facebook pixel

How Much Does It Cost to Install Evaporative Cooling?

Average Cost
(ground-mounted whole-home swamp cooler, professionally installed)

Get free estimates from air-conditioning and heating contractors near you
Here's what happens next

How Much Does It Cost to Install Evaporative Cooling?

Average Cost
(ground-mounted whole-home swamp cooler, professionally installed)

Get free estimates from air-conditioning and heating contractors near you
Here's what happens next
Step 1
Answer a few questions
Tell us what you are looking for.
Step 2
Find out how much your project will cost
The contractors will offer competitive free quotes for your job.
Step 3
Compare the quotes and hire
Compare the estimates and hire the contractor who best fits your needs.

Swamp coolers, or evaporative coolers, make use of evaporation’s natural process to cool down the air in homes, offices, and even outdoor areas. They offer a more affordable alternative to air conditioners in many cases, making use of nothing but water, a fan, and a motor to cool down the air and humidify it. The national average cost range is $1,500 to $3,500 to install a swamp cooler. Most homeowners pay $2,500 for a ground-mounted whole-home evaporative cooler. However, prices vary widely, from as low as $150 for a basic portable swamp cooler with DIY installation up to $7,000 or more for large roof-mounted units, professionally installed.

Evaporative Cooling Prices

Swamp Cooler Installation Cost
National average cost$2,500
Average range$1,500-$3,500​
Minimum cost$150
Maximum cost$7,000
Updated: What's new?

Evaporative Cooling Cost by Project Range

Small portable swamp cooler, DIY
Average Cost
Ground-mounted whole-home swamp cooler, professionally installed
Large roof-mounted swamp cooler, professionally installed

How Does a Swamp Cooler Work?

Swamp coolers take advantage of the natural process of evaporation. This process for home and room cooling goes back to the days of Ancient Egypt when people hung wet cloths over the doors of their homes. When hot, dry air passed over those cloths, it cooled the area down. The same basic idea is used in swamp coolers, which usually feature a fan that draws hot air from outside. That air then passes over a set of damp pads inside the cooler, where the evaporation occurs as the water absorbs the heat. The cooler, moister air is then blown out of the unit’s front into the room or space you are attempting to cool down. Swamp coolers can be used indoors, if they have access to a window or opening to suck in hot, dry air from outdoors, and semi-outdoor locations like garages with the doors open.

Compare prices from swamp cooler professionals near you

Evaporative Cooling Prices by Type

There are two main types of swamp cooler: indirect and direct. They work in slightly different ways and are installed differently. Indirect air coolers always need to be mounted, but direct air coolers may be mounted or used portably. The table below shows average price ranges for each type:

Evaporative Cooling Costs

Type of Evaporative CoolerAverage Cost
Direct$200 - $5,000
Indirect$1,500 - $6,000

Direct Swamp Coolers

A direct evaporative cooler is a more traditional variety, where a blower sucks in air, passing it over water-soaked pads and then blowing cooler and more humid air out into the space or room in front of it. Direct swamp coolers offer an affordable alternative to air conditioning units because they are cheaper and simple to operate. But they can only really be used in dry, low-humidity regions. They cost anywhere from $200 to $5,000, on average, but prices are higher for larger models.

Indirect Swamp Cooler

In recent years, we have started to see more indirect swamp coolers on the market. These models are a little more advanced than direct units, featuring heat exchangers inside, which work to cool down the air without adding humidity. Indirect units can be used in a wider range of locations and are not limited to dry, low-humidity places. They are a little more expensive on average, costing between $1,500 and $6,000.

Swamp Cooler Cost by Location

There are four main options when it comes to installing evaporative coolers. You can either place them in windows, on the roof, on the ground, or use freestanding portable units that sit in the middle of the room. The table below shows average prices for each type:

Swamp Cooler Costs

Swamp Cooler Costs

Type of CoolerAverage Cost
Portable$150 - $1,500
Window$750 - $2,000
Ground-Mounted$1,500 - $5,500
Roof-Mounted$2,000 - $7,000

Portable Swamp Cooler

One of the cheapest options when buying a swamp cooler is a portable, freestanding unit. These swamp coolers offer the advantage of being compact, lightweight, and easy to move around from room to room. They are less powerful than whole-home ground or roof-mounted units and are only really useful for cooling down individual rooms or semi-outdoor spaces. But they are affordable, costing between $150 and $1,500 on average.

Window Swamp Cooler

A window swamp cooler is designed to be installed in windows. They come in a range of different sizes and are usually easier and cheaper to buy and set-up than ground or roof-mounted units. They also vary wildly in terms of strength, with some cooling small spaces of 200-300 square feet and others offering much more power for big spaces of 1,500 square feet or more. These swamp coolers cost anywhere from $750 to $2,000.

Ground-Mounted Evaporative Cooler

Ground-mounted evaporative coolers are set up outside the home low to the ground, making them more accessible for maintenance and repairs. They are also simpler to install than roof-mounted units. These coolers are usually among the most powerful, able to cool down the entire home by connecting to new or existing ductwork. Costs range from $1,500 to $5,500.

Roof-Mounted Swamp Cooler

Roof-mounted swamp coolers are more commonly seen in commercial or industrial buildings than residential homes. Although it is possible to install them in a regular house, there can be complications and added costs. Installation is much tricker, due to the difficulty of accessing the roof, and maintenance is also harder. Plus, roof-mounted units may increase the risk of roof leaks and need to be connected to ductwork, adding to the installation costs. On the plus side, they are very powerful and can rapidly cool down entire buildings. Prices for roof-mounted coolers range from $2,000 to $7,000.

Hire a swamp cooler expert in your area

Swamp Cooler Prices by Brand

Various brands sell swamp coolers, and prices vary from one to the next. Some brands specialize in certain types or sizes of coolers, while others offer a more varied range. The table below shows some common swamp cooler brands and average prices:

Swamp Cooler Prices

Swamp Cooler Prices

Swamp Cooler BrandAverage Costs
Hessaire$150 - $1,000
Aerocool$250 - $2,500
MasterCool$500 - $2,500
Bonaire$500 - $3,000
Breezair$1,000 - $3,000

Hessaire Swamp Cooler Cost

Hessaire is one of the more affordable brands when it comes to swamp coolers. This brand offers a range of portable models, such as the MC18M, and larger units like the MC61V, designed for homes, patios, decks, garages, and workspaces. Average prices for Hessaire coolers range from $150 to $1,000.

Aerocool Evaporative Cooler Prices

Aerocool is another leading brand in the evaporative cooler space, producing a wide selection of high-end, high-powered models and more affordable portable coolers. Aerocool prices range from $250 to $2,500.

MasterCool Swamp Cooler Cost

MasterCool has been one of America’s leading cooler brands for many years, using high-quality materials and smart designs to provide a selection of products from $500 to $2,500.

Bonaire Evaporative Cooling Prices

Bonaire is an Australian company, testing its products in some of the hottest and driest places on the planet before sending them to the U.S. From small portable models to window coolers and roof coolers, this company offers a wide range of options, with average prices from $500 to $3,000.

Breezair Evaporative Cooling Prices

With models like the EXT 265 and Icon EXQ 170, Breezair stands out in the evaporative cooler industry. It produces a great range of compact yet powerful models, with costs ranging from $1,000 to $3,000.

Swamp Cooler Installation Cost

The installation and labor costs for swamp coolers vary widely, depending on the type of model. Simple portable units can be DIY, without help from a professional. More complicated and larger models like roof and ground-mounted units may need to be installed professionally. This involves mounting and securing the units in place and connecting any necessary ducting or even installing new ducting. The process varies in length, from an hour for a window unit to three or four hours for ground and roof-mounted coolers. Installation costs for swamp coolers range from $150 to $2,000. A whole-home, ground-mounted swamp cooler can be installed for around $500.​

Evaporative Cooler Sizing

When choosing a cooler, it is important to find the right size to suit your space. Many people automatically assume that bigger is better, but this is not always true. Larger units are usually capable of cooling bigger spaces, but you do not always need your home’s biggest possible option.

Sometimes, choosing a model that is too big results in wasted energy and added maintenance costs. Similarly, units that are too small are only effective at cooling down one or two rooms, rather than offering whole-home cooling. It is important to choose a model that fits your space. Window and portable units tend to be more compact, while roof and ground-mounted units are often bigger.

If you only want to cool down individual rooms, a simple freestanding cooler should be fine. But, if you want to cool down an entire 2,000-square-foot home, you may need to opt for a roof or ground-mounted system. This takes up more space and needs to be connected to ductwork around your property. The table below shows average sizes and costs for a suitable cooler:

Evaporative Cooler Cost Chart

Evaporative Cooler Cost Chart

Amount of Space to Be CooledAverage Price
100 square feet$150 - $400
500 square feet$250 - $1,000
1,000 square feet$1,000 - $3,000
2,000 square feet$1,500 - $5,000

Cost to Run a Swamp Cooler

Swamp coolers are appealing to homeowners because they are much cheaper to run than traditional air conditioners. A/C units feature compressors and refrigerants, which lead to high energy costs. Swamp coolers are much simpler overall and more energy-efficient. Several reports show that swamp coolers use about 25% as much energy as equivalent A/C units. So if you have an A/C unit that uses about $1 per hour in energy costs, you could find a swamp cooler that would cover a similar area for just $0.25 per hour. Some units run for just a few cents an hour, meaning that average monthly costs range from $10 to $25.

Swamp Cooler Efficiency

Efficiency is one of the main selling points of a swamp cooler over something like an air conditioner. A swamp cooler uses about 25% of the electrical energy needed to power an air conditioner of the same size. Plus, they do not require chemicals to run only a steady supply of water, and most units are only effective in dry areas. This means their efficiency rating varies depending on where you use them. Using a swamp cooler in a humid place is not very efficient because the cooler struggles to have any impact, but it is much more efficient than an A/C unit in a dry zone.

Consult with a pro when installing a swamp cooler

Evaporative Cooling Pads Price

Swamp coolers work by passing air over damp pads inside the cooler units. There are different types of pads, and they may need to be replaced over time.

Aspen pads, also known as fixed fiber pads, are among the most common. They cost around $25 to $50 per pad and are made from aspen wood fibers. These pads need to be changed yearly.

There are also Cellulose pads, which are more durable and usually last three to five years before requiring replacement. Cellulose or CelDek pads, which are essentially the same thing, cost around $50 to $80 on average.

Your unit may also have rotating pad, which gradually rotate inside the unit as they cool down. The benefit of these rotating systems is that they do not need a pump. The pads last around two years on average, costing about $50.

A good way to maximize your cooler pads’ lifespan is to use a quality water source that is low in minerals, like filtered rainwater. This reduces the risk of mineral deposits building up on your pads.

Consider shutting down the system when not needed. Also, follow all user instructions and clean the water tank when setting the cooler up each season. If the cooler manufacturer recommends it, you may want to use water treatment tablets.

Solar-Powered Swamp Cooler

One way to reduce the running costs of your swamp cooler is to make use of solar power. It is easy to convert many standard swamp coolers from your main electric supply to solar panels if they provide sufficient power to meet the cooler’s needs. This can be done DIY or by a professional, ranging from $100 to $500, depending on the unit’s size and amount of work required. You can also buy pre-made solar-powered swamp coolers, with prices ranging from $1,000 to $4,000.

Swamp Cooler Maintenance Cost

For maintenance, swamp coolers are simple and affordable overall, with fewer parts and problems to worry about than a typical air conditioner. They need to be cleaned regularly to prevent any mold or mildew build, and this cleaning should cover both the outside of the unit and the interior water tank. The outside should be wiped over a couple of times per month, while the tank should be cleaned a couple of times per year. You also need to clean or replace the cooling pads now and then. The rate at which the pads need to be replaced depends on the type of pads and how heavily you use the cooler.

Professional Repairing a Swamp Cooler

Swamp Cooler Repair Cost

Even though swamp coolers are simple, issues can arise with them over time, and they may need repairing. Certain parts might have to be replaced or fixed, such as the pump, valve, or motor. There are various swamp cooler repair jobs you might need to have done, from cleaning out mildew to remove a bad smell to dealing with an overheating motor. Costs of this vary widely, depending on the size and scale of the problem and the amount of work required to fix it. Costs range from $60 to $600 on average.

Cost to Convert an Evaporative Cooler to Refrigerated Air

One of the downsides of swamp coolers is that they are only really efficient in low-humidity, dry areas. So if the humidity levels rise, swamp coolers become nearly useless. Fortunately, there are ways to get around this issue, and one option is to convert your swamp cooler to refrigerated air. This turns it into an air conditioner unit, helping to keep your home cool even on the warmer, wetter days.

The costs for this process vary enormously, based on a range of factors. Experts usually need to come out to your home and investigate your ductwork to see if it can handle the switch to refrigerated air or needs to be adjusted. They also determine if your electrical system can cope with the added energy usage of an A/C unit. Your furnace or heating system may also need to be upgraded. On average, expect to pay between $3,000 and $7,000 for this conversion, but the price can go well beyond these amounts.

Swamp Cooler vs Air Conditioner Cost

When it comes to cooling down homes and buildings, many people decide between swamp coolers and traditional air conditioners. The vast majority of people opt for air conditioners, with statistics showing that only a small percentage of American homes use swamp coolers. However, there are advantages to both that make each option worthy of consideration.

Swamp coolers have the advantage of being very effective in dry, low-humidity locations. They are simple to use and more affordable overall, in terms of installation and running costs. They are energy-efficient and eco-friendly, requiring the use of no chemicals. On the downside, they are limited in terms of where they can be used, and they become almost useless in humid conditions.

When it comes to air conditioners, they are more powerful overall and come in a wider range of options, from small portable models to high-powered units that can cool massive spaces. They require less maintenance in general than swamp coolers. However, repair costs are a little higher on average, and they usually give you more control with advanced features like auto modes, sleep timers, and variable temperature adjustments. On the downside, they are less eco-friendly, more expensive, and tend to dry out the air, causing problems for people with respiratory difficulties or sensitivity to dry air.

Get free estimates from swamp cooler experts near me

Enhancements and Improvement Costs

Thermostat Installation Cost

If you want to have total control over your home’s heating and cooling, installing a thermostat is a smart idea. This costs between $145 and $230 on average.


If your swamp cooler is situated outdoors, like a ground-mounted or roof-mounted unit, you may need to add a cover to protect it from cold temperatures and ice in the winter. Covers cost between $20 and $50, and you can find different sizes to suit various models.


One way to extend your cooler’s lifespan and improve its efficiency is to install an intake filter or pre-filter. They filter particles and debris, preventing them from entering the unit’s main body and helping keep the pads cleaner for longer. These filters vary in size and price depending on the unit, costing between $75 and $300.

Purge Pump

A purge pump is another swamp cooler accessory you may consider. They help clear out minerals from your cleaner, preventing scale and deposits from forming. They work by flushing out old water from the cooler at specific time intervals. This extends your cooling pads’ lifespan and improves the general flow of cool air out of the unit. Costs range from $40 to $100.

Ice Compartment

Some evaporative coolers come with ice compartments or gel ice packs that increase the unit’s cooling power. This adds around $50 to $150 to the cost of a cooler.

Remote Control

Some coolers come with a remote control, allowing you to quickly and easily adjust the settings or turn the unit on or off from a distance. Expect to pay an extra $25 to $50 for coolers with remotes.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Replacement pads need to be purchased regularly for your cooler. This may need to be done annually or every few years, depending on the type of pad you have and how quickly they are used up. Always check the instruction manual to know what type and size of pad you need.
  • Putting ice into your swamp cooler’s water reservoir helps increase its cooling potential but not by much. You will feel a slight increase in cold air, but the cooler does not suddenly start working faster, and the difference is not big.
  • Evaporative coolers need open doors and windows to function properly because they aim to replace the warm air in your home with cooler air, and the warm air needs a way to flow out of the house. In each room you want to cool, open a window or door slightly.
  • In general, swamp coolers start being less efficient as the temperature approaches 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it goes under 75 degrees and especially below 70 degrees, your cooler does not have much of an effect. Humidity can have an impact on this because swamp coolers stop working sooner in more humid places.


  • How much does it cost to run a swamp cooler per month?

This depends on the cooler’s size and the amount you use it, but costs generally range from $10 to $25 per month.

  • How much does it cost to run a swamp cooler all day?

This also depends on the size and scope of your model. Some coolers cost less than $0.50 for an entire 24-hour period, while others might cost over a dollar.

  • Do whole-house evaporative coolers work in all climates?

No, these coolers are only effective in dry locations with low humidity levels. They do not work well or at all in very humid places.

  • How much water does a swamp cooler use?

This varies based on the size of the unit. Some use less than a gallon per hour, while others use over 10 gallons an hour.

  • Can you leave a swamp cooler on all night?

Yes, this is possible, but the effectiveness varies depending on the outside temperature and humidity levels.

  • How often should swamp cooler pads be replaced?

This depends on the type of pads. See the instruction manual for your model for exact details. In general, you need to replace pads every 1-5 years.

Cost to install evaporative cooling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources
Evaporative Air Cooling Fan Placed in a living room
air-conditioning and heating contractors near you
Get free estimates on FIXR from trusted air-conditioning and heating contractors in your area

Was this guide helpful to you?

Cost to install evaporative cooling varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources