The following instructable is going to show my take on the 5 Gallon Bucket Air Conditioner/Swamp Cooler. In the picture you'll notice a small solar panel attached. I'll be creating another instructable on how to hook up a solar panel to a USB cable so you'll be able to power your bucket with solar energy. For now, this will just be about how to build an efficient bucket that actually works.
In contrast to the viral video on Youtube of the guy that built the original swap bucket, I've made a few changes to the design to make it more practical. I noticed when I first built the bucket exactly like the guy on Youtube, the ice would melt extremely fast due to the high powered fan pushing a lot of hot air past the ice. Also, a 5 gallon bucket full of ice does not provide enough of a temperature drop to cool entire rooms. And then there’s the mess that the ice leaves behind. In order to achieve maximum effectiveness, the cold air inside the bucket needed to be concentrated and aimed.
This bucket is best used when you are just sitting around and would like a cool breeze on your face. I use it when I’m on the couch watching TV, on my computer getting work done (more like playing video games), or on warm nights when I go to sleep. I hope this instructable is straight forward and easy to recreate. This is my first one ever so please be sure to leave a comment. Thanks :)
Now lets get started.
*Before we get started, I would like to reiterate the purpose of this bucket. This type of air conditioner is intended for small personal applications. It is not practical to be able to cool entire rooms with a 5 gallon bucket full of ice for hours on end. It is thermodynamically impossible to do so. This bucket is basically the equivalent of your car's AC on "low" on its coldest setting.
For this project you are going to need the following materials:
(1) 5 Gallon Bucket
(1) Foam 5 Gallon Bucket Liner*
(1) 2" PVC pipe cut 2.5" long
(1) 5v USB powered fan**
(25) Large Plastic Popsicle sleeves
(1) 1 Gallon Jug
You will also need the following tools:
(1) Cordless Drill - doesn't need to be very powerful but the more the merrier
(1) 2 3/8" Hole Saw***
(1) Hacksaw/PVC cutters if you don't get the pipe cut for you
*The only place to get these are at Home Depot and unfortunately they only come in packs of 3 and they have to be preordered online
**CPU fans push the least air and are very weak, mini desktop fans with plastic blades are a bit stronger, and fans with metal blades push air the fastest
***If you don't have a 2 3/8" hole saw or don't want to buy/cut a long piece of 2" PVC pipe you can use a 2 1/4" hole saw and use a 1 1/2" S x S PVC coupling to fill your outlet