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1337Delta764
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Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:30 am

I would like to know, why are swamp coolers still common in the Tucson area but not in the Phoenix area? While most new homes in both areas feature air conditioners, it seems that the Phoenix area was quicker to dump swamp coolers than the Tucson area. More often than not, homes with swamp coolers in the Phoenix area also have air conditioners, where the swamp cooler is used for spring and fall cooling, while the air conditioner is used for summer cooling.

According to the National Weather Service, the average humidity is lower in Phoenix than in Tucson. So, does anyone have an idea why swamp coolers are more prevalent in the Tucson area than the Phoenix area?
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Geezer
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:38 am

I think that's a question we may never know the answer to; swamp coolers have ben around for a long, long time; I would guess that the majority of today's "tech savvy" yuppies probably see something like a swamp cooler as too "low tech", too "old fashioned", or just plain "beneath them"; (but that's just my guess)

As for the average humidity in Phoenix being somewhat lower than Tucson, I'd say that all depends on the months in question;
I've been in Phoenix a few times when the humidity was pretty bad !

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casinterest
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:01 am

Quoting GEEZER (Reply 1):
I've been in Phoenix a few times when the humidity was pretty bad !

This may be part of the issue. I bet the summer Monsoon's are not the time when I would want to be without AC.

Quoting 1337Delta764 (Thread starter):
According to the National Weather Service, the average humidity is lower in Phoenix than in Tucson.

Average still doesn't mean it is less all the time.


Here is an interesting article on the decline that I found i

http://www.azcentral.com/business/ar...-from-Phoenix-area-homes-1001.html

Seems the drip factor, humidity , and Maintenance are all reasons for the decline.
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:38 pm

Here in Houston there are mid size office buildings built in the 60's that use evap coolers to cool the buildings. I can always tell which ones they are when walking into them. The air is kind of clammy and usually has a distinct odor to it. Kind of like an old building kind of smell. But the building is cool.
Usually these buildings have a huge cooling tower behind them. There is usually water droplets spewing out of the top of them.
With 50-75% humidity around here I would think that swamp coolers work have a hard time keeping these buildings cool.
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:14 am

Quoting type-rated (Reply 3):
The air is kind of clammy and usually has a distinct odor to it. Kind of like an old building kind of smell. But the building is cool.
Usually these buildings have a huge cooling tower behind them. There is usually water droplets spewing out of the top of them.

I would be guessing that you are really talking about a "chilled water system" generally powered by a absorption system.
They are economical to operate, BUT they do not have a cold enough coil temperature to knock down the dew point of the air substantially. Therefore leaving the humidity high which leads to that good old musty smell from everything being saturated.

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kingairta
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:35 am

My guess is for water conservation.
 
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:07 am

Quoting KingairTA (Reply 5):
My guess is for water conservation.

Considering there are a lot of lush, green lawns and fountains in the Phoenix metro area? Hardly. Not sure about Phoenix, but water in Tucson is cheap.

The swamp systems are more energy efficient...but don't do squat with the dew point is up around 54, as it typically is this time of year (dew point is currently 70 at my house in Tucson). The swamp systems also require a lot more maintenance than the typical AC units. You have to drain them, get new pads, seal them off before they freeze (yes, it freezes here), and do a lot of work on them. I've toyed with the idea of getting one, but I'd rather just spend the money on a higher quality, more energy efficient a/c unit.

Quoting GEEZER (Reply 1):
I would guess that the majority of today's "tech savvy" yuppies probably see something like a swamp cooler as too "low tech", too "old fashioned", or just plain "beneath them"; (but that's just my guess)

I'm not sure I'd describe the population in Arizona as yuppies. Especially in the areas of Phoenix where there are new build houses. Ever been to Laveen? The people there are anything but yuppies. Anyway, why spend $150-$200 a year on draining or getting your swamp system running, when you can call the local AC company to service your AC and heater 2x a year for $150?

Quoting type-rated (Reply 3):
Usually these buildings have a huge cooling tower behind them.

Trivia for you: the University of Arizona cools (and heats) most buildings on campus with water systems. Their buildings were actually pretty comfortable in July/August.

[Edited 2012-08-18 02:08:10]
 
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:47 pm

Quoting chrisair (Reply 6):
The swamp systems are more energy efficient...but don't do squat with the dew point is up around 54, as it typically is this time of year (dew point is currently 70 at my house in Tucson). The swamp systems also require a lot more maintenance than the typical AC units. You have to drain them, get new pads, seal them off before they freeze (yes, it freezes here), and do a lot of work on them. I've toyed with the idea of getting one, but I'd rather just spend the money on a higher quality, more energy efficient a/c unit.

I live in north Phoenix and we have a evap-cooler system here (my home was built around 1967) and we use both a mega BTU window air conditioner and the swamp cooler. The major issue with the swamp cooler is that it doesn't work well when it's humid (like summer monsoon season) and that the system is very likely to get moldy unless it is cleaned very well every cooling season. Air quality can be very poor with a swamp cooler that isn't cleaned/maintained every year.
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:02 am

Quoting GEEZER (Reply 1):
I've been in Phoenix a few times when the humidity was pretty bad !

What do you consider really bad? In Baltimore during the summer if our relative humidity is below 40% we consider it not to oppressive. What are the average dewpoints in PHX and Tuscon? I thought with Phoenix being the larger city humidity levels have been on the increase due to a denser population and manmade lakes and other bodies of water.
To us in the Southeast/Southern Mid-Atlantic a "swamp cooler" is like something from Mars. Sadly they'd do little good due to our oppressive humidity. I remember as a kid seeing these devices advertised in the Sear's Catalog. (I'm dating myself) I saw their relatively low price and me and my sister started nagging our parents to buy one for each of our bedrooms. This was before central air conditioning. My parents had to explain that they would be as useful as the proverbial tits on a bull in our area because of the high humidity.
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:50 am

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 8):
What are the average dewpoints in PHX and Tuscon?

Avg dewpoint in Tucson between July 11-Sept. 9 is >54 degrees.

Avg dewpoint in Phoenix between July 11-Sept 9 is >55 degrees.

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/twc/monsoon/dewpoint_tracker.php

Nothing like Louisiana or South Carolina this time of year, but temperatures above 100 with dewpoints in the 55-60 range isn't the most pleasant thing around.
 
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:53 am

Quoting chrisair (Reply 9):

Try 92 to 98 with dewpoints 68 to 74! Talk about misery and that is jock itch central!
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Maverick623
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:23 am

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 8):
What are the average dewpoints in PHX and Tuscon? I thought with Phoenix being the larger city humidity levels have been on the increase due to a denser population and manmade lakes and other bodies of water.

We've been running 40-60% relative humidity (when it's not raining) in PHX for the past few weeks, with temps hitting 115+ two weeks ago.
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:54 pm

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 10):

Quoting chrisair (Reply 9):

Try 92 to 98 with dewpoints 68 to 74! Talk about misery and that is jock itch central!

Sounds almost like where I live; Harrisburg PA. Since we are about 75 miles N. of Baltimore and about 500 feet higher in elevation, I don't think we have those conditions quite as often as you do   But still more than enough!!
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:44 pm

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 11):

Those kind of conditions are getting into our excessive humidity. That seems abnormal for your area. Dewpoints are probably way jacked up. Dewpoints 60 and above are uncomfortable. 70 or above and we're talking oppressive!
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:52 pm

I am in ABQ and swamp coolers are still semi-common on new build homes. They are cheap to operate but I absolutely despise them. I am glad my place has refrigerated air, but I don't like my electrical bills (it doesn't help it has the same late 70s vintage unit from when it was built).

A few thousand feet of extra alitude make a difference though as our daytime highs rarely get much above the mid-90s and we do actually cool down at night. But once you hit the 90s swamp coolers really begin to lose effectiveness.

Quoting chrisair (Reply 6):
Considering there are a lot of lush, green lawns and fountains in the Phoenix metro area? Hardly. Not sure about Phoenix, but water in Tucson is cheap.

Tucson has had more extensive water conservation policies than the Phoenix metro. Especially since before the introduction of CAP water it relied heavily on ground water, whereas PHX pulls heavily out of the Salt River.



As for the OP Tucson is slightly cooler than Phoenix which may explain a bit of the difference. I'd also be curious about the average age of the housing between the two. From my recollection Tucson had an earlier peak to its boom (as a growth %) than the Phoenix metro. With just more of the homes in the older (say pre-1975ish) category vis-a-vis Phoenix.
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RE: Swamp Coolers In Tucson Vs. Phoenix Areas

Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:07 pm

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 14):
As for the OP Tucson is slightly cooler than Phoenix which may explain a bit of the difference. I'd also be curious about the average age of the housing between the two. From my recollection Tucson had an earlier peak to its boom (as a growth %) than the Phoenix metro. With just more of the homes in the older (say pre-1975ish) category vis-a-vis Phoenix.

In Tucson, swamp coolers are found on quite a few homes built well into the early 1990s, while in Phoenix, you very rarely (if ever) find a home built in 1980 or later that has a swamp cooler as its only cooling source.
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