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How to Wire a Swamp Cooler Switch

by John Cagney Nash

Wiring a window- or wall-mounted swamp cooler is usually as simple as plugging the cooler into an outlet and switching it on. Normally there is no heavy duty supply harness to be run or thermostat connections to be made, as are required by air conditioning systems. However, some swamp coolers are located on roof-mounted platforms, and these require the installation of a multi-conductor cable between the cooler and a switch positioned conveniently in the home. Wiring the switch is a straightforward and uncomplicated project.

Determine which size multi-conductor cable you will need by checking whether the swamp cooler's motor is or single- or twin-speed. The single-speed motor will require four-conductor cable to function, and the twin-speed motor will require five-conductor cable. Buy sufficient cable that runs need not be stretched tight through the roof void or crimped around corners.

Route a 12-gauge 120-volt hot wire, usually color-coded black or red, to the location of the switch (there is typically no need for a ground or neutral wire to the switch). The reverse of the switch will have four terminals, typically marked "L1," "1," "2" and "C." Connect the 120-volt hot wire to the terminal marked "L1."

Follow the instructions provided by both the swamp cooler and switch manufacturers to connect the individual wires of the multi-conductor cable to their appropriate switch terminals. Typically a red wire operates the motor's low speed and is connected to terminal "1," a black wire operates the motor's high speed and is connected to terminal "C" and an orange wire operates the pump and is connected to terminal "2."

Use cable clips or plastic zip ties to retain the multi-conductor wire where it will not present a trip hazard.

Tip

  • A six-position rotary switch has a position for off, low-speed fan, high-speed fan, low-speed fan with pump, high-speed fan with pump and pump only. If your swamp cooler only has one fan speed, wire the fan to terminal "1." The black wire operates the motor's high speed.

Warning

  • Ensure the 120-volt power is switched off at the circuit breaker before handling the hot wire.

Items you will need

About the Author

John Cagney Nash began composing press releases and event reviews for British nightclubs in 1982. His material was first published in the "Eastern Daily Press." Nash's work focuses on American life, travel and the music industry. In 1998 he earned an OxBridge doctorate in philosophy and immediately emigrated to America.

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