Changing the swamp cooler pads during maintenance is necessary to keep an evaporative cooler running correctly.

Since the pads are what makes a unit cool as water passes through and evaporates, they can be a significant performance factor.

There are two main types of cooling pads called Fiber and Rigid, each of which can be built with different material.

Fiber Swamp Cooler Pads

● Aspen Pads - Aspen pads are very common as the most widely used.

Aspen pads use wood shavings which are all natural and makes them low cost, work great, and when new have a sweet clean, fresh smell to them. The only real downside to Aspen pads is they need to be replaced more often than most other types.

If the water has a lot of calcium in it, this can make less of a difference as all pads become clogged quickly and need replacing.

Aspen pads have been used for many years and are good units to use with a swamp cooler as long as they are replaced regularly during maintenance.

Synthetic Fiber Pads

● Synthetic Fiber - Pads also can have synthetic shavings instead of wood which makes them less prone to break down and last longer.

The local water can have an impact on how long they last since calcium buildup will block any pad which would then need to be replaced. Often synthetic can be cleaned and reused in many situations, plus they resist mold which can be a big plus.

Synthetic works well enough for cooling and are used a lot by landlords since they usually last longer.

‍Rigid Media Pads

● Rigid types are less used than Fiber and are often found in units with a single intake for air.

They work very well and last a long time, but they are more.

Expensive to use. They are also very durable and can often be cleaned and reused in some situations.


The type of swamp cooler pad used will have a direct effect on cooling.

I prefer the Aspen wood shaving type which works well, low-cost input but do need more maintenance and replacement.

Many use the synthetic type with moderate success but in high calcium areas.

Like Phoenix and Tucson, they are the least efficient to run. The cost value to rigid media is higher in the short term but can be a huge time saver in the long run. You only have to change the pad every 5 years.

Which type you use is very much a personal option that should only be considered by the

Consumer-based upon cost, efficiency and water calcium and salinity. Stop by or call Gorman Cooler Supply today to get your cooler pad or let us help you to choose the most efficient cooler for your situation.