The 7 Best Evaporative Coolers – [2021 Reviews]

Use an eco-friendly, inexpensive evaporative cooler, we examine the year's top models

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

When things really start heating up, the first thing many people do is go out and get an air conditioner. However, if you don’t have central air or are looking for a more eco-friendly, budget-friendly option then you need an evaporative cooler.

Evaporative coolers, also commonly referred to as “swamp coolers” involve a water reservoir and pads to produce cool and air that’s just humid enough for dry climates.

We’ve done our own research and taken into account the feedback of countless others to bring you the top  evaporative air cooler available!

Best Evaporative Coolers

 HESSAIRE MC37M Evaporative CoolerBREEZEWELL 2-in-1 Evaporative Air CoolerMaxxAir Portable Evaporative Cooler
editors choice
CFM:3100N/A9700
Tank:10.3 Gallons1 Gallon25 Gallons
Continuous Flow:YesNoYes
Other:Oscillating louversBladeless DesignMade for large spaces

For more of my home and auto recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Garage Air Conditioners, Gas Caddies, Garage Storage Systems.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Evaporative Coolers For 2021

  1. HESSAIRE MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler
  2. BLACK + DECKER BEAC75 Evaporative Air Cooler
  3. BREEZEWELL 2-in-1 Evaporative Air Cooler
  4. MaxxAir Portable Evaporative Cooler
  5. hOmeLabs Evaporative Cooler
  6. HESSAIRE MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler
  7. FRIGIDAIRE Indoor and Outdoor Evaporative Cooler

Our reviews of the top rated evaporative coolers with our comparison table and buyers guide will help you choose the right one for you.


Evaporative Cooler Reviews

HESSAIRE MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler at a Glance:

  • CFM: 3100
  • Tank: 10.3 Gallons
  • Continuous Flow: Yes
  • Other: Oscillating louvers

The best evaporative cooler should be easy to use, durable, and efficient for all sizes of spaces. The HESSAIRE MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler checks all those boxes and much more. It initially caught our eye due to the unique and stylish all-gray colorway, but kept it due to its supreme performance.

Offering a nice balance of portability and power, it comes with 4 tough, locking casters, making it easy to move around from different places inside the home. Made of a durable polypropylene, it weighs just 39 pounds but will last for many years in the future.

Due to its impressive power, it’s capable of cooling spaces indoors and outdoors of up to 950 square feet. That’s probably more than the vast majority of consumers need, meaning it’s really a one-stop-shop kind of deal. The oscillating louvers and 3 fan speeds make sure that air is distributed evenly, never leaving any spot uncomfortable.

If you aren’t necessarily a tech-savvy person, you’ll appreciate how straightforward the operation of this machine is. With 3 rotary controls and a pump, you can adjust the fan and pump to your liking. 3-sided, dense cooling pads only help with this, creating more evaporative surface area which gives out very cool air.

This model is all about comfort and convenience, with a continuous fill option. All you have to do is attach a hose with the included float adapter. This means that you don’t have to sit there and babysit the water tank and can count on cool air constantly.


BLACK+DECKER BEAC75 evaporative air cooler

BLACK + DECKER BEAC75 Evaporative Air Cooler at a Glance:

  • CFM: 476
  • Tank: 2 Gallons
  • Continuous Flow: No
  • Other: Remote control

Black + Decker is a reputable American company that’s been around for over 100 years, known for consistently offering high-quality home products. Their BEAC75 Evaporative Air Cooler is a fine example of that, earning its spot as the best evaporative air cooler for modern households.

With the ability to operate it with a remote control, you can stay lounging on your favorite sofa or chair and change the fan speed settings and operation modes as you like.

You get 3 different fan speeds as well as 4 operation modes: Normal, Natural, Sleep, Smart. 2 ice packs come included and together, they are excellent for dry environments, keeping things cool yet just humid enough for your health and comfort.

The built-in LED display shows the temperature and current settings, so you know how to adjust accordingly. The removable 2-gallon water tank is nicely-sized and the machine comes with a tank display window and auto shut-off when the tank needs refilling.

It’s not really ideal if you need continuous operation, however, it features a shut-off timer from half an hour to 8 hours, so you don’t have to worry about it running when you don’t need it to. Not only that, but it’s also easy to move around with 2 casters and 2 wheels.


BREEZEWELL 2-in-1 Evaporative Air Cooler at a Glance:

  • CFM: N/A
  • Tank: 1 Gallon
  • Continuous Flow: No
  • Other: Bladeless Design

Next up is the BREEZEWELL 2-in-1 Evaporative Air Cooler which is modern in both looks and function. If you’re on the hunt for the best swamp cooler for smaller spaces, this is definitely one to consider!

While it’s not absolutely the least expensive on our guide, it’s one of the most affordable which makes it attractive to many potential consumers.

Coming in an all-white colorway, and a see-through center, it is definitely one of the coolest we’ve seen (literally and figuratively). The tower fan is completely bladeless which is the safest way to go if you have children or pets.

Not only that, but bladeless machines deliver a consistently smooth stream of fast air. This makes it one of the easiest to clean as you don’t have to dust off blades and grilles.

To get things cooling, all you have to do is press the power button! You have 3 speed settings and a 40-degree automatic swing to distribute cold air evenly around the room. Due to the smaller 1-gallon capacity, this is ideal for living rooms, average-sized bedrooms, offices, and so on.

The whisper-quiet tech will make you forget it’s even there, making it the perfect solution while you’re working or sleeping.

Are you tight on space? If so, we’re positive you’ll appreciate the sleek and modern design which makes it easy to fit into tight places. It’s just one of the many reasons why it’s a favorite among those who live in studio apartments.


 

MaxxAir Portable Evaporative Coolerat a Glance:

  • CFM: 9700
  • Tank: 25 Gallons
  • Continuous Flow: Yes
  • Other: Massive, Made for large spaces

Our next model is on the other end of the spectrum in terms of capacity. If you need something made for covering massive square footage, look no further than the MaxxAir Portable Evaporative Cooler. This heavy-duty cooler is best-suited for more commercial use or general outdoor use due to its robust size and capacity.

To be upfront, this isn’t a machine that takes style or trendiness much into consideration. It’s designed to be reliable and durable, above all, and it does that well. Made to reduce ambient temperatures in spaces up to 2600 square feet by up to 26 degrees without AC, you have to feel it to believe it.

This is possible due to the huge, 25-gallon reservoir which has the option to connect to a direct water line, so it never goes interrupted.

The body is made of rotomolded polyethylene which holds up very well against the sun and the blades are made of aluminum, so you can count on having it for many years to come. With no assembly required, it’s absolutely the easiest to get up and running, despite its larger size.

It’s easy to move, too, due to the straight and swivel casters for smooth rolling around to where you need it most.


hOmeLabs Evaporative Cooler at a Glance:

  • CFM: N/A
  • Tank: 2.6 Gallons
  • Continuous Flow: No
  • Other: 24-Hour Programmable Timer

As one of the best portable evaporative cooler options, the hOmelabs Evaporative Cooler features 3 wind modes, 3 speeds, and a humidifier like most others on our guide. Ideal for spaces of up to 200 square feet, it works well in the vast majority of homes.

The all-white color goes with just about everything and is lightweight and slim enough to fit nicely into a corner without obstructing anything or anyone.

Weighing only 18.45 pounds, you can simply pick up the appliance and move it where you need it. The 10L water tank capacity is enough that you won’t have to babysit its levels, but is compact enough that it’s not a hassle to move around.

Oscillating vents make it even easier to evenly distribute cool air, offering quick air movement so you don’t have to wait around for the temperature to lower.

Great for the person who’s always busy, it comes with a 24-hour programmable timer that turns the unit off and on when you need it. Never again will you be left wondering if you accidentally left your cooler on while you’re at work or at the store.

Not only that, but you can control the swing direction, temperature, speed, and mode. Choose to do so through the LED display control panel or with the included remote control!


HESSAIRE MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler at a Glance:

  • CFM: 1300
  • Tank: 4.8 Gallons
  • Continuous Flow: Yes
  • Other: Manually adjustable louvers

We’re back again with yet another Hessaire product – this time with their MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler. Undoubtedly the best portable swamp cooler for those on a budget, you need to check this one out if you’re trying to save some cash. With a 1300 CFM, it’s ideal for most households and regular outdoor use, as well.

Inexpensive doesn’t have to mean “cheap”. This one isn’t in any way, with a straightforward design that looks unique and even stylish! The tan-and-black, grey, teal, and green colorway options somehow manage to mix modernity with retro, making it a trendy complement instead of an eyesore.

The compact-yet-portable cooler weighs a mere 16 pounds and comes with 4 durable casters which make it one of the easiest to transport. It’s great for larger and tighter spaces, alike, featuring manually-adjustable louvers which can direct airflow both up and down simultaneously.

Operation is easy but if you’re a tech-heavy person you may find it a bit boring. It comes with 5 settings: 2 cooling modes, 2 fan modes, and a “low” speed which requires the pump to be off.

Both continuous and manual water fill is available by simply attaching your regular hose with the brass float adapter and valve which come in the package.


FRIGIDAIRE Indoor and Outdoor Evaporative Cooler at a Glance:

  • CFM: 1650
  • Tank: 10.6 Gallons
  • Continuous Flow: Yes
  • Other: Oversized Tank Design

Frigidaire is a brand almost all of us have used, or at least heard of. Their supreme reputation has kept them around for decades due to their use of quality materials and expert craftsmanship. Their Frigidaire Indoor and Outdoor Evaporative Cooler further proves that, offering an oversized 10.6-gallon water tank ideal for hot summers.

Providing up to 1650 CFMs of airflow, it’s designed for slightly larger spaces like garages and warehouses. However, if you have big, open spaces in your home it’ll work well for that, too. Just like most models on our guide, this one also comes with 3 fan speeds for you to adjust depending on the environment and space.

Due to the size of the tank, you really never have to deal with it running out of water. If you use it outdoors, it genuinely never will run out, as you can hook it up to a hose.

The 3 thick cooling pads that come included cover the rear and sides to keep things extra cool, even from far away. However, should you need to move it around, it’s easy to do with the built-in, easy-glide casters. The pads are easy to remove and clean, which is necessary, especially if it’s placed in a dusty or sandy environment.


Evaporative Cooler Comparison Table

Evaporative Air Cooler CFMTankContinuous FlowOtherRating
HESSAIRE MC37M Portable Evaporative Cooler310010.3 GallonsYesOscillating louvers4.4 / 5.0
BLACK + DECKER BEAC75 Evaporative Air Cooler4762 GallonsNoRemote control4.0 / 5.0
BREEZEWELL 2-in-1 Evaporative Air CoolerN/A1 GallonNoBladeless Design4.3 / 5.0
MaxxAir Portable Evaporative Cooler970025 GallonsYesMade for large spaces4.1 / 5.0
hOmeLabs Evaporative CoolerN/A2.6 GallonsNo24-Hour Programmable Time4.0 / 5.0
HESSAIRE MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler13004.8 GallonsYesManually adjustable louvers4.2 / 5.0
FRIGIDAIRE Indoor and Outdoor Evaporative Cooler165010.6 GallonsYesOversized Tank Design4.5 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Evaporative Cooler – Buying Guide

best swamp cooler
Photo Courtesy of FRIGIDAIRE

Now that you have read through all of the top evaporative coolers, have you decided which one is right for you? If you’re still on the fence or haven’t quite narrowed it down to one, that’s okay! We know it can be challenging to select just one when there are so many great options.

That’s why we’ve decided to go ahead and write up this comprehensive buying guide. This guide will take you through each feature and consideration to make to ensure you find the most well-suited cooler for you and your environment.

Size

First things first – we need to figure out the size of the evaporative cooler that’s right for what you’re looking for. If your cooler is designed for a space much larger than yours, it can end up being too powerful. However, if it’s not powerful enough then it’s not going to cool properly.

You’ll need to look at the CFM rating and/or the square footage. CFM is the more accurate of the two, While there are other areas of importance, these two specifications give you a starting point.

If you aren’t sure of your square footage, all you have to do is measure the length and width of your room and multiply them. To get the CFM, you’ll need to measure the height, too.

Tank Capacity

The tank capacity will usually go hand-in-hand with the CFM rating and size. The bigger the CFM rating, the bigger the tank is going to be most times. Some even come with the option to connect to a regular hose, which means you never have to deal with it running out of water. This is especially helpful if you don’t have much time to monitor the water levels, or if you’re planning on using the cooler outdoors.

Operation Modes

The vast majority of the evaporative coolers on our guide come with 3 different operational modes: Low, Medium, and High. The CFM rating is typically rated for the highest setting, though is also the loudest.

The lowest setting is almost always near-silent or incredibly quiet, making it perfect for use while sleeping or working. Coolers that come with oscillation features are also preferable in most situations, as they help to distribute cool air evenly.

Size

The size of the cooler is important, because if you’re tight on space you’re going to need something that’s more slim and compact. Also take a look at the weight and if it comes with caster wheels or not.

Heavy coolers are obviously going to be a bit more difficult to move around, but if you’re just going to be moving it around within the same room it’s much more convenient with casters.

Cooling Pads

You may have noticed that models come with a varying number and size of cooling pads. Larger pads are usually preferable, but what is more important is what they’re made from.

Cellulose is the top option, which is what almost all the pads on this guide are comprised of. You also have to consider how often they need to be replaced as some of the more rare material options are pretty expensive.

Durability/Warranty

The durability will vary a bit as well, depending on the materials used and craftsmanship. While it’s not a rule, it’s always a bit easier to opt for a reputable brand as they’re usually already known to create well-made products.

As these coolers are going to be running almost constantly, it’s smart to think about the warranty as well. Warranties with these coolers don’t usually vary too much – maybe a year or so. However, it is important to get one that comes with at least 6 months of coverage so you’re taken care in case anything malfunctions. While there aren’t a lot of moving pieces, there are several things that can break, leak or rust.

Price

How much are you comfortable with spending on one of the best evaporative coolers? We highly recommend you set a budget for yourself beforehand, so you don’t accidentally spend more than you wanted to. The good news is that no matter how much you plan on spending, we have something on our guide that will work with it.

The larger capacity, more powerful machines are usually going to be more expensive, so that’s just another reason to select a properly-rated cooler for your space.

FAQs About Best Evaporative Coolers

Q: Do evaporative coolers really work?

A: Yes, they absolutely do! Not only that, but if you live in a particularly dry area they’re really going to shine. This way, you feel cool while the air remains at a good humidity level. In comparison, air conditioners are known to cool but further dry out the air. This is why they aren’t preferable for desert-like climates like in the Southwestern part of the US.

Q: How do I choose an evaporative cooler?

A: As we mentioned further up in this guide, the most important factor in making sure you’ve chosen the right evaporative cooler is to get one with a CFM that is suitable for your area. If you need something portable, keep things lightweight and ensure it comes with caster wheels for you to roll it around.

Q: Do you need to have a window open to operate an evaporative cooler?

A: In short, yes. The coolers work by pulling air through the cooling unit. You’ll see there are openings in the unit which have pads. These pads absorb water and hold it, kind of like a sponge. These wet pads are there to actually keep the air cool when pushed out into the space.

There is a pan at the bottom of the air conditioner. There is also a small pump in the pool of water which lifts the water onto the pads. However, for the pads to properly cool the air, you need enough airflow. If the cooler isn’t bringing in the same volume of air as it blows into the house.  The easiest way to ensure this happens is by keeping a window open.

Q: At what humidity does evaporative cooling stop working?

A: When the outdoor humidity gets over 70-80%, you’ll reach the limitation of a swamp cooler.

Q: Is a swamp cooler the same thing as a evaportive cooler?

A: Yes, there are the exact same thing!

Tips For Choosing Evaporative Coolers

#1: Make sure to properly maintain the cooler to keep it working properly and extend the lifespan as much as possible.

First, make sure that you’re regularly taking out the pads, cleaning them, and also drain the tank and clean the interior to avoid bacteria growth.

#2: Make sure you don’t put ice in your cooler.

While it may seem logically like this makes sense, but putting ice in your evaporative can actually hamper the process of cooling the air. If it’s really cold, it might actually drip out of the cooling pad before evaporation can even take place.

#3: If you are someone who’s always on the go, you want a cooler with a timer.

24-hour timers are probably the best way to go, as you can set it at any time of day or night to turn off and on whenever you need.

Summary

Now that you know just about everything you could ever want to about the best evaporative coolers, have you decided which one is right for you? If you’re still deciding, the good thing is that no matter which one you select, you’ll be getting one of the best on the market.

However, what’s most important is that you select a machine that will perfectly cool your space. By following our buying guide, you can rest assured that you will. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon!

How We Researched

To come up with the top portable evaporative coolers, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as Target and Walmart along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The staff authors have a wide and varied background in home repairs, and auto mechanics. They are eager to share their knowledge with readers.

To help narrow down the selection we used personal experiences along with recommendations from fellow auto-enthusiasts and industry experts.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.

Sources

Notice:

OutsidePursuits.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. OutsidePursuits.com earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Richard Remick

Richard is a co-founder and the chief editor of Outside Pursuits. Passionate about the great outdoors, Richard spends much of his time in Colorado enjoying skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, cycling, hiking, and camping. When at home in Florida, he is most often found in the water. He loves water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. He is a certified scuba diver. Because of his wealth of knowledge and experience, Richard has been invited to contribute articles to many outdoor-focused websites, such as Florida Rambler, and has been profiled on travel websites such as JohnnyJet.

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