January 2, 2017

Not sure which type of HVAC system you need for your Las Vegas home? Should you go with a swamp cooler or central air? Contact your HVAC experts at The Cooling Company today (702) 567-0707.

Having a functional and effective cooling system is of vital importance in the summer. Particularly, this is true for homeowners who live in warmer climates. In las Vegas, for example, you have a lot of people wondering if a swamp cooler might not be a better option. But many homeowners still find it difficult to select a cooling system that best suits their needs.

In general, homeowners in Las Vegas end up with questions about swamp coolers vs central air conditioning units. Here is an honest comparison that will help you choose between these two options.

What Is a Swamp Cooler?

A swamp cooler simple does evaporative cooling. That means, it relies on the evaporation of water to cool air. You will will need stable water supplies. On the other hand, traditional air conditioning systems use absorption refrigeration and vapor-compression cycles. Swamp coolers, also referred to as evaporative coolers and wet air coolers, take advantage of the large enthalpy of vaporization of water.

Another key difference between swamp coolers and traditional air conditioning systems is that the former is an open system while the latter is a closed system. Since a swamp cooler is an open system, it relies on the flow of air through a house or building to properly direct the cooled air.

Related: Should I Open Windows After a Storm to Avoid Running My AC?

Swamp Cooler vs High-Efficiency Central Air System: The Pros and Cons

If you’re having a hard time choosing between a swamp cooler and a high-efficiency central air system, here is some information about the pros and cons of both options.

Operational Costs

Swamp coolers are not only cheap to build. But they’re also inexpensive to install. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), a central air conditioner can cost thousands of dollars to install while a swamp cooler costs around $700 to install. The monthly operating costs are also lower for a swamp cooler than a central air conditioner.

However, swamp coolers are only effective in the right climate. It must be both hot and dry for a this to function as intended. Here in the desert, we have not shortage of hot air or dry air. And so it makes Las Vegas a decent environment for this. Of course, with the exception of our monsoon season in the summer.

Air Quality

Both swamp coolers and air conditioners need to be maintained to ensure good air quality in a home. Just as the air filter of a standard air conditioner needs to be replaced every few months, homeowners need to clean or change the pads of a swamp cooler regularly.

Moisture Levels

While an air conditioner will remove moisture from the air in your home, a swamp cooler will add moisture. Therefore, if you live in a dry climate, a swamp cooler will help add moisture to the air. These are not ideal for those who dislike humid or muggy air, and a swamp cooler would not be effective in a climate that’s already humid.

Related: The Benefits of Installing a Humidifier and Ventilation Systems with Central Air


If you choose to get a swamp cooler, you will see major savings when it comes to your energy bill. This type of equipment takes four times less energy to run than a comparable standard air conditioner. Not only will a it allow you to save electricity, but it will also help you protect the environment.

However, air conditioners are getting better and more efficient. Homeowners can enjoy the benefits of energy savings with high-efficiency units with none of the drawbacks of a swamp cooler.


Both swamp coolers and air conditioners are often installed in the central location of a home. However, for larger homes, a ducted system may be necessary for both a swamp cooler and an air conditioner.

How To Maintain Swamp Coolers

Swamp coolers are basically just big fans blowing across water-soaked pads. As the water evaporates, it takes heat with it, and cools the air. And this is exactly what happens in your refrigerator, or even in a swamp next time you go for a hike. You can’t see the evaporation because the water is cold. But it’s evaporating nonetheless.

A swamp cooler has three main parts:
1. The fan
2. The cooling pads
3. The pump that moves water through them.

The pump is usually hooked up to a thermostat. The thermostat turns it on when it’s hot and off when it’s not needed. To clean your swamp cooler pads, turn off the power to the unit at the breaker box. Then disconnect the hoses and slide them out of their sleeves.

If they’re caked with algae or mold or whatever, scrub them with a stiff brush under running water. Please note, you may want to wear rubber gloves for this part. If they’re really bad you can run bleach through them. Just soak them overnight in a tub of bleach and water (about 1/10 bleach) and then rinse thoroughly. Once they’re clean, dry them by standing them up on end. This way air can blow through them. You don’t want any mildew to form.

Tips For Buying A Swamp Cooler

A swamp cooler can lower the temperature of a room by up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. F the cooler to work properly, put it somewhere with adequate ventilation. The ventilation should be directed towards the fan of the swamp cooler so that the cooled air will be distributed throughout the room.

The Cooling Capacity

The cooling capacity of a swamp cooler is measured in British thermal units per hour (BTU/hr), and one BTU represents about 1/200th of the heat needed to warm up one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The cooling capacity of your swamp cooler depends primarily on three factors: the area of your pad, the amount of moisture present in the outside air, and the temperature difference between outside and inside. You will also need to consider how many square feet you are trying to service.

Swamp cooler cost

Achieving effective cooling with an evaporative cooler is relatively inexpensive compared with other cooling options such as central air conditioning systems. Plus, they use a lot less electrical energy to work. So your energy bill will be less.

Now that you are considering purchasing a swamp cooler, here are some helpful tips:

1) Purchase fans with variable speed settings so you can adjust the amount of cool air produced by the unit according to your comfort level.
2) Buy fans that have easy-to-adjust louvers so that you can direct airflow toward specific areas in your home.
3) Check for units with timers so that you can program them to turn on and off depending on when you need them.
4) Try using fans together with an air conditioner; this combination can produce even greater cooling effects than either method alone.

Your Home Cooling Choice is Yours

The majority of homeowners in Las Vegas have central air conditioners. But swamp coolers are still present in the Valley since this is one of the climates that they work well in. Ultimately, the choice between a swamp cooler and an air conditioner is up to the preferences of the homeowner.

If you’re having a hard time choosing between the two options, keep in mind that some elect to have an air conditioner to cool certain parts of your home. And then they use a swamp cooler for the rest of the home. Plus, there are some portable evaporative coolers if you so desire.

Cooling season can be very difficult for Las Vegas homeowners. So choosing how to cool your home is a big decision. We personally feel that central air is typically a more versatile and better quality option. And we can address any of your questions about installing a unit in your home.

For more information about the pros and cons of each option, don’t hesitate to contact us here at The Cooling Company by calling (702) 567-0707.

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