Most people are always looking for ways to reduce their electricity bill, it’s no secret that the cost of power is going up steeply in Nigeria. I’m one of those people, my bill for power has taken a 120% spike in the past few months. This made me looking for ways to reduce my bill; the first thing I did was to determine where I consume the most power. A power audit indicates I spent about 65% of my power bill on air conditioning; I mean, the fact that I spend a lot of money on air conditioning is no a surprising thing, the surprise was that it’s that huge a proportion. It became obvious that if I can reduce the power I use to cool the house, it will make a lot of difference. My options are basically limited to either I switch off the ACs and rely totally on fans or I look for a less energy-consuming option.
Considering the kind of heat we experience these days, I decided to explore the option of looking for a less energy-consuming option; enter the Air Coolers. My brother has one of these things a couple of years ago so I gave him a call to ask for his opinion about the device, experience is the best teacher they say. He did not exactly recommend it but also said it cools better than ordinary fans, also its technology might have improved so there is no harm in trying it out. I said Okay and hung up the call; that was not much help. Note that you can also reduce your air conditioning power cost by switching to inverter ACs; you can read about how they work here.
How Air Coolers Work?
Without going into too much technical jargon, an air cooler (also called evaporative cooler, evaporative air conditioner, swamp cooler, swamp box, desert cooler and wet air cooler) is a device that cools air through the evaporation of water. It is actually that simple; physics students know that evaporation causes cooling, when things evaporate, they use a lot of heat and leave the surface/environment cooler. This is why you feel cold when methylated spirit or Petrol is poured on your skin, also you feel cooler as sweat evaporates from your body. The Scanfrost SFAC 4000 Air cooler basically uses a fan to draw air through a wetted membrane, or pad, which provides a large surface area for the evaporation of water into the air. Water is sprayed at the top of the pad so it can drip down into the membrane and continually keep the membrane saturated. Any excess water that drips out from the bottom of the membrane is collected in a pan and recirculated to the top. It is obvious to say that you need to add water to the tank in Air Coolers; the tank in this Scanfrost is 31 Liters.
Always keep your windows open when using any air cooler, this keeps the humidity in the room reasonable and also keeps the cooler working as effectively as possible. Air coolers need to be placed near a window so they can keep pulling dry air into the room. You must not confuse them with the way we use AC, we keep the windows open, when using air coolers, windows must be left open. Air coolers can actually be used outdoors like on your balcony or porch. Air coolers require you to clean the cooling pad maybe every month or so to keep it working fine.
Things to like about the SFAC 4000
- It obviously uses a lot less power than your typical 1hp AC, it consumes about 185W compared to about 1200W consumed by your AC; more on this later.
- I love the fact that it is easily moveable around the house, it easy to install Omni-directional wheels make this possible.
- The design is also nice, it will not stand out like a sore thumb in your sitting room and actually looks like a small AC.
- The 31 litters tank is large enough to last you throughout the night and the next day even.
- Is has multiple options in terms of operation mode, the fan speed can be set to Hi, Med or Low while the cooling system can be set to Cool, Cool+Swing or just swing.
- The one year warranty is also nice to have.
Things I will love to change about the SFAC 4000
- The first thing you’ll notice is a dripping sound of water when you have the cooling system running, this kind of got me worried until I was able to detect the source of the sound, it comes from the return water going back into the tank. I still think a better design might totally avoid the water-fall sound.
- It is also odd that the opening to fill the tank with water is directly located beside the entry point for the electrical cable see image below. I know this poses no electrical shock risk since the cable is insulated my brain just is not comfortable with pouring water in close proximity to an electrical cable; always remove the plug from the wall before re-filling the water, that just common sense advice.
What I think about the SFAC 4000
Now its time to give you my honest conclusion about the SFAC 4000 after using it for two weeks, these comments can easily apply to any other brand of evaporative air coolers.
- It will never replace your AC, the cooling capacity of air coolers are just nowhere close to that of conventional Air Conditioners.
- It actually provides a cool breeze compared to household fans but I dare say this is mostly because of its powerful fan; trust me you’ll feel the breeze a good 8 meters award when the fan speed is set too high.
- The fan noise (combined with the dripping water sound) might be a problem for people that are light sleepers.
In conclusion, I think this a beautifully desgined slightly more expensive powerful fan, it will deliver when you have a lot of breeze in a room or your balcony. It will never provide the cooling effect of AC but it works at way low power consumption level. It’s nice to have but do not expect too much from it, IT IS NOT AN AIRCONDITIONER. At the end of the day, life is about compromise.