Cool Surge Portable Air Cooler: The Amish Have Done it Again!
As I thumbed through a recent edition of USA Today, I noticed a full page ad for the Cool
Surge Portable Air Cooler. The look and feel of the ad was very much like the one I had
seen for the Amish Heat Surge portable heater.
A quick phone call to the customer service number on the Cool Surge website revealed it
was indeed marketed by the same people who brought us the Amish "Roll and Glow"
The Cool Surge air cooler is basically a portable swamp cooler with a three speed fan
that blows air across a 1.45 gallon water tank cooled by ice. This cooling technique
originated in speakeasies during the Roaring 20's where a tub full of ice blocks was
placed in front of a big fan and aimed at the dance floor.
In the case of the Cool Surge, the ice takes the form of two freezer packs (4 packs in all)
similar to the ones used to keep beer fresh in a tailgating cooler.
The freezer packs measure 3"x 5"x 1" high and are referred to as "glacier ice blocks." If
this is what passes for a glacier these days, global warming is in full swing at the Cool
Surge factory. Maybe "glacier ice chips" would be more accurate.
Depending on various factors, humidity, room size, etc., the unit is said to "....cool the air
around the unit in any room up to 10 degrees." Did you catch the "around the unit" part,
or did you come away thinking the entire room would be cooled by 10 degrees?
Another selling point featured in the USA Today ad states it costs only pennies a day to
operate – the same as a 60 watt light bulb. But if you visit the Cool Surge website the
power consumption claim inexplicably changes to: "uses the same electricity as a 80 watt
light bulb." I can't explain the discrepancy, but it doesn't surprise me.
Cost to operate
In any event, the cost to run an 80 watt anything is around 13 cents for 12 hours –
pennies a day indeed. However, each set of two ice blocks needs to be rotated and re-
frozen every four hours in, guess what?, your 700 watt refrigerator/freezer. To be fair,
only a small portion of the freezer's capacity would be used, but it's an additional hidden
cost to operate all the same.
Just one more important item to deal with before I talk price. The way in which the Cool
Surge is marketed suggests it will work equally as well in all regions of the U. S. Well, it
won't, and here's why.
Cool Surge is a portable swamp cooler, plain and simple. As such it adds moisture to the
air during the cooling process which is acceptable if you live in an area with very low
humidity. However, when the humidity reaches 30% and above, the effectiveness of all
swamp coolers diminishes.
So if you live in the Northeast a swamp cooler would work fairly well for those occasional
hot days in the spring and fall when the humidity is relatively low. But come summertime,
when the humidity increases with the temperature, a swamp cooler is practically useless.
Now for the price. The ad I referred to earlier was offering a
two for one deal at the regular price of $298 for a limited time.
Since then, the price listed on their website is $298 for one.
Even if you paid the twofer price of $149 each, they still cost 30
- 50% more than other coolers offering more features.
Case in point. Pictured on the left is the Unistar 4 in 1 swamp
cooler with ionic purifier. It offers the same features as the
Cool Surge in addition to a larger water tank, oscillation (side
to side) option, 1 year limited warranty and pretty good user
reviews - for only $89.95.
P.S. I choose this model to illustrate my point because it has
similar dimensions, weighs about the same, and looks
something like the Cool Surge.
Please remember, portable swamp coolers this size work best for "spot" cooling rather
than whole room cooling. For whole room cooling, provided you live in a dry zone, you
need a cooler with more power like the Supentown 608R Portable Air Cooler. This
particular model has a 23 foot air throw - almost twice as far as smaller air coolers.