Beating the Heat: Evaporative Cooler, Portable AC Unit, or Fan?

Happy Friday, friends! A couple weeks back, LA was hit with a brutal heat wave. I can be kind of a baby about the heat, so let’s just say I wasn’t pleased. Our apartment has a wall AC unit in the living room, but it is expensive and completely ineffective unless you have it blasting on high and are sitting on the couch right in front of it.

See the unit hiding back there?

See the AC unit hiding back there?

And no, despite the odd placement and picture, the couch does not block the AC from working/circulating. Unfortunately, it really only cools the one room (and not well unless we want to spend a fortune), leaving our kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom sweltering hot. If I am a baby about dealing with the heat during the day, you should see me at night when the heat is keeping me awake!

We usually have an old, cheap, crappy bedroom fan, but it has been on the way out for a few months now. I finally put the last nail in its coffin by karate-chopping it to get it oscillating again… it didn’t work like it usually does (sometimes it stops oscillating and whacking the top usually gets it back on track!). Instead I killed the fan. Funny story: Walker mentioned this to one of his coworkers, who we have hung out with socially a few times, that I broke the fan by smacking it and his response was, “Oh, I see. She’s one of those girls that gets really frustrated and starts slamming things around, huh?” Yikes. Quite a reputation that I’m building out there. Thankfully, Walker laughed and assured him that I was not, but I think his mind was made up. He thinks I am a violent psychopath. I digress…

Anyway, after the homicide of our bedroom fan and upon the arrival of the torturous heat wave, we decided something needed to be done. After browsing Craigslist for places we could move and realizing that this was a preposterous and financially impossible solution to our cooling issue, we began to brainstorm more plausible answers. This brought us to the question:

Evaporative cooler, portable AC unit, or a new fan?

Our first instinct was that a portable AC unit would cost the same as running the window unit, but it would be the most effective and we could bring it into the bedroom at night. After a few seconds of research, though, we realized all “portable” AC units have to be vented with a giant hose out a window. Unfortunately, the layout of our apartment and the shape of our windows make that horribly inconvenient, if not impossible. Plus, you need to buy a kit for each window you want to use, so it can get pricy and super annoying. So portable AC got scratched off the list.

That brought us to an evaporative cooler. For those of you who don’t know what a evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler) is, it basically uses evaporated water to cool a room. Since it adds humidity to the air, it really only works well in dry climates. Since LA is pretty dry, we figured it could work here. Plus, it is energy efficient (MUCH cheaper to run then AC) and fully-portable (just needs an outlet). After reading a billion reviews, which were split between “this is an amazing miracle product” and “this is a piece of crap” with no middle ground, we decided to give it a go. We figured that if it was so black or white for people, we would know pretty quickly which camp we would fall into. After gallivanting all over town to find the one we wanted, we brought home this bad boy: the KuulAire Port-A-Cool.

Bo seems optimistic that the swamp cooler will work.

Bo seems optimistic that the swamp cooler will work.

We opened it up and were put off to find out that it was wet in there! It had clearly been used, drained, and returned before (without the remote and instruction manual, mind you). That should have been our first clue. My cockeyed optimism got the best of us though, so we took it out of the box, filled it with 4 gallons of water, and hit go. It felt like a mediocre fan. I thought that maybe it just needed some time to get going, but after using it all afternoon and all night, it was nothing but a miserably humid $200 fan. FAIL.

We were so disappointed, so we followed the cue of whoever bought this before us and drained it, packed it back up, and returned it in the same state we received it (and let the store know of what was missing, of course, so that they wouldn’t sell it to someone else like that).

So we finally resorted to plan C, buying a new tower fan. We splurged on a fancy Vornado brand fan, since we have been (forgive the pun) blown away by their quality in the past.VornadoFan

We brought it home, plugged it in, and enjoyed a nice breeze. We have had it for a couple of weeks now and couldn’t be happier. It’s a great fan… thank goodness. The heat wave ended but I’m sure we will be having many more before the summer comes to a close. At least we are ready this time… and I will try not to smack the fan around so that it lasts us! ;)

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6 Responses to "Beating the Heat: Evaporative Cooler, Portable AC Unit, or Fan?"

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  1. jerry Wright

    July 13, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Bo is SO ADORABLE! (BTW – We miss you sweetheart!)

    • Erika

      July 13, 2013 at 10:18 am

      Haha thanks Jerry! I think so too! I miss you so much!! How are things?!

  2. Ashley@AttemptsAtDomestication

    July 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Hooray for a fan in the bedroom! We don’t have the AC problem (thank goodness) but I love our fan now!

    • Erika

      July 15, 2013 at 9:58 am

      I hear you! Sometimes a little air circulation is all you need! :)

  3. Kristen

    July 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

    We have two AC units – one in a living room window and one in a bedroom window – and I don’t know what I would do without them! We try not to use them too much but we’ve been experiencing a terrible heat wave here so they’re on when we’re home. I’m glad to hear you like your fan because Joe and I are thinking about investing in one for the living room (there’s no ceiling fan so it’s ridiculously hot).

    • Erika

      July 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      We love our fan. It was on the pricier side, but it works wonders (and has a full 5 year warranty so you can replace it if it stops being awesome!).


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