An Efficient Coolerado in the Wild

Coolerado-daybreak

About two days after hearing that Coolerado had won the Western Cooling Challenge for the hybrid commercial version of this technology, I saw this on a newly built home.  This is what appears to be the M50 Coolerado.  Coolerado says they have the most efficient air conditioning system made — it uses up to 90% less electricity than a traditional air conditioner, depending on the humidity and elevation above sea level.  High and dry works best; see how:

How-coolerado-works

What's interesting about Coolerado, particularly if you're in a location that needs an air conditioner, is the technology doesn't add humidity to the conditioned air.  It filters and pumps fresh air into your space.  Also, the Coolerado doesn't use any CFC refrigerants and doesn't swish around recycled, stale air. 

If you're looking for specific prices, the company tells me that dealers can provide more specific numbers.  Generally speaking, though, the technology is cost competitive with traditional air conditioners, and with the efficiency savings and potential for cheaper installation labor, you might just find that this is a no-brainer. 

Coolerado-solar-roof Coolerado-unit

There's a solar powered Coolerado that's just fascinating (see video above).  With the combination of solar power and Coolerado technology, humidified waste air is ducted to the back of solar panels.  The solar panels are cooled, making them more efficient in the process.  The version pictured above has the solar-powered Coolerado with the actual unit semi-shaded on the roof. 

Photo credit: Jetson Green (top); Coolerado (rest).


  • Anonymous

    Wow. 90% less electricity is significant. I can’t believe I had never heard of them.

  • http://mportlandrealestate.com/ Portland Real Estate

    Amazing idea! I would love to be able to keep the house cool without using so much electricity. My window based A/C unit is so inefficient I go out of my way to try not to use it unless needed.

    -Tyler

  • Anonymous

    its using household water? Must be some kind of swamp cooler based system.

    • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

      It actually uses a lot of water, but apparently because of the energy efficiency (electricity requires water, too), it’s “net zero water impact.” I think PG&E called it an indirect evaporative cooler. For some reason, Coolerado calls it an air conditioner. I’m not sure where to go with the lingo.

      • Anonymous

        I could see how using less electricity would be better than using less water.

        I was not trying to knock it – just trying to understand the mechanism.

      • http://www.jetsongreen.com Preston

        I get where you’re coming from. I think the water issue is interesting. I mean, the Coolerado works best in high and dry locations. Well, those locations might have less water – they’re dry. They might also have more expensive water, too. So what makes me curious is the arbitrage. Do you minimize cheap electricity while taking on the burden of higher priced retail water? But I realize I’m a little off track from where you’re going.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the great article. Hope this new technolgy prooves out. The easier we can make it for people to go green the better.

    - Dan

    • Anonymous

      For smallish low energy new homes, super high-efficiency minisplit heat pumps will win an economic battle with Coolerado. One reason is that the minisplit eliminates the need to purchase a heating system. It’s a twofer.

      Don’t get me wrong, for millions of A/C retrofits throughout the West, Coolerado will be awesome as soon as they can cut their production costs through high volume.

      Coolerado is a type of indirect swamp cooler, which is almost a drawback in a dry place like Denver. We actually need the extra humidity in the house that a cheap conventional swamp cooler provides.

      • http://twitter.com/observernode Steve Kowal

        I recently installed a Coolerado C60 on my house to replace my swamp cooler in Louisville, CO. Instead of having 45 to 65% humidity in the house with the swamp cooler, the relative humidity indoors varies between 25 and 40 percent with the Coolerado. The Coolerado doesn’t change the absolute humidity of the air coming into the house, but the relative humidity does increase due to the temperature drop. I prefer the Coolerado over a swamp cooler for several reasons:
        1. The air smells great
        2. Summer “warping” of my kitchen cabinet doors producing closure issues no longer occurs.
        3. The variable speed motor largely runs in the lowest speed which is inaudible.
        4. It is like an air conditioner in that it can actually reach the target temperature you have your thermostat set to; The air coming out of the ducts is quite icy.
        5. Winterization procedure is just closing one valve (the water supply), and opening another (solenoid drain).

        - Steve

  • http://www.johnbeckseminar.com/ Real Estate System

    Interesting video, although I am not a huge fan. Not to mention this but seems a bit overpriced, even considering the nice green features that it comes with.

  • dg3

    I swear I’ve seen that house w/ that on it.

    Looks like the green homes up in Daybreak West Jordan home show.

  • JohnLV

    I just installed a Coolerado C-60 earlier this Spring with the 240v ECM variable speed option. The unit has exceeded my expectations, even on the hottest desert days. We’ve already had several 110F days and the indoor air stayed at or below 73F during the heat wave in my 1800 sq.ft of living space.

    My first post-Coolerado power bill, with 10 days of unit usage, came in at 1100kwh less than last year at the same time. The real savings will come when I drop to a time-of-use electric rate schedule since I’m not feeding a 6000 watt A/C at peak load times. I’ve measured the average power consumption on the Coolerado unit at 280 watts in my home with a TED unit.

    The product air from the unit is quite chilly, much more so than a conventional swamp cooler. The fresh air has really improved my home’s indoor air quality and the humidity is exactly as they claim.

    I’m still interested to see the unit’s long term performance as it uses the terrible quality water we have in Las Vegas, NV. However, the unit has exceeded expectations and, given the water is only used once through the unit, I don’t anticipate many scaling issues.

    As with any new technology, there are some quirky issues, like adjusting the water pressure into the unit and choosing the right water filter, but this is a great version 2.0 product. The biggest issue I faced was the lack of general knowledge on displacement cooling; the installer and I had to balance our ducts through trial and error.

    I can see why the convention A/C manufacturers are trying to kill it off with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Every homeowner in the Western US with a conventional A/C should replace the conventional A/C with one of these units.

    It was expensive, but I still calculate my payback time at 4 years.

  • JohnLV

    I’m in the middle of monsoon season in Las Vegas and the Coolerado is still performing well, considering the “extreme” conditions this summer.

    The indoor temperatures during the hottest part of the day have risen to 81F with the drastic increase in outdoor humidity. We’re in the middle of one of the most humid periods in Las Vegas climatological history according to the NWS, given the Excessive Heat Warnings. Still, I think 81F is quite tolerable considering the temperature outside is in the 110+F range with 23% humidity. The 5 tons of conventional A/C I have installed isn’t capable of getting the interior temperature lower than 82F in my house full of south facing windows, even with solar screens.

    I’ve switched to conventional A/C several times during this humid period and the temperature, acutally, went up. Several times, after letting the conventional A/C run for hours, I switched back to the Coolerado.

    My biggest fight, once again. is the general lack of knowledge and experience with displacement cooling. I’m finding that the Coolerado is very sensitive to high static pressure, so reducing building static outlet pressure is the key to keeping cool. I replaced my solid, insulated attic panel with an egg crate lighting panel purchased at Lowe’s for $12 and the temperature almost immediately lowered to 78F. In a short heating season like that in Las Vegas, I will probably just swap out the attic access panel as part of my end-of-season maintenance.

    If I speced this out again, I would add significantly more up-ducting into the attic than what would be needed with conventional swamp cooler with similar CFM output calculations to reduce static pressure. Still, the egg crate panel on the attic access door looks good and everyone thinks it’s just a return vent.

    The added benefit is that my attic is now a truly “conditioned” space. Plus, once the sun goes down, the temperature drops pretty drastically.

    My second power bill is *half* of the kWh usage from the same time last year and only 6 kWh above my daily base Spring/Fall load. I think that’s a significant acheivement. Personally, I can live with an 8 degree daily temperature variation for a savings of $200/mo.

    Once you get used to the daily temperature variation, it’s not bad. I telecommute, so I’m here all day, but someone who doesn’t come home until 6PM probably would even notice the variation.

  • JohnLV

    My first water bill also arrive with my second power bill. I used 10,000 extra gallons over the course of the month with 24×7 operation which cost $30. Asuuming a worst case scenario, 5000 gallons were evaporated. The 5000 gallons not evaporated was returned to the sewer system and Lake Mead.

    Considering NV Energy uses conventional swamp coolers to cool their peak power turbines, my personal water usage was probably less, as claimed, than what NV Energy would’ve evaporated to produce the power for my conventional A/C.

  • John9999

    My Las Vegas based Coolerado has performed admirably over the summer. What’s even more impressive is the $.057 I’m paying per kwh for not using on-peak power. My electric bill is down to $98/mo from $350/mo, prior to the Coolerado.

    If I were doing this install again, I would specify far more up ducting than I did during this installation. I would treat this just like I would any other, old technolgy, swamp cooler. I’m cooling X square feet with a swamp cooler, so I will ventilate assuming figures for X square feet.

    What I ended up doing was taking an egg-crate flourescent light panel and replacing the conventional, solid attic panel with that egg-crate panel. That $15 addition is what made the Coolerado effective in one of the most extremely hot climates on the planet.

    I would specificy lots of ventilation. The Coolerado is very sesitive to static pressure. The less static pressure you present to the system; the better your cooling experience.

    This is, clearly, a technology that should be present on every rooftop in the West. I think the biggest obsticle to it is going to be how to install it. For the moment, I would say reduce the static pressure as close to zero as possible.

    Even given the adjustments needed during the installation, I would say this Coolerado is well on its way to paying it way. NVEnergy just proposed a rate increase and I didn’t have a care in the world about it. ; )

    • Anonymous

      JohnLV,
      I came acros this post while looking for a Coolerado installer in Las Vegas.   Your posts are great, and I would like to speak with you about it more.  I will be buying a house soon, similar size to yours, and one of the first things I intend to do is install an m50.  There’s a free six-pack of your choice in it for you if you decide to mentor me on mine. :-)
      Please email me at:
      jbwvegas1
      at
      yahoo dot com.

      Thanks,
      Jeremy

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