- Environmentally-friendly air conditioning alternative.
- Large size and large treatment area.
- Easy to use and control.
- Also works as a fan or humidifier.
- Needs to be refilled roughly every 10 hours.
- Won’t work in high humidity.
Summer is quickly approaching, and for many of us, that means the return of hot, oppressive weather. Thankfully, we have access to air conditioning, without which modern life would not be possible. We can go inside on a 95-degree day, set the thermostat to 70, and relax in front of the vent.
But air conditioning isn’t without its own costs. To begin with, the expense can be considerable. Cooling a one-bedroom apartment in the Pacific Northwest is fairly cheap. Cooling a four-bedroom house in Florida, on the other hand, can be as pricey as a Minnesota heating bill. For every degree you lower the temperature, you’ll also be lowering your bank account balance.
In addition, air conditioning isn’t environmentally friendly. We can perhaps ignore the electrical use here. In theory, this can come from a sustainable source like wind or solar power. But even if the power involved is all “green,” the underlying technology is not. Traditional air conditioners rely on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are far more potent greenhouse gasses than carbon dioxide. These chemicals are tightly regulated, and AC coils are designed to waste as little as possible. Still, those coils do leak ever so slowly over time, and the CFCs get into the atmosphere.
One way to keep your home cool in a truly green fashion is to use an evaporative air cooler. We’re about to review the TaoTronics (Model TT-F007) 3-in-1 Evaporative Air Cooler. TaoTronics has plenty of experience with home air equipment, such as their HEPA Air Purifier. As a result, we had high expectations for their cooler. We’ve taken a close look at all of its features and functions, from the design to the performance. Now, we’ll walk you through everything we’ve learned, and deliver our verdict.
What is Evaporative Cooling?
Before we talk about the Model TT-TF007 in particular, let’s talk about how evaporative cooling works. This is not a traditional air conditioner. In a traditional air conditioner, refrigerant is pumped through condenser coils, and sucks the warmth out of the air. This chilled air is then blown into your room, and the refrigerant is re-cooled and condensed again for reuse. Evaporative coolers, sometimes called swamp coolers, work with nothing but water and a fan.
Evaporative cooling is the same principle that keeps you cool when you sweat. When water is evaporated, it slightly cools the surrounding air. Similarly, it tends to be cooler around country ponds and city fountains. Where there is water, there is evaporation, and the evaporation keeps the air cooler. An evaporative cooler simply accelerates this process. Cooling pads expose more surface area to the air, speeding evaporation. And a fan spreads the cool air around, ensuring that the entire room stays cool. As you can imagine, this process is very energy efficient, far more so than a traditional air conditioner.
That said, evaporative cooling does have its drawbacks. For one thing, it doesn’t work as well under humid conditions. Because there’s already a lot of water in the air, evaporation is slower, and so is the cooling. This is why humid days make you feel hotter – and leave your skin and clothes damp. You’re sweating, but the sweat isn’t evaporating; it isn’t doing its job. Conversely, very dry days tend to feel cooler, because your sweat evaporates faster. In general, a swamp cooler or evaporative cooler will work well up to about 70 percent humidity. Higher than that, and it will start to lose its effectiveness. At 100 percent humidity, no evaporation is possible, and a swamp cooler will not work at all.
The other drawback of evaporative cooling is that it involves adding water to the air. This in turn increases humidity. As a result, you’ll want to be careful using a swamp cooler in a very humid environment. It may work at night when the humidity drops. But when the day comes and the humidity rises, you may find that it’s even muggier inside. Bottom line: evaporative coolers work better the dryer the conditions.
On the outside, the TaoTronics Model TT-TF007 looks like a large oscillating fan. It stands 43 inches high, and measures 13 inches deep and 10 inches wide. The housing has an oval profile, and is mostly white in color. That said, the front and back panels are a glossy black, providing a pleasant contrast. The heart of the machine is a 21-inch fan that occupies most of the top half of the unit. This area is vented on the front and the back to allow for airflow, and the entire housing can oscillate 60 degrees. This is comparable to most oscillating fans on todays market.
The overall weight of the cooler is 25.35 pounds, a bit beefy but by no means absurd. That said, it’s easy for pretty much anyone to move around. As long as you don’t have to navigate any stairs, the four heavy-duty casters will navigate most floors. This makes it easy to move the cooler from room to room should that become necessary.
This weight assumes that the water tank is empty. The tank itself is located in the back of the unit, and is housed directly below the fan. It has a total capacity of 1.85 gallons, which adds up to about 15 more pounds. So if your water tank is full, the weight of the whole machine will be about 40 pounds, not 25. There’s a window on the front of the housing where you can see the current water level. This makes it easy to ensure you’re not caught off guard by an empty water tank.
Also on the front of the housing, just above the fan, you’ll see an LCD display. The display shows the current fan speed, as well as any other information such as the timer setting. Around the display, there are an array of soft touch button for activating various features. We’ll discuss those in more detail in a second. On top of the housing, you’ll find the main power button, and “+” and “-“ buttons for adjusting the speed. If you’d rather not get up every time you want to change your settings, just use the remote. The cooler comes with a handheld remote control with a 20-foot line of sight range.
To use the Model TT-TF007, you first need to fill the tank with water. The most basic method is to add cool water from the tap. However, cooler water will be even more effective. This only makes sense. Air passing over a block of ice is a lot cooler than the air over a boiling pot! For this reason, many people like to add ice to their water tanks to keep the water as cold as possible. If you’d rather not mess with ice, TaoTronics actually includes a pair of enclosed ice packs in the kit. This gives you the same benefit, without any of the mess. You can also use water from the fridge; whatever you need to do to add cool water.
The maximum evaporation rate is 800mL per hour, which would empty the tank in about 8 hours and 45 minutes. But that’s just a theoretical maximum. Unless you’re literally experiencing zero percent humidity, you can expect a minimum of about 10 hours. When the tank does empty, it’s time to refill it.
Many swamp coolers require complex cleaning processes at this point. The filters are fitted somewhere up inside the unit, or there’s piping that needs to be blown out. The TT-TF007 is designed so that everything that needs to be cleaned is part of the modular tank. Remove it, rinse it, and follow the instructions for maintaining the cooling pads. When you’re done, refill the tank and put it back.
The fan itself has three different speed settings. As you might expect, it gets louder the higher the speed setting is. This is a powerful fan, and will definitely cause you to raise your voice when it’s at full blast. At its lowest speed, it produces 46.5dB of sound, which is comparable to a quiet conversation. It’s still noticeable, but not obtrusively so. In sleep mode, the LED display will also shut off, so it won’t create unnecessary light.
About the only thing the TT-TF007 won’t do is heat your air. In colder months, you’ll be better off with the TaoTronics 1500W Space Heater. It’s powerful enough for a mid-sized room, with plenty of safety features.
Performance and Extras
The TT-TF007’s moisture output and 500m3/hour airflow capacity allow it to handle large areas. It can noticeably cool a one bedroom apartment all by itself. In a bedroom, it will keep you cool in all but the most miserably humid conditions.
In addition, because of the way it’s designed, it can also be used as a standalone oscillating fan. This makes it useful on a wider variety of circumstances. Even if you don’t need any added cooling, it’s sometimes nice to move air around. Finally, by its very nature, the TT-TF007 works as a humidifier. Of course, if you’re looking specifically for a humidifier, it’s probably best to buy one that’s purpose built. The TaoTronics 6L Ultrasonic Humidifier is an excellent choice. On the other hand, it’s nice to know that your evaporative cooler is good for more than just cooling.
As you can see, the TaoTronics (Model TT-TF007) 3-in-1 Evaporative Air Cooler is a worthy machine. It effectively cools a large amount of air, and lasts overnight with a couple of hours to spare. It’s not for everybody. If you have high humidity, or if you require cool and dry air, you might want a traditional AC. On the other hand, you can’t beat the efficiency of a swamp cooler. The TT-TF007 is easy to use, easy to clean, and can save you a boatload in energy costs.