If you’ve ever been to an amusement park, you might have had a cool splash of mist across your face as you stand in crowded areas with minimal shade.
These are outdoor mist cooling systems, and you can install one in your very own backyard.
But are outdoor mist cooling systems really worth it? Is it more hassle than it’s really worth?
We can’t answer that for your specific case, but we can go over an objective list of their benefits, drawbacks, and features to help you draw your own conclusion by the end of this quick little guide.
- 1 How Does a Mist Cooling System Work?
- 2 How Much Pressure Do Different Systems Use?
- 3 Humidity vs. Temperature: A Delicate Balance
- 4 What are the Costs of an Outdoor Mist Cooling System?
- 5 Is it Difficult to Install?
- 6 Mist Coolers: It’s Up to You
How Does a Mist Cooling System Work?
When the air heats up, and there’s nothing to take that uncomfortable stuffy feeling out of it, a mist cooling system is there to help.
These work by spraying cool or cold water into the air through carefully placed tubing. The water evaporates rapidly, pulling that heat out of the air (because the heat causes the evaporation).
The mist rises, and the air is a bit cooler. Cooling mist systems need to supply intervals of sprayed cool mist to remain effective; it’s not a one-and-done type of thing. Continual cool mist helps to reduce the immediate temperature in the area.
Utilizing timers and controllers, tubing is installed along the edge of your roof, or they can be in vertical standalone tubes coming up from the ground, and work like a sprinkler system. Once you turn it on, it sprays water.
A certain level of pressure is required to actually produce mist, otherwise you end up getting a spray of water (which is vastly different). Too much pressure, and you end up with a fog machine if you aren’t careful.
Mist cooling systems do not soak your outdoor furniture or outdoor items, because the mist is mostly evaporated before the water molecules touch the ground. There is some moisture that falls down, which is why you need to get your timer settings perfect before you continue.
Setting your timer intervals too soon will result in a moisture blanket over your items (and air that doesn’t need to be cooled anymore, so why waste the water?), or spaces that feel awkwardly humid instead of relieved.
How Much Pressure Do Different Systems Use?
If you’re going to install one of these systems, it’s important that you know what you’re getting yourself into. You need the right pressure levels, like I mentioned before, to properly operate your mist cooling system. But what are those pressures? Let’s take a look.
These are as basic as basic can get. If you’ve ever seen misting systems at water parks on hot days to keep you cool between going on different rides, or restaurants that use these outside, then they’re likely low pressure systems.
This still creates a mist, but it also leaves behind a decent amount of moisture as well. These are only to be used in dry areas.
Medium Pressure Systems
These systems run between 100 psi and 250 psi, but it all depends on the motorized portion of the system. This is where the pressure comes from.
These are good for the happy medium: they don’t cost as much, but they’re still able to cool down a large area without getting everything damp.
If you aim to buy a medium pressure system, you should be living in a dry area, and look for a booster pump to be included with your pressure system.
These are systems that are used in high humidity areas. The idea here is to provide ample pressure to make a very fine mist, without getting anything around the mist cooling system wet.
More high-pressure systems are defined as having a psi greater than 250, but 250 isn’t really enough for highly humid areas. For that, you’ll need 800 psi up to 1,200 psi to get a perfect mist, and those systems run you a lot.
Humidity vs. Temperature: A Delicate Balance
Humidity is tricky. These mist cooling systems aren’t very popular in places like Florida and Georgia here in the United States, and that’s because air humidity is already so high. Mist cooling systems are mostly used in states like California, Nevada, and New Mexico.
The more humidity in the air, the harder it is to cool the air with mist. You don’t want to just make this muggy environment.
The double-edged sword of using an outdoor mist cooling system is that if you’re in a humid area, you have to go for a higher pressure system, which ends up costing more. High pressure systems also typically need to be installed by a professional to ensure they meet psi standards.
You pay more for higher pressure, but you also see far less efficient results.
Above 80% Humidity
This is where you run into a problem. You need a high pressure system that runs fairly frequently just to cool the immediate area down by 10°F on average.
This isn’t really a big change, but it can take you down from three-digit temps if you really want to enjoy time out on the deck.
Above 40% Humidity
Forty to eighty percent is a big jump down, because you can get away with a medium pressure system, although a high pressure system will still be better for you.
On average, you can expect about 18°F to 21°F of cooldown when you use your misting system efficiently. This is excellent for dry areas that experience major heat waves stretching past 100°F in the summer months.
Lower Than 40% Humidity
This is your most effective range. Using a high pressure system here, in areas like California and New Mexico, will give you up to 32°F worth of cooling.
That’s enough to take you down from the high summer heat waves to those days that you feel when you’re drifting into autumn. You can use low pressure systems here, but you’ll get lower results.
If you land somewhere in the middle of those areas between humidity and temperature, your results are going to vary. These are just benchmarks that typically give results that people are looking for.
Scale them up as you see fit, but basically, every three percentage points of humidity will correlate to about one degree of temperature difference depending on your system.
What are the Costs of an Outdoor Mist Cooling System?
If you want to install this yourself, the costs are going to be all over the place. You have to take measurements, hang lines, join pipes, install and tighten fittings to maintain psi, pressure tubing – have I lost you yet?
It’s a lot of work, and the price is such a variable based on the components you decide to source.
On average, HomeAdvisor states that you will spend anywhere from $1,987 to $3,288 on an outdoor misting system. However, HomeAdvisor is only thinking about professional installation, and they’re thinking about it at a very linear standpoint without delving deep into the issue.
Basically, you can expect to pay about $2 per square foot of coverage for professional installation. This is based on quotes we received from a few companies, and public information available on service websites that offer outdoor mist system installations.
A lot of quotes you get online are for mist systems that are designed to do more than just cool you down, so that’s important to keep in mind when you’re looking at gathering your expected costs.
Professional installation experts are going to try and sell you on two other main points, but go into this knowing what you want. They’re going to talk about:
Can misting systems repel mosquitoes?
Yeah, they can, and they can repel bees, hornets, and wasps as well. These little creatures can’t fly when their wings get wet, so mist actually helps you out here.
But you don’t actually need to go for mist systems that also include mosquito repellent canisters that inject into the water. It’s expensive to install, maintain, and could be pushing mosquito repellent into the air, which you’ll end up breathing in.
Yes, your misting system can be used to water your plants, but you run into a problem here. You end up being sold on two primary functions, but this is actually counterintuitive.
If you design this for plant watering, it needs to have less pressure, and therefore make less mist. Either that, or run at a high pressure for extended periods of time to get the necessary water for your plants.
If you want this as a mist system to cool you down, then don’t go for a low pressure build just because contractors want to try and sell you more ideas than the one you already have.
Is it Difficult to Install?
It’s not necessarily difficult to install, but it is difficult to install properly. You want to create a game plan for minimal piping, maximum mist cooling in key areas, and just optimize your mist cooling system to the best of your ability.
The hardest thing is going to be installing the actual piping itself, but even then, an experienced DIY warrior can get it done.
This task is time consuming, but not necessarily difficult to get working. You can connect water, test the pressure, and ensure that mist actually comes out. You can even set it up on a timer.
Making something work and making something work well are two totally different stories, and while it can be done, it’s recommended to get this done by a professional if it’s something you truly want. They can optimize the entire setup to use as little water as possible for the best misting effect.
Mist Coolers: It’s Up to You
In short, unless you commonly host parties every single weekend or your home is the home to go to for your friends and your children’s friends, an outdoor mist cooling system might not be worth it.
You’re out of luck if you live in very humid areas of the country, because not only are you going to have a harder time cooling down the outside of your home, but you’re also going to see less efficiency at a higher cost.
If you go the DIY route, this can take a while to install. Many of us would rather spend time on more beneficial elements to our yards and gardens, but if this is something you really want, then by all means, make it happen.