How Much Does it Cost to Install a Swamp Cooler?

Typical Range:

$1,560 - $3,732

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 494 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
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Published January 10, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Swamp Cooler Cost

the average cost to install a swamp cooler is $2,500 or $00 to $5,200.

The average cost to install a swamp cooler is $2,532 and ranges from $1,560 and $3,732. Labor will run about $70 an hour. Materials, or the unit itself, will cost anywhere from $40 to $2,300. A larger house will have more air to cool and will therefore require a larger unit.

Swamp or evaporative coolers pull hot, dry air from outside into the home. A pad inside the unit cools and moisturizes the air, making the room more comfortable. Swamp coolers are an affordable, energy-efficient and humidifying method for cooling your home when compared with central air conditioners.

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National Average $2,532
Typical Range $1,560 - $3,732
Low End - High End $400 - $5,560

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 494 HomeAdvisor members.

Swamp Cooler Prices

Swamp cooler prices can range from small, portable units around $40 each, to permanent, roof-mounted units at $1,600 or more. Unit cost will be determined mostly by size, location, and amount of duct work needed.

Evaporative Cooler Price List
Unit TypeAvg. Cost of Unit
Roof-Mounted$350 - $1,600
Ground-Mounted$350 - $1,600
Portable$40 - $2,300
Window$290 - $1,000

Roof-Mounted Swamp Cooler Cost

Roof-mounted units will cost about $350 to $1,600 for materials alone. Labor can be pricey for this type because of access complications. Expect to pay more if there is not already a hole in the roof for the unit to sit in. You'll also need to pay more if you don’t have a duct system installed in your home.

Cost of New Swamp Cooler Ground Unit

A ground unit swamp cooler costs roughly the same as a roof-mounted model, between $350 and $1,600. Labor charges fall between $50 and $70 per hour. Contractors charge less to install these compared to roof units because the location is more accessible. This doesn't include the cost of vents or ducts.

Cost of Ducted Evaporative Cooling

The cost to install ducting is between $400 and $900. This total includes vents, duct work and labor, but not the roof-mounted or ground unit itself. The amount of duct work can impact both the cost of materials and labor.

Portable Evaporative Cooler Prices

A portable unit can vary in size and range in price from $40 to $2,300. These units range from small plug-in models that require little to no installation, to large systems with ducting attached.

Window Units

Window unit coolers cost as little as $290 and up to $1,000. Installation is usually a quick DIY project.

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Evaporative Cooling System Size Calculator

Bigger homes require larger swamp coolers, which are more expensive. While a smaller system may save money, it's not worth the cost if it doesn't cool your home effectively. If you only need to cool a small area or room of your house, you can purchase a smaller unit.

To calculate the size you need, use the formula below.

Square footage of home times height of ceilings divided by 2Or (sqft of home x height of ceiling) / 2

For a 1,000 square foot home with 8-foot ceilings, you would need a swamp cooler that cools 4,000 cubic feet per minute. Use this number to purchase your swamp cooler.

Cooler Coverage and Associated Costs
Area Covered (sf)Cost
100$40 - $260
500$150 - $580
1,500$400 - $1,000
2,000$570 - $2,300

Top Brands: Bonaire & Breezaire Evaporative Cooler Prices

Bonaire sells coolers for anywhere from $550 to $800. Breezaire's run from $1,000 to $2,300, not including labor.

Evaporative Cooling Unit Cost by Brand
BrandCostWarranty Length (years)
Bonaire$550 - $8002
Breezaire$1,000 - $2,3007, 10, & 25 (varies with product)
Aerocool$300 - $2,0002
MasterCool$550 - $1,6001
Hessaire$150 - $7801
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Swamp Cooler Installation Costs

An evaporative or swamp cooler will cost an average of $2,000 to install. This total includes an average of $700 in labor, or 10 hours at $70 per hour. This also includes the unit price and other materials such as tools, fittings, fasteners, and mounting hardware.

Unit$40 - $2,300
Labor$70 - $1,000+
Other materials$25 - $150
Total$135 - $3,450+

Evaporative Cooling Installation Cost Factors

The average $700 price of installation changes with:

  • Type of unit installed

  • Amount of duct work needed

  • Steepness of roof (for roof units)

  • Accessibility of installation space

  • Individual contractor rates

  • Exiting conditions (if an existing unit/system needs removing)

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Cost to Replace Evaporative Cooler

The cost to replace a cooler is between $1,200 and $2,300. This includes materials and labor. Check with your contractor in advance to ask is they'll also remove and dispose of the old unit.

How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Swamp Cooler?

Removing an existing swamp cooler will cost between $70 and $150. You will need to factor in this cost when installing a new unit if you have an outdated system in place. If you convert a roof-mounted model to a non-swamp system, you will need to patch or otherwise convert the roof hole the system will leave.

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Swamp Cooler Cost to Operate

The average monthly cost to operate a swamp cooler is roughly $20. Part of this total is electrical at $15 and the rest is water, averaging $5 per month. These totals are for a 500-watt swamp cooler that uses 80 gallons of water and operates 8 hours per day. Operation costs can vary greatly depending on:

  • Size of cooling unit and house

  • Climate/humidity

  • Utility provider rates in your area

  • Age/efficiency of system

DIY vs. Hiring an Evaporative Cooler Installation Pro

If your swamp cooler involves duct work, electrical work, or is not a window installation, you should have a licensed HVAC technician in your area do the work for you. While you can save money installing a system yourself, there are some costly complications that can arise if you do the work incorrectly. These can be things like causing leaks, faulty wiring, or inefficient running that can impact your utility bills.

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How much does it cost to replace a swamp cooler with central air?

Replacing a swamp cooler with central AC will cost about $5,500. The cost to install central AC may be worth it if the cost of the water used to run the evaporative unit is expensive in your area.

Are swamp coolers energy efficient?

Swamp coolers are very energy efficient if installed in a dry climate, specifically in their electricity usage. Compared to an AC unit, they use 15% to 35% less power.

How effective are swamp coolers vs. AC?

Electrical costs are typically less expensive to run a swamp cooler than an AC, but they do use large amounts of water, especially in very dry climates. Depending on your utility costs, this may reverse any electricity bill savings the unit may provide.

Do whole house evaporative coolers work in all climates?

Evaporative coolers only work in dry climates, because they cool by moistening the air. If the air is already moist, this will not have much, if any cooling effect. If you live in a humid climate such as the eastern or western coastal regions, or the Midwest, central AC is a better choice.

How do you install a swamp cooler on a roof?

  1. Find and cut a spot in your roof/attic free of wiring and obstructions.

  2. Install metal bracing, legs, and brackets to outside roof, sealing all holes.

  3. Install ceiling duct register, duct work, power, and thermostat wires.

  4. Seal all openings and attach all duct connections according to manufacturer's instructions.

  5. Install thermostat and associated wiring as well as electrical connections.

  6. Run cool water piping to the unit and add backflow preventer if necessary.

  7. Inspect all connections and areas that could potentially leak both from the outside, in and within the system.

While a skilled handyman could complete this installation, it is highly recommended that you hire an HVAC professional. The unit will affect multiple systems of your house including structural, electrical, and plumbing, and imperfections could cause serious leaks or electrical problems.

How much does it cost to service a swamp cooler?

The cost to repair your swamp cooler will be between $55 and $540, depending on what is wrong with it, if you need new parts, and who you choose to do the repairs.

Where can I buy a swamp cooler?

You can purchase a swamp cooler at most local hardware stores including Home Depot, Lowe's, ACE Hardware, some Wal-Mart stores, online, and many other smaller retailers.

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