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Tips for beating the heat and an introduction to evaporative air coolers

Summer time in South Africa is magical. As the November rains fall and the local vegetation springs into new life, the heat slowly creeps up from the late teens to the high thirties by the peak of the season. Needless to say, South African summers can come with merciless heat waves that leave you sweating and uncomfortable, even late into the evening.

The sun feels stronger from the beginning of November after the solstice has turned and from then on, the temperature builds, no matter where you are in the country. The Highveld heat, broken only by the powerful afternoon and evening thunderstorms that sweep across the darkened skies. Durban’s humidity increases to uncomfortable levels and clothes stick to your skin as you never seem to be able to stop sweating.

Staying cool in the summer is not an easy task to do, some days it feels as if mother nature is trying her best to cook us alive. With this summer season kicking off with record highs for this time of year, we thought it would be a good idea to list out our top five ways of keeping cool this summer, give a few of them a try and if you need any help, give us a shout!

Cooling down in summer
  1. Go for a swim – Depending on where you are located in South Africa, you should have access to a pool. Pools are practically a standard fitting in many large homes and complexes if you live in provinces like Gauteng. If you are anywhere along the coastline of the country, well then you have the largest swimming pool in the world right at your doorstep in the form of the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
  2. Stay hydrated – Drinking the right amount of your daily allowance for water – and then a bit more than that is a good way to keep your body hydrated and feeling better. If you are dehydrated, your body will feel lethargic and energy less, your skin will dry out and you put yourself at risk of heat stroke in very hot situations, such as being in a car with no air-conditioning. Being desperately thirsty on a hot day is pure torture, so if you are in the car a lot, or even at home, then a good tip for instant cold water wherever you go, is to fill an empty 2 litre plastic bottle with clean water and then freeze it overnight. This works wonders for cold water all morning long.
  3. Avoid midday peak sun – The sun in the summer time is mighty strong and can burn you really quickly if you give it a chance to. Stay out of the sun in peak times between 10am in the morning and 2pm in the afternoon. If you do have you go out at these times, make sure that you are protected with a good dose of sunblock with an SPF of at least 40 for your face and 30 for your body. Being sunburned is no fun and can even result in heat stroke, or sun-stroke if you are not protected properly.
  4. A quick one – Fans, they move the air around and keep off the mozzies. The win – Get yourself an air-conditioner for your home. While most South Africans cars come standard with an air-con, a lot of homes don’t. Doesn’t it make sense to bring that kind of lifestyle comfort into your home as well? A good portable or fixed air-conditioning system is the easiest and most efficient means of keeping you cool in your home all summer long. Even when it’s baking outside, your home will be filled with clean, cool air. Don’t be surprised if your friends start coming over for a braai more often!
  5. Use an evaporative cooler! What’s that you ask? Read on and find out how this is the most effective tool to beat the heat this summer!

What are evaporative air coolers and how do they work?

An evaporative air coolers are a revolution is a cooling technology that has a very simple operating principle. Evaporation is nature’s way of cooling down the environment through using water to absorb heat as it evaporates. This is known as evaporative cooling and is the principal behind how an evaporative cooler works in cooling your home or office.

Evaporative air coolers have a housing that contains a fan unit and pulls in outside air through a set of pads that are damped with water from a circulating drip system, constantly keeping them wet. The water then evaporates and the evaporation process cools the air while pushing it out into the room.

What size unit do I need for my home?

Evaporative air coolers come in various sizes, depending on their CFM rating. The higher the output  rating, the greater the capacity for cooling.

Coolers are available in sizes that can cool anything up to 125 square meters, its best to ask a professional before purchasing a unit to ensure that you are purchasing the right sized model to suit your cooling application.

How to improve your coolers efficiency

Thermostats are a must for any evaporative cooler. While most systems come with one built-in, there are a few that require you to purchase a separate thermostat. The thermostat measures the air temperature and turns the pump and fans on at points where the temperature drops below your preferred setting and then turns it off automatically when the temperature settings are achieved. You can learn more on this page about the science of evaporative cooling.

It is also important to make sure the pads are damp, but not soaked. If the pads are too wet, then the cool air being brought into the room by the system will have too much humidity in it, making the room feel damp. If the cooler feels like it is not working, then the opposite scenario would apply with the pads being too dry.

Why is airflow important and why do I need to adjust it?

Air balance and flow inside your home are important in that they determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the evaporative cooler. It is important to ensure that the volume of air exiting the rooms is greater than the air entering the rooms, this prevents humidity build up.

Airflow is optimised by using vents in the home or opening your windows enough to allow the air to escape outside, you can check if you have the balance right by opening a door to the room, if it starts to close quickly, then open the windows a little more till the door only moves a little, this will be the optimal setting.

Caring for your cooler

It’s important to take care of your cooler. The great thing about them is that they are so easy to maintain, all that is required is to check the cooler at the beginning of the season to make sure the pads and drip tray are clean and the system pumps are functioning correctly.

Make sure to give the frames and other parts of the cooler a good wipe down and then you should be good to go for most of the summer season. Toward the end of summer, check on your cooler system again to make sure everything is up to code.

Air-cons vs. Evap coolers

While both air-cons and evaporative coolers serve the same purpose, to cool down the air in the room, they are remarkably different in their operation, with evaporative air coolers using up to 75% less energy to operate with the same efficiency of an air-con, saving a consumer up to 8-% of their cooling bill in a season.

Air-cons are more suited to airtight homes as they pull the moisture out of the air and expel cool air back into the room, giving the room dry air. Whereas evap coolers will pull air through water, bringing cool air into the room that has moisture in it and escapes through an open window or door.

Do not run an air-con and evaporative air coolers together as their operating principles will work against each other and use a lot more energy to get the room temperature right.

Evaporative cooler pros and cons


  • Works well in dry conditions
  • Incredibly energy efficient
  • Low operating costs
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy installation


  • Increases humidity
  • Needs windows or doors to be open when operating

The final thought

An evaporative cooler is a cost-effective cooling solution if you live in a dry area. For those that are in coastal areas, an indoor air-con, or portable air-con system would probably be a better choice. Evaporative coolers have their place in a cooling solution if you would like more info, please drop us an email, or call into our head office and our expert consultants will walk you through any queries you may have.

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