Honeywell swamp cooler and a $100 mistake

![41jcgmfxl6l-_sy90]( before going FT I ordered a Honeywell CS071AE 176cfm evaporative cooler from amazon to help make summer in the desert bearable.  They humidity in the ELP high desert is quite low, a great candidate for evap cooling.  The vast majority of homes here have evap cooling units on the roof instead of A/C units.  In a residential setting it takes about 10x the electricity to run an A/C than evap.

The unit came in;  I removed the wheels and bungied the cooler to the wall.  It fit neatly on the galley under the passenger side quasi-shelves I hacked together.  The vent on it can oscillate on its own or be stopped at any given position;  I use that latter feature to point the cooled airflow directly at me whether I’m sitting down working on the laptop or laying in bed.   It works quite well this way.   It won’t cool the whole van from 95F to 65F, but it will make it feel like the 70s when it’s blowing on you.  It also works quite well as a fan;  the squirrel cage vertical fan moves a lot of air with little noise.

It consumes 60w in cooling mode with the fan on max.  That’s about 10x less than the 600w required by the most efficient A/Cs (not including startup surge).   It takes about $1000 in panel and $2000 in battery to run A/C in a van, in addition to the space to install that gear.  And that’s just for the A/C.  So you can see why ‘dwellers are generally snowbirds, following 65F or 70F or whatever temp suits them best.

Evap cooler caveats:

  • the area must be ventilated or humidity will just climb in the van and the evap function stops being effective.   No problem for me since I run the maxxfan roof vent 100% of the time, even in subzero temps.  In winter I pull in air at 10% to preserve the risen heat, and in summer I push out to remove that same warm layer.

  • it goes through a non-trivial amount of water.  In my summer use this is about 3 gallons/day.  No problem due to the 35gal fresh water tank.

the mistake

So how did I screw up this good thing?  As you can see, I only bungied the top so it wouldn’t topple.  But when I was descending from 9000ft+ on the trip to the Lincoln National Forest the rough forest road and steep decline vibrated the unit so it slipped out the bottom.

It fell on its head 4 ft to the floor.

Full of water.

While plugged in.  Oopsie.

The water in the tank obeyed gravity and flooded the top part where the electronics are.  Bzzzzzt – it never recovered.  I pulled it apart to allow it to dry, cleaned up rusty bits, and reseated the connects.  No go.

So I ordered another one and secured it top and bottom.  I pulled the motors, pump, and filter media out of the dead one to use as spares.