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Window Evaporative Cooling Cost

Window Evaporative Cooling Cost

National average
$940 - $1,114
(cooler, pads, two hours of professional installation)
Low: $783

(cooler, pads and some miscellaneous materials)

High: $1,300 - $1,500

(cooler, pads, thermostat, purge pump and ceiling vent)

Cost to install a window evaporative cooler varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from air-conditioning and heating contractors in your city.

The average cost to install a window evaporative cooler is $940 - $1,114​.

In this guide

Pros and cons
Air quality and moisture level
Size
Portable vs window cooler
Types of pads
Brands
Labor
Window evaporative cooler vs air conditioners
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install a window evaporative cooler?

Living in warm climates calls for an efficient cooling system. It works by adding humidity into the air and it's typically less expensive to purchase and run more efficiently than air conditioners. Window evaporative coolers are similar to average evaporative or swamp coolers 1, but they only cool a particular room or area and are installed below a window. However, they reduce more leaks than swamp coolers 1, which are installed on the roof.Window evaporative coolers come in all sizes and they can cool a large area up to 1,600 sq. ft. or you can get a smaller unit for an isolated area such as 400 sq.ft. Therefore, they are sold based on the area they can cool.

The average cost to install a window evaporative cooler ranges from $940-$1,114, with the average homeowner spending around $1,000 to install one unit for a 1,600 sq.ft. one story house.

Window evaporative cooler installation

Window evaporative cooler installation costs
National average cost$1,000
Average range$940 - $1,114
Minimum cost$783
Maximum cost$1,500

Pros and cons

Window swamp coolers 1 have significant benefits as well as drawbacks. The following are the top pros and cons of choosing a window swamp cooler 1 unit:

ProsCons

Environmentally-friendly due to natural cooling process

More fresh air circulated into the room

Quick and easy installation

Quiet operation

Easy to winterize and store

Low cost to operate

More maintenance than air conditioners

Not appropriate for areas with high humidity

Difficult to service

Limited availability

Space cooling purposes only


Air quality and moisture level

One of the benefits of a window swamp cooler 1 is that it adds moisture to the air. This can help with a variety of things such as keeping wood furnishing, floors and trims from drying out. Added moisture is good for your skin, eyes, and hair. The pads 2 also act as an air filter and give you cleaner air to breathe. This benefit helps to reduce allergy symptoms. Cleaner, moister air is, in fact, a great benefit.

Size

Having the right size cooler will give you the desired results - a cooler home. You must measure cubic feet per minute (CFM), which is length x width x height. Each cooler has a rating on it so will know if it will be able to cool your space. Here is a sample:

20(L) x 20(W) x 8 (H) = 3,200/2 = 1,600 CFM. For this space you would look for a cooler with CFM of at least 1,600.

Portable vs window cooler

Aside from the large roof installed models, there are two smaller styles of evaporative coolers. The window cooler is installed in a particular window in your home, so it will cool that room and the surrounding area depending on the square footage the unit is rated for. On average, they cost $400 - $1000.

There are also portable units which give the homeowner more flexibility; they can be moved from room to room or positioned so the air is blowing in a different direction. The portable units may be perfect for smaller homes, condominiums or apartments where the window units would not work on upper flows or may not be allowed if you are renting the apartment. However, they require regular maintenance and the homeowner must keep the area ventilated and refill the water regularly.

Portable units are available in a variety of sizes. There is a tiny one that is 2’ square and will cool 50 sq.ft. and has a 10-hour water tank; the price is $40-100. In the other extreme, there is a huge industrial-sized unit that will cool 6,250 sq. ft., whose price is $1,100-$5,000. Most homeowners will want a manageable size that may cool just one room. Price range for portable swamp coolers 1 is $100-$600; dependent on area of cooling coverage and other features specific to the unit, such as remote control, capacity of water tank, etc.

Types of pads

Evaporative coolers work by passing air over a pad 2 that is soaked with water. Depending on the type of cooler you purchase, it may have one of three different types of pad 2:

  • Aspen pads 2 or fixed fiber pads 2 are made of shredded aspen wood fibers and last one to two years. They cost between $20 and $40 per pad 2.
  • Rotating pad 2 coolers are essentially pads 2 sewn into a belt shape, which rotate or turn as they cool. They do not require a pump 3, and last about two to three years, costing $40 to $60 a piece.
  • Rigid sheet pads 2 are made of corrugated material that is stacked tightly together. They last much longer than other pads 2 if water quality is maintained - up to four to six years. They cost around $50 to $80 a pad 2.

Brands

The following table introduces several brands of window evaporative coolers. Each of these has the capacity to cool a 1,600 sq.ft. space. Notice the pros, cons and price for each; there is quite a range to choose from:

BrandProsConsPrice
Bon-Aire

Slim design

Easy install

Easy maintenance

Runs loud

Doest not work well with hard water 4

Calcium diposits accumulate on pads 2

$349-$808
Essick

Heavy gauge steel with powder coat finish

Adjustable air vents

Easy to install

Remote control

Weak motor mounts 5$450-$807
Brisa

Easy to install

Easy access pads 2

Energy efficient

No bad reviews were found$486-$1,099
MasterCool

Narrow exterior

Attaches to exterior water source

Weather resistant

Lightweight

Weak plastic motor mounts 5

Runs loud

$607-$2,000

Labor

Labor for a typical plumber is $45-$65 per hour. Installation time for an evaporative cooler is usually at least two hours or more. Expect to pay around $950 to have an evaporative cooler installed by a professional, including the cost of the unit and materials.

Window evaporative cooler vs air conditioners

Window evaporative units cool rooms by evaporating the water in the surrounding air. The air passes through water-soaked pads 2 to reduce temperatures by as much as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, air conditioners rely on a chemical refrigerant to pump 3 cold air into a room. Air conditioners work in any climate, while evaporative coolers will not work in areas with high humidity levels 6. Air conditioners function as dehumidifiers, while an evaporative cooler increases humidity.

A major difference between window evaporative coolers and air conditioners is energy efficiency. Air conditioners cost more to run and use more energy to operate. Evaporative coolers have improved energy efficiency and cost less to operate. The cost to install central air conditioning is around $7,200, while the average cost to install an evaporative cooler is $950.

Enhancement and improvement costs

Thermostat 7

Thermostats 7 are available for window evaporative coolers. This is nice and convenient to be able to set the temperature you desire. Thermostats 6 range in price from approximately $40 to $200. There are some units that are wireless and others are hard wired in. Installing the thermostat would be similar to installing an electrical outlet and should not take more than one hour. The most it would cost is $85 for the high end electrician.

Purge pump

A purge pump 3 works well to clean the water from the system which in turn cleans the air as well. Purging the water can extend the life of the pads 2. Varying pumps 3 purge at different time intervals such as every 6 or 8 hours. Prices range from $50-$120.

Ceiling vents

Swamp coolers 1 work best when there is a good balance between the air coming in and the air going out. One way to find this balance is to slightly open a window. If you do not want your window open you can install ceiling vents to keep the in and out air balanced. Ceiling vents cost about $4 to $25 a piece depending on size and style.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Window evaporative coolers reduce the chance of roof leaks.
  • Regions that have arid climates and hot temperatures are ideal for the evaporative cooler. Since the cooler adds moisture to the air, the less moisture there is in the beginning, the better and more efficient the cooler is.
  • Regular maintenance will keep your cooler working more efficiently, effectively and longer. Your cooler should be drained monthly and the sediment washed out. The pads 2 need to be replaced regularly; twice during the high cooling season. Also, check the pump 3, reservoir, pads 2, filters for cleaning.
  • Do not run your air conditioner and evaporative cooler together. They would just work harder because they would work against each other. One would be adding moist air and the other would be taking it out.
  • Some regions require building permits to install something that is electrical or changes the exterior of a building. Check with your local governmental office to see if you need a permit.
  • Some electric companies offer rebates for installing a new energy efficient swamp cooler 1. The rebate can be as much as $300 which would go a long way toward paying for the cooler itself. Check with your electric company, many times they have a list of rebates for installing various appliances.

FAQ

Start by turning off the power source and disconnecting the water valve. Drain the cooler and use a hose to rinse away any sediment that may have collected over the season. As an extra layer of protection, place a cover over the cooler.

For safety reasons, you should always consult an electrician instead of wiring a swamp cooler motor on your own. Wiring the motor involves routing the wires between the swamp cooler unit and the home’s electrical panel. Multiple color-coded wires will need to be connected to the appropriate circuit board and 120-volt connections.

The cost to run a swamp cooler 1 varies based on the size and use of the unit. On average, the cost to run swamp cooler 1 models is between $0.02 and $0.05 per hour.

To install a new evaporative cooling 1 system, it will take approximately two hours for a basic installation. For larger systems, you may need to upgrade your electrical panel or require ductwork to cool more rooms in the home. In this case, installation times increase considerably and can take up to eight hours or longer.

Evaporative coolers cost a fraction of the cost to run compared to central air conditioning. You will pay at least $0.25 per hour to run central air conditioning, compared to $0.05 or less per hour for swamp coolers 1. Installation is around $950 for an evaporative cooler and $7,200 for central air.

  • How much does it cost to install an evaporative cooler?

Installing an evaporative cooler will cost an average of $950 when done by a professional.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Swamp coolers: (Also known as Evaporative cooling) A system for cooling the air in a home by passing warmer outdoor air over wet pads. This causes the moisture on the pads to evaporate, cooling the air. The cooler, moister air is then directed into the house
glossary term picture Padding 2 Pads: A cushion placed under a carpet to absorb impact, thus extending the life of the carpet
glossary term picture Pump 3 Pump: A device used to move air, liquid, or gas by mechanical means
4 Hard water: Water that is high in mineral content. It often leads to a buildup of scale
5 Mounts: A support on which something is attached or hung
6 Levels: The process of evening out the ground's surface, making it either flat or sloped.
glossary term picture Thermostat 7 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off

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

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Ambler, PA
+44%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Aurora, CO
+10%
Austin, TX
+13%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bristol, CT
+23%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Fontana, CA
+6%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Houston, TX
+24%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Katy, TX
+63%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Miami, FL
+1%
New York, NY
+77%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Omaha, NE
-10%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Portland, OR
+11%
Pueblo, CO
-18%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
San Antonio, TX
-4%
San Diego, CA
+11%
San Francisco, CA
+53%
San Jose, CA
+33%
Santa Cruz, CA
+13%
Seattle, WA
+9%
Shawano, WI
-32%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Tampa, FL
-2%
Tulsa, OK
-14%
Vancouver, WA
-12%
Warren, MI
+13%
Washington, DC
+23%
Winston Salem, NC
-1%
Youngstown, OH
-7%
Labor cost in your zip code
Last modified:   See change history
Methodology and sources