Ponderings From the Portacool Porch


Each summer at Portacool we talk to hundreds – potentially, thousands of people – over the course of the hottest months.  From customer service calls to events across the country and social media interactions, we have conversations that cover the gamut when it comes to our products and proper usage techniques. Through the course of these conversations, we’ve heard it all.  There are two common misconceptions that we hear time and time again that deserve a notable explanation.

Misconception #1: We put ice in our Portacool to create cooler air.

Yep, we hear this all the time. While you may receive some additional cooling from the air blowing over the ice water for a few minutes, it isn’t going to cause the evaporated air to be so much cooler than you can actually experience a difference without a thermometer. Candidly, that’s just not how evaporation works.

Adding ice most likely won’t hurt anything, but we should mention that there is always a possibility of a piece of ice getting sucked up into the pump. That would cause the pump to seize and interrupt the cooling operation.  Ultimately, it is up to you whether you put ice in your evaporative cooler. You may achieve a 2°F temperature difference over a 30-minute time period.

Misconception #2: Oh, evaporative coolers can’t and/or won’t work in humidity.

Regardless of what you might have heard, if the humidity level (wet bulb temperature) is below 100% there is room for SOME evaporation. The higher the ambient air temperature (dry-bulb temperature) is, the faster evaporation can happen, and the cooler the air will be. The more space between your wet bulb and dry bulb temperatures, the higher your evaporation efficiency will be.

In layman’s terms, the bottom line is this: as temperatures rise (it gets hotter), humidity levels go down (it gets dryer). That means on a typical day, the humidity will be higher in the morning when it is cooler. That humidity will reduce as the mercury rises and it becomes hotter in the afternoon.  Put more scientifically, when the air temperature (dry bulb) goes up, humidity (wet bulb) will go down. Of course, rain is an exception to the rule.

What we would tell you to keep in mind:

While we agree that evaporative coolers achieve significant temperature drops in more arid climates and drier spaces, we know they CAN provide relief from the heat in any climate due to the advancements in evaporative cooling technology. Our customers from the south-central (East Texas and Louisiana) to the southeast (Alabama to Florida), to the upper east coast (New York and New Jersey), are good representatives of the cooling relief Portacool portable evaporative coolers can provide regardless of the climate.

One of our customers in Florida said it best, “I’ll take a 13°F degree [temp] drop within an hour any day. The temperature in the shop in the middle of the day was 89°F with the Portacool coolers running, but until you’ve had to work in a 100°F shop, you don’t realize how great 89°F feels!”