The Main Differences Between Evaporative and Refrigerated Cooling (12 Key Facts to Consider)

September 06th, 2022
The Main Differences Between Evaporative And Refrigerated Cooling

Melburnians are spoilt for choice when it comes to keeping cool in summer. We can make a splash at a local swimming pool, hit the surf at the nearest beach, or cool down in Australia’s only Ice Bar.

Even when we’re just keeping cool at home, we have a wide range of options for air conditioning units, including evaporative cooling and refrigerated air conditioning.

As the two main contenders for climate control in summer, evaporative coolers and refrigerated air conditioners have many differences. Choosing between them will ultimately be a matter of preference. To make your choice easy, we’ve compiled a list of 12 facts about evaporative and refrigerated systems that explain the difference between these two contenders.

We’ve broken the article down into four main sections:

The Number One Difference Between Evaporative Coolers and Refrigerated Air Conditioners

5 Facts about Evaporative Coolers That Make Them Different to Refrigerated Systems

5 Facts about Refrigerated Air Cons That Make Them Different to Evaporative Systems

The Bottom Line on Keeping Cool in Melbourne’s Summer.

Read on to learn the key differences between evaporative cooling and refrigerated air conditioning.

The Number One Difference Between Evaporative Coolers and Refrigerated Air Conditioners

Most of the time, it’s not that important to understand how our products work. As long as the TV turns on and the fridge keeps the milk cold, that’s all that matters.

However, with evaporative and refrigerated systems, understanding how they cool your home is the number one consideration.

Each unit follows a vastly different process, and these processes will affect the things that matter to you. Running costs, cooling effectiveness, the environment, and more will all be affected in different ways based on the system you choose and the cooling process it follows.

Evaporative systems cool your home by taking in warm air from outside and passing it over moistened cooling pads. The warm air is cooled thanks to evaporation and it spreads throughout your home using a series of ducts. To keep the cooling pads wet, a reservoir of water is regularly circulated through the system using a water pump.

Refrigerated systems don’t use water, water pumps, or outside air. Instead, they suck in warm air from inside your home, cool the air using refrigerant gas, and distribute that cooled air back into your property.

Generally speaking, the refrigerated method produces colder and more precise air temperatures, but it comes with extra costs and a greater toll on the environment.

The evaporative method is a far more natural process with lower operating costs. However, the air it produces will be more like a refreshing breeze and less like a stream of cold air that lowers your home to a precise target temperature.

For some people, these differences will be enough to help them make a decision. However, if you want more information, consider the key facts below.

5 Facts about Evaporative Coolers That Make Them Different to Refrigerated Systems

1. Cheaper to Install and Run

Evaporative cooling units are the runaway winners when it comes to cost. If you’re installing a ducted system, then go with evaporative cooling to slash your upfront costs.

Once the unit is installed, your evaporative cooler will keep saving you money compared to a refrigerated system. In fact, by opting for an evaporative system, you could save up to 80% on your energy costs. 

Of course, the exact model you choose will influence supply and installation charges as well as your long-term energy bills and energy consumption. Whether you’re looking for evaporative cooling in Dandenong or refrigerated air conditioning in Doncaster, the Australian Climate Systems team can help you.

As experts in system sales and installation, we can recommend the most affordable and energy-efficient unit for your requirements. 

2. Open Doors and Windows Are a Must!

Your evaporative cooler is constantly moving new air into your home and flushing old air out. To achieve this, you need to leave some doors or windows open when your system is running. If you don’t have open windows and doors, your evaporative cooler will not function at its best.

Many people love the idea of open doors and windows in summer, but if this requirement is a deal-breaker for you, a refrigerated unit is the way to go!

3. Evaporative Units Offer the Freshest, Most Natural Air

Having doors and windows open during operation gives evaporative coolers one massive advantage that many homeowners love!

These systems flush out stale air and bring in fresh, filtered, cool air every few minutes. In contrast, refrigerated cooling systems constantly re-use the same air that’s already in your home. While refrigerated units also filter their air, you can’t beat the freshness that comes with new air every few minutes.

4. The Eco-Friendly Option

To see how environmentally friendly evaporative cooling is, you only need to look at the alternative.

Evaporative systems use water to cool your property while refrigerated coolers use a refrigerant gas. While these refrigerants have been designed to be as eco-friendly as possible, they’re still considered bad for the environment and they’re nowhere near as green as water-powered cooling.

Your average refrigerated system will also use more electricity than an evaporative cooler. Unless your cooling is entirely powered by solar, more electricity means more fossil fuels burned and more greenhouse gas emissions produced.

5. Evaporative Coolers Increase Your Water Usage

While water is one of the key benefits of evaporative cooling, it’s not without its drawbacks. If your cooling system is reliant on water, you will see a rise in your water bills. However, evaporative units are still very efficient, and this rise in water usage will usually be offset by lower electricity bills compared to a refrigerated system.

Faulty evaporative cooling systems can also lead to a build-up of water and even potential water damage. However, this will only occur if your system hasn’t been installed or maintained correctly. 

With professional installation and regular evaporative cooling services, water should be no worry!

5 Facts about Refrigerated Air Cons That Make Them Different to Evaporative Systems

1. Any Climate, Any Time

Refrigerated air conditioning is your best bet if you want effective cooling that you can always rely on. Refrigerated coolers can produce precise and powerful thermostat-controlled temperatures in all conditions, including humid conditions and dry climates.

On the other hand, an evaporative cooler may struggle in extremely hot weather, and it definitely won’t perform well in humid conditions.

When the relative humidity climbs above 50%, a refrigerated air conditioner will always provide the best results. 

2. Refrigerated Systems Offer Heating in Winter

The majority of refrigerated air conditioners are reverse cycle systems. This means they cool your home in summer and reverse the process to act as a heater in winter.

Reverse cycle air conditioning is the perfect all-in-one solution for when you’re building a new home or replacing a separate heater and air conditioner.

Evaporative units provide cooling only and should not be considered if you’re interested in fully integrated heating and cooling.

3. Zoning Is Available with Refrigerated ACs

Zoning is one method you can use to make your ducted refrigerated cooling more efficient. Zoning allows you to create several zones in your property that can all be cooled individually. For example, if you only want to cool the bedrooms, you can zone them together and activate the AC only in those spaces.

While evaporative coolers are efficient, they do not offer the convenience, control, and customisation of zoning.

4. Refrigerated Systems Can Be Ducted or Split

When you install an evaporative cooler, it will be a ducted system. This means you need to install ductwork and vents, usually in your roof or ceiling.

Refrigerated air conditioning is a more versatile option. You can select ducted systems for whole-home cooling, or you can opt for split system air conditioners, which consist of an indoor unit and an outdoor unit.

Refrigerated split system air conditioners are easier and cheaper to install, and they are usually suitable for properties that cannot handle ductwork. Split systems can even be installed in addition to an existing ducted unit!

If you like the added versatility of split system air conditioners, then refrigerated cooling should be your choice every time.

5. Refrigerated Coolers Have Allergy Issues (But So Do Evaporative Units)

Refrigerated air conditioning constantly reuses the same air from inside your property. If there is dust, airborne viruses, bacteria, or other nasties in the room, they will constantly be recirculated by your AC.

Many modern systems have filters and technology that trap dirt and dust, eliminate viruses and bacteria, and even break down odours. However, this doesn’t change the fact that refrigerated air conditioning systems keep using the same stale air, which may affect people with dust allergies, asthma, or other respiratory issues.

As mentioned above, evaporative coolers constantly cycle fresh air through your home and flush out the old air. However, because the doors and windows are always open, evaporative units are more likely to affect people who suffer from allergic rhinitis (more commonly known as hay fever).

No matter which system you choose, the best thing you can do is take care of it. Invest in evaporative cooling repairs and refrigerated air conditioning repairs, as well as regular system maintenance.

The Bottom Line on Keeping Cool in Melbourne’s Summer

So, should you be installing evaporative cooling in Melbourne or is it better to opt for a refrigerated air conditioner in Melbourne?

The truth is that both types of systems can be effective for your needs. Melbourne’s summers usually lead to dry conditions rather than humid climates, meaning an evaporative cooler will keep up with your needs most of the time (but maybe not all of the time).

Refrigerated systems will provide cooler temperatures overall, but this will generally come with higher running costs and less eco-friendly operation.

The cooling system you select is all about personal choice, and the easiest way to make your choice is by being fully informed. If you want to continue comparing evaporative and refrigerated systems, we recommend this article, which covers FAQs, pros & cons, and recommended brands for each type of system.

If you’re ready to make a decision, Australian Climate Systems can help you. We offer evaporative cooling in Box Hill, refrigerated air conditioning in Burwood, as well as servicing and repairs everywhere in between!

For expert, tailored advice and services, reach out to our team today.

Need advice?Call: 03 9726 4444
Australian Climate SystemsContact Us Online!
Get An Online QuoteClick Here!


    Google Rating
    Based on 197 reviews
    Google Rating
    Based on 197 reviews