Air Cooler Or Air Conditioner? What Should You Get?

Are you looking for a new air conditioner? If yes, then you might want to consider buying an air cooler instead. Why? Because they are cheaper, easier to install, and more energy efficient. Of course, the ideal device for you might differ depending on the context.

If you’re deciding whether to buy an air cooler or an air conditioner, it’s important to know the differences between the two devices. 

Air Cooler Or Air Conditioner What Should You Get

So, what are all of the differences? The following article will break down everything you need to know about air coolers and air conditioners, and in the process, compare the two. Read on to find out which system is the right one for you.

What is an Air Conditioner?

An air conditioner is a device that cools down the inside temperature of a room.

They come in two types: air conditioners and heat pumps. An air conditioner uses electricity to run fans and compressors to move cold air from outside into the house. 

On the other hand, a heat pump uses electricity to run fans to circulate warm air through coils.

The difference between these two devices lies in their cooling capacity. While an air conditioner can only cool down a single room, a heat pump can also cool multiple rooms at once.

What is an Air Cooler?

Sometimes referred to as an evaporative cooler or a swamp cooler, an air cooler essentially blows hot air near cool water in order to lower the temperature of the room.

An evaporative cooler requires water in order to perform its purpose and cool down a room- you can usually even add ice cubes to the cooler in order to lower the temperature even more. 

So, what’s the main difference between an air cooler and an air conditioner? It’s all about how the systems actually work to provide cool air. An air cooler will use a motor, while an air conditioner will use a compressor.

The use of a compressor is why air coolers tend to be a lot more energy efficient than the alternative. 

Now let’s look at all of the other differences between an air cooler and an air conditioner. 

Differences Between Air Conditioners and Air Coolers

The average air conditioner uses refrigerants in order to remove both the moisture and the heat from an indoor space. The fan within the air conditioner allows the system to distribute the cooler air, and in turn improve the air quality of the room and the thermal comfort. 

Air conditioners tend to be fixed devices that need professional maintenance at least bi-annually. But how do they actually work?

Essentially, the air is cooled in coils, and this chemical process removes the moisture and the heat from a room and redistributes it outdoors. 

An air conditioner is best suited to an environment that’s completely enclosed, rather than an environment that’s only partially enclosed.

This is so the system can control the exact temperature of the space, even if it’s very hot outside, and the user can adjust the temperature to suit their preferences. 

The main downside of the traditional air conditioner is their cost. Initial installation of an air conditioning system can often set you back thousands, but the monthly costs for running them are also very high.

So, why do air cooling systems tend to be the better choice than air conditioning systems?

They tend to need far fewer materials in order to run; all most air cooling systems need is electricity and water. Because of this, they’re far friendlier to the environment than air conditioning systems. 

There’s also far less maintenance required for air cooling systems, compared to air conditioning systems.

This can save you thousands in expenses throughout the year. Also, although evaporative air coolers are using water in order to naturally lower temperatures, there’s no need to worry about any fog, spray, or mist. 

Because of the nature of the air cooling system, it’s better suited to more open environments, rather than enclosed spaces.

It’s rare that an evaporative cooler would be used in an enclosed area, because this would have the potential to actually increase the moisture in the room. 

That’s the most important thing to be thinking about when you’re deciding whether to set up an air conditioning system or an air cooling system- where is it going to be used?

While an air cooling system is the best choice for more open environments, such as warehouses, an air conditioning system is better suited to an enclosed space, like an office. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Produces More Noise: An Air Cooling System or an Air Conditioning System?

As well as the cost, another major factor you’re probably considering when it comes to choosing between these systems is the noise they’re going to make.

Most air conditioners produce quite a lot of noise if they’re running for a long time, which can be a struggle for light sleepers. 

Evaporative air coolers, on the other hand, tend not to make much noise at all, and if they do, it’s unlikely to be enough noise to distract you, or keep you awake.

The main sound you’re likely to hear from an evaporative cooling system is a low hum, and this quickly becomes background noise.  

Can an Air Cooling System Only Be Used in a Dry Climate?

Contrary to popular belief, air cooling systems can be used regardless of the climate.

Certainly air coolers can achieve very large drops in temperatures when they’re in drier climates, but they’re capable of providing notable relief in any climate.

This might not have been true years ago, but the technology has advanced to the point where evaporative cooling systems can be effective just about anywhere (as long as the environment is an open one). 

Even in the most humid cities in Houston, an air cooling system will work wonders, providing massive relief. 

How to Know that an Evaporative Air Cooler Will Fit?

If you’ve decided that an evaporative air cooling system sounds like the right choice for you, then you might be wondering how to know which size of system you should be going with. 

This process is actually quite a simple one; it’s all about finding out how many cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) a unit will be able to pump. This number should be provided by the manufacturer.

To calculate the cubic feet of air per minute your space is going to need, multiply the square footage of the entire space by the height of the space’s ceiling (in feet). Divide this number by two (which represents the air changes per minute).

This will give you the CFM that your space requires. 

Evaporative air coolers can range from a CFM of 3,000 to 25,000. The recommended air-moving capacity according to most manufacturers is around 20 to 40 air changes each hour. This depends on the climate, though.


There are a number of differences between air coolers and air conditioners. Air conditioners use refrigerant gasses in order to cool the temperature of a space, while air coolers use water and electricity.

Air conditioning systems tend to be far more expensive, both in terms of initial installation and maintenance costs.

They’re also a lot worse for the environment than air cooling systems- and a lot louder, too, which can significantly disrupt light sleepers.

But the main factor you should be considering when deciding on an air cooler or air conditioner is the space. If it’s a completely enclosed space like a traditional office, you’re going to want an air cooling system.

If it’s a more open environment, such as a warehouse, then an air conditioning system will probably be required.