Types of evaporative systems

If you prefer an evaporative air conditioner you have a choice between a portable unit, a fixed room unit (both for a single room), and a ducted air conditioning system (a whole house solution).

Portable units:

  • Portable units are relatively cheap, simple to operate and do not require professional installation.
  • They need a standard power outlet, water and a source of dry air to work, so best positioned near an open window or external door with an opening on the opposite side of room.
  • Look for models with water level gauge, variable fan speed and directional louvers.
  • Suitable for: small rooms (up to 25 m2).
  • Purchase cost: $200–$400.

Fixed room units:

  • These units are positioned on external walls/windows.
  • They are permanently wired and plumbed.
  • They are installed towards prevailing summer winds.
  • Suitable for: open areas 30–50 m2.
  • Purchase cost: $1000–$1300 plus installation.

Ducted (central systems):

  • Ducted evaporative air conditioning is a whole house air conditioning system. An evaporative unit is placed on the roof of your home. Hot, dry air enters this unit and is cooled and then distributed through vents around your home. Please note that existing heating ductwork is not suitable.
  • Consider carefully in water restricted areas or when dependent on limited water supply.
  • These systems need good ventilation (open doors and windows) to allow the hot air to escape.
  • Suitable for: cooling whole homes/buildings with sufficient ceiling space.
  • Purchase cost: $2500–$5000 (includes installation).

Your choice between an evaporative or refrigerated air conditioner will depend on your local climate, your personal preference and of course, your budget.

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