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Swamp cooler recommendations?
Old 06-09-2019, 11:04 PM   #1
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Swamp cooler recommendations?

Hi all,

I have a single story home with a bonus room over the garage. The garage and bonus room face west and thus receive afternoon sun. The bonus room being on the second floor collects most of the heat in the home because heat rises.

There is a single house HVAC system with the thermostat on the main floor.

My oldest son uses the bonus room as his bedroom. When it's 72 downstairs it's 78 or so upstairs. So he wants the thermostat lower. I want it higher, because I'm cold.

There are lots of solutions to this. One I'm considering is buying a swamp cooler that is the right size for about a 180 square foot room (I think it's 18 x 10 up there).

Any recommendations for specific models or types or brands? Any other suggestions beyond swamp coolers?

Thanks!
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Old 06-09-2019, 11:09 PM   #2
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A small windows AC of 5000 BTU/hr costs a little more than $100, and is easier to install than a small evap cooler.

This AC will consume from 500W to 700W, depending on the outside temperature. And it may not have to run non-stop if it only provides supplemental cooling.

If you talk about a small free-standing evap (requiring no installation) and not about a window evap, then such a unit will not work well when it's more humid. Even an evap that does not recirculate the air does not work that well in higher humidity.

PS. If an evap cooler is used in that room, it will have to be isolated from the rest of the house. Else, the humidity that it puts out will have to be removed by the central A/C, at additional electricity cost.
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Old 06-10-2019, 06:12 AM   #3
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What NW-B said and you may need a water supply line also.
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Old 06-10-2019, 06:25 AM   #4
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I would second the window AC recommended above. I have a whole house evap cooler but have a window AC for the master bedroom to use at night. Make sure to get one of the ultra quiet ones, the one I have is a Haier and the noise isn't bad on the quiet setting.
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Old 06-10-2019, 06:29 AM   #5
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I had a small portable swamp cooler (off brand) with it's own internal water reservoir for use in my workshop. It seemed to "help some" if you were right in front of it.

For indoor use like you are talking about, I'd go with a small AC window unit.
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:13 AM   #6
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A small window AC can be installed very easily if the window is not too wide compared to the AC. It's the most expedient solution, and the cheapest. It's even cheaper than a portable swamp cooler. It would take 1 hour.

But if the window opens by sliding horizontally, I have not seen a workable solution to mount a window AC. Then, a mini-split is a good choice if the window AC cannot be installed. and it is a step up. A small heat pump of 9,000 BTU/hr will cool that space very well, and provides heating in the winter too. New mini-splits are also more energy efficient than window ACs, albeit at a higher purchasing cost.

I just installed a 18,000 BTU/hr unit in order to put to use the energy I collect and save with a DIY solar power storage project. It cannot replace the existing 5-ton (60,000 BTU/hr) central AC, but has proven capable to cool my downstairs living space quite adequately. Next year, I will add a smaller 9,000-BTU/hr unit for my master bedroom which is also downstairs. This leaves the 5 rooms upstairs served by the central AC, and I will set the temperature way up as these rooms are not used.

The brand I bought is Pioneer, an American manufacturer out of Florida. The price is reasonable, more expensive than Chinese made mini-splits, but less than the Japanese Mitsubishi and Fujitsu. Energy efficiency is better than the Chinese-made units, and comparable to the Japanese units, except for the latter's top-of-the-line units. Reviews online are favorable. I ordered directly from the manufacturer Web site.

I installed it myself, and it would be a lot easier if I did not have to run the refrigerant lines, the power, and the condensation drain line across my garage attic. If the indoor and outdoor units are mounted on opposite sides of an exterior wall, the installation can be done in 1/2 day. Small units exist in a 115V version, and the power is low enough that they may be run off an existing circuit, and not a new 230V line to the electrical distribution box.

PS. Modern mini-splits are all of inverter motor types. They slowly ramp up the motor speed, and do not have high surge power like old induction-type motors. They also automatically vary the compressor speed as well as the indoor and outdoor blower fans in accordance with the cooling or heating need.
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:31 AM   #7
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This one can be vented out the window, but can be moved anywhere. Some friends had one like this for an upstairs bedroom, and it worked very well.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/insigni...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:42 AM   #8
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This one can be vented out the window, but can be moved anywhere. Some friends had one like this for an upstairs bedroom, and it worked very well.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/insigni...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
Portable AC is another solution. I would buy a dual-hose unit. Most of them are of the single-hose type, which expels some of your interior cool air in the exhaust. This reduces efficiency.

They are an expedient solution but take up floor space. And if your window slides horizontally, perhaps they have a baffle that extends vertically to mount that exhaust else it would not work.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:11 AM   #9
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We've done both window and portable units in our one "hot room." The window unit won for us. Does the job, cheap, fairly quiet. The portable used too much room and was louder.
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Old 06-10-2019, 11:35 AM   #10
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just get a cheap window unit - have you had to turn on your a/c yet? It's been really cold here so far this spring.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:36 PM   #11
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im sure you've done this but just incase, have you tried thermal curtains? Hang 2 sets of thermal curtains. Literally layer them and hang them both higher and wider than the window. Ive nailed one set flat to the window and then hung another set decoratively on a rod. And when theyre closed they shouldn't be flat, they should be very full so you will need several panels. Walmart brand is fine and I find darker colors work better than white. This will help out a ton with stopping heat gain from the windows. and ditto on the window unit.
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:44 PM   #12
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We have almost the exact same situation as OP (a bonus room that doesn't have its own thermostat and stays hot).

We were advised (by an AC contractor who was here for a different job) to install a mini-split just for the bonus room. He said they are very energy-efficient. He wasn't trying to sell us one; he said he was so busy during the summer he did not need to take on more work, but that the job would run $3,000-$5,000. This seemed awfully high. The biggest expense, I would imagine, would be making a hole in the concrete block wall for the conduit to the outside unit.
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:50 PM   #13
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We have almost the exact same situation as OP (a bonus room that doesn't have its own thermostat and stays hot).
but this is Idaho - he may only need to run the ac 6 weeks, if that

I haven't turned on my heat or AC for about a month
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:09 PM   #14
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I don't know if $3-5K would be a reasonable total charge, but I can get a decent 9000-BTU/hr mini-split for less than $900, and with a SEER of 22.

In the same capacity, the top-of-the-line Panasonic unit with an astounding SEER of 31 costs $1,500, while a Panasonic with a pedestrian SEER of 16 is only $750.

You need a hole of about 1.5" diameter to run the refrigerant lines through the wall.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:28 PM   #15
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It's been said in this thread that a small window unit is very capable of added cooling to a separate room, provided it has a window. That what we did for out added on 12' x 14' office in our last house. It worked great when we needed it, which was only a few months of the year.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:38 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Big_Hitter View Post
just get a cheap window unit - have you had to turn on your a/c yet? It's been really cold here so far this spring.
I haven't. But my bedroom is on the main floor.

My son living in the bonus room has. (I have given him permission to adjust the thermostat.)

...

Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. Additional question: Is there any way to put some sort of diversion flap in the main A/C system so that it preferentially sends conditioned air to a subset of vents? I thought I saw something like that on Ask This Old House one time.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:41 PM   #17
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Evaporative coolers work great under the right conditions. Installing and maintaining a unit into a second story window would not be rational.
When humidity is low and temps are modest, I use mine to blow fresh air (love the smell of new Aspen pads) into the house in the morning. In the fall, the extra humidity blown indoors is welcome.
With California's new policy to allow PG&E to cut power during high wind events (up to 4 days), the cooler powered by one of my small generators will be my best option.
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:43 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsHaloFIRE View Post
im sure you've done this but just incase, have you tried thermal curtains? Hang 2 sets of thermal curtains. Literally layer them and hang them both higher and wider than the window. Ive nailed one set flat to the window and then hung another set decoratively on a rod. And when theyre closed they shouldn't be flat, they should be very full so you will need several panels. Walmart brand is fine and I find darker colors work better than white. This will help out a ton with stopping heat gain from the windows. and ditto on the window unit.
I don't think they're thermal curtains, but there is a single set of dark curtains across the entire window (which opens horizontally, by the way, to answer someone else's question about that).

Adding another layer is a good idea to try. Thanks!
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:44 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
A small window AC can be installed very easily if the window is not too wide compared to the AC. It's the most expedient solution, and the cheapest. It's even cheaper than a portable swamp cooler. It would take 1 hour.

But if the window opens by sliding horizontally, I have not seen a workable solution to mount a window AC. Truncated.
That would be a "Slider/Casement" A/C unit.
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Old 06-10-2019, 04:00 PM   #20
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I did this three times. Just need to make a plexiglass window to fit the space between the AC and the top of the window frame.
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