Occasionally, older cars can be seen on our streets, on the passenger side at the height of the upper door frame a strange role is mounted. Especially at larger classic car events, the chances are good to discover one of these specimens. What may at first glance be reminiscent of a giant Bluetooth speaker in a retro style, is nothing more than an early form of air conditioning: a so-called Swamp Cooler or Car Cooler (freely translated car swamp cooler). These cooling devices were invented at a time when automobiles were still not available in the modern sense. They are based on a simple principle that was already known in antiquity and was used for the cooling of rooms. It is the evaporative cooling, which also underlies the temperature regulation of the human body by sweating.
Principle - proven for thousands of years
The principle of the car cooler is simple and has been tried and tested for thousands of years: where water evaporates, heat is extracted. In ancient villas, for example, fountains were used to lower the room temperature and make it more pleasant. And if you want to keep the drinks reasonably cool at a picnic without a cool box, you just have to wrap the bottles with a damp cloth. To cool the air in the car, evaporative cooling - also referred to as adiabatic cooling - First used in the 1930s, and until the 1960s, coolers working according to this principle were popular accessories. And if you own an original Beetle from the fifties, for example, you can still make trips in the great summer heat with a stylish Swamp Cooler much more pleasant.
Simple structure - impressive effect
The construction of a Swamp Cooler is relatively simple: it consists of a tube with a diameter of about ten to fifteen centimeters and a length that is slightly smaller than that of the top of the car door. The forward side of the tube is open; it serves as an air intake. To protect against contamination by foreign objects, the air inlet is usually provided with a wire mesh. Inside the tube a rotatable drum is attached. It contains a filler that absorbs and stores moisture without causing rot or unpleasant odors. The drum can be turned with the help of a rope attached to it. On the vehicle-facing side of the tube is the air outlet. The Swamp Cooler is clamped on the passenger door between the windowpane and the door frame so that the air can flow through the outlet into the vehicle interior.
In general, an additional attachment to the door frame by two clamps and optionally also by a support strut, which rests on the lower window frame. In the cooler about three to four liters of water can be filled and absorbed by the filler in the drum. The incoming wind from the front sweeps over the surface of the drum and allows the moisture to evaporate gradually. wherein the air cools and then flows with reduced temperature through the side outlet into the vehicle. If the moisture of the filling material is largely used up, the drum can be re-wetted by a rotation using the leash.
What are the disadvantages of a Swamp Cooler?
As simple and effective as a Swamp Coooler works, it also has some disadvantages. On the one hand it affects the visibility on the passenger side, and of course it is not very aerodynamic and therefore loud at high speeds. There are likely to be good reasons why this type of cooling is no longer used today on vehicles with top speeds of 160, 200, 250 or + 300 kilometers per hour. And besides, a Swamp Cooler only works when the vehicle is in motion and enough air is flowing through the cooler. By connecting a small electric fan can be achieved that the cooler also works in the state, but it must be resorted to the energy reserves of the battery. Last but not least, the outside air must be dry or at least moderately moist so that it can absorb even more moisture. If the humidity is too high, then the cooler does not work.
pretty elaborate and eye-catching
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