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DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Can someone help me with some air conditioning questions? (Details follow)

Asked by DarlingRhadamanthus (11201 points ) August 23rd, 2011

Questions regarding air conditioning systems…for a house that

A. is really old, but rather compact.
B. has only window units
C. is in a zone that is very hot/dry and hot for most of the year

1. Has any new technology (different window units, for example) been developed to cool a house?

2. What is the difference between a swamp/evaporative cooler and an air conditioner?

3. Which of the above would work best in a super hot Southwest climate?

4. Any other suggestions for cooling an old house that only has window units?

Thank you.

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7 Answers

XD's avatar

There are newer A/C units that mount on the walls of rooms inside the house. Some even follow your body and blow the air right at you. I don’t know brands, but yes, there’s new stuff.

A swamp cooler is a simpler device that only works in low humidity. Basically, it’s outside air that is sucked into the house through large wet pads. They require maintenance that is sometimes a pain in the ass both at the start of the summer and at the end of the summer, although there is usually no shortage of handymen who will take care of this for a fee.

Air conditioning is more properly referred to as refrigerated air. It’s the same principle as your refrigerator. There’s usually no maintenance. Flip a switch and you have air conditioning.

Swamp coolers are cheaper to buy and use less electricity, but also use a good quantity of water. Swamp coolers are literally useless if it is relatively humid.

Air conditioners are more expensive to buy and use more electricity (and no water). I have no idea what room units would cost.

Reroofing with the new, white roofing material, which is expensive, will also significantly cool your house in the summer.

XOIIO's avatar

Also, swamp coolers slowle decrease in effecienve, as they add humudity to the air, fighting against themselves.

XD's avatar

Also, with a swamp cooler, you generally leave the window on the opposite end of the house open two or three inches, because it works better if the air is made to flow through the house. With refrigerated air, all the windows stay closed.

prioritymail's avatar

You probably want a ductless split system. The window ac unit has all of the ac components inside one box essentially whereas the split system separates the parts into two boxes – one small box that you install in your house (wall mount or in ceiling) and a larger box that you can install outside. Aside from reroofing (or simply painting current roof white / light color) you can also consider insulating walls and attic / under roof and installing good window shades (curtains or tint or similar stuff). I think an evaporative cooler is where you blow air through a ‘wet sponge’ and use evaporation of the water to remove heat. Whereas, an air conditioner blows air across a coil with cold refrigerant inside to remove heat. An evaporative cooler would probably work really well in your climate assuming water is available…

john65pennington's avatar

First, you have to be paying a fortune in electric bills, since most window AC units are 110 volt.

The following will be expensive, but worth the cost in the long run, if you decide to stary in your house…..............

Insulate the entire house from top to bottom. Your local power company should give you a free home insulation analysis. Call and ask.

Next, install a central heat and AC unit to cool your whole house. Get rid of the window units.

Good luck. jp

blueiiznh's avatar

1).There are new units that do not require window mounting. Some do not even require venting.
2). I only know about Air Conditioners and not swamp coolers.
3). Central or mobile units would be required for the Southwest US. I worked out of AZ and you certainly need to spec the BTU’s with the square footage of living.
4). You can certainly cool a house down in some climates without AC but I don’t think the Southwest is one of them. I successfully cooled my house with a wholehouse attic fan. The trick was to close the windows and draw the blinds during the heat of the day and then at sundown to open the windows and turn the wholehouse fan on to pull the cooler air in through the windows and vent it out the attic.

acsystemsinc's avatar

Though companies and inventors have experimented with various technologies, in essence any air conditioner has just three parts – condenser, evaporator, and a compressor. In an widow air conditioner, all the parts are in a single unit. In an split unit the compressor and the condenser are kept outside the house, while the evaporator is kept inside the house.
A swamp cooler uses the cooling effect of free falling water through which air is blown. The difference in temperature is very small, and the resultant air is very humid as it carries a high amount of water particles. An air conditioner uses Freon gas that can have a large variation in temperature, and is used in a closed loop. The air humidity does not change. It just becomes colder. Since the gas is kept in a closed loop, there is no loss. In a swamp cooler, you have add water constantly.

A swamp cooler is out of the question, unless you have severe budgetary constraints. A regular air conditioner is the best option.

Keep you rooms well covered. Use dark drapes. In the ceiling, use heat reflecting paints that will push the Sun’s heat away.

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