Honestly, this is a question that we get a lot this time of year. There are two different types of pads for standard swamp coolers or evaporative coolers. Each type of pad has pros and cons. We have broken down the types of pads that are available so you can see which type may be best for your home.
I know you just want to know…
The best swamp cooler pads for standard swamp coolers are aspen pads.
Aspen Swamp Cooler Pads
Aspen pads will give you the best cooling capacity for standard coolers. They come in two sizes: 1-inch or 2-inch. The thicker the pad the more water it can absorb. Aspen pads are made of aspen fibers woven together. Since the fibers are a natural material they hold water inside the pads better than synthetic pads. It’s important for pads to hold water and stay saturated to keep cool air blowing through your home. If the pad is not staying wet, you’ll just blow hot air into your home.
So what’s the catch?
The downside to aspen evaporative cooler pads is they deteriorate throughout the year. Plus as they fall apart their fibers can clog your pump and distribution tubes. When this happens the fan will blow hot air only because the pads aren’t getting wet. Also, as they deteriorate they sag and cause hot spots. Hot spots are areas where the pad has fallen and the fan is just blowing hot air from outside. In order to maximize cooling effectiveness, the pads need to stay wet and saturated. Also, it’s important to note that these pads need to be replaced every year prior to each season. This will maximize cooling and help prevent clogging your pump or water distribution tubes.
What’s the alternative?
So there is only one other type of pad available for standard evaporative coolers. Unfortunately, they do not have the same cooling capacity as the aspen pads. We don’t recommend using this type of pad for your evaporative coolers. They tend to fall apart very easily. TLC will always install aspen pads unless a customer supplies the blue synthetic pads. You can read more about them below.
Blue Synthetic Cooler Pads
These bright blue spongy pads are made from synthetic material. They do not deteriorate or sag like aspen pads. These pads also tend to last longer than aspen pads and don’t flake off and clog the pump or water tubes. While they have an adequate cooling capacity they are not able to absorb water as well as aspen pads. The synthetic fibers cannot retain water as well as the natural aspen fibers so they cannot cool as well. Because they cannot absorb water as well, the pads can dry out. Also, the synthetic fibers absorb hard water mineral buildup more than aspen pads and can reduce airflow. The blue pads will also need to be replaced annually to maximize their effectiveness.
You may be wondering…
Are there any other options available? Unfortunately, these are the only options available for standard evaporative coolers. There used to be another option that was made of green paper but those are no longer being manufactured and are unavailable.
Mastercool Swamp Cooler Pads
If you have a Mastercool or Aerocool cooler there is only one type of pad you will use for these, which is made of heavy honeycomb-shaped paper. These pads and coolers offer the best cooling ability. There are two sizes of pads available 8” and 12”. The thicker the pad the more water it can absorb. Many homeowners choose to upgrade their standard coolers to these types of coolers because of their cooling ability. It’s important to know that you should have your Mastercool pads inspected and cleaned each year. These pads usually get hard water mineral buildup over time. So it’s important to clean them every year and replace them every 3-5 years depending on how hard your water is. A water softener can help extend the life of the pads and reduce hard water buildup within the cooler.
Breezair Swamp Cooler Pads
Breezair coolers have become more popular in New Mexico as an alternative to converting to refrigerated air. Breezair coolers offer the greatest cooling capacity available from evaporative cooling. These types of coolers use only one type of pad that is exclusive to the Breezair type of coolers. Similar to Mastercool coolers, these pads do not need to be replaced every year. They typically should be replaced every 3-5 years. Breezair pads do not typically get a lot of hard water buildup because of the way the system drains the water in the cooler.
Where to buy swamp cooler pads
You can purchase swamp cooler pads at any home improvement store. If you have a professional perform your swamp cooler start-up and maintenance they usually do this as a part of the start-up.
What’s the bottom line?
Swamp cooler pads are very important to keep you cool and comfortable this summer. Along with replacing your coolers pads each year, we recommend you perform regular maintenance on your swamp cooler to prep it for the season. This will maximize cooling effectiveness for those long hot days.
Interested in Converting to Refrigerated Air?
Converting a swamp cooler to refrigerated air is a common home upgrade in New Mexico. TLC technicians can help you install a refrigerated air conditioning unit and forget about swamp cooler pads altogether!