Do Outdoor Misting Systems Work?
If you’ve been searching for ways to cool down outdoors, chances are you may have come across the term ‘Outdoor Misting System’.
In this article we’ll take a look at what these actually are, how they work, their pros and cons, and advice on how to look after them.
So Just What is an Outdoor Misting System, and Why Would Anyone Need One?
A familiar catch 22 scenario…
It’s a hot sunny day outside so you want to get outdoors and enjoy the glorious weather…
But.. it’s just a bit too hot for comfort, and of course air conditioning doesn’t work outside…
So you come back in again to cool off and end up missing out on a beautiful day!
Well, this scenario could become a thing of the past with a clever device called an outdoor misting system.
Ideal for domestic backyards, patio areas and gardens, these systems are also becoming increasingly popular in commercial and public areas such as outdoor restaurant seating areas and theme parks where business owners want to provide a cool, pleasant environment for their customers to enjoy.
Misting systems help to lower the temperature in a particular area using the principles of evaporative cooling.
In simple terms, the system is connected to a water source and releases water droplets into the warm air. As these water droplets evaporate into the air the water changes from a liquid to a gas state (vapour).
This process of evaporation requires energy, which is taken from the air in the form of heat, in turn lowering the ambient temperature around the misted area.
Essentially it’s similar to how our bodies cool themselves – we sweat, the sweat evaporates, and our body temperature is lowered.
Are Misting Systems Costly and Complicated to Install, or Can You DIY Easily and Cheaply?
Depending on your own specific needs, it’s perfectly possible to purchase a simple and inexpensive kit and install it yourself.
For a competent DIYer the job could be completed over the course of a few hours or a weekend, and there are several useful tutorials online to help you.
This is assuming the area you want to cool is relatively compact as these types of self-install systems generally connect to a garden hose and run off your home’s normal water pressure, without the need for an additional pump.
Many of these ‘low-pressure’ kits are pre-assembled with a selection of nozzles which are placed in a line around the perimeter of an area, and which spray a fine mist ( sometimes referred to as a ‘mist curtain’) into the area and help to bring the outside temperature down.
With regular maintenance these misting systems can last for many years. Nothing overly complicated or time-consuming is required – just be sure to clean the nozzles periodically, as clogs can sometimes occur. And in winter take the time to drain the system to prevent it from freezing.
‘Turbo-Charging’ Your Misting System
Of course, it may be that you have a large outdoor space that you want to cool down, and in such cases you may prefer to consider a system which features a pump as these have far more cooling power.
Firstly, there are ‘mid-pressure’ misting systems which typically operate between 100-250 psi (pounds per square inch) of water pressure (compared to 40-100 psi of water pressure for the kits that just connect to a regular hose).
Alternatively, there are ‘high pressure’ misting systems which typically operate between 800-1200 psi of water pressure.
What’s the relevance of different levels of water pressure?
Well, essentially the higher the pressure, the finer the spray of mist. And the finer the spray of mist, the better the cooling power as smaller droplets of water evaporate more quickly than larger ones.
Are These Systems Easy To Maintain?
Again, regular maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your system.
In addition to cleaning the nozzles, if your system has a pump you should ideally have an annual pump check-up, paying attention to things such as the oil levels, filter cartridge and fan belt.
Naturally, where more component parts are involved, repairs can be more costly if something does need to be fixed or replaced. And you may perhaps need to call upon a professional plumber or contractor to install the system for you, again resulting in a little more financial outlay than a simple DIY kit.
In the end it all comes down to your own particular needs, so do plan carefully beforehand to ensure you purchase the most suitable option at the outset.
But Do Misting Systems Really Cool Things Down Enough To Justify Their Purchase?
Well, it seems they do.
It has been suggested that in areas with humidity levels between 40-80%, high pressure misting systems can reduce the temperature in the misted area by up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
And in areas where the humidity levels are below 40%, this figure can rise to a reduction of up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
Certainly a marked difference to what you can achieve with a good old-fashioned hand-held fan!
It’s worth bearing in mind though the best results are achieved when the mist evaporates quickly – i.e. because the spray is finer, or the humidity levels are not extremely high. Otherwise you may be left feeling a little bit damp as opposed to cooled!
Some Final Thoughts
In conclusion it would seem that outdoor misting systems can provide some much-needed cooling in outdoor areas where regular air conditioning won’t work.
Which system you go for depends on the size of the area you’re looking to cool, as well as the type of climate you live in.
If it’s to cover a small area, and the humidity levels where you live aren’t extremely high, you could consider a simple, DIY low-pressure kit which can be easily assembled, doesn’t require a specialist contractor to install, and involves little maintenance other than a good clean out of the nozzles at regular intervals.
If you live in a place with very high humidity levels, or you have a larger area to cool, mid and high pressure misting systems are probably more suitable for you. The addition of a pump does make them a bit more expensive and involves more in the way of maintenance, but they have far more cooling power than their garden-hose system counterparts.
Hopefully this article has armed you with a bit more information to help you make an informed decision as to which option is best for you. And let you get out there enjoying the sunshine in no time!