Best Evaporative Cooler

Updated: Nov 14, 2023 9:02 PM
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When you’re shopping for the best evaporative air conditioners, also known as evaporative coolers, you’ll want to be mindful of your region’s climate. Evaporative coolers are ideal for people who live in drier climates like the American Southwest where humidity levels are relatively low. You’ll want to be mindful of the water tank capacity since this impacts how long the swamp cooler can run before needing to be refilled. Likewise, a higher CFM rating is essential if you’re trying to cool larger spaces. And keep in mind that while most coolers are portable, the weight can change dramatically once you’ve added water to the tank.

After conducting thorough research through countless reviews, we nominated the Hessaire MC18M evaporative air cooler as our Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our criteria and to check out our recommendations for the best air conditioners for your needs.

Top 10 Best Evaporative Air Conditioners

 #1  Hessaire MC18M Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best evaporative air cooler for indoor, outdoor, and covered outdoor use that can cool medium-sized spaces as large as 500 square feet thanks to the 1,3000 CFMs and 4.8-gallon water tank.

Pros
  • 4.8-gallon water tank capacity
  • 500 sq. ft. for indoor/outdoor use
  • 1,300 CFM
Cons
  • Lacks a remote
  • Lacks oscillation functionality

Whether you’re inside or outside, no one wants to be hot and sweaty. The Hessaire MC18M is our Top Pick and the best evaporative air cooler for multiple locations. It’s rated for use inside and outside — both in covered scenarios like a porch or tent or direct exposure to the elements. You can cool up to 500 square feet thanks to the 4.8-gallon water tank.

We like that this pick also offers a powerful 1,300 CFM and comes with two fan speeds. While you get a water level indicator and casters for easy movement, this pick does lack a remote, programmable timer, or oscillation functionality. Still, we like that the maximum noise level is 53.4 dB, which for a portable air conditioner is fairly low. This pick also comes with automatic overheat protection. And when the tank isn’t full, the Hessaire MC18M only weighs 16 pounds, making it a great option for anyone to manage.

 #2  Hessaire MC37M Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best whole-house evaporative cooler that can also work in outdoor spaces to cool up to 950 square feet thanks to a large 10.3-gallon tank and 3,100 CFM rating.

Pros
  • Great for indoor and outdoor use
  • 3100 CFM, 3 fan speeds
  • Large 10.3-gallon tank
Cons
  • 40 pounds when empty

For people with larger spaces, the Hessaire MC37M is the best whole house evaporative cooler that also works outside. It’s a great option for commercial and residential needs thanks to its ability to cool spaces as large as 950 square feet. You’ll get a 3,100 CFM rating and a large 10.3-gallon tank. You’ll like that this evaporative cooler can also support continuous fill, although you’ll need to attach a hose to the unit to operate it in this mode.

We like that this unit also offers three-sided cooling. This means that you’ll get more cooling output in multiple directions. The Hessaire MC37M comes with three fan speeds and an air swing delivery system for oscillation. Note that in manual fill mode, if the tank is full this unit can cool for up to four hours before you need to add more water. And as is common, this unit also comes on castors so you can easily move it between rooms.

 #3  Evapolar evaCHILL Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best portable air conditioner thanks to its lightweight size that includes an antibacterial component, digital indicator, LED light, and an 800-milliliter capacity for personal use.

Pros
  • Includes digital indicator and light
  • 800 ml water tank capacity
  • Antibacterial interior
Cons
  • Low coverage area of 45 sq. ft.

If you want to stay cool no matter where your day takes you, the Evapolar unit is the best portable air conditioner. We like that this evaporative cooler weighs just 1.6 pounds and measures 6.69 inches long, 6.7 inches wide, and 6.87 inches tall. The compact unit is truly intended for personal use as it can only cool about 45 square feet. Still, with an 800-milliliter capacity, this evaporative cooler can run for up to six to eight hours before you’ll need to refill the tank.

You’ll appreciate that this pick is an energy sipper, using only 7.5 watts of electricity to power the unit. There’s also a patented EvaBreeze evaporative technology that relies on nanomaterials in the cooling pads to eliminate inorganic materials and bacteria from entering the airflow. We like that this pick also features a digital display and includes a humidifying function. And since it relies on USB for power access, you can even use your computer or a power bank to power this device.

 #4  Honeywell CL30XE Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR PATIOS

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best rooftop evaporative cooler for spaces up to 491 square feet that can also be powered with ice for increased cooling capacity and can be exposed to direct sunlight.

Pros
  • Can be powered with ice or water
  • Detachable 7.9 gallon water tank
  • Ideal for up to 491 sq. ft.
Cons
  • Lower 525 CFM rating

The Honeywell CL30XE is perfect for outdoor events, which is why we rated it as ideal for patios. We think this is the best rooftop evaporative cooler because it’s ideal for spaces up to 491 square feet and can be used indoors and outside. Thanks to the UV-resistant exterior, it can withstand exposure to direct sunlight. This evaporative cooler has a 525 CFM rating. While that’s not the highest, it’s understandable since it’s not designed to cool massive spaces.

When empty, this Honeywell swamp cooler is 24.9 pounds, making it a great portable solution. You’ll get a detachable 7.9-gallon water tank that supports continuous fill once attached to a hose. This model is also triple-sided for increased cooling functionality in multiple directions. You’ll get three fan speeds but keep in mind that this pick lacks a filter. This pick also comes with a remote control and gives you the ability to program for up to 7.5 hours of cooling. There are also three humidity levels for increased climate comfort.

 #5  DeLonghi EV240 Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST NOISELESS DESIGN

WHY WE LIKE IT: A quiet evaporative cooler that can cover up to 450 square feet with a programmable timer, three fan speeds, and oscillation functionality.

Pros
  • Covers 450 sq. ft.
  • Includes 3 fan speeds
  • Low 53 dB noise output
Cons
  • Lower 206 CFM rating
  • 1.2-gallon tank capacity

If your living room is stuffy or gets warmer because of direct sunlight during the day, you might not want to push your central air into overdrive just to cool one room. The DeLonghi EV240 is a great option for rooms up to 450 square feet. While it has a smaller water tank with just a 1.2-gallon capacity, and a 206 CFM rating, we do like that this pick is full of intuitive features that you’ll appreciate. You’ll get up to six hours of operation before the tank needs to be refilled.

We like that there’s a low 53-decibel sound output even at maximum fan speeds. You can also opt to add ice for even faster-cooling action. You can program an auto-off option to power off the evaporative cooler anywhere from one to 24 hours after you turn it on. There’s also a dust filter and fan oscillation for improved comfort. Note that this model is also rated for covered outdoor use such as on a covered patio. The lightweight 7.46 pounds also means that you can easily move this portable air cooler between rooms.

 #6  Vosarea Portable Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST ON A BUDGET

WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable budget-friendly evaporative cooler that includes a seven-color LED light, turning this into a great bedside night light for personal comfort.

Pros
  • Includes 2 and 4-hour timers
  • 400 ml water tank capacity
  • Includes 7-color LED light
Cons
  • Limited cooling radius

If you prefer the idea of having a portable evaporative air cooler, then this Vosarea personal cooler is a great choice. The compact unit only weighs 1.27 pounds when the water reservoir is empty. The 400-milliliter water tank can provide a roughly six-foot cooling radius and can work for up to three to five hours depending on your fan speed setting. Even without adding water, this portable unit can serve as a tower fan.

We do like that this model comes with timers, giving you the freedom to set it to two- and four-hour intervals. This model also comes with a handle, which makes carrying it from room to room easier. And you’ll love that the base includes a seven-color LED that can be set to a specific hue or cycle through them. Choose between three fan speeds for the perfect airflow.

 #7  Newair Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR SMALL SPACE

WHY WE LIKE IT: An evaporative air conditioning unit that’s ideal for small spaces up to 200 square feet, with a programmable timer, humidifier, and three fan speeds.

Pros
  • Best for up to 250 sq. ft.
  • Includes humidifier and 3 fan speeds
Cons
  • Low 470 CFM rating

If you only need to cool a small room, then some of the larger options in our guide might be too powerful. But the Newair Air Cooler is a great evaporative air conditioning unit that’s designed to cool spaces up to 250 square feet in size. While this pick has a lower 470 CFM rating, it’s understandable considering that it’s designed for smaller spaces, where a higher CFM rating might be overpowering.

You’ll get three cooling speeds and wind modes, as well as a humidifier mode that adds moisture as the air flows. We also like that this evaporative cooler includes oscillation. The removable water tank has a 1.45-gallon capacity with a water level indicator. And if you prefer, you can even add ice to the ice tank for increased cooling. The unit can also work as a fan by leaving the water and ice tanks empty. You’ll like that you can control this unit with the included remote control and digital control panel on the evaporative cooler. And with an automatic timer, you can program up to seven and a half hours of cooling functionality.

 #8  Honeywell CO48PM Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR CONTINUOUS FILL

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best indoor evaporative cooler that can cool spaces as large as 610 square feet with ease thanks to the three-sided cooling design and 10.6-gallon water tank with continuous fill support so you don’t have to worry about refilling it.

Pros
  • 10.6-gallon tank capacity
  • 3-sided cooling for increased comfort
  • 1,062 CFM
Cons
  • Lacks a filter

If you’re looking for the best indoor evaporative cooler, then look no further than the Honeywell CO48PM. This evaporative cooler can cool spaces as large as 610 square feet with a fairly powerful 1,062 CFM rating. We like that this is another great option that supports continuous fill so you don’t have to worry about refilling the tank every few hours. But if you prefer to manually fill this tank, it has a 10.6-gallon capacity and can run for several hours before needing to be refilled.

We like that this is another indoor/outdoor option that is designed from waterproof and weather-resistant materials that can stand up to heavy rain or direct sunlight. Thanks to the castors, you can wheel this pick anywhere that you need it. The Honeywell evaporative cooler has three fan speeds and oscillation functionality for increased comfort. And if you prefer colder air, you can opt to add ice. However, this cooler lacks a filter.

 #9  Cool-Space Avalanche Evaporative Air Conditioner

Award: BEST FOR COMMERCIAL USE

WHY WE LIKE IT: The best evaporative air cooler for garages or commercial spaces thanks to a 3,600-square foot rating, a powerful maximum of 9,700 CFM, and a massive 46-gallon reservoir.

Pros
  • Covers 3,600 sq. ft.
  • 6400 to 9700 CFM
  • Large 46-gallon reservoir
Cons
  • Heavy at 295 pounds

For industrial or commercial purposes, depending on the space you need to cool, a traditional air cooler that’s designed for residential use may not be powerful enough. So we’re including the Cool-Space Avalanche swamp cooler because we think it’s incredibly powerful and suitable for commercial use. We think this is one of the best evaporative air coolers for garages, factories, warehouses, or other large spaces where smaller solutions wouldn’t make sense.

This model covers an impressive 3,600 square feet with a CFM that ranges from 6,400 to 9,700 depending on your fan speed. While this is one of the noisier options with a maximum noise output of 61 decibels, we think the fact that it comes with a massive 46-gallon water reservoir — and that this means you won’t be refilling it frequently — more than makes up for that. The Cool-Space evaporative cooler is another pick that’s set on casters for easy maneuverability. This model also comes with a remote control for more convenient use. Note though that this unit weighs nearly 300 pounds, making it a chore to move from space to space.

 #10  Breezewell 2-in-1 Evaporative Air Conditioner

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Award: BEST SUPPLEMENTAL SOLUTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: A great dual-purpose unit that combines heat and evaporative cooling that can supplement an underperforming in-home HVAC, with 60-degree fan oscillation and tip-over protection, making it safe for use around children.

Pros
  • Tip-over protection
  • 60-degree fan oscillation
  • Up to 12 hours of continuous cooling
Cons
  • Small 2 gallon water tank

Even if you have an HVAC system in your home, that doesn’t mean that every room in your house is perfectly warmed or cooled. It’s not uncommon to have one room that stays cooler in the winter and hotter in the summer. Enter the Breezewell 2-in-1 space heater and evaporative air cooler. This dual-purpose appliance works as a supplemental climate control solution for people with HVACs that aren’t as efficient as they should be.

You’ll get two heat settings and three cooling settings. We like that this model comes with a 60-degree oscillation, allowing for more space to be cooled or heated. While this is one of the smaller tanks, you do get a two-gallon capacity that supports up to 12 hours of continuous cooling. And if you’re concerned about this device around children, it has tip-over and overheat protection so that the device will automatically shut down if it’s tilted or tipped. This unit also comes with an LED control panel and a remote that works up to 20 feet away from the evaporative cooler. Compare this with the best tower air conditioner that also comes with a remote with LED-lit buttons.

How We Decided

Evaporative air conditioners, as you can tell from the name, use the process of evaporation to cool an area’s temperature and are ideal for people who live in dry climates where a standard air conditioner might not be practical. If you live in a humid environment, the extra moisture from the portable swamp cooler will not be good for your home. To create our guide, we looked at the following key features — water tank size, overall size, the CFM ratings, and additional features.

The water tank capacity can determine how frequently you’ll need to refill the tank. In our guide, the tanks ranged from as little as 400 milliliters for a personal evaporative cooler to as large as 46 gallons for an industrial unit. But keep in mind that some models allow for continuous fill as long as you attach a water hose to the unit. This can be ideal since that means you don’t need to worry about refilling your cooler as long as it’s connected to a water supply.

The size of a portable evaporative cooler is important as this impacts how easily you can move it between rooms. Keep in mind that often, the weight listed for a unit is when it’s empty. Depending on the water tank capacity, the weight could significantly increase once the tank is full. For best results, move the cooler when the tank is empty.

Along with the cooler’s dimensions, you’ll want to think about the CFM rating. For evaporative coolers, this is as important as BTUs are for traditional air conditioners. The higher the CFM rating, the more powerful the airflow. The CFMs should be compatible with the size of the space you want to cool. A large space is going to need a higher CFM rating to move air effectively. And finally, additional features like a choice of fan speeds, a humidifier option, and fan oscillation can help to make an evaporative cooler more functional for your home.

Best Evaporative Air Conditioners Buyer’s Guides

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Water Tank Capacity
    Evaporative air conditioners, also known as air coolers, are slightly different than traditional air conditioners. They require a water tank and rely on evaporating water to create cool air. In this system, a 14.6-gallon water tank provides the evaporative cooler with gallons of water (usually cold water, sometimes with ice cubes) to help make the air cool and refreshed. This process requires regular refilling of the water tank in order to keep it functioning at its best.
    • So, you’ll need to consider the tank capacity and whether that amount is compatible with the square footage of the area that you wish to cool.
    • Some models support continuous fill, which means you can connect a garden hose to the unit to maintain a full tank at all times. Additionally, some models support ice water for even cooler airflow.
  2. Size
    While all evaporative coolers claim to be portable because they have caster wheels, some are going to be bigger than others.
    • If you don’t want to fight to move a cooler around your house or space, then you’ll want to be mindful of the dimensions and weight. In that case, you’ll want to check out a more compact size.
    • Also, remember that the weight can change significantly once the tank is full.
    • Some units may have smaller water tanks, but they may still be very energy-efficient and help you save on energy bills. You can read more about this type of cooler, where we answer, do AC misters work.
  3. CFM Rating
    The CFM, or the cubic feet per minute rating, outlines how efficiently an air conditioner moves air through a room. Higher CFM numbers usually mean that a unit moves air effectively. The larger your space, the more CFMs you’ll want to ensure effective airflow.
  4. Additional Features
    With an evaporative air cooler, you’ll want to look for other intuitive and nice features that make the appliance more useful. This can include fan oscillation, a humidifier, the total number of fan speeds, programmable timers, and even auto-shutoff options. Other features like removable filters and remote controls can also be useful.

Best Evaporative Cooler Questions (FAQ)

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