Sunpentown is noted for its evaporative coolers, and in this article, we’ll look at two of their models, the SF-609 and the SF-608R.
Evaporative coolers take advantage of the same phenomenon that gives you the chills when you step out of a swimming pool – it takes energy to evaporate water and this lowers the temperature. By exposing a wet substrate to airflow, an evaporative cooler (or swamp cooler) will produce cool air.
Check out our evaporative air coolers page here with more good info, pros and cons, best use cases, etc. for these units. Please keep in mind these are great for dryer climates, but don’t perform well in humid climates. –Dave
At a suggested retail of $155.00 at the Sunpentown website, this 17-pound portable can be found for around $100 with a little shopping around. 1 It has a 10 liter water capacity, meaning it can run about 16 hours before needing a refill. There is a timer to set so it shuts off before running out of water. The unit also features a fan with oscillating louvers for better air distribution.2
The SF-609 is also an ionizer. This function is designed to remove small particulates from the air that passes through it. While this adds a bit to the price (compare to the SF-608R below), the ionic air purification helps cut down on smells, a problem that can arise with evaporative air coolers because of the constant moisture in the media. Mold and mildew can give a musty smell to some units.
Reviews for this unit are generally positive. Warranty is one year (limited) on parts and labor. Criticisms of the unit come from those who expect more from an evaporative cooler than they are designed to deliver. As mentioned by the manufacturer, “This unit is best used in dry climates or open spaces. Leave window/door open when temperature or humidity rises in the room. Add as much ice as possible and set unit next to you for best effect.”
A similar unit, but without the ionizer, the SF-608R sells for about $10 less than the SF-609. Both have a remote, timer, 3-speed fan with oscillating louvers and the same 10 liter tank capacity.
Instead of the ionizing filtration system, this unit uses a “nylon and photocatalystic” filter.3 The reason may be because air purification by ionization has received some negative media attention with some believing that ionizing may actually cause asthmatic reactions.
Customer comments were split about 50:50 for this unit. Like the SF-609, most who complained felt it didn’t provide cooling for a large enough area, even when using ice in the water reservoir.4
For those who are familiar with evaporative coolers, or knows they work in their climate, these two units offer reliability and a solid brand name for a very low price. They are not air conditioners and will not dramatically cool even a smaller room. However, they use very little electricity, are fully portable (no venting to the outside) and very lightweight. These are a good choice where full air conditioning isn’t needed in dry climates. Customers found them useful as an humidifier, since, like all evaporative coolers, they add moisture to the air.
The choice between ionizing and non-ionizing is a matter of personal preference. With proper cleaning and filter/media replacement, mold and mildew shouldn’t be able to get a foothold. There are also disinfectant sprays that can be used if this is a concern.
More on Supentown’s offerings can be found here.