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Air Conditioner Vs Air Cooler: What's the Difference?

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The main difference between an Air Conditioner and Air Cooler is that an Air Conditioner takes the indoor air, cools it with a refrigeration process, and circulates it in the room again, whereas an Air Cooler usually takes the outside air, passes it from a water tank to cool it, and spreads in the room.

Wondering whether to purchase an Air Conditioner or an Air Cooler to chill up your room for this summer starting in most countries, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Asia, and Middle Eastern countries? This article is for you! While both options are good, some differences are setting them apart.

Let’s look at the differences to help you choose a better option to maintain the temperature in your room, apartment, or office.

What is an Air Conditioner?

Air Conditioner is an electronic device installed in a space to control the temperature inside. It works on a mechanism of a refrigeration cycle and absorbs the heat and humidity from the air by compressing and expanding the refringent.

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This process often uses the air inside the room only, leading towards a dry room and dehumidified air but effectively reduces the temperature inside. Compared to other methods, Air Conditioners consume more power and need an experienced technician to install, making it an expensive way to cool your room in summer.

Plus, Air Conditioners come in a variety of models, all having their own features and functionalities, including portable ones and wall-mounted ones.

Pros: Powerful, effective, precise, automatic, and durable.

Cons: Expensive, high-maintenance, noisy, energy-consuming, and requires installation.

What is an Air Cooler?

Just like Air Conditioners, Air Cooler is an electronic appliance used to reduce the temperature in a space, both inside and outside. It drags the air from the surroundings, cools it, and spreads in the room.


They are also called Air Evaporators as they cool the air by passing it through a tank which wets it by evaporating the cold water. Installing an Air Cooler is usually an easy process, and due to the absence of some complex elements and gas, it costs much less than an Air Conditioner. 

Air Coolers are a less expensive option with various portable and wall-mounted devices. However, their being-good thing depends upon the overall climate. Some experts don’t recommend them if you are living in a very humid environment.

Pros: Affordable, eco-friendly, portable, low-maintenance, simple.

Cons: Limited capacity, not effective in high humidity, requires frequent water refilling, noisy, not suitable for large spaces.

Differences between an Air Conditioner and Air Cooler

Cooling Method

So, the first difference is the cooling method, the primary function of both appliances. Air Conditioners use refringent such as R-410A and R-22 to cool down the air present indoors. However, Air Coolers take the air from the surroundings, inside and outside, and pass it from a water tank to add moisture, ultimately reducing the temperature.

Usage and Cooling Capacity

Air Conditioners work best for almost every space. From small rooms to large apartments, the variety of models ranging from small wall-mounted devices to large central ones allows you to install them anywhere. Contrarily, Air Coolers are limited to performing best for small spaces only, where the cool air from the fan can reach.

Humidity Control

The repeated passing of the air from the refringent of Air Conditioners can lead to a reduced level of humidity in the space. Contradictorily, Air Coolers continuously add moisture, causing maintained or increased humidity.

Energy Efficiency

Air Conditioners have a more complex cooling mechanism and need more electricity to operate the compressor and refringent. However, Air Coolers are more power-efficient and require electricity for a fan only.


Due to large and complicated structures, Air Conditioners need professionals for servicing and cleaning. Contrary to this, Air Coolers can be cleaned and serviced at home, even without professional knowledge.


Only a limited range of Air Conditioners allow you to enjoy portability. Otherwise, Air Coolers take the lead when moving them from one space to another. It is due to Air Coolers being small and easy to carry.


Air Conditioners are usually more expensive to purchase and operate than Air Coolers. Also, excessive power usage contributes to the increased costs. Moreover, the regular servicing costs are higher for Air Conditioners, making them less pocket-friendly.

Comparison Chart: Air Conditioners Vs Air Coolers

Comparison CriteriaAir ConditionersAir Coolers
Cooling MethodUse refrigerant to cool the airPass air through the water tank to reduce the temperature
Usage and Cooling CapacitySuitable for all spaces, ranging from small rooms to large apartmentsLimited to small spaces where cool air from the fan can reach
Humidity ControlReduces humidity due to refrigerantAdds moisture to the air
Energy EfficiencyMore power consumption due to compressor and refrigerantMore power-efficient due to only using a fan
MaintenanceRequires professional servicing and cleaningCan be cleaned and serviced at home
PortabilityGenerally, less portable, limited to certain modelsMore portable due to small size and weight
CostUsually more expensive to purchase and operateMore affordable to purchase and operate

Please note that these differences may vary for both appliances from model to model. However, this basic information is correct for most models, helping you know the primary differences.


Despite their differences, both appliances work for the same purpose of reducing the temperature and cooling down the air. All new Air Conditioners and Air Coolers come with remote control functionalities, allowing you to adjust the temperature without physically accessing the appliance.

Moreover, both appliances have similar features, such as fan mode only. Also, the variety of sizes and models allows you to choose a well-suited one for your room, house, or office.


Which is better: Air Cooler or Air Conditioner?

Air Conditioners give you the best performance at cooling indoor air but cost you more than Air Coolers. However, Air Coolers are pocket-friendly but may not be a good choice for areas with high humidity.

What are the disadvantages of an Air Cooler?

Air Coolers have a limited cooling capacity and need frequent water refills and cleaning services. Moreover, they are not a good choice for areas with high humidity and excessive heat.

Is an Air Cooler as Cold as an Air Conditioner?

Air Coolers, compared to Air Conditioners, are less effective and rely on evaporative cooling technology. Although there is no refrigeration process involved, they still provide significant cooling in dry climatic regions.

Is Air Cooler good or bad for health?

Air Coolers are considered safe if you live in dry climatic regions. However, many experts say that there is a risk of building up mold and other allergens and increased humidity. Yet, regular maintenance and cleaning could help you get rid of these issues.


To sum up, both Air Conditioners and Air Coolers have their features and their being good depends upon one’s personal choices and climatic situation. However, Air Conditioners are more powerful and can reduce the temperature quicker than Air Coolers whereas Air Coolers are more pocket friendly and don’t require any professional service for installation and maintenance.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.
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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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