What to Know About Patio Misting Systems

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If you're looking for an affordable and efficient way to stay cool this summer, learn how outdoor mist cooling systems can help.

With so many regions regularly experiencing record-breaking heat, more and more homeowners are looking for new and better ways to cool off. Enter outdoor mist cooling systems (a.k.a. patio misting systems), which offer an effective, energy-efficient and affordable outdoor cooling solution. That’s especially important as more people gather outdoors to limit the spread COVID-19.

Read on to learn what outdoor mist cooling systems are, how they work and what makes them so great.

What Is an Outdoor Mist Cooling System?

Patio misting systems emit a fine mist of water from spray nozzles that cools people off when the water lands on their skin. The system is installed around the perimeter of the area to be cooled. This could be within a gazebo, a patio overhang or anywhere else the system can be secured overhead.

These systems feature water supply tubing (rigid pipe or flexible hose) with spray nozzles evenly spaced along the length. The supply tubing connects to an outdoor water source, like a garden hose or faucet. Simpler systems use the existing water pressure from a home’s main water supply, while others use special misting pumps that produce greater water pressure.

Misting systems connecting to home’s existing water pressure don’t require electricity. Models that use a misting pump need electricity and must be plugged into an outdoor electrical outlet.

How Do They Work?

Outdoor misting systems are based on evaporative cooling. Water can absorb a large amount of heat during evaporation as it goes from a liquid to gaseous state. That can lower surrounding temperature by up to 30 degrees F.

Generally, a finer mist with smaller water droplets will evaporate quicker and cool the area more rapidly and efficiently. A finer mist also leaves less residual moisture. Relative humidity can impact both factors because higher humidity levels inhibit the mist’s evaporation process. As a result, outdoor misting systems function best with relative humidity levels between 40 percent and 80 percent.

What Are the Different Types of Outdoor Mist Cooling Systems?

  • Low-pressure misting systems derive water pressure solely from a home’s main water supply, which is between 40 pounds per square inch (psi) and 60 psi. They’re the cheapest to purchase and operate, and can be easily installed by most homeowners. The disadvantage? They don’t produce as fine a mist as mid- or high-pressure systems, so they won’t cool the surrounding area as much or as quickly. They also leave the highest amount of residual moisture behind, and won’t work as effectively in humid climates.
  • Mid-pressure misting systems use a pump to boost the home’s water pressure to between 160 psi and 250 psi. They produce a finer mist that reduces the surrounding temperature more rapidly and effectively, and won’t leave as much residual moisture. They’re generally as easy to install as low-pressure systems, requiring only connecting the pump to an electric source and the supply tubing. But they’re more expensive initially and more expensive to operate.
  • High-pressure misting systems use large and powerful misting pumps to boost the water pressure to between 750 psi and 1,500 psi. High-pressure systems cool the surrounding area rapidly and powerfully and leave the least amount of residual moisture. Unfortunately, high-pressure systems are quite expensive, consume considerably more electricity than mid-pressure misting pumps and may require professional installation. That’s why these systems are most often seen in commercial settings. 

Outdoor Misting System Benefits and Features

Outdoor misting systems offer several advantages:

  • Affordable outdoor cooling. An outdoor misting system can be more affordable to purchase and operate than other outdoor cooling systems, like a swamp cooler. There may also be no or minimal installation costs.
  • Energy-efficiency. Low-pressure misting systems don’t require electricity. Misting pumps for mid-pressure systems can use as little as 60 watts of electricity, or as much as a standard light bulb. High-pressure misting pumps aren’t nearly as energy-efficient because their pumps require several hundred watts of electricity to operate.
  • Waters plants. If there are plants nearby, the misting system can double as landscape irrigation. In fact, misting systems can use up to 70 percent less water than traditional irrigation systems.
  • Cleans air. The mist’s water droplets capture airborne dust, allergens and pollutants to clean the air.
  • Repels insects. The mist may deter insects like mosquitoes, flies, bees and wasps. There’s no scientific evidence to support this claim, but it’s commonly observed that winged insects avoid the mist, possibly because it inhibits their flying ability.

How Much Do They Cost?

Low-pressure misting systems typically cost between $30 and $100, mid-pressure systems between $200 and $1,000, and high-pressure systems between $1,500 and $3,500.

Professional installation usually runs an additional $190 to $675. You might need an electrician to add an outlet to power the misting pump, a plumber to install a water supply line or hang the system’s waterline, or a professional mist cooling system installer to perform the entire operation.

James Fitzgerald
James Fitzgerald is a handyman and freelance home-improvement writer with a passion for DIY, gardening, and anything involving working with his hands. He has over a decade of professional experience in a variety of trades, including construction, tree work, landscaping, and general maintenance. When not in search of the next enticing DIY project, he may be cooking, lifting weights, riding his motorcycle, hiking out at the coast, or nose deep in a great book.