Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning - Which one should you choose?

If you’re evaluating your cooling options and cannot decide whether to go with evaporative cooling or air conditioning, we’ve made it easier for you by sharing all-you-need-to-know facts about these two popular cooling solutions.

Evaporative Cooling-Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning and Evaporative Cooling are popular in Melbourne because both systems are great at providing efficient cooling. However, given that both cooling solutions have their own pros and cons, it boils down to which benefits work for you and which disadvantages affect you – financially, environmentally, and comfort-wise.

One query we get quite often is, “evaporative cooling vs. air conditioning: which one should I get?” As both types of cooling systems are effective under the right circumstances, it is crucial to understand that both offer some unique benefits, and neither is one-size-fits-all. So, let’s take a look at both cooling solutions to help you make a better home climate control decision.

What is Evaporative Cooling: How Does An Evaporative Cooler Work?

An evaporative cooling system operates on the principle of water evaporation to cool the air down to a comfortable temperature. In other words, it cools down the air the same way your wet body feels the chills after coming out of a swimming pool on a hot day – the water evaporates the body and lowers body temperature.

In an evaporative cooling system, hot outside air is forced through the system’s heart – water-soaked cooling pads – to cool down the air before it is blown into the building. A water distribution system ensures the cooling pads are always wet to maximise cooling capability. This system can potentially lower the air temperature by up to 7-10 °C but contains high humidity.

Please read this informative piece on what is evaporative cooling to know more about how modern evaporative cooling systems work.

What is Air Conditioning: How Does An Air Conditioner Work?

Air conditioning (often referred to as AC) provides a much-needed thermal comfortable interior environment by removing heat and humidity of the air. Air conditioning maintains the room temperature at the optimum level and removes moisture and airborne particles from the room.

An air conditioning unit has three vital parts: compressor, condenser, and evaporator. It has two connected coils (the inside coil is called the evaporator and the outside coil is a condenser) with continuously flowing refrigerant in them. The system draws in warm air and blows it over the cold evaporator coil that absorbs heat from the air and ejects it out to the surroundings. The cold air is then blown back into the space by a fan.

You can read in detail about what air conditioning is and how does it work by clicking here.

Difference Between Evaporative Cooling and Air Conditioning

Now that we know what each of these systems is and how they operate, the main question still remains: which one should you choose? So, let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of these systems in detail to help you make an educated decision:

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Upfront Costs

Whether it is an evap unit or split system air conditioner, the price of a new system depends on the system’s capacity, size, the difficulty of installation, and other factors.

For example, a fully supplied and installed 2.5kW split air conditioner may cost around $1600 – $2300 in Melbourne. To get an actual upfront cost, it would be best to contact us.

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Running Costs

The operational costs of an evaporative cooling system can be 10-time less compared to an air conditioning unit. For example, a standard size 10-15kW capacity evaporative cooling system may cost around 20¢ / hour to run.  With an evap cooling unit, you may potentially save up to 80% on annual running costs. Please read this informative piece on how much it costs to run an evaporative cooler?

Suppose you choose a 2.5kW capacity split system air conditioner. It may cost around 20¢ – 25¢ to run per hour. Please read this informative piece to calculate an estimate of how much it cost to run your air conditioner in Melbourne.

Given that an evap cooler is one of the most economical cooling solutions, you could choose it to reduce your power bills. However, it is important to understand that air conditioning can also have relatively low operational costs with ongoing service.

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Air Quality

When it comes to fresh, clean air, there is no denying that the evaporative cooling system is the clear winner. It is because an evap cooling system brings in hot outside air and removes dust and allergens before blowing cool air into your home. That is why it is often recommended to people suffering from airborne allergens.

On the other hand, air conditioning takes the air from within the house and filters it before recirculating it. Thus, although an air conditioning unit can effectively remove airborne allergens and dust, it can make the indoor air feel staler.

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Functionality in Different Weather Conditions  

The Evaporative cooling unit lowers the surrounding temperature by adding moisture to the air. That is why they work best in hot and dry areas, such as Melbourne. However, it will not work best in areas with high humidity levels.

On the other hand, a traditional air conditioner can effectively remove the moisture from the air and decrease the humidity levels. Therefore, it can effectively cool in all weather conditions.

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Temperature Control

Although you can control the temperature of an evap cooler with different fan speeds, the ambient temperature still depends on the climate. For example, if the humidity level is low, the ambient temperature will be higher and vice versa.

With air conditioning, you can selectively control the temperature. You can even go for 18Co to cool the room more quickly and adjust the temperature according to your cooling needs. Hence, temperature control is not dependent on the climate.

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Environmental Concerns

If you want to minimise your carbon footprint, then an evaporative cooling system should be the one that meets your cooling and eco-friendly requirements. In fact, an evap cooling unit could reduce C02 emissions by up to 80%. 

Although advanced air conditioners are more environmentally friendly than their predecessors were, they are still a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It is also because of the fact that Australia produces most of its electricity through coal.

Evaporative Cooling vs. Air Conditioning: Which is Better?

It is clear by now that both cooling systems have their pros and cons, and choosing the right one depends on what you need. If you are concerned with running costs or environmental impact, it would be best to go with an evap cooling unit. However, an air conditioner with reverse cycle air functions can warm your place in the winter as well.

Evap cooling units require less maintenance, whereas air conditioning units are more effective. At the end of the day, you have to decide which features are more important to you.

If you need expert advice, please contact us so that our experienced AC specialist can guide you into making a better decision.

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