Picture of Air Conditoned Tent for those hot months
Well for those who live in areas where it is almost impossible to tent camp during the hot part of the year this is should be a welcome cost efficient solution. Hot camping is no fun, epically in places where it does not cool down very much at night and is humid like Florida. So I was looking for ways to air condition my tent since I have a 5000btu window mounted air conditioner at my disposal. After looking I found 2 methods which look very promising. The AC Boot (http://acboot.com/) and this nice creation by Andrew Davis (http://www.byandrewdavis.com/2009/06/air-conditioning-for-you-tent-camping-in-the-heat) I decided to build something like the ac boot since I needed to travel light and didn't want to bring along all that ducting required for the second idea.

Step 1: Gather Materials

Picture of Gather Materials
- 1 Tent (Cost: free hopefully)
- 5000 BTU Window Mounted Air Conditioner Arpox. (Cost Variable)
- 2 Yards of Ripstop Nylon which will be more than enough (Cost: Aprox. $14.00)
- 1 Bottle of Fabric Glue INSERT NAME OF GLUE HERE (Cost: $6-10)
- Bungee Cords (Cost: $3-5)

Note: Sundays a lot of the craft stores have 40% off coupons which can save you some money on the glue or fabric.

acastonguay1 month ago

was thinking why the tunnel version didn't work for the air flow. the front of the ac as 2 parts, the air intake at the bottom and air vents at the top. intake get the warm air in, and the top lets the cooled air out.. look into splitting the top and bottom in the tunnel itself... i'm thinking a box that fits over the intake at the bottom, with a flexible air duct (like a plastic coil tube for a dryers or bigger) comes out, and hang at the top to suck the hot air in... while the vent can just push the cool air out, as it doesn't get sucked back in the unit... OR the opposite, push the cool air at the top (make the vent for the output instead of input..).. just a tought...

sportxlh2 years ago
I followed your directions almost exactly and just spent a very enjoyable long weekend in Curray Hammock State Park (Marathon) in early September. I don't think I've ever slept so well in a tent in the Keys: thanks for posting such a great idea!!

By the way, someone asked about portable units: they can be pretty expensive: I picked up a GE window a/c for less than $100 at Walmart. The ripstop and glue set me back another $50 or so. Plus, I don't really give up any interior space.
zmatt (author)  sportxlh1 year ago

Glad to hear how well it worked out for you, I havent used my setup since I first built it but I'm hoping to get down to the keys this summer again.

valkgurl1 year ago
Love the comments about the "Modern Day RV's"---we are looking to move into one in a few years and they are hysterical! What if I don't WANT an indoor/outdoor TV? Or a FIREPLACE??? Seriously! We would need--ROOM not frills. Plans now to buy older non-frill unit and re-hab.

I too thought this was a funny but I remember the days of camping in tents and--it was NOT fun if it got hot n humid. Great idea!

We have a floor AC unit and it does vent thru our houses LR vertical window---it comes with a panel or two for this--and it works really well even tho the entire front of the house gets full Eastern sun til late afternoon--then the entire BACK of the house gets---well you get the pic! The unit cost about $300 at Lowes this past summer. We have three asthmatics so this became a need---we also run two small window units in BR's. Our power bill has not gone up that much--and we pay a LOT for power in NY. It does work better if you keep an eye on the vent and there is a small drain that you need to keep an eye on too--but this is very minor compared to comfort and no ER bills for us!

For those who are thinking of adding a window -house AC unit to an RV--or a pickup truck camper---some snooty campgrounds won't LET YOU IN with these. Just be aware and check in advance! They claim it is too "Low Class" for them.
when camping in the Florida Keys. I am having similar problem.. although local big box stroes now sell a portable a/c unit that I sit inside the tent out of the ranin and the exaust goes out thru a "pass thru" hole in the tent.. however, the problem is how to keep the cool air inside the tent..with a dome tent, if I add tarps on the outside, then the weight of the tarps causes the tent to want to collapse in high wind and rains (they have a bunch of that down there).. so I have the way to air condition, but not the tent or set up to contain it..I've been looking at some "excursion" and "safari" type tetns that might work.. anybody seen any tents that fit the scenario?.. rain repellant in tropical environment but "sealabe" to contain the cold air?
It's the fly that's rain-repellent, not the tent, unless it's a 7' or 8' high cabin tent. Sounds like maybe the cooler is too weak to keep the air cooled (?)

 If I camp I use a tent hammock this is the best way to keep cool when you have no electricity reason this works is you are off the ground surrounded by air and can swing to induce a breeze if you have none.
If I had the luxury of camping with a AC I would loose the tent all together and build a panel structure that had UV protection on the outside. this would be a bit bulky but would be very cool almost frigid. Odds are if you are using a AC you are using a car/truck?

drewgie893 years ago
Why not buy a portable AC unit and save the trouble of cutting a hole in your tent?

zmatt (author)  drewgie893 years ago
Cheapest portable unit that you listed was 230, while the window units can be purchased for much less. I did this project because I had a window a/c unit from a previous hurricane season which was not being used and a older cold climate tent which would not be used.

The window unit does a excellent job and you can control the settings from your bed.
Redstormx13 years ago
Does the air con ever get down to temp ? Does it get a rest like it would in a normal house .
Im assuming the tent which is highly uninsulated get hot again as soon as you turn it of.
Running the air con all the time would shorten its life . A portable unit with a hose would be an easier install.

ve2vfd6 years ago
I assume this is for car camping somewhere there is a power point on the site?
zmatt (author)  ve2vfd6 years ago
Yes, Almost all of the tent sites in Florida have power so its not a problem but some states aren't like that. A generator would do the job but I think that might be too much work for the A/C.
mikedoth zmatt6 years ago
And noisy thus nullifying the need for the tent to sleep in.
zmatt (author)  mikedoth6 years ago
Heh its completely worth it in this heat and humidity, plus its not that noisy if you get a somewhat good unit. Its still a cheap way to camp comfortably in the summer.
Yup. I live in NorthWest Florida and I feel your pain. Waking up soaking wet from sweat sucks!
lksmith zmatt6 years ago
we just zip the door around the output of the AC
Sleep with foam earplugs... They will cut down about 29-31 dB of the noise... They're also really good if the other people in your tent tend to snore rather loudly... The only drawback is that you might not be able to hear your alarm clock... But one could argue that on vacation, you shouldn't be letting your life be controlled by an alarm clock... :)
cheapchuck3 years ago
I have seen portable A/C units that discharge the hot air (and humidity) out through a tube. This type of unit might be nice for camping, especially if the tent has a vent at the top.
Oroka6 years ago
Just need to add a 32" TV, a microwave, a computer, and you are all set!
red-king Oroka6 years ago
doesn't that completely take the point out of camping? lol
Have you seen some of the RVs these days? Large screen TVs on the OUTSIDE along with satellite TV... Apparently, their definition of "roughing it" is a bit different than mine... Adding an air-conditioner to a tent is perfectly acceptable to me... Even if you run it off of a generator...When the humidity is in the 90s and the temperature is still in the upper 80s at night, an air-conditioner sure would make it nicer...
Oroka red-king6 years ago
No more than constant power and an air conditioner built in your tent. Personally, I go camping to get away from all the noise of day to day life, I really wouldn't want a A/C humming away all day, but I have seen people who show up in huge trailers pulled by their Escalade, they stay in the trailer all day, the kids watch DVDs on a pick nick table, or satellite in the trailer...
zmatt (author) 5 years ago
So now that summer is in full swing has anyone built their own and tried it out? I'd love to see some pictures in action. I wish I was in Florida right now to use it again but i'm stuck in even hotter Alabama.
bsmith-7 zmatt3 years ago
my brother cut a piece of ply wood for the back of his explorer and fitted a ac unit ,,but since the rest of us could,nt fit we kept unpluging him : )
calleman5 years ago
use a homemade a/c unit that doesnt require power or use a battery with a cheap fan and ice chest.
that would be a nice idea for places without a power hook up ,but it still takes power to make ice and power too store the ice till you buy it so not much savings there .
Solar power won't work at night. You need a power source.
Hiblagrande4 years ago
I do use a small AC unit for our tent. I have a large Coleman Weathermaster tent that has a small screen room at one end. The nice thing about this tent is that the entire dividing wall is screen with a curtain like cover. I cut a hole for the AC unit in a small "wall" made of 32"X40" foamcore. I slide the foamcore over the front of the AC and place the unit on top of a milk crate. Then I butt the AC up against the screen wall and drop the tent room divider curtain over the back of the foamcore wall. In the screen room area the AC unit is protected from the elements and our folding table fits over the back side of the AC unit.
zmatt (author)  Hiblagrande4 years ago
Nice looks like a great setup, I haven't been able to use ours since we first used it.
Hiblagrande4 years ago
Oh, and thanks for the instructable. It was my inspiration to do this. :)
dwosullivan5 years ago
 When i first saw this I honestly thought it was a joke. I mean seriously,  un- environmental.
If your hot open the doors!, or better yet just use the mosquito mesh without the fly
never been to florida but i did spend 3 months in the amazon living in a hammock underneath a $2 tarp and slept like a baby. 
zmatt (author)  dwosullivan5 years ago
Well not all of us are hippies that don't want to use power when we go on a trip, i wish that i could sleep in the high humidity and heat but its not fun.
_Scratch_ zmatt4 years ago
Haha, yea the 95% humidity and 105F weather can be kind of harsh with no A/C...
I'm so glad you can do that and I could too when I was a lot younger but now in my mid fortys I dont tolerate the Alabama heat and humidity very well at all so in order for me to breath and be healthy I need AC and I have long ago fashioned one for my tent because I love to be outdoors and considering that my electricity comes from renewable energy I am quite green thanks to hydroelectricity but regardless of how the electricity is generated, I would choose being able to breath over smotheing in the humidity of the South!
thanks I thought I was the only one thinking this was a crazy idea...
id think you would need a heater
It looks simple enough. However, taking it from a professional building engineer, that tube thing could have serious drawback. Remember, that window unit only circulates room air through and over the evaporator (cooling) coils. They look just like that radiator looking thing on the outside of the unit. (Oh, yea. flatten or bend enough of those fins over and the unit will blow up and quit working because of no air flow) Problem with the diagram above. The air inside the tent must be drawn into the unit. The heat is removed and the cooler air is blown back into the tent. Now, if all the air can do is blow out and get sucked right back in, then what is happening on the other side of the tent? Nothing, no air flow. Point being, keep any ducting / tubing, down to as very short as possible for proper air flow.
Its called short cycling. The face needs to be flush on the inside or a divider of some sort between the top (supply) and bottom (return). I'd try keeping the inside flush myself. And don't block any of the outside louvers. The biggest deal I see is condensation and getting it away from your tent. That's the water coming off the coil in the back. With a little work you can get pre made tin boots that fit tight over the supply and return front openings (square to round) and run insulated flex ducts into your tent just keep them a couple feet apart. The army does it all the time. Not as hard as you think.
IronManMC4 years ago

I think this is a wonderful idea. I've been camping far too many times when the heat made it impossible to sleep, even with fans and such. An AC would have been a godsend.

And please, can we cool it with the global warming guilt stuff? Just because you tolerate heat better than I do doesn't give you carte blanche to run roughshod over me, any more than my ability to tolerate cold better than you (probably) and therefore don't run my heater for most of winter makes me better than you. We all do what we can. I'm VERY concerned about warming and other environmental concerns, and already do much more than 95% of the general population. There's no harm in running a modern efficient small ~5000 BTU AC that draws around 3 amps @ 117 VAC (351 watts, minus reactive losses because I compensate for this.) Resistive losses are due to actual work done. Reactive losses are due to phase shift caused by inductance (+ j) or capacitance (- j) and do no work. Reactive power losses can be "tuned" out of electric devices with magnetic type motors (refrigerators, air conditioners, etc.), saving significant electricity waste. Any electronics engineer or halfway decent tech can explain power factor, inductive/capacitive reactance, operator "j", and how Xc neutralizes Xl and vice versa. Whatever inductive or capacitive reactance (measured in ohms) is present can be tuned out with the same value of capacitive or inductive reactance.

If you're concerned about environmental problems, you'll do more by learning about stuff like this than playing energy-cop with those who don't know better. Physician, heal thyself.

Apologies to anyone I may have offended. That was not my intent. You'll make more converts leading by example than lecturing.

-Mike "Saving energy because I can't afford to waste it" Curtis

kcls6 years ago
How do you power it?
oakback kcls6 years ago
Many camp sites in Florida state parks (not sure about other states) have power and water available at each site.
called a 3 point hookup - consisting of water, sewer, hydro i work in a campground in ontario, so i have yet to see anything like this, this is just awesome
Every campground in the keys has cable TV hookups included.
kensue495 years ago
Why not pickup some MPI Survival Blankets(the brand I used, there are others) that are reflective on one side and different color on the other side. This would help reduce the solar heat gain when the sun hits the tent. In the summer turn the foil face up and during the cooler fall turn it foil side down to reflect any heat into the tent. It works well for pop-up campers.
I wouldn't install it before you went to bed, it may get stolen and you would be left with no A/C  and a hole in your tent:(
imbabalu5 years ago
I'm curious, How did you power your a/c unit ?
zmatt (author)  imbabalu5 years ago
Most camp sites in Florida and around the country have power hook ups standard, if your crazy enough I guess you could bring a power generator to power it.
imbabalu zmatt5 years ago
Oh, I hadn't been to a real campsite before and didn't know.
I wondered about the size and noise from a power generator.
or if you had figured out a battery / inverter system that fit the bill. 
MT-LB imbabalu5 years ago
Generators are very loud and i don't think you can run them after a certain time. An inverter wouldn't be a smart choice, since batteries are super heavy and an A/C would drain them quickly. So look for a campsite with shore power.
felixh MT-LB5 years ago
most campground tend to have a noise ban after 10pm if your in a state park you would have power hook-ups but most national parks i've been to don't have power that redaly avaiable
KimberlyP5 years ago

The above is a link to the crosley iceyball.

I could probally work up a quick modern day version. Couple the system to a zeolite system for dehumidification, and use a passive solar hot water heater to charge.

It also could be made even easier using r-290 (propane) and using a throttle once the propane is compressed to the condensor.

You can see what the cycle looks like by going to www.wolframalpha.com/input/
KimberlyP5 years ago
What you may want to do is google up iceyball, an absorption type system.
You could then heat it up over the fire and then bring it to the tent where as the heat from the tent would cause the refrigerant to evaporate.

An absorption type refrigerator could be powered by the camp stove or by solar during the day. You want an intermittant absorption system, thus you charge it with heat and then it provides the cooling.

Might also want to check out a zeolite type of system as well if there is high humidity. Zeolites can provide dehumidification but will generate heat, if you couple your absorption system to it, you could even prime it with a hand pump.

I am busy for the next couple of days, but if there is interest, give me a holler on Friday Feb 12th and I will create an instructable.

A handpowered unit for a 2 person tent and a battery powered up to 4 person tent version.
Not sure it gets hot enough when I go camping.
Thanks MUCH for the great idea! I tried a similar mod last year with flexible dryer hoses and aluminum tape but it was almost useless in the Midwest heat and humidity - not enough air circulation. I think that your approach would be much better. Please let me know if your "tent mod" worked for you. If so, I'm using your mod for my tent, BUT need to know before I take the scissors to my new tent......
I tried that only to heat the tent using dryer hoses and one of those 12v heater/fans
Gonazar6 years ago
How well is the tent insulated though, maybe adding some layers of lining or even blankets could help keep the cold in.
PCfreak Gonazar6 years ago
on top of that don't most tents have a screened vent area at the top? so..... wouldnt the cold air seep out?
zmatt (author)  Gonazar6 years ago
Thought about that, but I think the bulkiness of doing that would suck too much.
camping in the summer is not an option in Texas or other southern sates, so this is a big F yeah to all campers. one design flaw tho. cold air comes out at the blue arrows and enters at the purple. but with the unit in a tube most of the air coming out is getting sucked back in(white arrows) maybe you should put a divider in the tube and tape it to the midpoint(red line) pretty awesome as it is tho
zmatt (author)  mikemmcmeans6 years ago
Yup you are completely right, the tube ate up all the ac before it really got to the tent so we scratched that the first night and just had it directly in the tent like that picture you edited. Blowed the cold air really well that way. Thanks for that diagram.
mscharf6 years ago
What about sewing the bungee cord right into to the fabric and possible using some "L" metal bars to make some brackets for the AC to rest on? Just and idea, what do you think?
zmatt (author)  mscharf6 years ago
I thought about putting elastic cord right into the fabric, I didn't really have the time and it might take up more space in the tent bag and would not be as sturdy, i just throw the bungees with the camping equipment it works well. I was thinking about making a nice metal stand for it if i use it again but, I might be too lazy to do that too ill talk to my welding buddy if we get bored.
oakback6 years ago
Thanks so much for this instructable, this never occurred to me. I too enjoy camping, but live in Florida, and therefore have experienced those horrible all-night-sweat-fests. Now that I have kids, I didn't want to take them camping if it was unbearably hot (therefore limiting our opportunities). I remembered I have a barely-used window unit in a shed, I'm going to give this a shot!
Mr. Rig It6 years ago
I have to stay at first I though this was stupid. But by the time I got finished reading the entire instructable I thought it was a great idea. He is right a lot of campsites have A/C outlets so why not utilize them, it's a small ac unit and will probably keep you nice and cool. So I am going to say this was a good idea as well as practical because even camping in a tent is cheaper than staying in a hotel and most fixed campsites have showers and picnic tables. So why not add some AC? Good job.