Last Updated: Feb 13, 2021 @ 1:08 pm.

What are the best evaporative coolers? To find out, we poured over test results for major brands. Then we surveyed our readership (2.1 million strong!) to find which brands are most reliable, durable and efficient. Here are the ones we'd recommend.

FYI: Since 1994, we've been rating and reviewing products for the home, families and kids. Good news: we don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported.

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Best Indoor/Outdoor

Cools air 10-15 degrees; very reliable
Great for patios or garages—or inside areas up to 500 square feet. Very good quality and reliability. 5 speeds, 2 fan-only modes. Runs for 3-4 hours on one tank (4 gallons). Industrial look.

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Best Indoor/Outdoor: Hessaire MC18M Portable Evaporative Cooler

Before you buy an evaporative cooler, ask yourself a question: does the place I want to cool have humidity under 45%?

That’s because evaporative coolers work best in dry, arid climates—basically, the western third of the US. If that is you, good news: evaporative coolers use much less energy than air conditioning . . . as much as 85% less.

They are also good at cooling both indoors or outside, such as a patio or garage. For the best indoor/outdoor evaporative cooler, we pick: Hessaire’s MC18M.

Hessaire is sort of like the Apple of evaporative air coolers—they consistently score at the top of consumer satisfaction, according to our readers.

With all evaporative coolers, you have two basic choices for operation: water or ice. Ice provides more cool air, but water works as well. You can fill up the tank with either.

Hessaire makes several evaporative coolers, varying most in the size of the area they can cool. The base model is MC18M holds 4 gallons of water and can cool up to 500 square feet. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Cools the temperature 10 to 15 degrees for most folks. 

• Affordable.

• Continuous or manual fill. Yes, you can connect a garden hose and have this evaporative cooler continuously fill with water. Or you can do it manually. (Don’t use the continuous fill option when you use this cooler indoors—if the valve fails to stop the water filling, you could have a mess!).

• Portable. This unit has four casters with locks.

• Lightweight: 16 lbs. (when empty).

• Front has water level display.

• Handle on top makes it easy to carry.

• Works for 3-4 hours on full tank (when filled manually).

• Insider tip: run the fan only for 30 minutes to an hour to dry out the membrane after use. Also empty and clean the tank every few days to avoid mold/bacteria growth.

What Needs Work

• No auto-shutoff. That’s a problem because the tank can run dry if you aren’t paying attention!

• Ice compartment could be bigger.

• Noisy when on high fan speed.

• Not pretty to look at . . . but gets the job done!

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Best Budget-Friendly

Quiet, great for bedrooms
Compact design is the star here—1 gallon tank works up to 8 hours with timer. Washable filter is nice plus. Built-in handles and wheels make it easy to move from room to room.

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Best Budget-Friendly: COSTWAY Evaporative Cooler

This evaporative cooler is designed for small rooms such as a bedroom. The one gallon tank (4 liters) works for up to 8 hours. The small footprint is the star here, as is a price that’s easy on the wallet.

What We Liked

• Quiet! Good for bedrooms or home offices.

 Auto shut-off.

• 8 hour timer. 

• Built-in handles on side.

• Weighs just 10 lbs. when empty.

• Portable with wheels.

• 3 fan speeds.

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Best Remote Control

Carbon dust air filter, low water alarm
Loved the larger 10 gallon tank on this model—works for up to 175 square feet, 7-8 hours. Swivel feature is nice plus. Small footprint makes it easier to set in a corner.

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Best Remote Control: Honeywell CS10XE Portable Evaporative Cooler

We liked this cooler for larger bedrooms (up to 175 square feet)—the remote control, timer and low water alarm are reasons why we picked this model. Also great: the swivel function helps disperse air more evenly in a room.

What We Liked

• Small footprint.

• Low water alarm

• Remote control makes it great for a bedroom.

• Three speed fan.

• 10 gallon tank works for 7-8 hours.

• Detachable water tank is easy to fill.

What Needs Work

• Noisy on highest fan setting.

• Need to have window open to work efficiently. This is true for many evaporative coolers, however.

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Best for Living Room

More powerful fan, 3 modes
When it comes to living rooms up to 350 square feet, this cooler did a good job. 5.6 gallon tank, remote control & timer. Cools about 7-8 degrees. Also takes ice packs. Works for 8 hours on one tank.

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Best for Living Room: Frigidaire Portable Indoor/Outdoor Evaporative Air Fan and Humidifier

The wide angle oscillating fan makes this model a good pick for living rooms up to 350 square feet.

What We Liked

• Easy to move.

• Oscillating fan helps move air around.

• Lasts up to 8 hours on full tank (5.6 gallons).

• Can use ice packs.

• Filters dust and particulates.

• Quiet (there’s even a silent setting).

• 3 cooling modes, 4 fan speeds.

What Needs Work

• Could be easier to add the ice packs. 

• Bulky.

• Pricey.


Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home, families and children since 1994.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported.

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