KuulAire Portable Evaporative Coolers
KuulAire is a brand of evaporative coolers manufactured by Port-A-Cool, in Texas. While the commercial market comes under the Port-A-Cool line and appears in applications such as fan misters used at sporting events, the KuulAire brand is used for the residential market. The coolers for home use are much smaller, but use some of the technology that has applications in the commercial line.
A fixed media evaporative cooler pumps water up from a tank and then allows the water to trickle down where it hits the air stream from the fan. Wick styles use capillary action to draw water upwards and do not have a pump. Adding the pump with fixed media allows for more control over the evaporation surface and can yield better performance, but the trade off is in complexity (more can go wrong) and increased price.
Fixed media is three dimensional and thicker than wick types. This gives a larger surface area and more evaporation can occur. The media is adjusted to allow the best combination of air flow and evaporation to provide cooling. Because of the pump, KuulAire does not recommend putting ice in the water tank. They claim that performance isn’t changed with ice and it may interfere with drawing water up through the pump.
One other difference with fixed media types of air coolers is what happens when the water runs out. With a wick, there is no pump that needs to be shut off. In fixed media coolers, there is usually a sensor to shut off the pump, and there may be an alarm to alert users of low water conditions.
Prices and models
KuulAire uses a model naming convention based on air flow. The more cubic feet per minute of cooled air a unit produces, the higher the KA number. Since other elements are tied to this, as the numbers increase, so too does the price, water capacity, cooling capacity, and energy consumption. All units use a fixed media.
Prices are given as MSRP.
PAKA34– $99; 120 square foot cooling; 3 gallon tank; low water alarm; remote control
PAKA44– $149; 175 sqft; 4 gallon tank; remote control; no alarm
PAKA45– $209; 200 sqft; 2.6 gallon tank; remote; no alarm; additional fan speed setting (4 instead of 3) for extended reach.
PAKA50– $309; 350 sqft; 5.2 gallon tank; remote; no alarm; additional fan speed setting.
PAKA53– $199; 350 sqft; 4 gallons; remote; no alarm. This unit doesn’t use a pump and this is reflected in the lower price. It also only has a three speed fan.
PAKA54– $159; 350 sqft; 4 gallons; remote; no alarm. No pump and three speed fan. The fan is slightly less powerful than the PAKA53, lowering cost but also lowering cooling capacity.
PAKA55– $369; 400 sqft; 7.9 gal detachable tank; remote; no alarm. 4 speed fan and pump style.
PAKA77–$649; 600 sqft; hooks to water supply, but includes 7.9 gal tank. Remote, timer, low water alarm, 2 speed settings. This unit is designed for outdoor use, such as an open garage. The reason is the extremely high evaporation would add too much water as humidity in an enclosed space.
Tips and tricks
- Using purified water will help extend wick life in all evaporative coolers. Hard water or tap water that leaves residues should be avoided.
- Periodic cleaning and sanitizing is important to avoid mold and smells.
- A quick trick to size evaporative coolers is to compare water tank capacity and square footage. Larger units will necessarily use water at a faster rate. They will also cool more.
- When house humidity becomes an issue (EC’s add water to the air), opening a window for a short time will vent out the room and rebalance humidity with the outside air.
Reviews and comments
Reviews from dry climates, like Texas or Arizona, were generally favorable. KuulAire units are portable and easy to move around, even when filled with water. Customers were impressed with the high air flow (sometimes an issue with wick style coolers). They also liked the large surface area that air came out of.
Complaints centered around an inability to cool to expectations. Some also mentioned that while KuulAire is marketed as being manufactured in the USA, they found stickers on the unit that said “Made in China.” It is true that Port-A-Cool (and hence KuulAire) have facilities in Mexico and China – not all components of all units will be made in the US.
Reviews were very polarized. It seems customers either love the units or hate them, with little in between. The best suggestion is to try one out –either where someone already has one, or by renting before you buy. Alternatively, see what return policy is offered wherever you purchase. It may be wise to buy locally (Walmart, Home Depot or Best Buy) rather than online if returns might be an issue.↑ Back to Top