An evaporative air cooler is an affordable way to keep comfortably cool during the summer. They typically pull water into a pad while drawing air across it, generating cooled, moistened air that is then circulated through the rest of the house. They can last for years and use less electricity than a portable air conditioner. It will never leak coolant, and it is fine to leave running while the windows are open. The size of the fan and accompanying motor determine how quickly it can cool things down. When temperatures are near 100°F and humidity is less than 30%, running an evaporative cooler can lower temperatures by 25°F. In a hot, humid room, it could still lower air temperatures by 10°F.
What do you want to look for in an evaporative cooler? The most important consideration is the size of the area you want to cool down. There’s no point getting a cheap little evaporative cooler that will keep a small area cool if you need something to cool down an entire home. Buying an oversized evaporative cooler for your application is generally a waste of money.
A secondary consideration is price relative to performance. A third issue to consider is power; if you’re going to use the evaporative cooler when camping or in a vehicle, you need something that doesn’t have to be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Extra features like doubling as an air filter or humidifier are nice to have but not essential, while ease of use and installation should be high on your list.
Let’s take a look at some of the best evaporative air coolers on the market today
10. Fitfirst Personal Space Evaporative Cooler
This mini air conditioner and humidifier stands out for its ultra-low price. The fact that you can run it off of a laptop battery or in a hot car via a modern infotainment center’s USB port is a plus. The unit comes with a USB power cable. Buy it through Amazon to ensure that the good manufacturer’s warranty is in effect.
This evaporative cooler can be used like any other air conditioner. It can be used simply to humidify the air, cool it or both. It has a built-in water tank that lets it run for up to eight hours on the lowest fan speed setting. It is safe to use essential oils in the water tank if you’re just adding a few drops; you can throw in ice, too. Use distilled water to minimize mineral buildup.
This is the best evaporative cooler for those on the go, whether you want to cool off your car or cubicle. It can cool off a dorm room, RV or tent. It is less than seven inches or 18 cm cubed, so you can toss it in a backpack or glove compartment until you need it. It weighs about a kilogram or just over two pounds. Some people complain about the need to refill it several times a day, but that’s because the unit is so small. The fans aren’t loud, so it won’t keep you up at night even if next to your bed. It is safe to have around children.
The mood lighting is probably over-kill, but it can help you fall asleep in a strange place, and many like the fact that you can change the color to suit your decor. The blue light is almost too bright to sleep with.
9. DigitalBoy Evaporative Air Cooler and Humidifier
This is another affordable little evaporative air cooler that doubles as a humidifier. It is small and portable. It has a built-in carry handle, so you can take it with you anywhere.
The fan puts out a fair amount of air, and one unique feature of this model is the tray in front that captures excess condensate. You can safely put this on a desk at work and not have it drip all over everything. It comes with a four-foot, 1.2-meter power cord.
This air cooler/humidifier accepts 24 volt DC power; it comes with a DC adapter. It has a nearly half liter water tank that will generate a steady stream of humid air. When the fan is set on low, it runs for five hours. On high, it lasts two hours.
8. Duolang Industrial Evaporative Air Cooler
Sometimes you need an evaporative air cooler to cool down your entire home, office or business. This evaporative air cooler is suitable for connecting to air ducts to supplement or replace your need for an air conditioner. The unit has a remote control so that you can adjust fan speeds as required.
The only downside of this model is the price. Conversely, it comes with wheels so that you can move it to wherever it is needed. And you could set up several of them in parallel to dramatically cool off a large area. Note that this is a very large unit, and it will cost a lot to have shipped somewhere.
7. Honeywell Outdoor Evaporative Cooler, Model CO70PE
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to outdoor air conditioners or an industrial indoor AC, this is the right evaporative air cooler for you. This unit has two high-pressure blowers to distribute as much cooled air as possible. The continuous water supply connection allows you to connect it to a water faucet or water hose so that it never runs out of the water. It has a remote control so you can adjust fan speeds as needed.
We’re recommending the 588 CFM model. It provides more cooling than the 525 CFM model while costing not much more than its smaller sibling. Both share the unique vents that close automatically when the blowers aren’t in use, keeping bugs and dust out of the unit. Put it out on the patio or deck to keep things cool all summer long.
6. Champion Essick Air Window Evaporative Cooler, Model RN50W
This evaporative cooler is designed to be an alternative to the standard window air conditioner. For example, you can put this evaporative cooler in the same support frames and windows where an existing AC may sit, though it comes with an installation kit and leveling leg. Yet it uses a fraction of the energy of window AC. The main benefit of this unit is that it can cool a trailer or small home; it can cool up to 1600 square feet.
The high level of airflow ensures it can keep a whole home cool. The manufacturer ships it with a remote control so that you can adjust the airflow as required. This is an excellent alternative to an AC if you live in a dry desert climate. Depending on where you can live, you can arrange expert installation for a slight step up in price.
5. Phoenix Manufacturing Evaporative Cooler, Model BW4502
This is another house-sized evaporative cooler. One of the main highlights of this model is the fact that you can plug it directly into a junction box or plug it into a 120-volt outlet. It has a ten-year warranty against rust and a general one year warranty for parts. These units are quite durable and probably handle more abuse than the average window air conditioner. One potential problem is finding replacement parts if it breaks, though it isn’t hard to find replacement moisture pads. Note that it doesn’t come with a built-in air filter.
The only downside is its price relative to its cooling capacity. Depending on where you can live, you can arrange expert installation for a slight step up in price when ordering it. It requires little maintenance after installation.
4. Cajun Kooling Evaporative Cooler, Model CK3000
Evaporative coolers were long known as “swamp coolers” because they were used by Louisiana natives, the Cajuns, to try to stay cool on sweltering summer nights. This evaporative cooler is designed to cool around 600 square feet of living space; this is perfect for a small home or closed off portion of a smaller house. What makes this model stand out is the high volume of air that it moves; it puts out 3000 CFM. If you turn it on, it will rapidly cool down space it is in. Yet the unit itself is compact and relatively quiet.
This is a good model for minimizing maintenance and upkeep. It automatically shuts down if the water level is too low. It is easy to fill with up to 16 gallons of water, and it can run for up to 12 hours, though you can set the timer for anywhere from one to twelve hours. If you want to run it continuously, it has a hose attachment so that you can connect it to the nearest faucet. The evaporative cooler has built-in screens to keep out bugs and minimize dust sucked into the cooling pads.
The only downside is the hefty price tag. Yet that is a bargain compared to the 4500 CFM model that costs twice as much.
3. SPT Brand Evaporative Air Cooler, Model SF-607H
This evaporative cooler is reasonably priced. It is a basic, compact white appliance. One of the perks of this unit is the fact that it can run as a fan, an evaporative cooler or humidifier. In short, you can use it in any of these three modes. This evaporative cooler has three fan modes, and it can run for up to seven and a half hours. It comes with a remote control. This unit is perfect for cooling or humidifying a room. One standout feature is the oscillating louvers to distribute that cool air around the room. It has a better-than-average cooling pad, as well, since it resists mold and bacteria.
The drain plug is easy to reach when required. An interesting feature built into this model is the covered ice reservoir on top to help keep the air as cool as possible without having ice thrown into the water reservoir itself. That helps it cool down a 120 square foot room as quickly as possible.
The only downside is that it isn’t as quiet as some of the other evaporative coolers are on this list. In some cases, the unit needs to run for a little while during the first run so that the filter properly absorbs water. It may leave a puddle on the floor the first time it is used if you don’t do this.
2. Jobar International Kool Down Portable Evaporative Air Coolers
Not only is this set of evaporative air coolers reasonably priced, but you get two for the price of one of some of the lower ranking models on this list. You get two different evaporative coolers that look exactly the same. These are perfect for cooling down two separate rooms at the same time or providing localized cooling where required. Each of these units cools about 50 square feet and puts out cooled air for up to ten hours. These are truly portable evaporative air coolers. It can be powered by four C batteries or via a DC adapter. It doesn’t come with the C batteries. You can direct the air where you want it.
The only potential downside of this unit is that while it is available on Amazon, you may or may not find it on sale. Conversely, you can find these evaporative coolers sold individually on Amazon as well.
1. Keystone 7.5 Liter Evaporative Air Cooler
This evaporative air cooler has sleek, modern curves so that it looks good no matter where you put it. This is one of the most advanced yet affordable air coolers on the market. It comes with a programmable timer. Note that it needs batteries for the programmable interface to work. This is an incredibly smart swamp cooler. It has built-in power failure protection to help it retain its programmed settings during a power interruption. It notifies you when the water level is too low.
The unit comes with a remote control, as well. There are three fan speeds and three “wind” modes that determine how air is circulated. This unit can give you very gentle, quiet airflow so you can truly sleep while an evaporative air cooler runs. Its louvers can close off entirely when not in use to keep out dust, dander and insects. The air filter/cooling pad can be removed and cleaned before being replaced. This unit will double as an air filter if there is no water in the system, but the double air filtration ensures it always cleans your air as it runs. It cools up to 300 square feet. It weighs less than 20 pounds or 10 kilos, and it has a built-in carry handle.
The only downside of this unit is the fact it only cools your air if humidity is 60% or less.