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Which is Better – Air Cooler or Air Conditioner?

Fresh Air

As global temperatures continue to rise, and with the UK seeing some of the hottest temperatures since records began, more and more people are looking into how to properly keep their homes and places of work cool during those hotter days.

There are two main options when it comes to powered cooling – air coolers and air conditioners. These appliances work to cool the air inside a room in different ways, and so have slightly different applications.

So here is our guide to these cooling systems, a look at how they work and hopefully an answer to the question – which is better, an air cooler or air conditioner?


PAE 50

How does an air cooler work?

Air coolers are also known as evaporative coolers or swamp coolers. As the name suggests, an air cooler cools air by taking in the warmer air, evaporating water over the air, and blowing the resultant cool air out of the other side.

As the water vapour passes over the hot air, the water extracts the heat, leaving behind much cooler air which can be distributed around the room. Because air coolers work on this principle, they do not need to be fixed in one place, and so can be small, portable and more affordable to set up.


PAC 3900

How does an air conditioner work?

Air conditioners work in a much different way to air coolers, and rely on the use of refrigerants, and a whole load of electricity.

An air conditioner takes warm air from inside a room and then cools it with the use of cooling coils which are cooled by refrigerant. This process also removes a lot the moisture from the air, which is responsible for that noticeably dry air-conditioned feeling.

Once the air has been cooled, the heat is dissipated out into the outside world, extracted from the now colder air inside. Because of the way air conditioners work, more permanent installations have to be made in order to allow for the connection of the inside and outside components of an air conditioning unit.


Which is better – Air cooler or air conditioner?

Both air coolers and air conditioners have a lot of strengths, but to make the most out of these units, you should be aware that there are certain circumstances in which one will be better suited than the other.

Here is a look at some of the features of air coolers and air conditioners, and how they measure up to each other.


The first thing that you will likely notice if you are looking to buy either an air conditioner or an air cooler is the vast difference in price. Small air coolers start under £100, but will likely be limited in their capability. Air conditioner units, as well as the associated installation that could require changes to your home, will cost much more – but will be a much more long-term, more effective solution.


As we have already mentioned, air conditioners require a fairly intensive installation process, which will likely require changes to be made to your home – either by creating holes in the wall to connect the inside and outside components or by retrofitting the unit into a window.

Because these changes need to be done properly and carefully by professionals in order to avoid damaging a building or endangering the installer, these changes are likely to come at a considerable cost. However, once the unit is installed, this acts as a more permanent and versatile way of cooling and heating a room, and you may decide the up-front cost is worth it.

Conversely, air coolers require no installation and are portable, meaning they can be moved around to rooms or areas where they are needed the most. By doing this, you can avoid the need to buy multiple units to keep a larger space cool.

Electricity Usage

Especially as energy costs rise, you might be wondering whether an air cooler or air conditioner is cheaper to run. Sadly, it is not quite as simple as looking at the amount of electricity going into the unit, efficiency also has to be taken into account.

An air cooler will use less electricity and therefore should not contribute to a large rise in your energy bills. However, this comes at a cost – the air cooler can only cool a small space, and it struggles more and more as temperatures in a room rise.

This makes them perfect for occasional domestic use, or in other smaller spaces, but if a room needs to be kept temperature controlled for long periods, such as in an office, or if the room or building being cooled is larger – an air conditioner may be what you need.

The increased power and efficiency of an air conditioner will cost more, however it will also achieve more, and successfully cool a room that an air cooler couldn’t.


Usability is an area where air coolers and air conditioners both have their specific advantages and use cases, and which one is right for you will depend largely on circumstances.

An air cooler is small and portable, making it easy to move around to where it is needed the most. This means that the cooling power of the unit is never wasted somewhere where it isn’t needed, and this keeps power consumption low. However, as previously mentioned, they have limited cooling capability, so are mainly ideal for use around the home.

An air conditioner cannot be moved once installed, and therefore is only useful for long-term use. The cost associated with both the unit and the installation means that it will take longer for an air conditioner to show real value for money compared to an air cooler.

One big consideration with air coolers is the climate of where you live. Because of the way the air cooler works, by evaporating water, they are mainly suited to dryer environments. In humid environments, evaporative cooling does little to change the temperature of the moisture in the surrounding air – although many air coolers also have a fan-only mode, making them useful even without the water cooling.

An air conditioner will work in almost any climate across the globe – however energy consumption will differ drastically based on how much it is used, and how hard it has to work to increase or decrease the ambient temperature.

Contact the experts

ECO Industrial Solutions are experts in air purification, filtration and treatment. If you are interested in finding out more about air conditioners, air coolers or other temperature and humidity controllers contact us using the form on our website, by emailing, or by calling 01200 408608