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Anyone have a swamp cooler in the shop/garage?

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Pcmaker

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I have a mini split in my garage, but I think a swamp cooler would cool down my garage much quicker. I live in Las Vegas, so humidity it not an issue. What I am worried about is rust. Will this be a problem? I don't want my lathe and mill, as well as all my steel rusting.
 

Hawkeye

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I used to have a swamp cooler that my mother gave me. I only used it once. It dropped the temperature 7 degrees from ambient, but made the house so humid that I never used it again.

After my house fire, I had to deal with the result of higher-than-normal humidity. Most of my machines needed a good cleaning, but the off-shore stuff became extremely rusted . The RF-25 had to be scrapped.

With this experience, I would not recommend using a swamp cooler in the shop. Our ambient humidity here is very low, so it would be comparable to yours.
 

dpb

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I live in Fresno CA. Not quite as hot as Vegas, but close, and somewhat more humid. My home has both AC & swamp. My shop is just AC. I use the swamp in the house when the temp/humidity indicates that it will work well, as it is about 10% of the AC’s run cost.
House humidity with the swamp running really never rises much above 40%. No rust problem.
 

pontiac428

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Your swampy will add moisture to the air, but it will never get below dew point so condensation won't be an issue. Keep everything lightly oiled and I doubt you'll have any issue at all. My equipment up here at 85% summer humidity is no worse for surface rust than it ever was in Nevada at 5% humidity. An appropriate size swamp cooler in Nevada air shouldn't generate more than 60% relative humidity in your shop.
 

cjtoombs

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I use a swamp cooler full time in my shop and Ridgecrest weather is similar to Vegas weather. I don't have any serious problems with rust and pretty much none on machine ways. What I do have a problem with is getting it cool enough during the hottest parts of the summer. It will stay in the low 80s, but if you are doing any type of hard work, or welding, you will have sweat rolling off you. I can't even think about refrigerated air here, our electric rates are too high, and I don't want $1000+ electric bills every month. If you have both a cooler and AC, you can use the cooler for light work in the shop (most machine work) and the AC for welding or heavier work. I plan to move out your way when I retire and my plan was a dual cooler/refrigerated air system for both the shop and house.
 

matthewsx

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I had an engine building shop in Mesa, AZ (Phoenix metro) and cooled it exclusively with a big swamp cooler. On 115 degree days it would bring the shop temperature down to 105, but raise the 14% humidity to 100%.

Would I recommend it? Not if you have any viable alternative, super sweaty and lots of maintenance.

I didn't have too much trouble with rust but I also didn't have any expensive machines to worry about there. I also got the unit free so I didn't have any upfront cost. Definitely keep everything well oiled if you decide to use one.

I currently have a window AC unit in my garage which blows straight over my workbench. If you can manage spot cooling with a mini-split or window unit I would go with that over a swamp cooler any day. Mostly depends on what you're doing in the shop, as noted above if you're doing heavy work the swamp will make you fairly miserable with sweat dripping from every pore. Maybe consider moving stuff around in the garage so the AC is blowing directly on where you work most.

If it was me I would do some serious calculations to see if the AC is affordable, good swamp coolers aren't cheap and even though they burn less electricity they do use some along with the water. The swamp cooler I had took quite a while (with airflow out an open door or window) to cool shop down. I didn't have any other cooling so nothing to compare it to but I doubt it will be faster than an appropriately sized AC unit.

Cheers,

John
 

kb58

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As said, being in Vegas (baby), you should almost always have low humidity, but if it's ever muggy, it'll make a miserable situation worse. We're in SoCal and had one of our monsoonal seasons, with it being both very warm and humid. Because that's unusual, some stores here (especially near the coast) apparently calculated that they could get by with swamp coolers. I stopped by a Home Depot during this time and walking in, it went from ordinarily miserable to "OMG" status, with humidity noticeably increasing from probably around 80% to 100%. What was amusing was the staff using squeegee brooms and mops to clean up what appeared to be widespread water leaks. Nope, it was just condensation, which was dripping off any and every metal surface with a surface temperature below the dew point. There was standing water everywhere. So yeah, avoid it if you can.
 

Aaron_W

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One of the things I learned with a swamp cooler is when they are run into a tightly sealed house, they raise the humidity and are less effective. They work much better at cooling, and don't create the muggy feeling when there is an adequate exit vent for the air flow.

I've used them in Arizona and high desert in So. California and they worked really well once I was taught the secret to using them. The work off evaporation so in a dry climate like Las Vegas they can work really well.
 

Superburban

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My old house had a swamp cooler, which cooled the attached garage down quite well, if I left the big door open a few inches. I did not have any more rust issues then here, with nothing to cool the shop. The big difference I notice, is the shop here gets tons of dust form the surrounding desert. The swamp cooler makes a great whole house filter. Our house has central air, which is as good the other house with the swamp cooler, just tons of dust if we have the windows open, and not great cooling when we close the house up.

A neighbor has a swamp cooler on his shop, mostly does wood. His paint booth is slick, he hes three dryer vents, that go outside, and has a lever to force them closed. When he paints, he opens them, closes the windows, and turns the fan on the swamp cooler up. The filtered air, grabs the fumes, and flows out the vents.
 

MontanaLon

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I used to have a swamp cooler that my mother gave me. I only used it once. It dropped the temperature 7 degrees from ambient, but made the house so humid that I never used it again.

After my house fire, I had to deal with the result of higher-than-normal humidity. Most of my machines needed a good cleaning, but the off-shore stuff became extremely rusted . The RF-25 had to be scrapped.

With this experience, I would not recommend using a swamp cooler in the shop. Our ambient humidity here is very low, so it would be comparable to yours.
There is a lot more going on during and after a house fire than high humidity. 20 year firefighter and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the crap in the smoke is highly corrosive. Add a little moisture to it and you end up with any number of acids from weak to strip the paint off the walls strong. Even a weak acid will cause steel to rust almost instantly. When you add in the heat and moisture, oxidation is a certainty.

Interestingly, "fireproof" gun safes rarely are. They will keep the wood from charring for an hour just fine but when they get hot the air inside them expands and forces its' way out, that is actually a good thing as without air things don't burn. Problem comes when they cool off. That hot air inside cools and shrinks in volume creating a suction which pulls all the crap in from outside in to where the guns are.
 
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