Consumer Issues – Consumer NZ finds the Instachill Evaporative Cooler to be a stone-cold failure

Source: Consumer NZ

A Consumer NZ trial of the Instachill Evaporative Cooler has found it to be effectively useless in the New Zealand climate. The evaporative cooler sells for as high as $889 and claims to be able to replace air conditioning, saving consumers with a unit 'up to $212 per month.'

An evaporative cooler is a fan that blows out cool, damp air. It sucks in air, passes it over water-soaked pads, and blows it back into the room. Evaporative coolers work well in hot, dry climates like Western Australia, or Nevada and Arizona, but not in a damp climate like New Zealand where many people live close to the coast.

“The Instachill was found to pump about a litre of water into your room every hour, which in a poorly ventilated space could raise humidity to a level where mould thrives. Many New Zealand homes suffer from mould already – we don't need anything to make it grow. Except for a few inland areas in high summer, there is no place for an evaporative cooler in New Zealand,” says Consumer NZ product test manager Dr Paul Smith.

“The best ways to stay cool this summer are to open windows or use a fan to create airflow or, to really chill a room, turn on your heat pump in cooling mode. Don't waste money on an evaporative cooler.”

In the trial, the cooler provided a negligible cooling effect, in some instances raising the room temperature. Evaporative coolers should be used with plenty of ventilation. In the best result of the trial, in a garage with a wide-open door, the Instachill lowered the temperature by a paltry half degree Celsius, but increased humidity by five percent. In a poorly ventilated room, the cooler increased the temperature from 25.9 to 31.4 degrees celsius, effectively creating a sauna.

Phil Squire, Sustainability Trust Fair Energy Manager also weighed in on the sale of the Instachill evaporative cooler in New Zealand.

“As an organisation that cares about helping people achieve warm and dry homes in winter, and cool in summer, we were outraged to see the Instachill Evaporative Cooler advertised as a replacement for an air conditioning unit. We acknowledge the upfront cost of installing a heat pump / air conditioning unit might feel out of reach for some – but spending up to $900 on the Instachill is not the solution.”

“There are many simple and often inexpensive, ways to cool your home without adding unwanted moisture to the air. We don't need more mouldy homes and flats in NZ. We're really disappointed in some of our major retailers for selling this product.”

The Instachill is currently sold at popular retailers like Harvey Norman, Mitre 10 and via the As Seen on TV shop.

See the full test details of the Instachill here.

For cooling down this summer, Consumer NZ has you covered with its top tips.

About Consumer NZ

Consumer NZ is a non-profit organisation, with 60 years of helping New Zealanders get a fairer deal. In addition to our product tests, we investigate consumer issues and campaign to improve consumer rights. We don't take advertising and rely on revenue from membership and occasional grants to fund our work.