Does A Swamp Cooler Work as A Humidifier? All You Need to Know

Last Updated on January 1, 2024

Humidifier and Swamp Cooler

Swamp coolers are a great way to provide cool humid air in your homes. They are superb in hot and dry climates. Humidifiers on the other hand play the role of improving humidity in your home. But can one replace the role of other? Can you use a swamp cooler to play the role of humidifier?

Swamp cooler partially works as a humidifier. However, it also performs cooling by delivering cool fresh air. Cooling with humidification in evaporative coolers is desirable in hot and dry climates. However, they are unsuitable in winters when humidification is required without drop in temperature.

In simple terms, humidifier only performs humidification mainly by generating a cool mist of water. On the other hand, primary role of swamp coolers is cooling by the application of principle of evaporation. However, some amount of cooling is also performed by humidifiers due to evaporation.

Swamp coolers can do an even better job compared to humidifiers. It really depends on the climatic conditions of the region you live in.

However sometimes you just need to have a humidifier. Using a swamp cooler will make you uncomfortable in these conditions and could even be detrimental to you and your house.

Depending on operation and effects, I have tried my best to summarize in this article, applicability of swamp cooler as a replacement of humidifier, and when can you replace a humidifier with a swamp cooler?

What Makes Humidifier Different Than Swamp Cooler?

In terms of application, primary role of a humidifier is humidification. It does so by dispersal of water droplets in the air. However primary role of a swamp cooler is cooling.

Humidification is actually a side effect of swamp cooler operation. It is due to the principle by which it operates i.e. Cooling by Evaporation.

Swamp Cooler Operation (Simplified)

Evaporative cooler or swamp cooler operates by the transfer of heat from air to the water vapors.

It is a simple appliance with only a few basic components required for functioning. I have tabulated them for you, so you can give them a quick glance, just to get an idea of the swamp cooler working.

Blower FanConsists of holes. It rotates to direct flow of air forward
Blower MotorDrives Blower Fan
Water ReservoirStores water
PumpConstantly recycle water by suction from reservoir to water distributor
Cooling PadsHigh surface area pads that are consistently soaked in water
Water DistributorDistributes water to cooler pads in a well spread way

Summarized Working

The pump sucks water from water reservoir, that is delivered to water distributor. Water distributor delivers water to cooling pads, in a way to soak them well in water. Cooling pads have high surface area and retain a lot of water.

Blower fan rotates by the assistance of blower motor. It pulls hot air from outside through these pads dripping with water. Water is evaporated during the flow of air. Water extracts heat energy from hot air to form vapors. So what is delivered forward by blower fan is cool humid air.

Humidifier Operation (Simplified)

Humidifier is an appliance that allows you to normalize humidity levels in your home.

There are several types of humidifiers. However, the core operation of any humidifier is same. They spray water vapors in the environment of your living space to improve humidity.

Their primary role is humidification, but they also cool the environment a little bit due to evaporation.

Selection of the Humidifier Type

Take a look at some of the types of humidifiers that are available. If you happen to buy a humidifier, I would recommend that you first narrow down which kind of humidifier you need.

Type of Humidifier
Basic Operation for humidification
EvaporativeFan blows air through moistened wick in a compact single unit
UltrasonicMist of water is generated by ultrasonic vibration
ImpellerHigh speed rotating disk produces mist
CentralWorks with you home air conditioning and heating system
SteamGenerates steam by heating and that is before leaving the humidifier
What Could Go Wrong

You should be careful when choosing any type of humidifier for you living space. If you make a wrong choice, it would result in either waste of resources i.e. electricity and water, or it may be detrimental to you and your loved ones.

If you have kids in the vicinity of your humidifier, use a safer option like impeller, evaporative or ultrasonic humidifier. Steam humidifier heats water before expulsion in the environment. If hot water spills on skin by mistake, then its temperature is high enough to cause burns or other injuries.

Similarly, if you want to humidify you entire home, then simply going for the most common type i.e. impeller or evaporative, would not make such a difference. In that case you should go with somewhat large-scale option like central humidification system.

When Can Swamp Cooler Replace Humidifier?

Does a swamp cooler perform humidification? Yes. But can it replace your humidifier? Well, that depends.

The reason you cannot simply go with a swamp cooler, instead of a humidifier, is primarily the climatic conditions of the region you live in. Incompatible temperature and humidity conditions with swamp cooler will cause discomfort and inconvenience for you.

You see humidifier is designed for humidification only. However as a byproduct very little cooling occurs. In the same way, swamp cooler is designed for providing cool air. Humidification is only a byproduct of the phenomenon by which a swamp cooler cools.

With swamp cooler you get fairly good amount of both, cooling and humidification. So if you use your swamp cooler wisely you may get rid of your humidifier, entirely. In fact, it may serve you better than a humidifier.

When Swamp Cooler Can Serve You Better?

If you happen to live in a hot and dry region then swamp cooler will be perfect for you. It will perform humidification and cool the area where it is operating. The likely atmosphere for this to work great would be in summer, in states like Nevada, California and Utah.

Swamp Coolers are also perfect for outdoors in hot and dry climate. Instead of using a humidifier to spray mist, use a swamp cooler to provide you with cool misty fresh air, while you relax and enjoy beverage on your patio, deck or camp.

In these scenarios, swamp cooler will actually be more convenient than a humidifier.

The only problem that could occur is that humidification performed by your swamp cooler is not adequate to the requirement. This can only be a rare indoor requirement, when you need humidification just right. Normally humidification performed by your swamp cooler is fairly satisfactory in dry climate.

When Not to Use Swamp Cooler Instead of Humidifier?

Now let’s see situation in which I recommend that you do not use a swamp cooler as a replacement for humidifier.

In winters, when it is cold and dry, it is a good idea to increase humidity to healthy levels in the internal environment of your home.

However, if you use swamp cooler instead of humidifier, it would cool with humidification too. This is definitely not desirable in winters when you need a warm house.

So, if you want to improve humidity levels in the environment of your home in dry winters, when it is cold, the best option is using a humidifier.

Why Low Humidity is Bad for You?

Adequate amount of humidity in the air is a requirement of human body to be healthy. An ideal range of relative humidity in the environment is from 30-50 percent. If amount of water vapors in the air are fairly less, then consistent exposure could cause complications for you body.

  • Very low humidity causes excessive water loss through you skin causing chronic dry skin, raspy throat and itchy nose. Trying to get relief by swallowing would cause more irritation and inflammation.
  • Dry mucus membranes in your nose and throat are not effective for removing pathogens. Nose and lips capillaries are exposed causing microorganisms to have easier access to bloodstream.
  • Very low as well as very high humidity can cause you to have poor sleep. Low humidity will cause nose and throat irritation making you uncomfortable in sleep and feel parched when you wake up.

Just like low humidity, high humidity has to be kept in check too.

High humidity can mess up with body’s natural evaporation system (the reason you feel hotter in high humidity). It can worsen dermatitis, eczema, and asthma and result in allergy like symptoms such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, and post-nasal drip.

High humidity will have you alter between high and low temperatures during sleep, preventing you to enter REM sleep. REM sleep is essential in stimulating regions of your brain required in learning and making or retaining memories.

My Top Picks For You…

In case you decide to buy a humidifier or swamp cooler, I have narrowed the process for you. I have researched and recommend the following, mainly based upon functioning and durability but also pricing. Here, have a look:

Recommended Humidifier: TaoTronics Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier

Recommended Swamp Cooler: BREEZEWELL 3-in-1 Evaporative Air Cooler