Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Swamp Cooler

I've used the term "swamp cooler" regularly this summer (see "Enough Already" post), but never really thought about what one is until one of my kids asked. I was embarrassed to say, "Something they used on M*A*S*H," so I stuck with "I don't know, I'll look it up." I did, and now I know what one is when I say I'd rather add a swamp cooler to the house than an air conditioner. Which I might do if the summers stay as hot as this one was.

According to WonderQuest, "a swamp cooler (more formally called an evaporative cooler) is essentially a large box-like frame containing a big fan and walled in by water-wetted pads, usually made of cedar shavings or cellulose. The fan whooshes the hot outside air through the dripping pads (which are continually soaked by a water pump), cooling the air by about 20 ºF as the air evaporates water molecules from the pads. The fan then blows the water-cooled air through the house and out a deliberate vent." They work well where there is low humidity and "are popular in the southwest because they are relatively inexpensive, use a quarter as much electricity as a refrigerated unit, are easy to maintain by the average do-it-yourselfer, and add a comfortable level of humidity to the dry desert air. "

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