Ultimate Comparison: Air Cooler and Air Conditioner

air conditioner and air cooler

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Air cooler is a popular household appliance nowadays, while air conditioner is an essential appliance for cooling in summer. Whether choose an air cooler or an air conditioner, you must understand the basic knowledge of them in advance.

At the same time, you may have questions: How to buy an air cooler? What should I pay attention to when buying an air conditioner? Should I buy an air conditioner or an air cooler? This article will give you the answer.

Differences Between Air Cooler and Air Conditioner

1. Working principle

Air cooler uses water as the medium and can release the same water temperature in a short time. Since you needn’t close the doors and windows, after filtrating and cooling by air cooler, the outdoor air will be sent into the room. Meanwhile, the turbid indoor air will also be discharged outside.

Therefore, air cooler not only has the function of cooling, but also has the function of ventilating, which can fresh the indoor air. While, Air Conditioner is cooled by a compressor, when refrigerant changes from liquid to gas, it absorbs a lot of heat.

2. Power consumption

The rated power of an air cooler is small, but the rated power of an air conditioner far exceeds air cooler. Therefore,  air cooler is more energy-efficient than air conditioner.

People who buy air coolers generally hope they can get cooler air in summer without having to bear high electricity bills.

3. Price

Air cooler has a beautiful appearance and a relatively low price. The minimum power of a household air cooler is only 60-80W, and the price can be as low as $15.While the air conditioner has a good cooling effect, but the price is relatively high.

For places don’t focus on the cooling effect a lot, you had better buy an air cooler, not air conditioner.

4. Function

Air cooler used for cooling, ventilation, and dust removal. Air Conditioner used for cooling or heating, and dehumidification.

5. Environmental effect

Air cooler lowers the temperature by moving air, but air conditioner uses fluorine-containing refrigerant as the medium to decrease the temperature. The hot air drawn by the compressor is released to the outside, meanwhile, the cold air enters the room from inside the unit. It is harmful to the ozone layer and also harmful to the surrounding environment. So air conditioner is less environmentally friendly than air cooler.

Air Cooler and Air Conditioning Fan

1. They are essentially the same product. They both have the same cooling principle: Water in the water tank is cooled by ice crystals, then the cold water released from the air outlet through the circulating water pump to achieve the effect of cooling.

Only people name them differently, and different manufacturers name their products differently as well.

2. The so-called air conditioning fan or air cooler actually uses the principle of water evaporation to absorb heat to cool the room. That is: the fan motor drives the air in the room to circulate through the surface of the moisture, accelerating the evaporation of moisture and absorbing heat. If you add additional ice crystals to the water tank, the cooling effect of air conditioning fan will be better.

Air cooler working diagram

Air cooler structure

What Is Evaporative Cooler?

Evaporative cooler generally called environmental friendly air conditioner or evaporative air conditioner, is an evaporative cooling and ventilation device that integrates cooling, ventilation, dust prevention, and deodorization.

It is one of the most selling air coolers, especially for large spaces.

Evaporative cooler

Evaporative cooler use Tips

1. Place horizontally

Evaporative cooler should place horizontally, can’t tilt during use. Before use, check whether the power of the socket is consistent with the parameters (on the nameplate) of the air cooler.

Evaporative cooler nameplate

2. Frozen ice crystals

Generally, an evaporative cooler is equipped with two ice crystals or more.

Every night, keep them in the refrigerator freezer, then take them out the next day, and put them in the water tank to get better effect.

Ice crystal tank

3. Humidify appropriately

If you want to use cooling, humidification, and air supply functions, should fill the water tank with clean water.

After working for 1-3 minutes, the air outlet temperature can achieve the best effect. Add low-temperature cold water or ice water if possible, then the cooling effect will be better.

If you add the appropriate amount of spices to the water, it will blow out a refreshing breeze, which will make people feel refreshed and comfortable in the hot summer.

4. Swing to blow air

Evaporative cooler has the function of swinging the left and right to supply fresh air.

Press the “wind direction” selection key once to make the “swing air” indicator light.

That is, the air will be automatically released to the left and right, and the air supply angle is 120 degrees.

If you needn’t swing the air supply, press the “wind direction” selection key once again to make the “directional wind” indicator light, and then stop swinging the directional air supply.

You can adjust the upper and lower air supply positions as well.

How Effective Of Air Cooler?

Air cooler can lower the indoor temperature by 4°C-6°C. First the cold air obtained by the water cycle cooling is blown out, then you can feel the ambient temperature has indeed dropped. This is physical cooling.

For restaurants, factories, workshops, shopping malls, and other public places, air conditioning consumes too much electricity, but the effect of air coolers won’t be bad as well.

The power consumption of air cooler is much smaller than that of air conditioner, its price is cheaper, meanwhile it isn’t easy to cause “Air conditioning Disease“.

Air cooler combines the advantages of air conditioner and electric fan, but air conditioner needs to operate in a closed environment, which makes people feel uncomfortable. Although normal electric fan has natural wind, if the environment is very dirty, the wind blowing out must be very dirty as well. The air cooler has an anti-dust filter to filtrate the air, meanwhile, there is a layer of photocatalyst on the anti-dust filter to sterilize.

Air Cooler

How to Choose Air Cooler And Air Conditioner?

Air Cooler Buying Tips

1. Look at the cooling effect

There are 3 factors that affect the cooling effect of the air cooler: cooling material, ice crystal, and evaporation.

Cooling material is the core factor, but it is most easily overlooked because it’s hidden inside the machine.

Ice crystals are essential for refrigeration and have the characteristics of low freezing point, strong cold storage capacity, and long cold release time.

So please carefully check the size and quantity of ice crystals when you purchase.

2. Test the air purification effect

Usually, the dust-proof filter of an air cooler will add on the cold catalyst,  inside of the machine will also set a negative ion generator. You must carefully check these details when purchasing.

If owned all these features, will indicate the air cooler is fully functional and the air-purifying effect is good.

3. Check the condition of the water tank

Water tank is an important part of the air cooler. Check the material of the water tank specifically when purchasing, if it is a thick anti-bacterial PP water tank or a nano ABS water tank, which indicates that the quality is better.

Air Conditioner Buying Tips

1. Cooling capacity

The actual cooling capacity of air conditioner can’t be less than 95% of the rated cooling capacity. Please check the nameplate carefully or ask the supplier when purchasing.

AC working no good

Air conditioner

2. Energy efficiency ratio (EER)

The EER of the 1HP (Horse Power) Air Conditioner is 3.2 or more, while the EER of 1.5HP (or above) is 3.15 or more. The greater the EER, the better the air conditioner.

3. Noise level

The indoor unit noise of an air conditioner shouldn’t be greater than 45 decibels. When purchasing, check whether the noise level of the air conditioner if meets the standard.

Advantages And Disadvantages of Air Cooler


Compared with electric fan, can lower the ambient temperature by 5-6 degrees, low power consumption, medium and low prices, etc.

Some air coolers also have heating function, equip with anion function, small size, and are convenient to move.


1. Limited cooling effect

Air cooler is actually an electric fan equipped with a water cooling device. The built-in water pump keeps water circulating in the machine to cool the surrounding air so that the wind released by the fan will feel cool. Manufacturers call them “physical energy storage refrigeration”.

But its effect is very limited, at most 4-6°C lower than the ambient temperature. However, if the air conditioner runs at full speed, can roughly 20°C lower the ambient temperature.

2. Need to add water to achieve the cooling effect

Air cooler long time no use must be filled with clean water before use. You can observe the scale of the water tank to control the amount of filled water.

Must unplug before adding water, which can avoid electrical components damage. When the water level reaches the minimum required water level is fine, but you need to pay attention to the water level scale when the air cooler is in use.

When the water level drops to closer the minimum required value, you should add on the water in time, otherwise, it will affect the cooling effect.

3. Blowing for a long time is easy to catch a cold

Whether it is an air cooler, air conditioner, or electric fan, blowing directly for a long time may cause a cold.

4. Use by patients with rheumatism is easy to induce disease

People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are prone to disease in the case of rainy weather and increased air humidity. The use of an air cooler will increase the humidity of the indoor air. When the humidity increases to a certain level, it may induce joint pain, so use it with caution.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Air Conditioner


Can obviously reduce (Cooling function) or increase (Heating function) indoor temperature, and adjust the temperature according to different needs.

Meanwhile, there are different models and powers to choose.


1. Water absorption is strong so that the room air becomes too dry.

2. Large size, expensive price, power consumption is large and isn’t easy to move.

3. Easier to feel uncomfortable and suffer from air-conditioning diseases.

Because the room is sealed, the air is not circulated, and the indoor air temperature is uneven.

Choose Air Cooler or Air Conditioner?

1. Air conditioner is more convenient

If you are always busy or don’t want to spend too much time on selection, we recommend buying air conditioners. Because the use of air cooler is troublesome,  you must replace the ice crystals at least 2-3 times per day in summer, and water 3-4 times to ensure the cooling effect; if you forget to replace the ice crystals or forget to add water, it is equivalent just a simple electric fan, the cooling effect is not good.

So to avoid troublesome every day, we recommend buying air conditioner, which is more convenient to use and has better cooling effects.

2. Air cooler saves money

If you want to save money, we recommend using an air cooler.

Moreover, an air conditioner is used in a fixed place, but the air cooler can be movable randomly.


All in all, air cooler and Air Conditioner have their own characteristics.

If you require comfort, you can choose an air conditioner. However, although air conditioner can adjust the indoor temperature to a pleasant level, it’s also easier to make the temperature difference between indoor and outdoor excessively large and cause people to catch a cold or suffer from air-conditioning diseases.

Compared with the air conditioner, the air cooler is much healthier, but the cooling effect is definitely not as obvious as that of the air conditioner.

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About Author

Vic Cheung
Vic Cheung

Hi, I'm Vic! Start working in HVACR field since 2008, our main products included: air conditioning, cold room refrigeration system, water chiller, ice machine, commercial dehydrator, dehumidifier, heat pump, electric motor, and all accessories. Since joined China Speedway Group in 2012, I worked in here more than 10 years, as the general manager of export department, we have established 50+ agent in different countries and areas.
As our experience and strong technical support, we can solve your issue once you have, and our chief engineer has worked in HVACR field since 1997. I am so proud of our knowlege is more and more popular not only for engineer, and for HVACR business new comer, DIY lovers. Hope you are enjoying our articles, if any question or comments just welcome to send me marketing at cn-beyond.com

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China Speedway Group is a professional HVACR products’ manufacturer and wholesaler, we customize different HVACR products and spare parts, especially refrigeration products and parts. Such as air conditioning, refrigeration equipment, cold room solution, ice machine, dehumidifier, electric motor, heat exchanger,copper coil, etc.

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