Picture of Canadian Cooler Cooling Contraption
Okay... so I know there are like a million of these spot coolers here on Instructables (or at least 10 or so) and that's what made me want to make one.


(Just to list a few)

I think this is a great little build and wanted to give it a go

I came... I saw... I was Inspired!

I originally hadn't planned on posting anything regarding this build (Hence a couple of initial product shots pilfered from the internet) but I was happy with the way it turned out, so I wanted to add it to the many others and hopefully throw in a couple of extra suggestions to maybe help further the idea.

I'm not trying to save the earth with this one or even save a couple of bucks on the hydro bill, I just wanted to build something, and I think I'm going to give it to my friend who lives in an apartment with no air conditioning.

The bonus to this project was that I already had everything I needed except for a couple of bolts, here and there and a few more $1.50 re-freezable gel ice packs.

Step 1: Supplies - The Cooler

Picture of Supplies - The Cooler
Cooler by Coleman.

This blue beauty has a 45.5 L (48 qt) capacity and can hold 63 cans plus 7.7 kg (17 lb) of ice (That's before you turn it into an air cooling Frankenstein). It sports a hinged lid, "easy to lift" 2-way handles and a rust-proof / leak-resistant drain

COLEMAN - The Outdoor Company

*this pic BORROWED from the internet
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roadmanjim2 years ago
Dude, great post! Thanks for sharing; but why not just freeze bottles of water?

I tried your suggestion... the magical blue goo in the freezer packs always seem to last longer.

Great Idea and I'ble! The floor register scoop should be great. Thanx! Peace!


ttyler3332 years ago
Just a thought, by chance you could put 3 "sheets" of plastic vertically. As to push the air between the ice packs and the opening besides them. Then the air technically would travel between 3 packs and then out, instead of just escaping. It may allow for cooler AC :)
How long do the gel packs last before you have to refreeze?
lasted about 4 hours with the 3 large ice packs, then I switched the defrosted ones out for three more I already had in the kitchen freezer.
It does, however, all depend on how hot it is outside of the cooler, as it is drawing the warm air from outside the cooler to inside the cooler.
I like to run an extension tube from the exhaust vent up under the sheet at the bottom of my bed so It's like a pillow of cool air under there.
jtan222 years ago
I love this, thank guys. The only thing that it doesn't mention (unless i missed a step) is about how the electrical fan is hooked up to a regular cord. Correct me, Ty.
I got the fan off the back of an electrical rack in an old recording studio.
It already had two little prongs (male) attached to the fan, and the power cable that had a matching (female) plug for the fan on one end, and a standard, everyday, household plug (male) on the other end of the 12 foot cable.
Schmidty163 years ago
i would put lots more ice packs in
Fill it up with as many as you have... or as many as will fit!
farzad_ict3 years ago
Nice, but i think freezing gel packs in freezer frequently, will harm the freezer! Because its like that you use your freezer to cool your room...
Your freezer is made to freeze things
(like water, and popsicles and tasty, tasty meat.)
bgrumka3 years ago
Has anyone built one of these using small solar panel(s) for power instead of batteries? I'm thinking of making one for my vintage car. How many panels did it take, one or two, and were they hooked up, in series or parallel, and what fans will run off solar. Thanks
osman24 years ago
Brilliant sir I have seen many designs but this one is my favorite well design, good looking finished product and simplicity of the steps and i must say the sense of humor of the writer. Good job sir.
Thanks to you good sir!
dualqual4 years ago
Excellent Job!
Thank you!
jaqeel3 years ago
how much dose the ice lasts time period ????
lasted about 4 hours with the 3 large ice packs, then I switched the defrosted ones out for three more I already had in the kitchen freezer.
It does, however, all depend on how hot it is outside of the cooler, as it is drawing the warm air from outside the cooler to inside the cooler.
LordJustice4 years ago
i totally love the terms you use. "venty thingy"
Actual Scientific term! ;o)
I made this today with little of no problem! I didn't use a cooler, I only had an old plastic tub and filled it with ice to see if it would work! And it does, blows out a nice amount of cool air! I'll work on what to put under it to pick up the condensation. Took me less than 30 minutes and under $30 to put together. Would have been lower if I didn't want to wait for cheaper computer fans to ship. LOVE THIS INSTRUCTABLE!
Nice work!
jvodak5 years ago
The only problem with a direct source of solar power would be for it to be in the sunlight, via window, (which would warm the unit itself up some) or directly outside, and then running the unsightly wires back to the unit from outside.... can be done just not very aesthetically pleasing if done quickly.... sorry... wife has rubbed off on me some...
spa31rky5 years ago
This cooler idea is a good one........but....... By the Fan puling Air inward to disperse out the vent causes the Ice Packs to heat much faster. Thus less cool time. If the outside air is pulled inward across the ice packs then out by the fan than the results are Cool Air exchanged from Hotter Air. Using a baffle inside to direct the intake "under" the ice packs may improve this. Using a "Closet metal shelf" may work well. Using a dryer vent tube from the intake vent to flow under the rack and then tubed to the fan separately with about a 2 inch gap under rack.......baffles so the air must channel ..cooling it more....then when the fan exhaust the air it should be at least 60 degrees or less. Also keep in mind the more time the intake air is inside the cool compartment....... the cooler it will be. That is why I mentioned baffles.....to channel the air. Just like some that use a condenser unit coil. It travels through the channels so long that cool time increases, like a car radiator cools, or same as a conventional air conditioning unit. Sorry, not meant to degrade your idea, but to maybe improve the idea. I my self have taken my cooler full of ice, sat my 12 VDC fan on it with the lid holding it in place, wrapped a towel so the intake air must come through one area, and sha-zam......it was real cool in my tent then. My opinion, not meant to take away from any ideas or make them seem like they don't work when they sure will. Now here is a thought......... It is much easier to get warm when cold outside then it is to cool down when it is too dam hot outside.
I have 12 of the ice packs, and just keep using and refreezing them 4X4 then there is always 4 in the box, four that are freezing and four that are frozen. I am actually cutting corrugated galvanized panels to use as baffles to make it cooler, longer. I mentioned to Zanne that if I "pull" the air out: The hole that is required as an intake is needed to be close to the bottom of the cooler because the cooler air is at the bottom (warmer air rises and cooler denser air falls). The cooler is then no longer water tight, and if i decide to put a load of ice in there instead of the ice packs. The ice would eventually melt and water would leak out through the intake hole and i have to soak up a watery mess. The coleman cooler that is the next size up from the one I used has a drainage tap on the side of it located close to the bottom of the cooler. That could always be used as your intake if you decide to use a fan to "suck out" instead of "blow in" All I can say is that my friend Dawn's cat loves this thing and is always sitting on it because Dawn has no air conditioning at her place, and because it is 40degrees here today, I think it has become more of an animal saver instead of a person cooler. Thanks Spa31rky
Okay.....but if the intake is "ducted" to the bottom......baffled......then "ducted" to the exhaust......as my my earlier comment.......than the air is cooled prior to being exhausted.........true? Kind of like a radiator core but using baffles. Also......exhaust fan on top duct to bottom.......intake on top ducted to bottom through baffles......rack to hold ice/ or ice packs......would this not be more sufficient and produce cooler exhaust air?
Oh... I think see where your coming from now... So the ice is chilling the duct, and the air being pulled in through the intake is being chilled as it is drawn through the cold duct. The air moves slowly through the duct because of the baffles, which gives it more time to cool down and is then eventually exhausted by the powered fan at the exit point! Is that right? I also built a solar heater which uses baffles which slows the air down so it has more of a chance to get warmer and has an intake at the bottom and an exhaust point at the top and is totally self powered because of the thermo-syphon effect.
This just popped in my little pea brain.................what about 2" vacuum hose for the duct work? It comes in 6' length and would make a great chamber for the air to travel through and water won't matter. It can be coiled in a way coming from the intake vent to the bottom......follow along bottom to other side.....then up to the exhaust fan. It is made of a PVC type material........Well....???? This is making me head to the shop and get it started......feel sorry for that wet/dry vac hose now!
Do you know of any ducts similar to the vacuum hose in size that would be made out of a metallic material? I ask since it would make more sense to use a conductor for the internal ductwork instead of an insulator which would work perfectly well on the outside of it.
Yes I do.........by the way......PVC tubing is not an insulator. It will take on the ambient temperature well. As for knowing "where" to get metal type 2" duct work....it is an industrial product. It is used in many applications........ Vulcanization systems Auto exhaust for garages Deferring heat away from users of equipment and so on. I bought some from Grainger. I used it for exhaust of heat from a control panel that was installed next to a mandrel unit. I had to do this because the compact cabinet A/C unit couldn't do the job when the heat exceeded 200 deg.
I'm not trying to start an argument or anything, but PVC is not a conductor of heat. Anything, not radioactive, will eventually go down to the ambient temperature if other things do not interfere,sunlight hitting metal plate for instance. Or I guess my question should have been for a more efficient conductor of heat and cold, as that is what I was meaning. And thank you both 31 and PIP
Ace.......was your comment meant for me? Not sure if it was here.
My house is 6 years old, and has a high efficiency furnace and high velocity round floor registers.

All the ducts that shoot off from the main duct are actually a 2 inch diameter metallic material, like a flexible dryer exhaust hose but closer to the size of a vacuum hose... so it does exist.

... but sorry, I have no idea where to get it from.
2" vacuum hose would fit perfectly up the bottom of the pant leg or up the sleeve of the shirt... Instant relief!!
The space ship has landed! You got it now. The longer air is captured in the cooling chamber the cooler it will be......thus the more baffles the longer it cools. Think of that maze the mouse must concur.......Sometimes deck layering the chambers.....2 story per say........will add distance the air must travel prior to exiting......it will be almost as cool as the ice. I wouldn't set the unit to close to anything because it will cause condensation on it with the cool air. May be an idea here..........heat rises........cool drops to lower area.......duct the exhaust from the cooler say with "dryer tubing" at least 5 feet off of the floor....then it will cool the air closest to a person.......falling towards the floor......and recycling through the unit. I am sure we both can come up with many more ideas on this.....just adding mine!
After reading these newer comments, I think having the larger Coleman with the drainage hole near the bottom would work for me or I could just cut a small hole in a smaller one. I would probably always be using ice paks rather than ice cubes, so melting is not an issue. I think putting the paks on a little rack and then pulling the air out would be my best bet. Maybe putting two stacked racks , each with a set of ice paks, in the cooler would be an interesting experiment? I wonder if the 2 levels would make any difference. Obviously, science was never my strong subject. I really like these ideas and appreciate the Instructables community. You all seem to come up with great ideas that I would never have thought of on my own. Thanks.
I can't take credit for this build idea... I saw quite a few of these "spot/swamp/cooler hacks" here on instructables and then decided to build my own and show what and how I did it.
greetex5 years ago
How are you able to wire a regular outlet plug directly to the fan, wouldn't it just fry the cpu fan, or does the cpu fan just draw the power it needs? Also what size of fan is this, i really like your air conditioner, the layout is excellent and it looks very professional. I love what you have done with it. :-)

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