How to Change From Evaporative to Refrigerated Air Conditioning

Staying comfortable indoors during the summer often requires an air conditioner, used across the U.S. to cool the air and remove humidity. An alternate form of air conditioning is evaporative cooling, which uses water instead of coolant. Popular in places with low humidity and high temperatures, evaporative coolers work well when the humidity and dew point are low, but when the summer thunderstorm season starts, the coolers are far less effective. Air conditioners work consistently throughout the summer, no matter what the outdoor temperatures and humidity levels are, which makes them attractive for people who want consistent cooling throughout the summer.

Adding an Air Conditioner

Central air conditioner compressors sit outside.

Choose the kind of air conditioning you want. Portable and window air conditioners are easy to install, while central air conditioning units require a licensed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) specialist to install, since these units require wiring, plumbing and coolant that is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Portable and window air conditioners require some installation, but the steps are far simpler and most people are capable of getting the air conditioner working themselves.

Ask a representative from an HVAC company to visit your home or building to evaluate your building for air conditioning. These contractors use a complex formula to establish the right size of air conditioner for homes and buildings called Manual J. The formula takes into account the size of the home, its exposure to sunshine, insulation levels, the number of windows and which direction they face and the climatic conditions.

Decide whether you want to get rid of your evaporative cooler or keep it. Some evaporative coolers use the same ductwork that refrigerated air conditioners and furnaces use. If you decide to get rid of the cooler, remove it, close up any opening in the roof or wall or close the window in which the air conditioner sat. If you have a metal recycling business in your community, take it to them. If the cooler is in good shape, you might be able to sell it or give it to a charity.

Using an Existing Air Conditioner

Turn off the evaporative cooler and unplug it. Turn off the water running to the cooler. Cover any openings to the cooler to prevent any air infiltration.

Close your windows, doors or vents that you use when running your evaporative cooler.

Turn on your air conditioner. Since the humidity levels may be high in your home because evaporative coolers create humidity, check your air conditioner to be certain that the coils are not freezing over because of the humidity load in the air. If you have a central air conditioner, go outdoors to verify that water is coming out of the drainpipe. If you are using a portable air conditioner, check the water tank inside it to check for water. Window air conditioners vent outdoors and you can look for drips below the unit. If the coils are freezing, no water can escape and the unit will not cool the air. Turn off the condenser and run the fan until the ice on the coils thaws.

Things You Will Need

  • Air conditioner

About the Author

Jackie Johnson is a published writer and professional blogger, and has a degree in English from Arizona State University. Her background in real estate analysis prepared her for objective thinking, researching and writing.