SWDesertHomes in Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, Vail & More!: What's a Swamp Cooler and What's it Doing in the Desert???

What's a Swamp Cooler and What's it Doing in the Desert???

The Swamp cooler, aka Evaporative cooler, is a part of many homes built in the metropolitan area of Tucson.  However, 80% of homes currently active and for sale in Tucson do NOT have evaporative coolers.

Swamp Coolers on Homes for Sale in Tucson

What is evaporative cooling?  Think...getting out of the pool on a hot day and feeling "cold"

According to my research, Egyptians hung wet blankets across their doors and the royalty had servants fan them across jugs of water!  So...the idea has been around a long time.

In order to work well, "Swamp coolers" need a dry and hot climate.  Swamps, for example, are a bad place to have a swamp cooler.  Why, you ask?  Swamp coolers add humidity to the air - great with a "dry heat"  but not so great in humid areas.

Why have evaporative cooling?  Evaporative Air Systems offer an eco-friendly, healthy, and more affordable alternative to traditional air conditioning.  They come in at lower overall pricing, can be portable, and also can require only moderate setup (like window mounting) Using a swamp cooler can cost up to 50% less than running your air conditioning.  Lastly, and very importantly, swamp coolers use a natural process that cools the air using motion and water -- not refrigerants.  The evap process naturally humidifies dry air helping your eyes, throat, and skin.

What are the drawbacks to having a Swamp Cooler?  Swamp coolers depend on dry outside air to operate effectively. For the most part, this not a problem for those planing on moving to Tucson, AZ.  However, during the rainy Monsoon season, the hot, muggy days of July-September, swamp coolers will blow hot, humid, air into the house. In periods of sustained humidity, the EVAP pads can begin to smell and share their moist odor when blown into the home.

Swamp Coolers on Homes for Sale in Tucson

In addition, Evaporative cooling requires water to keep pads wet - a consideration especially in drought years. Water consumption can run from anywhere from 3-15 gallons a day, dependent upon how large the swamp cooler is, and whether or not the water is collected and pumped through the machine pads more than once.

So, to answer the question from a Caterpillar employee relocating to Tucson within the next couple of years to the new regional headquarter here in Tucson,

"Should we look for homes with swamp cooling or air conditioning or both? "

80% of Tucson homes for sale do not have swamp coolers.

There is a move towards more sustainable and smart choices regarding environmental issues, so swamp coolers are making a "comeback".

Swamp coolers often sit on roofs and can be a concern.  Check disclosures with your REALTOR and hire a qualified home inspector.

Swamp coolers do not work well three months of the year.

Ask your REALTOR to help locate a qualified heating and cooling expert to answer your in-depth questions and concerns about Evaporative Coolers in Tucson.

If I can assist you in your home buying or selling in Marana, Tucson, Oro Valley, or Vail, please don't hesitate to call me!  Email at swdeserthomes@aol.com

Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Long Realty,


Regarding the material posted in my blog postings, these are my personal opinions and not those of Long Realty Company. 

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Comment balloon 1 commentCara Marcelle Mancuso • June 08 2016 11:53AM


Good morning Cara. I've actually seen and stayed in places that have those coolers.  They work just fine.  Interesting question however, I would opt for both.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 3 years ago