The pros and cons of an evaporative cooling system

Air Conditioning FAQs

Evaporative cooling systems sit on your roof, filtering and cooling hot air that passes through the system. A fan then blows the cool air throughout your home through ducts and hot air is forced out through open windows and doors.

The benefits of an evaporative cooling system:


  • Evaporative cooling systems are cheaper to set up, install and run than other conventional AC systems
  • They are half the cost or less to install, compared to other AC systems
  • They cost 75% less in electricity to run, compared to other AC systems
  • They have a lower peak energy usage. This would mean cheaper wiring costs and you wouldn’t need additional power stations
  • You could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year, as there are lower running costs (when compared to a refrigerated system).

Environmental benefits  

  • Evaporative cooling is eco-friendly. They drive a constant current of cool air into warm environments. No greenhouse gases are emitted.
  • They use around 10% less energy and tend to cost less upfront
  • Conventional AC units emit higher amounts of carbon dioxide and use a large amount of energy, compared to evaporative cooling systems.

Other reasons to consider an evaporative cooling system:

  • Evaporative cooling systems can also operate for extensive periods of time.
  • In dry climates, higher humidity is a good thing. Refrigerated systems tend to dehydrate the air too much.
  • The wet filter pads are actually designed to filter the air and distribute cool air as well. By doing so, the system traps dust particles as well as pollen, which is good for people who suffer from allergies.
  • Due to their simple design, they are low maintenance. They don’t have as many parts as the traditional air conditioner.
  • The evaporative cooling system doesn’t need a high amperage circuit. The system can be connected to any standard outlet and works on 120-volt electricity.
  • Windows can be kept open, unlike refrigerated systems, where windows must be kept closed, which is a benefit as fresh air is free to enter the home.

However, there are some reasons why evaporative cooling systems may not be for you

  • They require a continual water source in order to run efficiently.
  • Cleaning must be done regularly to alleviate bacteria and mould, which may arise in the wet pads or nozzles.
  • It is not a good choice for humid/wet climates.
  • Water leakage from ceiling outlets can occur, unless you take measures to fit with covers.
  • While there are contrary opinions on this point, where a system that traps pollen and dust is good for people with allergies, some say this can aggravate allergies and can exacerbate asthma, as since it’s bringing air in from the outdoors to inside, they may bring some allergens into the home. Evaporative cooling systems also humidify the air, which is not ideal for people with asthma.
  • The noise from the unit might not bother you, but it is wise to consider your neighbours. Consider where you place the unit to avoid confrontation with those living next to you.

Other cons

  • Servicing can be costly. A unit needs to be checked every two years and the pads need to be replaced every 2-7 years.
  • Evaporative cooling systems are not so effective for large houses. Cool air won’t get distributed through the entire home. They are more suited to cool down one room.
  • They use a lot of water each day. You must have a constant stream of water available.
  • Although it is low maintenance, the pads do need to be constantly replenished with water. If the pads happen to dry out, the cooler won’t work the way it’s intended to. Dry climates can also wear out the moisture pads.

Things to remember in order to make the best choice for your home

  • Evaporative coolers work better in hot, dry climates and are great for outdoor use.
  • Make sure you maintain a fresh air supply by opening a door or window while it runs. Otherwise it will circulate humidified air.
  • Whatever you choose, make sure you choose a professional to install it. This can prevent damage. Don’t try to do it yourself. This includes maintenance work – always get a licensed professional to take a look and make any changes to your system. This will also ensure you are under warranty. Some building codes actually require a licensed electrician to do any electrical work.
  • Ensure you acquire two or more quotes so you know you are receiving the best deal in the AC installation industry. This may even allow for you to request a price match from a company you prefer, if they are marginally more expensive.


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