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Evaporative cooling in Canberra – worth it?

madocci 2 October 2008 57

We are investigating cooling options for our house at the moment. I am wondering what experience fellow rioters have with evaporative cooling, and whether it will keep the place cool enough on those really hot summer days and nights.

We are currently tossing up between evaporative cooling and air conditioning. I can’t seem to find an answer on how cool the inside of a place would be in 40 degree heat with evaporative cooling in a climate like Canberra. The price for installation is comparable with a couple of air conditioner units, but the running costs are so much lower than air conditioning.

Any ideas? What would / did you choose and why?

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57 Responses to Evaporative cooling in Canberra – worth it?
shorey shorey 1:45 pm 03 Aug 10

Most evaporative coolers hold between 15 and 25 litres and when you run them they operate as a bleed sytem where the water drips at a set rate or you have a dump sytem .The BREEZAIR unit has a timed dump which is set bat 72 hours,unless the water quality is not good,then the water sensor dumps this water.Canberra overall nhas excellent water quality.
most brands dump when turned off.
The salt content of the water affects the life of celdek pads,inthis area they should be changed every 7 approx years.

YZ250 YZ250 2:14 pm 13 Jan 10

Im in the process of shopping for something to cool the air in my house at the moment and have been investigating the evaporative vs air con thing for a while. The 10 or 20 odd litres these things dump periodically is a tiny fraction of what they use whilst evaporating water to make cool air. This evaporated water is then shot straight outside through all the open windows, and cannot be reclaimed. There is hardly any information online about actual water consumption, but this report showed that during a mild weather period in victoria average water consumption was between 80 and 300 litres per day, depending on the unit. These units only ran on average for 2.5 hours per day, giving average hourly consumption of between 32 and 120 litres per hour.

There is huge variation in hourly consumption between brands, however the report also shows that the ones which use more water are on for less time each day, and I assume this is because the high water consumption ones produce more cold air (just like how a small ducted gas heater would use less fuel but it would need to be on for a longer period to provide the amount of heat that a large ducted gas heater can provide).

I still havent made my mind up on what to get, but that sort of water consumption is worrying. If I owned an evaporative system, it would have been on for at least 20 hours over the past 4 days when the temp has been above 35. Based on the consumption of the units in the study this I would have used between 600 and 2400 litres of water in just 4 days, depending on the consumption of the unit. A unit in the middle of this range would surpass the entire average water consumption of my house (average daily water consumption per person in the ACT is 260 litres per day).

drewbytes drewbytes 7:19 pm 17 Nov 09

sepi, our system is a Bonaire unit 5 or 6 years old.

caf, you are right. I forgot to mention to add the additional evaporation content, so goodness knows how much it is really.

caf caf 4:02 pm 17 Nov 09

drewbytes: That’s still an underestimate, because a considerable quantity of the water it uses is evaporated and disappears out your windows.

sepi sepi 3:59 pm 17 Nov 09

drewbytes – is that an older system? I’m sure we were told ours dumped 20 litres after being turned on and off.

Evaporative is good in Canberra, and is much nicer air than aircon air, and quieter.

Downsides – you have vents in the roof. You have to leave windows open while it runs – not so good at night or if you’re n’t home.

how cool your house gets will depend on the house, and your working hours etc. We had an unbearably hot house and the evaporative cooled it amazingly well, but not as cool as the aircon at work. they recomend turning it on in the morning on really hot days – it is better at keeping the house cool than cooling a hot box. but that is impractical if you are out.

I was impressed with ours and I’d get it again.

drewbytes drewbytes 2:16 pm 17 Nov 09

Evap coolers use a lot more water than 5-10 litres per day!!

The units themselves typically hold around 50-80 litres which is filled every time you turn it on, and it is periodically dumped throughout the day at set intervals (although some can be programmed – ours is set to only dump when it’s turned off).

Most also have a bleed system where water is constantly trickling out an overflow – this can also normally be adjusted and I have mine on a low bleed level.

I have the overflow and purge of our system hooked up to a wheelie bin which holds 220 litres. Having the system on all day + 1 purge on turn off will typically fill the bin.

So typically we would use around 200 litres per day using our evap cooler. If you don’t trap ALL the water coming from your system like I do you can’t possibly know how much water it uses. Unfortunately they do use a lot of water. However mine all gets pumped on to the garden so it’s not totally wasted, plus I have a 4500 litre water tank which I direct water to when the wheelie bin is full so I don’t feel so guilty about it.

Mimiboo Mimiboo 8:51 pm 18 Sep 09

Had a Breezair back in Perth – had a few problems to begin with (temperature control didn’t work and kept turning off after 10 mins). Once it was fixed it was fine, but have to agree that on very humid days don’t bother turning it on. Luckily days like that are very rare in Canberra.

Wish we installed evap air when we built our house here, instead we got a/c. We hardly ever turn it on during summer – what a waste of money! Though, we’ve got a white colourbond roof which I think helps cool down the house during the warmer months.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 4:44 pm 17 Mar 09


Whatsup Whatsup 4:06 pm 17 Mar 09

Nothappy: I would contact Master Gasfitters and raise your concerns. Would be very interested to hear their response.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was very happy with the work they did at my house.

peterh peterh 4:06 pm 17 Mar 09

Kramer said :

Nothappy – We might have to take your comments with a grain of salt…. Looking at your email address and the fact that you only just joined – I suspect you could be involved with another service provider in this space? So unless we actually go out and check your installation, or you want to send in photos of the dodgy work?

BTW – did you contact them about your grievances??

service provider flaming. different, but only a matter of time…
great to see you are on the ball, kramer.

Kramer Kramer 3:39 pm 17 Mar 09

Nothappy – We might have to take your comments with a grain of salt…. Looking at your email address and the fact that you only just joined – I suspect you could be involved with another service provider in this space? So unless we actually go out and check your installation, or you want to send in photos of the dodgy work?

BTW – did you contact them about your grievances??

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 11:56 pm 16 Mar 09

Brilliant. And with one bit of crappy onsite work, they get themselves an equally crappy google hit for anyone searching around before using them. In this day and age poor service is the death-knell of a business, because now you can tell lots of people about it really easily.

nothappy nothappy 10:59 pm 16 Mar 09

I have just had a Breezaire installed by Master Gas Fitters. The unit seemed to cool very well on the couple of days that we used it.

I was not very happy with their service as there were a large number of problems such as:
– rubbish left on the roof and in the ceiling
– insulation removed from around vents and under ducting
– a few tiles left open and water in the ceiling and house
– ducting over the man hole
– torn outer layer on ducting
– numerous tile chipped on roof

Whatsup Whatsup 4:32 pm 02 Feb 09

We have Brivis evap cooling and love it. The hottest our house gets is 24 deg. On a cooler Canberra evening you can just put the fan on and push the breeze through your home with out using water. We don’t find it gets too humid in the house when its in cooling mode.

We got ours from Master Gasfitters in Fyshwick, they were cheaper and very helpful.

In response to Barrys comments above, we have lived in climates that are often in the mid 40s and the evap was fantastic. Melbourne is often a humid heat so that is different to here.

p1 p1 4:32 pm 02 Feb 09

Do you work for a air-con company Barry? Or just a climate change sceptic?

Ours uses about 5-10 litres of water a day and I send that water onto the lawn so its not a waste.

Any water that the machine actually uses would be evaporated and so you can’t redirect it any ware. Do you mean it pumps 5-10 litres out it’s overflow/purge/whatever pipe? Cause that sounds like a lot to me… On the other hand, if you have a vegie garden…

Die Lefty Scum Die Lefty Scum 4:25 pm 02 Feb 09

Is there any reason why substituting the water in an evaporative cooler with, say, strawberry schnapps could not get you tanked while sleeping?

Roadrage77 Roadrage77 4:14 pm 02 Feb 09

Welcome Mark “Barry” Taylor.

chewy14 chewy14 4:02 pm 02 Feb 09

methinks barry is an air-conditioning salesman.

For the canberra climate evaporative coolers are much better.

unless you need to be in a house that is 17C all the time, the evaporative cooler is far cheaper and provides enough cooling for an average Canberra house.

johnboy johnboy 3:58 pm 02 Feb 09

On the other hand with Canberra’s low humidity one imagines it generally works pretty well.

barry barry 3:49 pm 02 Feb 09

evaporative cooling – don’t believe the hype;

folks, not sure if you experience the same temps as SA or VIC – but with the recent heatwave that has just gone through (several days above 43 degrees celcius) – evaporative cooling was a total waste of money for a couple of colleagues i work with. they would get home, turn on the evap and all it did was bring down the inside temp to 30 degrees – what a waste of money! one of them said that at one stage his brand new unit was blowing in hot air. suffice to say that his wife has demanded they get a real aircon before next summer so that both her and their new child can have some comfort.

they may be cheaper to run than real air-con (don’t fall for the ‘evaporative air-conditioning’ marketing rubbish) – but if you want ‘real’ relief go a real airconditioner (you can always bump up the temp to 24 degrees if you want to save some money – and also only cool the main room of the house).

this document explains some of the pitfalls of evaporative cooling;

it is imporant to note these points;

– During periods of high humidity and high temperature, the effectiveness of evaporative coolers is limited (ie, no ‘real’ relief),

– An evaporative cooler reduces control over temperature and comfort (no ‘real’ relief part 2).

– The air from an evaporative cooler is not “cleaned” as well as with an air conditioner (forget the marketing hype about ‘stale’ air being recirculated).

– An evaporative cooler needs to have open windows or vents to outside (what if you want to go our for a few hours – do you leave the house open?).

– An evaporative cooler adds moisture to the air and damp air can cause doors and wood furniture to swell (cold or flu anyone?).

– An evaporative cooler requires more maintenance than an air conditioner.

the way i see it – if evaporative cooling was any good, most places of work would have them installed – they don’t and for good reason.

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