Evaporative cooling vs Air Conditioning

all you need to know

The Climate Wizard CW-H15S-Plus Indirect Evaporative Air Conditioners on the Adelaide Central Market rooftop

Evaporative cooling vs air conditioning

Evaporative cooling has many benefits if compared with conventional air conditioning, but also a few limitations. It is important to know its characteristics in order to specify it for the right applications and installations.

Let’s see all differences in details!

Traditional Air conditioning vs. Evaporative cooling

A comparison of two technologies

Traditional Air Conditioner

How it works

  • Air conditioner removes heat and moisture from air
  • The same air is continuously circulated in the building and through the air conditioner unit
  • Where fresh air component is present, more energy is required compared to evaporative cooling systems
  • Air is filtered as it is returned to the air conditioner
  • Air conditioner uses chemical refrigerants to cool the air


  • Temperature/humidity can be controlled
  • Can remove moisture from air, reducing humidity
  • Normally retains the biggest portion of air into the building– no to little fresh air added (adding fresh air component impacts on energy consumption)
  • Cooling capacity negatively impacted by external temperature – the hotter the outside air, the less efficient the air conditioner
  • High energy bills when installed in huge buildings

Evaporative Cooling

How it works

  • Cools air by evaporation – only uses water and electricity to run
  • Cool, fresh filtered outside air is continuously supplied to the building, with low energy consumption
  • Cool air is distributed throughout the building through ducts
  • Normally higher airflow than traditional air conditioner
  • Exhaust air is continuously removed from the building, through doors, windows or extract systems


  • Temperature/humidity can be controlled by smart sensors
  • High volume of cooled outside air supplied to building with high COP/EER
  • Improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), by supplying 100% fresh outside air and high ventilation rate
  • Cool air contains the same amount of moisture (for M-cycle indirect evaporative cooling / adds little moisture for direct evaporative cooling)
  • Cooling capacity positively impacted by external conditions – the hotter the outside air, the more efficient the evaporative cooler
  • Low energy bills when installed in huge buildings
  • Thanks to its characteristics it can be installed for cooling open/semi-open areas

Traditional Air conditioning coupled with Evaporative cooling

for greater energy savings

Climate Wizard in supplementary and pre cooling configurations

M-cycle Indirect Evaporative cooling technology can be coupled with a conventional A/C system for greater energy savings and for combining benefits of the two technologies.

Top 10 benefits for evaporative cooling compared to refrigerated air conditioning

Here is a guide of the top 10 most important benefits to look for when choosing between an evaporative air conditioner or a refrigerated air conditioner.

1. Evaporative cooling has low running costs

The main reason that evaporative cooling is so energy efficient is that the only power-consuming components are the motor for the fan, the control module, and a small water pump.

That means some evaporative cooling products can use 82 % less (1) energy than direct expansion air conditioning. That’s a huge saving and a great opportunity, if you consider that an average industrial air conditioner costs so much to install and maintain that often businesses have no A/C installed at all.

2. Evaporative cooling provides fresh cool and clean air into your building

Fresh air is a major benefit of evaporative air conditioning, supplying 100% fresh, cool, outside air, all while delivering superior energy efficiency compared to a refrigerated equivalent. Indoor Air Quality is improved and impurities/pollens are filtered while passing through the pads – a bonus for allergy sufferers.

3. Evaporative cooling has lower electricity usage

Evaporative air conditioners use far less electricity, therefore less fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. You will also be surprised to know that evaporative coolers use less water than conventional air conditioning, if you consider water used to produce the electricity that evap is saving. Investing in a premium evaporative air conditioning product will not only deliver lower running costs but will also reduce energy demands and lower the carbon footprint of a factory or warehouse as a result.

4. How carbon footprint can be reduced by evaporative air conditioning

A carbon footprint is the total amount of CO2 dispersed into the atmosphere and generated by our energy consumption (2). When measuring a carbon footprint, it’s the amount of carbon dioxide directly or indirectly produced. The carbon footprint is a method of determining someone’s environmental impact.

According to United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) electricity production generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions, in total 25 % of 2019 greenhouse gas emissions (3). If an industry appliance uses a low level of electricity, it minimizes the environmental impact.

5. Evaporative air conditioning —better for the environment, better for you

Every time a customer chooses an evaporative vs a direct expansion cooler, the benefits for the environment are significant. In a location like Madrid (Spain), Breezair TBSI 580 evaporative cooler produces 86% carbon emissions less, if compared with refrigerated systems (4).
If we combine the low carbon footprint with the superior Indoor Air Quality, evaporative cooling can be considered one of the most efficient technologies in the market.


6. Evaporative cooling reduces demand on the electrical grid

The comparison between evaporative and conventional direct expansion air conditioning is just as significant when it comes to the impact on the electrical grid. Evaporative coolers’ performance improves when heat is at its highest, consuming the same amount of power as temperature rises, therefore increasing COP/EER.

7. Water-management technology to check water use

All Seeley International’s evaporative coolers are embedded with Water-Management system to check water quality and ensure a wise use of it. Moreover, evaporative coolers consume less water than conventional A/C, if we consider water used to produce the electricity that an evaporative cooler saves.

8. Easy maintenance helps to keep costs down

Easy and regular service by a qualified technician after each cooling season will ensure that an evaporative air conditioner continues to run at its peak efficiency while maintaining low running costs.

Seeley International’s network of approved contractor makes maintenance so easy that you can rest assure to have the units performing at their best all the time!

9. Can be retrofitted to existing air conditioning units

Thanks to the versatily and adaptability of our M-cycle indirect evaporative cooling models, they can be coupled to conventional A/C units in pre-cooling to act in the fresh air portion of Air Handling Units or in supplementary cooling to act in the air recirculation component of the chiller.

10. Premium quality - the best in the market

Seeley International evaporative coolers are the best in the market in terms of quality, robustness and durability. We have been manufacturing evaporative coolers for more than 50 years and have premium warranty conditions that prove the quality of all our products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Evaporative Cooling - Industrial Applications FAQs

Evaporative cooling is perfect for all kinds of industrial HVAC applications: this includes industrial manufacturing plants and commercial warehouses. When cooling large areas, it is more cost-effective than traditional A/C, whose capital and running costs would be  prohibitive. Industrial applications often have hot spots that are uncomfortable to work in and those spaces are not just hotter than the rest of the building, but hotter than external ambient conditions too. You can use evaporative coolers to blanket these hot spots and therefore installing less units than the number of units needed to cool the entire space.

Evaporative cooling systems continuously bring in 100% fresh outside air, thus improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) inside industrial buildings. This improves employee comfort, health and wellbeing and supports productivity compared to not having any cooling system installed. Moreover, high heat load could lead to machines tripping. We have seen some customers stop production due to severe heat inside the factory, thus leading to a loss in profit.

An industrial evaporative cooling system by Seeley International can use up to 80% less energy, compared to a standard A/C system. We have estimated that in a location like central Spain, CO2 emissions could be 90% less, compared to a standard refrigerated system performing the same duty. A Breezair TBS 580 evaporative cooler consumes around 18 liters of water per hour: but when considering water consumption, we should also refer to the water used to produce electricity (7.6 l/kWh1 ). An evaporative cooler can consume up to 30% less water than a standard A/C system installed in a similar application, if we also take into consideration the electricity needed to run the system itself.

  1. Consumptive Water Use for U.S. Power Production, P. Torcellini, N. Long, and R. Judkoff, December 2003.

Evaporative coolers work at their best in dry climates. But it is not true that they cannot work in commonly considered humid climates. In fact, the moment cooling is most needed in industrial spaces is in the central part of the day, when not only humidity is at its lowest, but temperature is at its highest. No matter how hot it gets outside, evaporative coolers use the same amount of power and still deliver 100% continuous fresh, cool air inside. This is in direct contrast to refrigerated systems, which require increasing amounts of power as outside temperatures rise. Evaporative cooler cost-saving capabilities actually increase, when the ambient heat is at its peak. At the same time, their performance also increases as temperatures rise – again, in complete contrast to refrigerated systems.

Breezair evaporative cooling systems are extensively installed and working perfectly in locations across Europe for more than 30 years (with regular service and maintenance). In the commercial/industrial sector, hours of operation and environmental conditions often mean more regular servicing is necessary for the most efficient operation of your air conditioning unit(s). Always refer to your Owner’s Manual for scheduled service intervals. You can always contact us if you have more questions or reach out to your local distributor by clicking here.


  1. Seeley International’s running costs comparison is a calculation based on assumptions including Building dimensions 1000m2 floor area x 6m high; Cooling time 12hrs/day, 6 summer months/year; Indoor temperature 22°C; Building heat load 100W/m²; Rooftop Unit – Fresh air 1,170 l/sec (20%); Rooftop Unit -COP 3; External ambient conditions based on Typical Meteorological Years (TMY) for Madrid (Spain); Power cost 0.11 €/kWh; Water cost 1.5 €/m³; Electricity Generation CO2 equivalent 340gCO2eq/kWh. The comparison should be used as a general guide only.
  2. The Nature Conservancy – Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
  3. EPA – Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  4. Seeley International’s running costs comparison is a calculation based on assumptions including Building dimensions 900m2 floor area x 6m high; Cooling time 12rs/day, 6 summer months/year; Indoor temperature 25°C; Internal building heat load 13.5kW; Fresh air 4500 l/sec; Refrigerated A/C COP 3; External ambient conditions based on 2018 Madrid (Spain) weather data; Power cost 0.11Euro/kWh; Water cost 1,5Euro/kl; Electricity Generation CO2 equivalent 340gCO2eq/kWh. The comparison should be used as a general guide only.