Portable Evaporative Cooling Costs

Portable evaporative cooling (E/C) units draw exterior air through evaporating-water filtration that results in a temperature drop of 15º to 25º F of the air being forced into the interior space. Its use is limited to dry and arid climate zones where evaporative phase-change conditions are good.

You will find that the cost of average portable evaporative cooling varies by type of unit, its air flow (cubic feet per minute, CFM) and water pumping capacity, preparation and special needs, and the labor rate.

In the following tables the Labor Cost figure is what the able DIY person should expect to save by performing the corresponding tasks.

Portable E/C: to cool 800 sq.ft.; include delivery, all material, equipment, and waste.

ItemUnit CostQuantityLine Cost
E/C unit: 1600 CFM flow, 115 VAC, floor-roller mount; with motor, pump, and hardware.$633each1$633
Upgrade: install new circuit; 30 feet of ROMEX surface mounted cable, #14/3; 15 amp breaker into existing space; two outlets with box and cover.$0.85per foot32$27
Material Cost$660each1$660
+ Labor Cost (install E/C unit)$38per hour1$38
+ Labor Cost (upgrade circuit)$42per hour3$126
Total Cost$824each1$824


Portable E/C: to cool 2,500 sq.ft.; include delivery, all material, equipment, and waste.

ItemUnit CostQuantityLine Cost
E/C unit: 9600 cubic feet per minute flow, 115 VAC, floor-roller mount; with motor, pump, and hardware.$2,299each1$2,299
Upgrade: install new circuit; 30 feet of ROMEX surface mounted cable, #10/3; 30 amp breaker into existing space; two outlets with box and cover.$1.66per foot32$52
Material Cost$2,351each1$2,351
+ Labor Cost (install E/C unit)$34per hour1$34
+ Labor Cost (upgrade circuit)$42per hour3$126
Total Cost$2,511each1$2,511


Other considerations and costs

  • E/C moves significant volumes of air from the exterior through the vented interior, resulting in air flow that can be bothersome to persons.
  • In addition to cooling the air, intake air filtration is very high.
  • E/C energy bills are about 1/3 or less of similar cooling capacity A/C cooling.
  • Taxes and permit fees are not included.
  • Energy efficient E/C will save money, and in some cases rebates may be available.
  • For E/C units of greater than 12,000 BTU’s per hour (or 3.5 kilowatts) a multi-phase electrical circuit is generally required.
  • During the initial inspection the contractor should inform the homeowner of any and all necessary modification or upgrade on electrical circuits or building structure.
  • Labor cost will rise with a “hidden” circuit installation in a finished environment.

DIY considerations

  • Home improvement centers typically offer a DIY kit with this product.
  • This project is suitable to an able and prepared DIY person with tools.
  • The work may include heavy lifting and moving.

References

  • Craftsman Estimator Costbook, complete series year 2015.
  • Latest prices found on Home Depot and other vendor Web sites.
  • Literature review of DIY Web sites.​                     

Cost to install portable evaporative cooling in my city

Cost to install portable evaporative cooling varies greatly by region. To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.