If you’ve never been in a video studio, you wouldn’t realize that you can’t be running anything that makes loud noises — including air conditioning or fans — because microphones are super sensitive and pick up an incredible amount of sound. You also wouldn’t know that certain filming setups include lots of lighting; and sometimes the lights used produce quite a bit of heat. It’s a recipe for cooking actors, producers, film crew, etc.
The DailyTekk video studio gets really, really hot in the summer under certain filming conditions. That made it the perfect environment to test out the Culer AC100 space cooler (buy on Amazon for free shipping). Now it’s not in the name, but we think this product should be renamed to include the word personal because that’s exactly what it is, in reality: a personal space cooler (as opposed to a cooler than can cool an entire space). In fact, a representative from the company told me they were considering such a change.
But a personal space cooler is ideal for many people in many situations. Until I ran into the Culer AC100 I’d never even heard of a personal space cooler, although I was very familiar with personal space heaters. Apparently it’s easier to produce heat than cool for such a situation.
So what is the AC100? It’s a device that uses what the company calls Flow Blurring technology to create an evaporative cooling effect. If the word evaporative didn’t tip you off already, it works by using a fan to spray out a fine mist of water. It’s meant to be somewhat portable, has a few adjustable speeds, can be aimed in any direction and can be used both inside or outside. It doesn’t use much power (low-voltage) and is therefore more eco-friendly than some of the competition and, thanks to tucked away fans, is pretty kid-friendly (they won’t get their fingers caught in the blades). The 1 gallon tank will provide cooling for up to 10 hours. The AC100 retails for $229.95.
So how does the technology inside work? The Flow Blurring tech apparently works by atomizing the water sprayed out by the machine. Essentially this means that Culer products should be able to make the water they are blowing out start to evaporate immediately. So, in theory, they should be more effective than traditional swamp coolers or misting coolers. So you could call Culer products alternatives to swamp and misting coolers. I’ll explain how the AC100 compares to fans and air conditioners down below.
To operate the Culer you fill up the 1 gallon tank by unscrewing the cap on the back base of the unit. It would be nice if there were a transparent window with a fill line to see how much water is in the tank. As is, you’ll need to keep filling until you reach the mesh guard (which you don’t want to go over). Next, hit the power button and adjust the fan power to (there are three settings: low, medium, high) and amount of water being fed into the airflow. When you’re ready hit the cooling button to start the atomization process (this turns the device from a mere fan into a cooler). Note: this steps may be slightly out of order (so read your instructions). Finally, you can swivel the base of the unit (left and right) and adjust the nozzle (up and down) to aim the flow of cooled water/air where you want. That’s basically it.
Unfortunately, there’s no remote control so you’ll need to do all adjusting and controlling on the unit itself.
One thing potential buyers will want to know is that turning the device on and off isn’t instant. It takes several seconds for the misty air to emerge and can take nearly a minute to turn off.
So how well does the AC100 work? How well does it cool? It cools much better than a fan but not nearly on the level of an air conditioner. In our test environment (the hot video studio described at the beginning of this article), the AC100 made a huge difference. It made working in the very hot room bearable. I absolutely can’t imagine working there without it now. So for the right person and situation I’d call it indispensable. I’d liken the cooling effect to that feeling you get when you put some water on your skin and blow on it — or when you’re wet outside in a breeze. It’s akin to that.
I’m told that any cooling product that uses the principle of evaporation has the potential to reduce the temperature of the air moving through it by up to 30 degrees (which would only occur under hot, dry conditions). Apparently this is scientifically defendable (you’ll have to do your own research). But essentially, the actual performance of an evaporative cooling product, including the Culer AC100, depends on the temperature and humidity in the area in which it is operating. So while it may be possible to reduce the temperature in your space by 30 degrees with this device, it might be more likely that you’ll see drops of around 7 degrees or so 24″ from the opening according to info I’ve been given. Again, I have no scientific data of my own here.
But getting the AC100 to cool you just right takes a lot of fine tuning. If you don’t adjust the level of water flow allowed into the airstream you can potentially get soaked. And it takes a good pit of practice to get right. When I first tried the unit out, I aimed it at my desk (from behind, so it was aimed at my back) and got to work. Ahh, yes cooler. But then I felt my shirt and it was next to sopping. After some adjusting though I was able to find the sweet spot of just enough fan power and water.
If you really let a lot of water flow, you’ll absolutely end up with some large drops of water on the floor in front of the unit. And I can see why: when I’ve got the unit tuned to the aforementioned sweet spot, a bead of water forms in the bottom of the nozzle which doesn’t spray out but could. When I turn the machine off it disappears on it’s own, so no big deal.
Okay, so the AC100 is billed as “ultra portable.” Personally I’d drop the ultra and just call it portable. There’s a handle and you can certainly move it from place to place but, and this is a big but, you’re going to have to re-tune the combination of fan power and water output in each new spot. If you’re outside on a deck or porch you’re going to want more water. If inside less. And depending on how close or far away you are to it you’ll need to tweak.
One bad thing about the AC100 is it’s noise level. It’s quite loud. It sounds a bit like a pressure sprayer you might use to clean your car (but not THAT loud). While a fan can’t match the cooling power of the AC100, the AC100 can’t match the quietness of a fan. An air conditioner produces much colder air than the AC100 and is also going to be quieter but there are plenty of places where you just can’t use an air conditioner for a variety of reasons.
One really great thing about the AC100 is the build quality. Everything about the device is solid and sturdy and I see it lasting for a very long time.
It also looks about as nice as a device like this could probably look. Maybe some additional color options would be fun rather than the monotone gray color scheme.
Aside from wishing it had a remote and an easier way to see how much water was in (or left in) the tank, I also wish the unit could rotate to hit more than one person in a space and I think it would be really cool if there was an app and some smart home capabilities.
So who would I recommend this device to? Anyone in a situation or space where an air conditioner isn’t an option and where a fan isn’t enough should look into this product — especially if a loud background noise won’t be a problem. People looking to cool off on their deck or porch are going to love this as it’s probably the most ideally suited application/location. Another great placement would be in a hot garage or shop if you do much work there.
The AC100 can’t compete head-to-head with air conditioning but absolutely crushes mere fans. It’s a great cooling solution in the right situation.