Swamp Cooler or Air Conditioner – Which is Better & Why?

An appliance that can provide you relief from scorching heat is certainly a necessity in summers. Air conditioners and swamp coolers are two bestselling cooling solutions for homes. Which one will be better for your home? Let’s find out.

When deciding about the best cooling appliance for your home, think about the following 5 important factors:

Comfort Level

When it comes to the comfort, nothing beats an air conditioner. It works equally well in dry summers and in humid weather conditions. Whereas swamp coolers are best suited for hot and dry weather conditions.

How well an evaporative–or swamp–cooler works depends directly on the temperatures and humidity levels that prevail during a given day, while an air conditioner provides far more predictable and year-round comfort, says Charles Peterson, University of Idaho biological and agricultural engineer.

At 32 degrees Celsius (90 °F) and 15 percent humidity, a swamp cooler can bring air temperatures down to the low 16 °C (61 °F). At 32 degrees and 50 percent humidity, it will cool inside air to the mid- to high-20°C. And at 40 degrees Celsius (105 °F) and 15 percent humidity, you can expect 20°C indoors. Regardless of temperature, the air that a swamp cooler exhausts inside will carry nearly 100 percent relative humidity, which can give your home an objectionably damp feeling.

Swamp coolers with humidity control feature may work fine in humid conditions but the comfort level offered is nowhere close to what air conditioners offer.

If lifestyle and comfort is all that matters to you, then buy an Air Conditioner and forget reading rest of this article.

Cost Effectiveness

When it comes to the affordability or cost effectiveness, nothing beats a swamp cooler. It not only costs less to purchase a swamp cooler, but the maintenance cost is also much less.

On the other hand, if you want to purchase an air conditioner then you must spend lots of money upfront to purchase it.  But that’s not all. You would also need professional help to install the AC and you may even need to purchase accessories like wall mount bracket, stabilizer, extra copper pipe, and more.  Plus, there is an annual service cost that may not be affordable for everyone.

Overall, the cost of operation of an air conditioner is at least 8 times that of an evaporative room cooler.

Environment Friendly

Air conditioners use gases like chlorofluorocarbons and hydro chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerant. These gases eventually release into the atmosphere. These gases are harmful for the ozone layer and thus not environmentally friendly.

Swamp coolers on the other hand use water as a refrigerant. Which is safe and makes swamp coolers eco-friendly option for the users.

Home Inverter/UPS compatible

Most of the modern swamp coolers are compatible with home power inverters. And because most of the households already have them at home, they don’t need to make a separate purchase. Now if there is a power cut while you are asleep, the room cooler will continue to operate on the inverter, and you won’t feel any difference.

Air conditioners on the other hand need diesel operated power generators or high-capacity power inverters; both of which are quite costly equipment. Unless you have a budget to purchase these costly power backup appliances, your AC could be useless during the duration of power cuts. In fact, it can make things much worse due to the absence of ventilation in room.

Imagine there is a power cut while you were asleep. The AC stops working, and humidity and heat builds up quickly because of poor ventilation in room. This will wake you up and you would turn on the fan operated on power inverter and open doors and windows for ventilation. When power is back, you again would have to get up and close windows and doors and turn off the fan.

As you can see, in absence of power backup arrangements in areas where you see frequent power cuts, the air conditioner is more of a headache than convenience.

Electricity Bills

When using an AC, you pay a significant amount in your electricity bill every month. This is because air conditioners use a lot of electricity. There are some energy efficient models available in the market, but even they can’t beat swamp coolers in low consumption of electricity.

a swamp cooler consumes only 20% of electricity that is consumed by an air conditioner. Clearly, swamp coolers are energy efficient and can help you save lots of money in the long term.


Fitting an air conditioner requires a lot of efforts and once they are fixed somewhere, they cannot be moved without professional help. swamp coolers on the other hand, are inexpensive and affordable for masses.  As room coolers are portable, moving them around is an easy task. Some of the swamp coolers come with castor wheels which are quite convenient for moving swamp coolers anywhere in your home.


Now that you’re fully aware of all the pros and cons of swamp cooler and AC, you can take an informed decision about which one suits your requirements. Here is a summary of how AC and Coolers perform for important features:


Feature swamp cooler Air Conditioner
Price Economical Expensive
Comfort Good Excellent
Installation Requirement No Yes
Daily Maintenance Yes, you need to fill water daily. No
Yearly Maintenance Cost Cheap Costly
Fresh Air Yes No
High Humidity Areas Does not work well Works well
Works on Inverter Some swamp coolers work on Inverter Usually, No
Eco Friendly Yes No

If you ask us for a recommendation, we’d say prefer a swamp cooler if you’ve got a tight budget or if you want to reduce your electricity bills.

However, if you stay in an area that sees hot and humid weather, and you have the budget to afford an AC, then prefer purchasing an air conditioner.

In short, consider your lifestyle, climatic conditions, and your budget.

Now that you’re fully aware of all the pros and cons, go get an air conditioner or a swamp cooler for yourself that will beat the heat for you and your family!

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