Consumer Reports Evaluates Cool Surge Portable Air Cooler, Made By Same Folks Who Brought You The ìAmish Heaterî


The company behind the “Amish man’s new miracle idea”—a heater—is back! Here’s Consumer Reports’ evaluation of the Cool Surge.


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  1. SupremeCourtNominee_GitEmSteveDave says:

    My computer uses the same energy as a 40watt, a 60watt, and even a 90 watt light bulb. It’s called AC.

    That being said, the server room at Consumer Reports needs some clean up cable wise! You can make your own custom length patch cords for less than the store bought lengths.
    I’ll make sure to tell them that in October. My consulting fee is only a mere Lab Coat. I’ll even throw in custom stress boots on any cables I make!

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @SupremeCourtNominee_GitEmSteveDave:

      That’s not a server room. Those cables are attached to the temperature sensors.

      • OMG! Con Seannery! says:

        @Cant_stop_the_rock: Yeah. I think he knows that.

        • benh57 says:

          @OMG! Con Seannery!: I don’t think he does, since he called them ‘patch cords’, which they are not.. You don’t want ‘custom length’ cables for a flexible space like that which will have all kinds of different experiments. There’s a reason for the slack – it’s needed since the sensors may need to be placed all over the room depending on the experiment.

    • mewyn dyner says:

      @SupremeCourtNominee_GitEmSteveDave:

      You’re thinking voltage, not energy. Energy is typically measured in watt-hours in household applications, using x watts over the time it is run. It really boils down to what wattage you’re running at, measuring different times is not a proper comparison, as this measure of comparison is over the same amount of time unless specified otherwise.

  2. GitEmHomerJay! says:

    Oh the snark!
    Still, is anyone surprised by these results?

  3. SkokieGuy says:

    I want to know how the Amish have whored out their good name to a company that seems shady at best.

    And as far as how this unit works, I could put a fan in behind a bowl of ice cubes an approximate the same effect.

  4. Chris Walters says:

    Btw, that “Chris” in the video isn’t me. I am just as attractive, however.

  5. Yankees368 says:

    In theory, this idea should work. Before modern day AC, places like my college (university at buffalo) cooled giant tanks of water, and simply blew water over the top. This product works on the same concept. In reality, if you can get the water cold enough, this should work.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @Yankees368:

      I didn’t watch the video, but it sounds like evaporative cooling. Google swamp cooler to see the downside of older systems.

    • DarianAlcestis says:

      @Yankees368:

      Consumers Union cools their building this way – to conserve – and gets something back from ConEd. Can’t say it’s the most efficient, then again, it was completed before the company sliced/diced offices – opened up additional floors… that lovely atrium gets mighty toasty as the sun beats down…

    • H3ion says:

      @Yankees368: We have friends in Tuscon who use some system of water-filled pipes on the roof. Seems to work very well. Of course they’re not Amish so the marketing just went out the window.

    • oneandone says:

      @Yankees368: @Thanatos: My grandmother would tell me about using the same thing when they lived in the desert, in the days before AC.

  6. Kyle Kienapfel says:

    From the video it sounds like the test was it fighting with the air system for the test chamber…

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      @Kyle Kienapfel:

      That’s what it seemed like to me, which isn’t a fair test. But on the other hand Consumer Reports tests air conditioners, so I trust that they know what they’re doing. It probably just wasn’t clearly conveyed in the video.

  7. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    So basically somebody re-invented the swamp cooler? Not gonna do much good in a humid climate.

  8. joos says:

    I know they own consumerist.com, but I have really soured on Consumer Reports. They advertise that they “provide ratings and recommendations on the best models of traditional, umbrella, jogging, all-terrain strollers and double strollers.” (see [www.consumerreports.org])

    Needing a double stroller, I subscribed. However, it turns out that they DO NOT have ratings for umbrella, jogging, all-terrain or double strollers- just traditional strollers. I called and canceled, got a full refund and was assured that their teaser page would be corrected. Its no two months later and it still says the same thing..

    I wonder how many people they have lured in with this type of bait & switch.

    • matt1978 says:

      @joos: Where is this that you speak of? The link you have says nothing of the sort.

      • Preyfar says:

        @matt1978: “We also provide Ratings and recommendations on the best models of traditional, umbrella, jogging, all-terrain strollers and double strollers as well as travel systems.”

        Just do a search for the word “double”. It’s in the page, but it’s not towards the top. It’s in a large paragraph towards the lower middle of the page.

      • MustyBuckets says:

        @matt1978: It’s in fine print at the bottom. To make it larger for all of us I’ll post it here:

        “We also provide Ratings and recommendations on the best models of traditional, umbrella, jogging, all-terrain strollers and double strollers as well as travel systems.”

    • Kamidari says:

      @joos: I suppose maybe they added it recently, but the “Latest Traditional Stroller Ratings” link on that page goes to a page that has ratings for 8 side-by-side and 3 tandem double strollers.

    • GavinEstecado says:

      @joos: I would expect and answer to your comment, Ben…anyone?

  9. gaberussell says:

    I was with ‘em up until the $300 part. This (like a swamp cooler) would seem to be a cheaper, less effective alternative to a regular air conditioner. But even with supposed energy savings, I can’t see how a glorified fan that you have to restock with ice packs could sell for more than $50.

    How are they qualifying that price when you can get a more effective traditional A/C unit for half the price?

    • shepd says:

      @gaberussell:

      They are suggesting it can replace that air conditioner and that you’ll reap the money savings via reduced electricity usage.

      If their claims were true, well, that’d be great. If you live anywhere that uses a “Humidex” to tell the temperature, this device is WORSE than useless.

  10. B says:

    I don’t see the problem with this. Who knows more about electricity and HVAC systems than the Amish?

  11. edbro says:

    Dang, I was gonna buy one but I missed the call-in time window for my time zone. I just know they are going to sell out.

    • MustyBuckets says:

      @edbro: I hear ads on the Radio, every day, about buying houses on the cheap. “Call today for information if your name begins with A-K, tomorrow for L-Z.”
      But everyday I hear it, It’s always A-K, and tomorrow never ever comes.

  12. albear says:

    This CR Bob guy is trying too hard to be Andy Rooney.

  13. Anonymous says:

    It’s been a while since I have taken Thermodynamics, but wouldn’t chilling the ice packs in the freezer produce more heat than the corresponding cooling effect from the Air Cooler? That is, there should be a net heating of the house from using this thing.

    I suppose some people would be OK with a slightly warmer kitchen in exchange for a slightly cooler bedroom.

  14. Snarkysnake says:

    Sweet Jesus ,are people this fucking gullible to buy one of these things ? I don’t have any HVAC certifications ,but this would seem to be the most inefficient way imaginable to cool air. And change the ice packs every 4 hours ? Are they serious ?

    Look , I will believe that this is a miracle product when I see poorly photoshopped pictures of real Amish workers assembling these things and strapping them to the back of their horse and buggy to ship out to customers.

  15. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    It’s a swamp cooler with ice-packs, and it’s far from being a new idea. That might actually work in a very low-humidity climate if it were really, really big, but here on the East Coast where relative humidity often hovers well over 90% in the summer…fuhgettaboudit!

    Buy a $20 desk fan and hang rags soaked in cold-water in front of it. That doesn’t really work either, but you’ll save $280 and you can still use the fan.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @‚ò†Gr—èr—èr—èr—èr—è sings the doom song now!: If you fill a two-liter bottle of water and freeze it, that will actually work. The A/C went out once when I was a kid and my parents used two big fans and a few frozen two litter bottles of water. The house not only cooled off but actually got cold at one point.

      I wanted to punch someone when they said you had to use freeze packs. (You don’t want to know what I wanted to do when they said how much it cost.)

  16. Anonymous says:

    I have to say this is one of the worst ideas ever. If consumer reports had located the freezer in the same room as the cool surge, they probably would have seen that it actually HEATS UP the room. You must understand how a freezer/refrigerator/air conditioner works. In laymen’s terms, they remove thermal energy and put it somewhere else. For the freezer and fridge, the energy is moved into the air mass of the surrounding room. For the air conditioner, it is moved outside. The net energy on this $300 paper weight is zero… actually less than zero. The compressor in the freezer gets hot from friction and releases even more thermal energy. This is of course assuming a homogenous temperature throughout the room. Some people are too gullible.

  17. Cameron Brooks says:

    The Cool Surge Portable Air Cooler is nothing more than a rebranded Tatung TWAC-0806 Air Cooler, with a flashy mirrored decal in the front, marked up 500 percent. Don’t believe me? Check it out here at Newegg: [www.newegg.com] I bought one last year and had the same disappointing results as the tester.

  18. Benny Gesserit says:

    It’d be nifty to work in a place if they played that sort of music whenever you wheeled something down the hall.

  19. majortom1029 says:

    LOl why not just keep the blinds closed during the day and keep the windows open (make sure you get good airflow). No electricity requried.

  20. evilhapposai says:

    I just find it funny Consumer Reports spent money to buy one and then spend money to test it. It’s a fan with a freaking ice pack! DIY at home for whatever a fan costs or just buy a AC already for half the price and cools MUCH more then the 10 degrees this thing claims.

    I would like to think the average person that knows how to access this Consumer Reports video online is smart enough to figure out this is crap all on their own. But if the last few years have taught us anything then if you give hype and media attention to something the ignorant masses will flock to it.

    • Skeptic says:

      @evilhapposai:

      What you are doing is blaming the victim, and saying that Consumer Reports is stupid to try and educate them.

      I’m reasonably knowledgeable, I know about swamp coolers, but I was surprised at just how completely useless the $290 cooler was. I thought it would actually lower the temperature of the room by at least a few degrees, but it did not. While I wouldn’t have purchased the unit, I absolutely learned something from the great testing and video from Consumer Reports.

      • evilhapposai says:

        @Skeptic: The second I seen only 10 degrees difference and you have to manually add ice packs every few hours I knew it was crap. Now I would like to think I am smarter than the average bear… but seriously, there are people out there that would think this $290 piece of junk is better than even the cheapest AC Wal-Mart has for about $90 right now?

        The post is not blaming the victim. Just find it funny how Consumer Reports spent the money and effort on the review of an obviously inferior product. Just as bad if I were to spend the effort and money to make a video explaining that breathing is important for staying alive.

  21. pjhyqf says:

    Is this another “newfie” invention?

  22. sonneillon says:

    So it’s a really cheap swamp cooler. Those only work in Arid climates. If humidity is over %60 don’t even bother using a swamp cooler, but in areas near the mountains and the mid west they work ok. But for the cost of a cool surge which looks like it doesn’t even work very well I can pop a big one on my house and cool the whole thing.

  23. lockdog says:

    When my wife and I first moved to Lexington we were living in a third floor attic of an old Victorian. The house was on a small hill over the city, higher than the surrounding trees and with a direct view down onto the multi-acre blacktop parking lot of Rupp Area. That apartment would quickly reach the high 90s in the morning and hold the heat all day long, and of course the old electric wires couldn’t support a window ac unit.
    We went yard sale hunting and bought an old all steel Westinghouse gable fan and put it in a window. The beast weighed about 80lbs and had a 3/4 horsepower motor. The first time we turned it on it slow-motion slammed shut all the doors in the attic, then a few minutes later we started hearing the doors slam shut in the apartment below us. Also, unlike today’s cheap plastic fans, once it was up to speed that thing was silent! When the humidity was low enough we would rig it up as a swamp cooler, having it blow over cold wet towels. The effect was delicious and made our neighbors on the lower floors extremely jealous. Total cost: $15.

  24. Aaronjk says:

    “Swamp Coolers” tend to work where it’s dry. Like here in Arizona where we barely hit 50% humidity during the rainy season.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I own the exact same thing, but labeled made by Tatung (China). I got mine for about $80 w/free shipping from Newegg. I read the reviews there on Newegg. For the most part, they were positive.

    So I live in Florida. 90+ w/a heat index of over 100 today. I have central air, but don’t use it very often. I use this.

    Caveat:

    It IS a swamp cooler. It does not cool the total area in any room very well. But sitting in one area with it on makes that area quite tolerable. More than just a fan would (IMO).

    Would I pay $200 for one? No. Am I glad I got it for $80? You bet. But I knew the limitations before I bought and wasn’t expecting true air conditioning.

  26. g4lt says:

    Uhm, they make “swamp cooler fans” now, they’re available at Ace , Home Depot, and Lowes, basically a cheap box fan with a water reservior, Why should I spend shipping when I can go to the Ace and get one for cheaper?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what the rest of you saw, but this does not look like a swamp cooler to me. In a swamp cooler, you are taking advantage of evaporative cooling. In this one it seems more like the ice-cooled water is being pumped through a fine mesh of tubing across which it blows the air. That looks more like a standard heat exchanger to me. But, the video isn’t really clear on that.

    Also, nobody seems concerned that the freezer plays a central role in this. If you put it in the same room as the freezer, you’ll have a net temperature increase in the room! The freezer is pumping heat out of the freezer and into the room to cool the icepack, and then the “cool surge” just lets that heat back into the icepack, and all the while both machines are creating waste heat doing the work!

  28. carlos_the_dwarf says:

    How on earth could this work in an closed room? Given thermodynamic realities, you can’t “destroy” heat, just move it around. In a closed room there’s nowhere for the heat to go. Little wonder the temperature wouldn’t change at all. The only way you can cheat it is with the phase change in the ice packs, but they’d need to an order of magnitude larger to have any affect on a whole room. As it is, this is like placing two cups of ice in a room and expecting it to cool.

  29. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …and two of these ice packs

    Oh, FFS!

    You’re going to gouge people on the price of this thing and you’re still going to give them tiny ice packs that have no hope of cooling off a room? Damn!

  30. bigmac12 says:

    I wonder if CR has paid up Fire Insurance????

  31. Anonymous says:

    I have one on these with the brand name SPT. It looks just the same. I bought it last summer at Pep Boys [Auto Supply] for $125. It’s called a portable evaporative cooler. Just like a swamp cooler but small with wheels. I have not seen the Amish Cooler commercial but I can you tell mine wont cool a room any bigger than a closet. However, it will cool you. Set it in front of your chair or bed and let it blow directly on you. It cools very nicely. It won’t replace your large evap cooler for daytime but it’s great at night when you don’t need to cool the whole house. It’s cheap to run, just has a small pump and fan to blow the moist air. I love it and use it everyday.

  32. stands2reason says:

    Cooling only works by pumping the heat to somewhere else. Lest you think that this is a legit stand alone AC unit, notice the lack of a condenser/heat exhaust end. Every cooling unit has to have one

  33. cocop says:

    My 78 year old mother not only purchased one of these units but for FREE she received a sencond unit along with a $49 fee for S& H. This company knows how to leagally steal money. The cool surge is a JOKE. Do NOT purchase this nice looking ice cube holder. You have to place ice cubes and water into a compartment, then turn on the fan and it is supposed to blow cool air into the room. The only good thing I can say about this product is it looks like it could work but I could cool the room better by chewing some ice cubes and blowing my breath into the room. Do NOT PURCHASE. What does one expect from the Amish who also make lots of money in the horrifying puppy mill business!