Swamp Cooler VS Air Conditioner

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Updated February 4, 2023

If you are new to the various methods of cooling your home’s temperatures, you may look to compare swamp coolers and air conditioners. Some of the best air conditioners, after all, crib from both designs. So, what are the differences between these two, and which is right for your home? To put it plainly, swamp coolers push air through ice or cold water to cool, whereas an AC pulls in the surrounding air and cools it before releasing it into the area that needs to be cooled. Keep reading below for a more in-depth look at the differences between these cooling methods.


  • Air conditioners use a variety of refrigerants, refrigerant lines, and ducts to send cold air throughout the home.
  • Swamp coolers, otherwise called evaporative cooling units, use cold water, ice, and a fan to cool off a single room.
  • Evaporative coolers are much cheaper, with DIY options available, though air conditioning units are more effective in dry climates and humid climates.

Comparing Air Conditioners Vs Swamp Coolers: Which Is Better?

Before you learn which is best, it is helpful to understand what is an AC unit and what is a swamp cooler. Air conditioners come in many designs and types if you are wondering what is a mini-split AC unit. However, they share some similarities, even if you are comparing a Blaux vs an Arctic Air model. All ACs pull in air from the surrounding environment, cool it, and pump it throughout the home via various methods if you are wondering what is a ventless air conditioner.

Swamp coolers, also known as evaporative coolers, work by pushing air through cold water or ice. It lacks the refrigerants found in traditional AC units, which impacts the efficacy if you are wondering what is a SACC air conditioner. Additionally, swamp coolers never have heating elements, if you are learning what is SEER in an air conditioner. This major design difference leads to a variety of other disparities between the two.

Insider Tip

If choosing an air conditioner, be sure to clean or replace the air filter every two to three months.

Energy Efficiency

Traditional air conditioners are known energy hogs, contributing to large utility bills during the summer months. Swamp coolers, on the other hand, require very little electricity to run. All you need is a fan running constantly. Of course, you have to constantly replace the ice or cold water to maintain a successful operation.

STAT: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, swamp coolers use only a quarter of the energy that a central AC compressor uses. (source)

Ease of Use

While both types are fairly easy to use, air conditioners take it here. Not only do most come with remote controls or access to related smartphone apps, but they also don’t need constant monitoring. Standard air conditioners will save you all those times having to replace the ice or supply of water that you’d have to do with a swamp cooler. With a swamp cooler, you’ll have to keep a steady eye on the coolant level, replacing it as needed. With ACs, you only have to maintain the air filters every two to three months. Overall, air conditioner units are a convenient type of cooling, which some people may find helps make up for their energy consumption when debating swamp coolers vs. air conditioners.


There is no way around it. Swamp coolers are much quieter than traditional AC units. They feature a fan, but that is about it. ACs include multiple fans and cooling motors, all of which add to the overall noise level. A high-quality swamp cooler will cool the air, save you money on your energy bills, and help you get a good night’s sleep. Traditional air conditioning units shouldn’t be operating at mind-bending noise levels, but the noise they generate can still be noticeable.


How do you size an evaporative air cooler?

You can measure the space and apply it to necessary BTUs, but the best option is to simply try out the cooler to see if it adequately cools the room. Evaporative coolers are generally not as effective as central air conditioners, portable air conditioners, or window units.

Do some air conditioning units really dehumidify the air?

Yes, most air conditioners naturally dehumidify the air as part of the cooling process, as the moisture is pulled out during use. This makes them energy efficient and great for hot climates.

How do you improve your air conditioner efficiency?

No matter if you are using window air conditioners or a central unit, stay on top of maintenance tasks, such as cleaning or replacing air filters.

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