Effective evaporative cooling. Doubles as humidifier. Compact. Colorful LED lights.
Water needs to be refilled relatively frequently. Leaks when moved. Two LEDs burned out in testing.
- Bottom Line
The Evapolar is a compact evaporative air cooler and humidifier that will keep you cool in small spaces and looks good while doing so. Just don't expect it to cool down an entire room.
By Ajay Kumar
If the temperature in your office feels more like the Sahara than Siberia, the Evapolar Personal Air Cooler is a good solution that doesn't require you to harass the office manager about lowering the thermostat every day. The $179.99 Evapolar is a compact cube that keeps you comfortable using evaporative cooling. It has simple controls and colorful LED lighting, and doubles as a humidifier. Its small size makes it ideal for creating your very own microclimate right in the office or elsewhere—just don't expect it to replace an actual air conditioner.
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A Cool Look
The Evapolar is a compact plastic cube available in black, blue, or white. Measuring 6.7 by 6.7 by 6.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 2.9 pounds, it's no bigger than a desk fan. And compared with other portable coolers from Honeywell, Hessaire, and MasterCool, it's among the smallest and lightest you can get—it's certainly a lot smaller than the IcyBreeze, which doubles as an actual cooler for food and drinks.
There's a grille on the back for air intake, and another on the front for output. The back also has a micro USB power port. The power requirement is only 10W, so you can use your laptop or even a portable battery. An adapter and charging cable is included.
The top of the Evapolar has a circular control wheel with a display in the center that serves as your main interface. By default, it shows you fan speed, room temperature, and air temperature. You can also use the wheel to navigate through options like display brightness, Celsius or Fahrenheit, fan speed, and humidifier. Pressing down on the display lets you select an item. It's simple to use, though a companion mobile app would have been a nice addition.
The bottom has rubber grips to keep it from sliding around. The left side has a 750mL water tank and colorful LED lighting. Using the display and the control wheel, you can choose between different shades of blue, green, red, and white. Unfortunately, during our testing, the red and white LEDs burned out, which makes me concerned about how the others will hold up over time. Evapolar says it will send a replacement LED strip if this happens. Personally, I don't need the lights at all, but if they're a big selling point for you, it's something to be aware of.
There's a somewhat flimsy plastic flap on top of the water tank you need to open to refill it. It doesn't form a complete seal, so moving the Evapolar will often send water slopping down the sides when the tank is full. According to the company, the next version of the cooler will have a larger, leak-proof water tank, and will be compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, and Samsung Smart Things. That model is currently being crowdfunded and expected to ship in July for $199.
What's Cooler Than Being Cool?
Inside the Evapolar is an evaporation pad and an air filter wedged between two fans, one for intake and one for output. It works using the same principle as putting a wet cloth over a fan. The input fan sucks in air from the room and passes it through the evaporation pad, which is cooled by the water from the tank. It's a simple idea, but it provides a surprising degree of cooling. You'll have to swap out the filters every six to eight months to prevent mold and bacteria from growing. New filers are available for $39.99.
With the temperature in PC Labs hovering anywhere between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the vagaries of the thermostat, I found the Evapolar cooled things down by an average of 15 degrees. The most impressive temperature reading I encountered was a drop from 73.5 degrees to 58.2 degrees, which affects an area of about 30 to 45 square feet. It won't cool an entire room like the Frigidaire Gallery or the Quirky Aros, but it's also not a dedicated air conditioning unit that requires window mounting. It'll keep you cool, but it won't freeze out whomever sits nearby.
Noise varies between 28 to 40dB, depending on fan speed. At maximum, the unit is definitely audible. If you're easily distracted, you'll want to keep it around the halfway mark, which I found provides a good balance between volume and cooling. But it's essentially white noise, so you may not find it unpleasant.
The water tank lasts between four to six hours depending on how high you have the humidifier setting. Refilling the tank isn't a huge burden, but a larger capacity that lasts through an entire work day would be nice.
Since the Evapolar is both a cooler and a humidifier, it won't cool if the temperature is lower than 63 degrees Fahrenheit, and it won't humidify if the humidity is higher than 70 percent. This is a matter of physics: Evaporative cooling work best in areas where there's hot, dry air with humidity levels of 50 percent or less. That means if you live in Florida, the Evapolar probably isn't going to work well for you.
Cool for the Summer
The Evapolar is one of the smallest portable air coolers you can get, making it ideal for use in the workplace. With modest power requirements and an impressive cooling ability, it helps keep you comfortable without costing as much as larger portable air coolers. But the Evapolar is designed for personal use only, so if you want to climate control an entire room, you'll want to look into a dedicated air conditioning unit like the Frigidaire Gallery or the Quirky Aros, both of which you can control from your phone. And if you're looking to save money, don't forget the humble desk fan. It won't actually change the temperature of the air, but it can still help cool you down for a fraction of the price.
By Ajay Kumar Mobile Analyst
Ajay Kumar is PCMag's Analyst obsessed with all things mobile. Ajay reviews phones, tablets, accessories, and just about any other gadget that can be carried around with you. In his spare time he games on the rig he built himself, collects Nintendo amiibos, and tries his hand at publishing a novel. Follow Ajay on Twitter @Ajay_H_Kumar. More »
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