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Thread: Side Draft Attic Install

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Ethan Elliott's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    Colorado
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    Default Side Draft Attic Install

    I live in Colorado, and the state energy company is offering a full rebate to install a swamp cooler this summer - trying to cut down on A/C electric demands. As I currently have no cooling system, I'm all game. But I've got some questions.
    I have a full 6.5' attic space, and would like to cut an inlet in the side of the house and install a side draft swamp cooler in that space. Doing that, I don't add any clutter to the outside of the house, and the duct work has a shorter run to deal with. However, a friend has raised the questions of heat and air flow. I am under the impression that cutting a hole slightly larger than the evap cooler in the side of the house, then building an insulated box around the unit would suffice. But he's worried that the heat exchange involved would super-heat the attic, and that the unit may not have enough airflow.
    Are there people successfully mounting swamp coolers in attics, or do they "only" operate on rooftops?
    In my opinion, installing it in the attic means the only issue to deal with would be finding the proper louvre to fit a hole that size.
    Thoughts on louvres that would be able to be sealed off in the winter?
    Clearance requirements to build a swamp cooler "box?"
    Other condensation/heat concerns?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
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    New England
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    21,390

    Default

    There would not be any heat buildup from the unit like there is with a refrigerant type a/c unit, so that isn't an issue. The biggest problems would be water management and getting enough airflow. The things suck huge amounts of air - you'd need the combined surface area of the four sides with the pads on them with no restrictions (and probably more to account for any duct losses), and that's huge. There's good reason why they are on the roof.

    Also, while they can work great in low humidity, keep in mind that as the humidity rises, they work less and less which may be when you really want it (on those hot humid rare days). Just like you sweating, it doesn't evaporate on a humid day, or if it does, not fast enough to keep you cool. Your furniture may not like the big swings of humidity between seasons, but your mucous membranes may appreciate the higher humidity levels. Because of the huge amounts of air moved through the unit, it will suck in large amounts of pollen and dust. The pads will need to be cleaned and or replaced periodically, and the thing flushed out (part of the water management issue). Also, you have to leave at least a few windows open in the house, or there'll be no air movement and no cooling. If someone is home during the day, this may not be an issue.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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