How Much Does It Cost to Install a Window Evaporative Cooler?

Average Cost
(installation of a 3,000 CFM window cooler with 2 pads)

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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Window Evaporative Cooler?

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(installation of a 3,000 CFM window cooler with 2 pads)

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Reviewed by Sophia Fennessy. Written by

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

Swamp Cooler Window Unit Cost
National average cost$1,000
Average range$940 - $1,115
Minimum cost$780
Maximum cost$1,500

Window Evaporative Cooler Installation Cost by Project Range

2,100 CFM window cooler
Average Cost
Installation of a 3,000 CFM window cooler with 2 pads
Window cooler with a thermostat, ceiling vent and purge pump

Window Evaporative Cooling Prices By Size

Correctly sizing the cooler will help provide you with a comfortable home climate. To figure out cooling prices by size, you must determine the unit’s optimal cubic feet per minute (CFM) for your space, which is calculated as the room’s length x width x height, divided by two. When shopping for a cooler, you will notice that each one has a CFM rating (usually printed on the unit) so you can determine the amount of space it can cool.

Here is an example: 20(L) x 20(W) x 8 (H) = 3,200/2 = 1,600 CFM. For this space (400 sq.ft. with 8 ft. ceilings), you would look for a cooler with a CFM rating of at least 1,600.

Below is a table that outlines the average cost of various window evaporative coolers with different CFM ratings, not installation included. Typically, the higher the CFM rating, the more the unit costs:

Window Evaporative Cooling Price by Size Window Evaporative Cooling Price by Size

CFM RatingPrice per UnitSize of Room
2,100 CFM$250500-1,000 sq.ft.
3,000 CFM$460500-1,000 sq.ft.
5,400 CFM$6301,000-2,000 sq.ft.
7,000 CFM$8751,000-2,000 sq.ft.

Compare prices from window evaporative cooler installers near you

Window Evaporative Cooler Cost by Brand

All window evaporative coolers, regardless of the brand, pull hot, dry air in from the outdoors across an interior pad that cools and moisturizes it, and then pushes it into the home to create a pleasing interior temperature. Without a doubt, swamp coolers are an energy-efficient way to cool your home. There are a variety of brands with different costs associated to each one:

Window Evaporative Cooler Cost by Brand

BrandCost per Unit (Materials Only)

Bonaire Window Evaporative Cooling Prices

If you have a small window then the slim design of the Bonaire units is a definite perk that cannot be overlooked. They are easy to install and require very little maintenance. However, you’ll want to install the swamp cooler in an area of the home where you don’t mind excess noise because Bonaires are reported to run louder than other models. Also, if you live in an area with hard water then you might want to reconsider this unit. It can develop calcium deposits on the pads as a result of the minerals found in the water of certain regions. Bonaire prices range from $350-$810.

Essick Air Window Evaporative Cooler

Constructed from heavy-gauge steel with a visually pleasing powder coat finish, this unit is made to withstand the elements. It is also easy to install. With adjustable air vents and a remote control, you can focus the air where you want it to flow and control the level of intensity with the push of a button. The only disadvantage of this brand is that it does have a reputation for having weak motor mounts. Essick prices average $450-$810 depending on the unit.

Brisa Window Cooler

The Brisa is easy to install and has a reputation for being highly energy efficient. The design gives you easy access to the pads for effortless maintenance and cleaning. The Brisa is unique because it has no reported disadvantages, unlike other brands. Brissa prices are around $490-$1,100 depending on the model.

MasterCool Swamp Cooler

The lightweight, narrow exterior design makes the MasterCool swamp cooler less noticeable and thus more visually pleasing. It also attaches to an exterior water source so you don’t have to worry about water modifications during operation. These units are built to last, with weather-resistant exteriors. The reported disadvantages of this brand include that it does manufacture its units with weak, plastic motor mounts. Also, many find that the motors run loudly. Prices average $610-$2,000 depending on the model and size of the unit.

Window Evaporative Cooler Installation Cost

Window evaporative coolers are very straightforward to install. They don’t require any wiring or venting, unlike central air conditioners. Support hangers, also called brackets, are mounted on the exterior of the home right below the window where the unit will be placed. Each manufacturer has its own type of support brackets that vary only slightly. The unit is then mounted on the brackets and the windowsill. A waterline is affixed to the cooler with a cut off valve for draining and a hose on the overflow drain line which is then run to the ground near the home’s foundation. A plumber usually charges $45-$200 per hour and will take two or more hours to install a swamp cooler ($90-$400). Depending on the cooler type, you can expect to pay around $1,000 for the unit plus labor and materials.

Window Evaporative Cooler Pads Price

Evaporative coolers use the process of evaporation to effectively cool the air’s temperature. The process of water evaporation turns liquid into gas. When the high energy particles are lifted from the water, the temperature of the air drops. Basically, water evaporation cools the air effectively. With a window evaporative cooler, a fan pushes the air across the unit’s cooler pads, which have absorbed water from the unit’s water reservoir. As the air flows across the cooler pads, it causes the water to evaporate and cool the air, which is then pushed into your home. There are four types of cooler pads that commonly come in evaporative coolers:

Window Evaporative Cooler Pads Price Window Evaporative Cooler Pads Price

Cooler Pad TypeCost per Pad
Aspen pads/Fixed fiber pads$20-$40
Rotating pads$40-$60
Cellulose pad$50-$80
Rigid sheet pads/Plastic$50-$80

Aspen Swamp Cooler Pads

The stitching of the Aspen swamp cooler pads is one of the reasons why many refer to the pads as fixed fiber pads. The shredded aspen wood fibers are woven and stitched together to create even air flow across and through the pad for effective cooling. The natural fibers of the pad have greater water holding capacity than pads that are fashioned from synthetic materials. This is the most basic type of swamp cooler pad and is highly efficient and affordable. The pads tend to last from one to two years before you need to replace them. You can choose from one- to two-inch thick pads. The thicker the pad, the greater the water holding capacity and the cooler the air it can produce. Their average cost is $20-$40 per pad.

Rotating Pad

They can only be used by some models and are made from either synthetic or natural fibers that are sewn to form a cylindrical shape. Instead of maintaining a fixed position within the cooler like other pads do, the rotating pad rotates via an internal pump to create cool air. Each pad lasts between two and three years and they are removable for cleaning purposes. Their average cost is $40-$60 per pad.

Cellulose Pads for Evaporative Cooling

Cellulose pads are made from cellulose that is molded into a flute-like pattern. It is highly absorbent and the air flows efficiently through the honeycomb design of the pads to rapidly cool the air. The pads are economical and very lightweight. Cellulose pads are ideal for regions that have particularly dry, hot air because the paper-formed pads can absorb and hold a great deal of water. However, they do require a swamp cooler with a powerful fan to effectively move the air through the sodden pad. These pads tend to last two to three years. Their average cost is $50-$80 per pad.

Plastic Evaporative Cooling Pads

Plastic evaporative cooling pads, also referred to as rigid sheet pads, are made from a corrugated plastic material. The plastic material is easy to clean by removing the pad and backwashing the fibrous material with a strong burst of water such as from a power washer or a hose. The material is not very absorbent, but the pads can easily last four to six years. Their average cost is $50-$80 per pad.

Talk to local pros to get quotes for your evaporative cooler installation

Window Swamp Cooler vs Window A/C

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

A major difference between window evaporative coolers and window air conditioners is energy efficiency. Air conditioners cost more to run and require more energy to operate. Evaporative coolers have improved energy efficiency and cost less to operate. The cost to install a window air conditioner is around $494, while the average cost to install a window evaporative unit is $1,000, but your long-term cost savings will definitely make up the difference if you live in the right climate.

Portable vs Window Cooler

You can choose between two types of alternative evaporative coolers: portable or window. Portable coolers are built on wheels, you can roll them around in the room or house, but they have limited cooling capacity based on the amount of air flow that you have in your home. However, a window cooler is placed in your window, relies on the outdoor air and humidity that it pulls across the pads, though it of course can not be taken from room to room like a portable cooler.

Portable evaporative cooler

Portable Cooler Price

Portable coolers range in price from $150-$1,500​ depending on CFM. The cooler can be used indoors or outdoors to cool the air on a patio or some other small space. Mounted on wheels, you can roll the cooler from place to place. Most portable coolers require that you fill them with pitchers of water when needed to moisten the pads and create cool air. They have a reservoir for the water and when it is depleted you must refill the supply.

Window Cooler Price

Window cooler prices can range from $940-$1,114 depending on CFM and brand. They provide a steady stream of cold air directly into the home from the fixed window location where the unit is installed. Unlike central air conditioning, a window cooler is highly efficient and uses only about a quarter of an air conditioner’s energy requirements according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Swamp Cooler Window Unit Pros and Cons

A swamp cooler is an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient cooling option for any home in a hot, dry climate. It not only cools the interior of the house, but also moves fresh air throughout the residence. In addition, it is easy to install and can be quickly removed from the window for winter time storage. Most models come with a handy remote control so you can operate the unit from across the room. Also, they are designed for quiet operation so they do not disturb the home’s inhabitants which makes them suitable for a bedroom. A swamp cooler also adds moisture to the air, which can help maintain your wood furnishings, floors, and trim. The additional moisture is also ideal for your skin and healthier to breathe. Allergy sufferers often report reduced allergy symptoms when there is added moisture in the air.

One of the main cons of a window swamp cooler is that it really will not work in regions with high humidity. Also, it will not cool your entire home, but only serves one or two rooms. Swamp coolers do require more maintenance than standard air conditioners and they are notoriously difficult to service. In addition, there is limited availability with only a few major brands.

Find the best window evaporative cooler installers near you

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Thermostat Cost

Thermostats are available for window evaporative coolers. This is nice and convenient because you can set the temperature to your desired setting. It will control the unit and shut it off when the room reaches the desired temperature. Thermostats range in price from approximately $145-$230. There are some units that are wireless and others are hard-wired in.

Evaporative Cooler Purge Pump

A purge pump 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 and prevent unpleasant residue from building up on the pad’s surface. It also helps reduce the need to frequently clean the pad of any buildup or debris. Different pumps purge at different time intervals, such as every 6 or 8 hours. Prices range from $50-$120.

Ceiling Vents

Swamp coolers 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 another 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 each, depending on size and style.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Window evaporative coolers reduce the chance of roof leaks that comes with a roof-mounted whole-house swamp cooler.
  • 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 need to be replaced regularly; twice during the high cooling season. Also, check the pump reservoir, pads, and filters for regular 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 involves changes to the exterior of a building. Check with your local government office to see if you need a permit.
  • Some electric companies offer rebates for installing a new energy-efficient swamp cooler. 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.


  • How do you winterize a swamp cooler window unit?

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.

  • How do you wire a swamp cooler motor?

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.

  • How much does a swamp cooler cost to run?

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

  • How long does it take to install evaporative cooling?

To install a new evaporative cooling 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.

  • Is a swamp cooler cheaper than central air?

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. 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.

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: 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

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.

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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
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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.

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