Air Coolers Vs. Fans

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Updated July 27, 2022

Finding the proper way to cool your home is an enormous endeavor. When it comes to the best fans and AC units, there’s a vast range of machines. In addition, there are debates between various methods, like fans vs AC, and inter-gadget discussions, such as tower fans vs box fans. To help you sort out these options, we’re going to compare air coolers vs fans below.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Air coolers are liquid cooling systems that pass water through the air intake to remove excess heat.
  • Fans do not remove heat from a room; instead, they circulate air to create a cooling effect.
  • While air coolers provide a true cooling process, they are costlier than fans and require frequent water refills.

Differences Between Fans and Air Coolers

Air coolers work with similar cooling principles as AC units but with significant differences. Similar to our article that explains air circulators vs fans, we’re going to break down these differences so that you can get to the bottom of what’s best for you.

Cooling Process

Air coolers and AC units work through a similar process. But where AC units use a chemical called refrigerant to temper air, air coolers use water. Also called swamp coolers, they use evaporation to cool your home.

Insider Tip

Using a fan in conjunction with an air cooler can increase the efficiency of your system by circulating the air.

In an air cooler, a filter absorbs cold water from a water tank. As hot air is pumped into the machine, it passes through the dampened filter. When the water evaporates from the filter, it draws heat from the air, thus cooling it. Then, the cooled air is blown into the room by a fan.

Fans, on the other hand, don’t lower the air temperature. Instead, they simply use motion to circulate the air. Doing so can help with cooling by pulling in cooler air from outside the home or evaporating the sweat from your body.

So as you can see, comparing these two machines isn’t easy as tower fans vs pedestal fans.

Cooling Power

As shown above, fans lack true cooling power, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be more valuable than liquid coolers.

Also called desert coolers, they work most efficiently in arid, dry climates. But in humid areas, these liquid coolers don’t work very well.

Overall, the air cooler has a greater cooling power than fans, but its effectiveness depends on location. However, there is a fan that affects the room’s temperature: the window fan. To learn more about this, we have an article comparing window fans vs box fans.

Warning

Air coolers work best in dry environments; using them in a humid environment can invite mold infestations.

Energy Consumption

Compared to AC, both fans and air cooling units are highly energy-efficient. However, air coolers use around 300 watts per hour, while fans use around 100 watts. If you want to know more, we have an article explaining what uses more energy, AC or fans.

Price

The cheapest and smallest evaporative cooler will begin at around $40. However, more reliable versions start closer to $150-$200. It’s also important to remember that you have to provide constant water refills or a dedicated water line, which may add its own cost.

Fans are relatively inexpensive, in some cases under $10. And fans of a higher quality begin at around $75-$100.

STAT: In 2018, only 8% of the people living in the world’s hottest places had access to air conditioning, according to the International Energy Agency. (source)

Air Cooler vs Fan FAQs

Are portable air conditioners as effective as regular air conditioners?

Portable units are slightly less effective than window units, although it depends on how the unit is ventilated.

What is passive cooling?

Passive cooling is a design technique to structure a building to optimize air circulation.

What should I do if my air cooler gives off a foul odor?

First, turn the machine off. Then, clean out the water basin and the filter.
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