Our house in suburban Melbourne was built with ducted evaporative and it works well. The area is generally low humidity in summer. With refrigerated the house needs to be sealed and the air is recirculated but with evaporative there is fresh air being circulated through, windows open, light coming in.
The biggest down side of evaporative is it gets ineffective with even moderate humidity. If we have a single 40+ day we usually stay comfortable <25, but successive 40+ days are usually accompanied by increased humidity and interior temperatures have risen to the low 30s. My system starts getting palliative rather than comforting above 35% RH, so on hot days with 50% humidity it is not much better than just the fan without the evaporative system going.
Things to consider with evaporative: Wool fibre or celdek pads - there are proponents of each. Celdek pads seems more efficient and longer lasting but cost more. Most newer systems come with Celdek pads. Pads need replacement at intervals of 5-15 years depending on care and amount of use. Good practice is to rotate the pads (eg around N-S-E-W) one year, and reverse each pad in its bracket the next, so over time each pad has been exposed to the same weather direction and each side of each pad has been exposed to the elements for the same amount of time. That maximises pad life.
Many modern evaporative systems have internal spring and motor driven winter shutters; low end and older ones require manual capping during winter months to avoid warm air rising through the ductwork, or capping the duct vents. I found capping at the ductwork is more effective since caps at the unit can be quite leaky. There are commercial ductwork caps available, but I just cut some foam and put it in the ductwork boxes and that has been very effective.
Routine maintenance includes running a weak bleach mixture at the start of season to kill mould or mildews that cause legionnaires disease. That is not the problem it is with large scale commercial sized towers, but remains best practice. An evaporative system should have an automatic water dump to periodically empty the water so it does not have a chance to build up nasties; the alternative is a water bleed that continuously empties an overflow amount while the pump is running. The dump results in renewing the water periodically and when turned off, the bleed dilutes old with new.
Applying the winter cap, shutting the water, etc, spring cleaning, pad rotation, and recommissioning/checkout is stone simple but requires a climb up the roof. Multi-story buildings and steep roofs do not make it fun and on wet roofs it can be dangerous / slippery.
Prior to selecting an evaporative unit read the service recommendations, note how much of the routine operating requirements are automatic and how many require a trip up the roof. Some newer systems are automated enough that it is reasonable to skip preventative maintenance (excepting things required for warranties) and just fix anything that breaks when it breaks.
My roof is not steep and not onerous to climb so my system has had annual maintenance; a neighbour’s house was completed in 2003 and he cannot find anyone keen to go up his 2nd floor steep roof; he has never had any maintenance but still has not had a worry to date.
Today I would buy refrigerated although it costs about 5-10 times more to operate; it reduces inside humidity and is effective regardless of the outside temperature and humidity, and there is no roof climbing required. However as electricity prices continue to rise and government seems disinclined to commit to a long term energy policy or re-regulation, running costs could be the decider for many in low humidity regions where evaporative is a valid choice.
edit 29/12/2020: Since my original post I installed a solar system and two split refrigerated systems. My experience is the refrigerated systems use about 0.5~4X the electricity of the 20 year old evaporative system. The ‘0.5’ is a single bedroom overnight, and the ‘4’ is the main living area on a hot day. As the climate around Melbourne has become more humid in recent years the comfort level afforded by refrigerated has reinforced installing it has been a good decision on an increasing number of days.