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Evaporative cooling in Canberra – worth it?

By 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?

What’s Your opinion?

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57 Responses to
Evaporative cooling in Canberra – worth it?
rosebud 1:00 pm 02 Oct 08

You may not need it if you do some sensible prevention work on your house first. Try keeping the sun off windows in the first place by eg putting up awnings. I’ve got ones with modern materials that is transparent one way, ie allows me to see out to the street, but blocks out the sun and stops anyone looking in (amazing tekernology). Also, try keeping curtains closed during the hottest part of the day and opening the house up at night to let cool air in. Keep green space around your house instead of paving or concrete. Put a whirly gig in the roof to let hot air out. Put in top rating insulation in the ceiling and wall cavities. I have also just replaced a western facing front door with a glass one that uses ‘Comfort Plus Glass’ which is specially designed to repell heat while letting the sun in. We haven’t needed air con or other cooling since.

gertel 1:00 pm 02 Oct 08

Count me in with another vote for evap. I *love* the cool breeze feeling rather than stuffy refrigerated air that ends up leaving you feeling to cold. My dust mite allergy is less noticable and my skin is not as dry.

We bought a Breezair unit about 3 years ago – installed by Scandia Air Con in Fyshwick and they did a great job – their after sales support is also excellent as I called on a Saturday once and the guys called me back from a WEDDING and the glitch was fixed first thing Monday morning. We chose this brand because it is super quiet and we have neighbours with a double story so didn’t want to bother them at night. I’ve found you can only hear the unit if it is really cranked up – which you would only do on a really hot & humid day. We paid a little extra to get the next capacity model in case we ever extended the house and so find that 90% of days we have it sitting on 2 bars – barely cranking and totally silent.

Ours – and I expect all current models – use a computer to monitor water quality – so it only dumps waters when it needs to. I think we go at least 3 or 4 days before the water is dumped and replaced. Very efficient.

Running costs are supposed to be the equivalent of a 60w light globe – so 20c a day sounds about right.

Danman 12:54 pm 02 Oct 08

tylers, ill have to go home and have a look @ paperwork – its been about 3 years and Mrs Danman is more cluey on our expenditure than me.

tylersmayhem 12:51 pm 02 Oct 08

@Danman: Sounds like a great system man! Can you say how much it cost you back then and can people recommend, or not recommend good companies to install them?


sepi 11:33 am 02 Oct 08

We had it in our last house – it was fabulous. The cool breeze is nice and fresh, unlike aircon which is dry and stale.

A downside is you have to leave windows open for it to run – which makes some people nervous at night. Each time you power it up it suck up 20 litres of water, so it is better to leave it on and turn the fan right down, than to be turning it on and off all day. Also you need to manually shut all the ducts during winter, to avoid losing all your heat to the roof space.

Upsides are it does the whole house at once, is cheap, and nicer air.

You can’t usually integrate it with existing heating ducts. And try to get the model where when you turn it off, you can let the remaining water pour down a hose onto a part of the garden rather than into the gutters – some models don’t allow for this.

and make sure you get the model

Danman 10:33 am 02 Oct 08

We have breezaire – Our neighbours up the hill can see and hear it, no dramas there, our downhill neighbours have the same unit – we can see and hear it outside – but its not noisy – just background noise – evaps are notorious for noise though – so if you like your neighbours, do your homework.

Gord0 10:30 am 02 Oct 08

Definately the route I’m going (evap).

Several friends have it and love it.

One warning from them was to check the noise level of the fans they use in evap. One is a drum config and is apparently much quieter than a more conventional bladed fan design. Either way seems like the smart way to go.

any brand recommendations ? I have Brivis gas heating but I doubt it would integrate but not overley concerned.

Deano 10:14 am 02 Oct 08

I’ve measured our evaporative cooler and it costs 20 cents per day to run. The only downside is that it does attract flies who like the cool humid air. They can also be a bit noisy. A full throttle our system roars but as we are usually staying inside due to the heat we don’t notice it – our neighbours might have a different view however.

Whilst they do need regular maintenance to prevent crud building up, they are much simpler and less expensive to repair then refrigerative cooling when something goes wrong.

DarkLadyWolfMother 9:40 am 02 Oct 08

I’ve used portable evaporative coolers and find they make the room too humid and sticky, even on dry days. This may well be due to the dumb room design that means even with windows and doors open, there isn’t enough airflow to help shift anything.

Skidbladnir 9:02 am 02 Oct 08

Evaporative coolers work a treat in dry air climates, having several times had to spend a day sobering up in Wagga at midsummer.
I keep my living areas at home cool in summer with a cieling fan and one of the old evaporative box blower units.

Downside is they’re a bit water thirsty and maintenance hungry.

SCIENCE WARNING: Something about humid air having a higher specific heat capacity than dry air, so is able to acquire more heat energy (or seem more ‘cool’) for a given temperature. (i think)

aronde 8:59 am 02 Oct 08

Having moved from Brisbane to a house here fitted with ducted evaporative cooling I have to say it is great! We can leave the windows and doors open and get a lovely fresh breeze blowing through the house. If we crank it up to full the breeze even comes out on to the deck which is prefect when relaxing with a beer on a hot summer day!

postmanpat 8:58 am 02 Oct 08

I have evaporative cooler and it is fine for Canberra. On really hot days you can put it on high. If there is a really humid day then air conditioning might be a little better, but in my opinion not worth the huge extra running costs. In the last few years there have probably been 1 or 2 days a year like this if any at all, and it is not completely ineffective on those days just slightly warm ie a lot cooler than outside.

And you get to leave the windows open for fresh air too!

Danman 8:58 am 02 Oct 08

We got evap and would fully recommend it.
Canberras snap dry heat is well suited (As said above) to evaporative cooling.
In the 3 or so years that we have had it, only 2 or 3 really humid days have left us stranded.

Evap also had a bonus of cooling our patio area by means of th eopen doors (You have to open doors and windows for evap cooling to work efficiently)

We have a breezaire rooftop model. Self cleaning, self purging maintenece – free.

The only downside of evap cooling is that it curls up teh pages of books if they are left near a draft – but i findthat air con drys me out too much so prefer the evap..

They consume less electricity as well, becausee essentially they are just a fan that sucks air through wet sponges.

Thumper 8:57 am 02 Oct 08

Evaporative is perfectly fine in Canberra due to the dry air.

I’ve got air con and although it’s great, it’s expensive.

Aurelius 8:52 am 02 Oct 08

Insulation and evaporative coolers are much more suited to Canberra’s climate than air con. Air con’s just overkill.

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