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Southwest
Swamp Cooler to AC conversion

I live in the Southwest where swamp coolers are used to cool homes. A swamp cooler uses the basic principle of evaporation along with simple technology and electrical power to create cold airflow. First, one motor pumps water into pads of a fibrous, absorbent substance similar to hay, called cellulose. Then another motor powers a fan that pushes air through the pad, which is always pregnant with fresh water. When the entering air is very hot and very dry, some of the water evaporates into it. Evaporation needs molecular energy, otherwise known as heat, which ends up reducing the temperature of the air and adding humidity. Finally, the cooler air is pushed through a duct into a central location in the building that is being cooled, such as a hallway or main room.

My home is a split-level with swamp cooler duct work running between the upper and lower levels; vents in floors and ceilings, respectively.

I am considering switching over to refrigerated air. A technician from a local plumber stated I would not have to insulate the duct work because it runs inside the home between floors (if in the attic I would have to insulate, re: condensation).

I am concerned that this approach, not insulating the duct work, could pose problems from condensation. I would appreciate any insights/advice offered.

Thank you.

dj1
Re: Swamp Cooler to AC conversion

I would use only insulated ducts for an A/C, if they run inside the home: in the attic, in the walls, in between floors or in a crawl space.

Sten
Re: Swamp Cooler to AC conversion

You don't have to insulate ductwork if it's in a wall or if it is in a conditioned space, the cooling will stop the condensing.

Re: Swamp Cooler to AC conversion

It is the most common cooling unit in many homes in our area ,is an evaporative cooler otherwise known as a "swamp cooler!!

keith3267
Re: Swamp Cooler to AC conversion

A refrigerated system is going to cost a lot more to operate that a swamp water cooler, but the newer high efficiency units are getting closer. Maybe some of the newest ones can match them, you will need to figure this out yourself if you haven't all ready.

In a refrigerated unit, the cooling coil causes most of the moisture in the air to condense on the coil, so the cold air has very little moisture when it leaves the coil. when it enters the duct work, especially uninsulated ducts, it will start to warm up, and that will reduce the relative humidity (RH) of the air, so it will actually absorb any moisture in the ducts.

In your case, uninsulated ducts would be better.

dj1
Re: Swamp Cooler to AC conversion

I just wanted to add this:

If you've been living in the Southwest a long time, you probably know that the relative humidity has been increasing for the past 3 decades.

Around here, evaporative coolers have long disappeared and replaced with refrigirated air units. That's progress for you.

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