room to room and requires no installation. This is convenient and cost-effective when it may not be necessary to cool an entire house. 

Exhaust Hose

The portable unit requires an exhaust hose, which is incredibly easy to install. A window cooler doesn’t require an exhaust hose.

Area

A portable unit is more suited to areas east of the Mississippi River, where humid conditions may be experienced at times. Window coolers are ideal if you live in the Southwest, in a mostly dry climate.

Efficiency

Window units offer better energy and cooling efficiency. The portable unit can also be used outdoors and doesn’t require plumbing. 

Price Points of Window Swamp Coolers

Pricing of Window Swamp Coolers varies among the different ranges, sizes, and models costing between $100 to $2,500. 

To calculate the correct size unit for your space we use the CFM rating (cubic feet per minute). The higher the CFM rating, the more the unit costs. The information below gives you some idea of what you can expect in relation to the cost of the unit.

$100-250: 2,100 CFM Cools 500 - 1,000 Square Feet 

This price range usually covers portable units that are used to supplement a larger AC unit.

$250-460: 3,000 CFM Cools 500 - 1,000 Square Feet

Bonaire window evaporative cooling units are designed to fit small window spaces. They’re ideal for areas with hard water and are slightly noisier than other brands. Pricing ranges may be higher depending on the model.

$460-630: 5,400 CFM Cools 1,000-2,000 Square Feet

Essick Air window evaporative coolers are more aesthetically pleasing than others and easy to install. These units come standard with remote control. Pricing can range higher depending on the model.

$630-875: 7,000 CFM Cools 1,000-2,000 Square Feet

Brisa window coolers are highly energy-efficient. Maintenance and cleaning are made simple by the easy-access design. These models have no reported disadvantages and prices can range higher depending on the model.

Who Should Not Buy a Window Swamp Cooler?

Anybody living in an area with high humidity should not consider installing a swamp cooler. These units depend on dry air to operate effectively. 

The water-saturated cooling pads evaporate cooled water back into the air, and an environment with high humidity would become even humid. This would make the air uncomfortable and even more humid for residents.

Continuous humidity will also affect the water pads; they would develop an unpleasant odor, which is then blown into the house.

Due to the level of maintenance required in regularly changing the water pads, anyone not capable of performing these tasks shouldn’t consider one of these units.

Areas with water restrictions aren’t ideal for swamp coolers due to their need for continuous water.

Best suited to medium to large open spaces, they also require fresh air and operate optimally when positioned near an open door or window. If no convenient openings are available, it may be necessary to provide additional fans for fresh air, otherwise, the cooling effect may be reduced and condensation may form.

If conditions aren’t ideal, it may be wise to consider an air conditioner with a cooling system that works by providing cool air through ductwork. This process draws warm air outside, and a condenser, using refrigerant, turns vapor into liquid, removing any heat. 

Finally, if you live in a two-story house and wish to cool upstairs, as well as downstairs, you’ll need to invest in a combination of an evaporative cooler and split system air conditioner. Once again, you’ll need to ensure that there’s a suitable window allowing for access to fresh air in order to allow cooling efficiency of the unit.

Conclusion

To get the most out of a window swamp cooler, you’ll ideally live in a dry, arid climate with low humidity. You should also have adequate access to windows and doors, allowing fresh air to circulate the space you need to be cooled.

These eco-friendly units cool various spaces indoor and outdoors effectively, while using less energy and taking up less space in your living area. They’re definitely a worthwhile investment into more comfortable living, at a lower cost.

People Also Ask

Here are some frequently asked questions to assist you in making the right choice when shopping for a window swamp cooler.

How Do You Seal a Window Swamp Cooler?

First, ensure that the water line is disconnected and turn off the water control valve. Drain the water and clean the cooler, then change the cooling pads. You can install a winter cover to protect the unit during the winter months. Also, ensure that the unit and window are properly sealed using a waterproof metal sealer.

Is a Window Swamp Cooler Comparable to an AC Unit?

Yes, they’re comparable and are more energy-efficient, using approximately 15-35% of the energy needed by an air conditioner of a similar size. They differ in that ACs use chemicals in the cooling process, whereas evaporators use water, requiring a constant supply to maintain their efficiency.

How Much Does an Evaporative Cooler Lower the Temperature?

They can reduce the temperature in a single room by 5°F to 35°F. 

How Do You Maintain a Window Air Cooler and Are They Hard to Maintain?

These units are easy to maintain. Winterize the unit by turning off the water supply connection and cleaning out all water, dirt, and minerals. The cooling pads need to be changed regularly too. The use of filtered water will also help maintain the unit in areas with hard water.

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.