Evaporative Cooling vs Air Conditioning

Evaporative Cooling vs Air Conditioning

Evaporative cooling and air conditioning are Australia's two most popular cooling solutions, but which is best for your home? In this article, we will cover everything from what they are and their differences to how much energy they consume and the overall costs of installing them in your home. All of your questions will be answered such as ‘is evaporative cooling good?’, ‘how much energy does and air conditioner use?’ and many more!

Difference Between Evaporative Cooler and Air Conditioner

While both systems are designed to make our lives more comfortable when the temperature rises, there are differences between evaporative cooling and air conditioning. To get a better idea of these differences and how they can fit into your home, we first need to understand what they are and how they function.

What is Evaporative Cooling, and How Does it Work?

An evaporative cooling system turns water into cool vapour to lower the air temperature in a single room or multiple rooms around the house. It works by having the warmer air drawn in by a fan and filtered through water-filled cooling pads. This process causes the water to evaporate and be released as a cool vapour that can circulate throughout the house via ducts and vents.

What is an Air Conditioner, and How Does it Work?

Several types of air conditioners are available, but the most common for Australian homes are reverse-cycle air conditioners. A reverse-cycle system comprises the air conditioning unit inside the room and a compressor installed outside, which works to circulate the hot air. While all air conditioning units are designed to cool down rooms by transferring warm air from inside to outside, a reverse cycle air conditioner can also heat rooms, making them reliable all year round.

Air Conditioning with Brighton Homes

Every Brighton or Elwood home comes with 4 Zone Reverse Cycle Ducted Air Conditioning from Actron Air, at no extra cost! Experience year round comfort with the ducted air con system that is divided into 4 zones around the house.

Benefits of Air Conditioning for Your Home

An air conditioning system makes for a comfortable living environment, all year round. However, the benefits don’t stop there. To make your home as liveable as possible, check out these amazing benefits of air conditioning, including:

  • Improved air quality – removes pollutants from the air, improving the air you breath.
  • Humidity control – air conditioning manages humidity levels to prevent the growth of mould and harmful bacteria.
  • Better sleep quality – keeping the bedroom cool in summer and warm in winter can help you get a better night’s sleep.
  • Less noise – having the doors and windows closed means less exterior noise coming in. 
  • Fewer insects and pests – the filters in air conditioners are more effective at keeping bugs out than an open window.

Installation Costs

When it comes to installation for evaporative cooling vs air conditioning in your home, there are two questions: What is the upfront price? And what are the running costs? When you build with Brighton, your Actron Air 4 Zone Reverse Cycle Ducted Air Conditioning System is already included, so you won’t have to worry about installation costs!

Upfront Pricing

The upfront pricing for both evaporative coolers and air conditioners includes the cost of the actual units themselves and the installation. On average, the cost of a ducted evaporative cooling system can be around the $2500 range, but other factors can increase this initial price, such as which brand and the unit size. The installation costs of an evaporative cooler can be difficult to determine because it is such a labour-intensive process. Still, like the unit itself, there are vital factors that could inflate the final price:

  • The overall size of your home
  • The number of vents being installed
  • The complexity of the installation location.
Air Con - Grayson 30

The upfront pricing for air conditioning can be calculated similarly, but the cost of the unit largely depends on the size. To help you decide which unit is the right size for your home and needs, consider the following:

  • Size of the room you're thinking of installing the unit
  • Orientation of the room - is it facing north, east or west?
  • External shadings like trees, pergolas or awnings
  • Insulation in the roof, walls and floor
  • Internal shadings like blinds and curtains
  • Local climate.

Installing your air conditioning system requires less labour and usually requires only one professional to install, making it more affordable than evaporative cooling. However, the final costs will depend on unit size, the complexity of installation and whether it's a single or multi-room system.

Running Costs

Figuring out the running costs between evaporative cooling and air conditioning also depends on many factors, including the size of the unit, whether it's ducted throughout the house and how much energy it uses. The running costs of evaporative coolers are generally cheaper as they require less power to convert energy into cool air. On the other hand, a reverse-cycle air conditioning unit can cost more in the long run due to the higher energy required; however, there are ways to save and make the most of your unit.


Evaporative coolers and air conditioners require regular maintenance checks to ensure your appliance works effectively. The wet pads and fan parts of evaporative cooling systems need some routine cleaning to avoid them becoming breeding grounds for mould and bacteria. The filters are the main focus for air conditioners and should be cleaned regularly or even replaced outright to ensure cool air can be effectively recirculated.

Climate Types

You might think that each appliance is effective in every climate type, and you would be right about air conditioners, but evaporative coolers are only suited for some climates. Due to them relying on outside air, evaporative coolers can be impacted by the weather, meaning they do not work as well in environments with high humidity, like Queensland. Air conditioners have a clear advantage as they can be effective in any climate type.

Energy Consumption

How much energy evaporative coolers and air conditioners use is a major contributing factor in deciding which appliance is best for you.  

How Much Energy Does an Evaporative Cooler Use?

While air conditioning units will always consume more energy than evaporative coolers, the energy ratings are improving. With more and more manufacturers becoming conscious of emissions and Australian homeowners wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and save more, air conditioners are now including eco-friendly settings. These are designed to keep your air conditioner running at the most energy-efficient temperature and can even turn off once the room has reached an optimal level on your emissions and electricity bill.

And there you have it! While each have their own benefits and standout features, it’s obvious that reverse cycle air conditioning is the clear winner. With its ability to heat and cool as well as it’s adaptability for every kind of environment and climate type, having a reverse cycle air conditioner is a must have for every Queensland home.  

As the summer months roll on, we could be spending a lot more on keeping the house cool and comfortable but with our 13 Ways to Save Electricity This Summer, you will have the tips you need to save on cooling!