An evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler, is popular for arid locations such as Auburn, CA. But do the advantages of an evaporative cooler outweigh the drawbacks? Find out everything you need to know about the pros versus cons of evaporative coolers from our experienced HVAC technicians!

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Pros & Cons Of Evaporative Coolers

Pros Of Evaporative Coolers

Not only do evaporative coolers provide efficient cooling for homes, but they can also add much-needed humidity in arid climates. Some other pros of evaporative coolers include the following.

Low Costs

Due to the simpler technology and fewer working parts, evaporative coolers often cost less for HVAC maintenance and repairs. Additionally, it's often less expensive to have the unit installed. For example, a small unit that does not use ducts requires very little installation. However, a larger unit connected to the ductwork will cost more due to how much work is involved but can still cost less than standard HVAC unit installation.

Energy Efficient

Because an evaporative cooler does not rely on a compressor or a refrigerant system, it requires less electricity to operate. Compared to standard HVAC units, evaporative coolers are extremely energy-efficient, using as much as 50–75% less energy. This can save you money for each year of use.

Effective Air Filtration

Just like a standard air conditioning unit, an evaporative cooler has a filtration system to help improve indoor air quality. However, unlike a standard air conditioning unit, an evaporative cooler passes air through moist pads. These pads provide a denser layer of filtration to better catch dust particles, pollen, and other allergens so they aren't circulated through the air you'll be breathing.


Due to the lower energy consumption, evaporative coolers are considered more environmentally friendly than standard HVAC units. They also do not require refrigerants, which can be detrimental to the environment.

Great For Dry Climates

Evaporative coolers function by adding water vapor to the air it cycles. Because of this, evaporative coolers function better in low humidity, where the air more easily absorbs the water vapor. The added humidity can also alleviate skin dehydration, dry throat, dry nose, and other respiratory problems caused by dry air.

Cons Of Evaporative Coolers

While they offer many benefits, evaporative coolers have some drawbacks, including the following.

Drawbacks Of Overuse

While low humidity can cause health issues, so can high humidity. Running the evaporative cooler excessively or without proper air circulation can result in moisture build-up, causing mold and mildew to grow. This can trigger asthma, allergic reactions, or a condition known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Proper maintenance is also paramount to ensure the system does not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes or pathogens.

Requires Soft Water

While minimal maintenance is required, this can increase if water with salt and mineral deposits, known as hard water, is used. These can build up within the system, causing issues and requiring more frequent maintenance or repairs. If you only have access to hard water in your area, purchasing a filtration system for the water or purchasing separate water can be additional expenses.

Not Good For Humid Areas

Because the evaporative cooler works by combining water vapor into the air, it is not ideal for areas of high humidity. So, if you're planning to relocate to high humidity areas, you may not be able to take your evaporative cooler with you.