What Makes a Great Misting System?

The elements of a great misting system – pump (if used), lines, and nozzles -must all be durable to hold up to outdoor elements and all be rated for the same water pressure. To balance effective cooling with wise water use, choose a system that’s suited to your climate, sized to the area you need cooled, and located near your activities. It should also work with available electricity and / or water supplies.

Finally, a great system balances your budget with how much cooling you want. The finer the mist, the more effectively it cools. Finer mists need more precise elements and naturally cost more.

You might not need a system with all of the highest quality, highest powered, most expensive elements. If you have a small patio in an apartment in a quiet neighborhood, this same system will likely be too noisy, too expensive, and in short, not a great system … for you. Maybe a smaller, lighter, less expensive system that gets the kids a little wet while playing outside would be perfect for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s great for someone else’s elegant wedding reception for 200 guests.

However good the system may be, what makes it a GREAT system is if it meets your needs.

Before you make a purchase, you’ll want to read our page on Selecting a Misting System. We have some surprising tips on what to look for and how to shop for a system.

We review a misting system’s technical elements in our in-depth series:
The 3 Parts of a Misting System.
1. Misting Pumps – the heart of a strong misting system
2. Lines & Connectors that tie it all together
3. Estimating Water Use, Nozzles and the quality of the mist.

Estimating Costs is especially helpful before you purchase a system. It can help you keep an eye on expenses in the long run, too.
Finally, Installation Tips and Maintenance Tips will help you with some “nuts & bolts” issues.

What Are the Benefits of a Misting System?

Unlike outdoor fans, which make only people and animals feel cooler, misting systems can cool the area – the air, objects, as well as the people and animals in that area. Misting systems can reduce dust and odors in the area, as well as static electricity and the presence of flying insects. They can even help regulate humidity, so they can be terrific for plants.

Misting systems are one method in an arsenal of other outdoor cooling solutions that can make a real difference in the way people feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.

How Do Misting Systems Work?

Misting Systems use a fine spray of water to cool down an area. The systems force water through very small nozzles to create tiny droplets that form a mist. As the droplets in the mist evaporate they cool the air immediately around them. The finer the mist, the more droplets there are and the more thoroughly they evaporate in the air. A finer mist cools more effectively than a coarser mist, which can get people and objects wet. The higher the pressure in the system, the finer the mist and the more effectively it can cool.

The terms “misting system,” “spray cooling, “and “fog system” are often used interchangeably so which is which can be confusing. Some misters create a spray made of larger droplets that can get you wet. These are sometimes called spray cooling and use low or medium water pressures and larger spray nozzles. Fog systems typically use high water pressure and tiny spray nozzles. They create a fog-like mist that evaporates before it has a chance to get anything wet.

We use those terms interchangeably and refer to misting systems based on their water pressure.

What Are the Two Main Types of Misting Systems?

It’s all about the water pressure.

The two types of misting system are those that do not use a pump and those that do. Systems that don’t use a pump are “low-pressure systems.” Systems that do use a pump are “mid-, and high-pressure systems.” Pumps increase the water pressure which is the main indicator of a misting system’s performance. The higher the water pressure, the cooler you’ll feel. To avoid the confusion of terms like spray, mist, or fog, it helps to think in terms of the water pressure.

NO PUMP: Low Pressure systems – about 20 – 120 PSI (1-8 BAR).
PUMP USED: Mid Pressure systems – 100 – 250 PSI (7 – 17 BAR) and High Pressure systems – over 250 PSI (17 BAR).

Low-pressure misters can cool quite a bit and make the area a little wet.

No pump: low pressure systems

Low-Pressure systems can cool quite a bit and can make the area a little wet. For a casual group that laughs at a light spray of water, these simple systems are great – the simplest and least expensive of all. Low-pressure misting systems work with gravity-fed water pressure of about 20 – 120 psi (1 – 8 bar). This comes from standard sources – like a backyard spigot – which is the easiest to come by and the most common.

The water source, itself, serves as a pump. But if the water source is from a tank, reservoir, or any still source, you’ll need a pump to boost the water pressure for even low-pressure systems.

These are the only misting systems that do not require electricity or a pump.

The droplets of low-pressure systems are larger and heavier than higher pressure systems, so the spray cools a smaller area. Some droplets fall to the ground before they completely evaporate so instead of a cooling effect, those droplets just make things wet. But some of the droplets are small enough that they do evaporate quickly enough to cool things down. You’ll need to be near the nozzles to get cool. But the closer you are to the nozzles, the more wet you can get.

One popular brand of low-pressure systems is MistyMate. Their pre-assembled systems are affordable and easy to install. Some of their systems make use of a booster pump, which puts those in the range of medium pressure systems.

Pump used: medium and high pressure systems

Medium- AND High-Pressure systems use pumps to increase the water pressure from any water source — a gravity-fed source that already has some water pressure, or a ground source such as a pond or tank with still water that has no pressure.

high pressure misting systems and tents keep elegant outdoor events comfortable
High-pressure misters are effective without getting anything wet.

Medium-Pressure systems use a motorized pump to raise the pressure to 100 – 250 psi (7 – 17 bar). The spray is fine enough to cool you in hot dry weather, is much less likely to get things wet, and can provide more cooling than a low-pressure system. A low-power 160 psi (11 bar) pump, often called a “booster pump,” is sometimes used to raise the pressure of a low-pressure system to this more effective level.

High-Pressure systems give the maximum and most reliable cooling of any misting system – even in areas with high humidity – without getting anything wet. High pressure generally means anything over 250 psi (17 bar). But these systems usually range much higher – in the neighborhood of 800 – 1200 psi (55 – 83 bar). All components of a good high-pressure system are rated to work together within the same range of water pressures.

Do Misters Waste Water?

A system that does not leak, is appropriate for its climate, is sized correctly, and is turned off when not in use does not waste water.

Water is precious, especially in the hot and dry areas where misting systems are most effective. So, there is tremendous concern about wasting it. I researched 5 nozzle sizes across 10 water pressures and found an average of 2.24 gallons per nozzle per hour. A typical 10-nozzle system would use about 22.4 gallons per hour. Consider that the USGS estimates that it takes over 600 gallons of water to produce one hamburger or 1 dozen eggs. About 23 gallons per hour for that same misting system – less than 100 gallons for four hours – can keep several people healthy, comfortable, and engaged through the hottest part of the day.

When & Where to Use a Misting System

The drier the air, the more completely water can evaporate, so the greater the cooling effect. But the more humidity in the air, the finer the mist required to achieve a sense of cooling. So, higher humidity needs higher water pressure in order to feel a cooling effect.

Following are some typical temperature reductions you can expect with a high-pressure system. Low- and mid-pressure systems will have less cooling effect:

  • as much as 10° F / 5.5°C in areas with humidity above 80%: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Bangkok, Thailand; Darjeeling, India; Darwin, Australia
  • as much as 20°F / 11°C in areas with humidity between 40% and 80%: Orlando, FL, USA; Sydney, Australia; Vancouver, Canada; Los Angeles, CA
  • as much as 30°F / 16.5°C or more in areas with humidity below 40%: Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cairo, Egypt; Abadan, Iran; Baghdad, Iraq

According to Current Results.com, cities in the USA experiencing morning humidity over 80% typically see a drop below 60% in the hotter afternoons. This brings their averages well into the range where evaporative cooling can reduce temperatures by as much as 20ºF/11ºC, especially in the hotter afternoon hours when you’ll need it the most.

  • Houston, TX : 90% morning, 55% afternoon
  • Jacksonville, FL: 89% morning, 58% afternoon
  • Kansas City, MO: 81% morning, 55% afternoon
  • New Orleans, LA: 88% morning, 61% afternoon

Cities in Australia with the highest average annual humidity are in the 40% – 80% range in the mornings, dropping lower in the hot afternoons to less than 60%. So, evaporative cooling can also reduce temperatures throughout Australia by up to 20ºF / 11ºC during the hottest part of the day.

  • Ballarat, Victoria: 80% morning, 58% afternoon
  • Launceston, Tasmania: 79% morning, 57% afternoon

You can find out the annual and monthly average humidity levels where you live by searching for your city at https://www.timeanddate.com/ (Go to Climate under the Weather tab and Show by Month under the chart.) Current Results.com shows the difference between morning and afternoon humidity, but it does not have data for all countries.

Misters are especially good for semi-enclosed outdoor areas like patios, porches, or even under umbrellas because that partial enclosure limits any breezes that could otherwise carry off some of your cooling mist. But if there are no breezes present, misters are great for cooling open areas because the weight of the water in the spray keeps the cooling effect in the area you actually want to be cooled. So you can take your misting system where you need it most. How about the park? Camping? A booth at the fair where other booths could block breezes can draw customers on hot days. Portable misters really open up the possibilities.

Other Outdoor Cooling Methods

Take a look at our comparison page or our pages on other outdoor cooling methods.

While misting systems work well on their own, they can combine with other cooling methods, such as outdoor fans for added cooling effect. Misting fans are a clear example of how misting systems work with another cooling method to maximize cooling. Outdoor shades are a nearly universal solution that work well with any outdoor cooling method.

Swamp coolers (desert coolers) use a similar technology as misting systems, but in a contained unit.

Portable air conditioners are especially suited to enclosed areas and special circumstances.