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I was given a design challenge by the residents of foot rot flats*, build an air conditioner that requires no mains power and no piped water. After a bit of thinking I decide to have a go at a solar powered evaporative cooler and it worked so well I thought I would make another one, and make it a bit different to make it even easier to build. The first cooler was not photographed during the build so the second cooler is better documented for instructables.

*Foot rot flats small community with no power, water, toilet or pretty much anything else you would expect in a western country. There are a number of permanent residents living in illegal shacks, caravans, buses, shipping containers or camper-vans and a number of others who stay for a few weeks or months of the year but usually leave before the hot weather as it can get to 45 degrees C (113 F) for days at a time and is not unlike a small version of slab city in the US.

Step 1: Is a Evaporative Cooler Right for Your Location?

Before you start you need to understand that an evaporative (or swampy) cooler will only work if you live in an area with low humidity. If your not sure if your area is suitable, a good indication is have a look at houses in the area, do they have swampy coolers on the roof, or are they all refrigerated coolers?

Swampy coolers have some advantages over a refrigerated coolers, the most attractive though is there low energy consumption.

The good stuff

  • You can leave windows and doors open so air is fresh and healthy
  • Won't dry your skin, nose and eyes
  • Energy efficiency means better for the environment
  • Get a good night's sleep as the are whisper-quiet
  • Will still work well in a poorly insulated drafty building.
  • The technology for evaporative coolers is very simple, and there are fewer working parts, which means maintenance and repair costs are low.

  • The wet pads filter out much of the dust, and pollen in the air before it cooled and blown into the building

The not so good stuff

  • Swampy coolers use a lot of water around 1000 liters a week.
  • Cant be used in areas of high humidity, evaporative cooling works best in dry climates. Too much moisture in the outside air makes the system work inefficiently and moisture can build up, causing condensation and make the air muggy and uncomfortable.
  • Pads can harbor mold if not serviced, which is very unhealthy if mold spaws are blown inside.
<p>liquidhandwash, good job on reusing old swamp coolers and making repair patches out of scraps. I grew up on swamp coolers in Texas back in the 60-70s and they cooled the house very well. we use to fill our swamp cooler with a garden hose or when we collected rain water we dumped it into the tank by hand. Collecting rain water on a roof tank also works, which is what I saw in Iraq and in Central and South America. Collecting evaporated water like you would in survival techniques would not yield enough water for your climate. In Central and South America it could work but again it would only yield a small amount of water. Wish you had pictures connecting the power up to the solar panels and how many solar panels it takes to power the swamp cooler. </p>
<p>Thanks for your comments, the residents can pump water from a creek that is near by, but the water is of poor quality. We get a bit of rain in winter, which they store in tanks. Both of the swampys were connected to a battery bank that are charged either with solar panels or a generator and have other items running off the battery. I would expect that you would want a lest 200 watts of panels, to both charge the battery and run the cooler. </p><p>The wiring diagram look like this below, just replace the fridge with swampy </p>
Great diagram, thanks.
<p>Not quite sure about this particular model, but all the one's I've ever seen work like this-</p><p><a href="https://basc.pnnl.gov/sites/default/files/HVAC122_Evapcooler2_DS_5-7-14.jpg" rel="nofollow">https://basc.pnnl.gov/sites/default/files/HVAC122_...</a></p><p>The only loss of water should be through evaporation in the pads.</p>
<p>Thats a great graphic, Ill steal it an put it on the ible :-)</p>
Excellent documentation! You mention one of the downsides of swamp coolers is the water loss. Which makes me wonder... is there some way to recapture any of that water so it could be recycled back to the cooler?
<p>The water evaporates and goes into the air, Its how they work, so it would not be easy to recapture the water.</p>
Does anyone have an idea on how to reclaim any water from the air after it has been cooled via evaporation? I'm imagining a condenser like on an alcohol distiller but I don't think it would work at the temperatures being used very well. If it's at all possible then the process would be much less water-intensive.

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