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" heater.
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
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
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.