Instructables

Cooler Adaptation

With summer coming on, my wife asked me to come up with some way to keep cool during hot summer nights. This is what I came up with. I am sorry there are not enough pictures to go with this instructable, but my son killed my digital camera(he wanted to see if it would float in the sink...sigh)this was built before I got my new digital camera. I do think that this is straight forward enough that you get the idea.
 
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Step 1: Find a thrift store cooler

Picture of Find a thrift store cooler
Get a cheap cooler from a thrift store or second hand shop. Find a conduit like a dryer vent hose and hold it against the cooler about an inch or two up from the bottom. Next mark around it with a sharpie,drill a hole and cut out the circle with a jig saw.

Step 2: Insert your conduit or hose.

Picture of Insert your conduit or hose.
Put your hose in the hole and secure, I royally screwed up and made the hole to big so i had to make a cardboard front to make it fit, don't repeat this mistake. I used duck tape to hold it in place, use what ever method works for you.

Step 3: Cut the other hole

Picture of Cut the other hole
(yeah, i know this pic was used before, just go with it ok?) Take a small fan and mark a hole on the opposite side of the cooler like step two and cut it out. You can use a bungie cord or duck tape to secure the fan to the hole.

Step 4: Find some milk jugs

Picture of Find some milk jugs
Get some empty milk jugs and wash them out (just rinse, you won't be drinking from them)Fill em up and freeze them.

Step 5: Fill up the cooler

Picture of Fill up the cooler
After they are frozen, put them in the cooler and shut the lid. Let it sit for a bit (fifteen minutes or so) then turn on the fan and a nice stream of cold air comes out of the hose. Aim it where you want and enjoy. With just two and a half gallons of frozen water it is putting out quite a bit of cold air, I plan on filling in the empty spaces with frozen junior juice bottles. This should add quite a bit to it's capacity.
buskrat5 months ago
Meddler pycrete is amazing stuff and is I'm not mistaken discovery did a documentary on the pycrete battle ship and went and dove the lake that they sank their "test" model in and found all the cooling system for it was all still down there. And myth busters did a thing on it and used news paper instead of wood and made a boat and it passed. It seams like there is very few people who know about it I've know about it for a while now and any one you ever tell about never believe you
rimar2000 says:
"Great idea! Don't pay attention to those that cackle. There are many people to who it doesn't go them by the brain anything original, except for suggesting changes to the ideas of the other ones."

I have to agree. I think this is a great idea and very inexpensive. A perfect solution to a simple problem that works in the short-term, which is all that is needed. I love these Instructables. What a great way to share IDEAS and more! Thanks for taking the time...
CementTruck7 years ago
Maybe if you use smaller milkjugs for the whole project you'll use more of the unused space. Then you won't have to use junior juice bottles. Besides, you probably want the air to flow around the cold bottles rather than over them - more cold surfave area that way. Cool instructable (groan) ;)
another idea for getting more ice in the box with less "wasted space" would be to put like a wire rack of some kind in the cooler...and use ziplock bags full of water...you would freeze those then hang them on the racks like a filing cabinet...then the air could pass between the ice bags and go through the other side....and you'd be able to get more "density" inside of the cooler
a fast to make the air flow go in between the jugs is making a cover and putting it over the jugs and vents. since there is usually space in between the lid and whatever is in the cooler, get a board (one that wont shrivel) and cut it to fit just inside the top of the cooler (not the lid part but the box itself), resting on the top of the jugs and the vent so the air will be forced more between the frozen jugs and wont flow into the empty space inside at the top of the cooler
I'm thinking this instructable could be turned into a modified swamp cooler too. The cooler is already able to hold water internally, so all he would need are: small water or sump pump floor polisher buffing pad (coarse for good airflow) Flexible tube (fishtank type) 1) Poke holes in the flex tube so you get drips every inch or so. 2) Attach tube to the top of the buffing pad. 3) Crimp one end of tube, and attach the other end to the water pump. 4) Hang buffing pad (after it is trimmed to size) in the middle of the cooler. 5) Put a frozen jug of water in the cooler, and fill the rest of the cooler with water. 6) Once the water is cold, turn on the water pump, which in turn wets the buffing pad with the cold water. Turn on the fan. I guess this might be called an evaporator(??) Cool breeze.
I had a portable evap cooler in my bedroom. Problem was when you add air blowing through water you get humidity and that actually made it more uncomfortable.
glycerinate6 years ago
hey thats a purty cat in the pic of step 4
diylyhbilly7 years ago
 nice job medman, I'll make one with a twist, for mywife who sleeps upstairs during the day. Shes one hotmama this summer!
PIman7 years ago
I recently made something the same. I use it in my van when I am working.
AC pic.jpeg
meddler (author) 7 years ago
I know the ice and rocksalt mixture my wife uses in her ice creame maker gets real cold. Not sure if it will freeze but it does get very cold.I was thinking of using pycrete thats a mixture of wood flour or fine saw dust and water, it freezes harder than cemant and is very cold. The only draw back is that it takes a very long time to freeze, so it would draw a lot of juice from the freezer,the upside is it takes a while to thaw out. Amazing stuff it was supposed to help win WW2 but was forgot when the atomic bomb was dropped. Look it up on Google
animes257 years ago
so, if you freeze water with salt in the juice bottles you will get more coolness?
lemonie7 years ago
As I've commented elsewhere, if your freezer is inside your house, producing the ice will warm the place up more than your cooler chills it. It's just moving heat around. However, moving heat from one room to another is still a good idea, and this looks effective. L
All any air-conditioner does is move the heat around... usually from inside to outside, but I definitely agree... useful for spot cooling only. Simple solution there... use the chest freezer in the garage ;-) Toward animes25's comment... those little units are ok, for say an office desk, but nowhere near the sheer capacity of this unit. Plus, meddlers version doesn't add humidity, which is a good thing if you're trying to maintain a comfort level anywhere but the desert. Now, i wonder how well this would work passively... Say by hanging the cooler up on a wall, putting the "exit" hole near to the bottom, and the in-hole near the top... letting gravity and natural convection replace the fan? Since it's cool air, and not cold air.. might make a nice solution for cooling off a computer during the summer. I know mine cranks out enough heat to keep the immediate vicinity toasty warm, even during the winter.
meddler (author) 7 years ago
my neighbor saved his milk jugs for me so they were free, the tube was a buck at a thrift store, the fan had been sitting around for a while so i consider that to be no cost. The cooler was at the same store for three bucks, total cost less than five bucks. Don't get me wrong, if you have the money to spend on something more expensive, spend away. I was looking for something cheap and this was it(for me anyway).
animes257 years ago
is more cheap to buy those ACs that you can add ice or water, is better and cheaper
microman1717 years ago
Rather than use a cooler... what about a 12v freezer, the travel one... then you would just need to hook it up to a 12v powe suple that was good enough
Typically the 12v freezer exhausts it's heat just outside the freezer, negating the effect.
beatyruth7 years ago
You might also try this with dry ice in the milk jugs and water around the outside for a swamp cooler effect. Dry ice will last a long time if it's kept cold. This would work great in areas that have just a few hot days. An air conditioner is unnecessary most of the time in WA state/west side.
HamO beatyruth7 years ago
Two things; Dry Ice in milk jugs=BOOM and CO2 is heavier, replaces air = suffocation. Both are bad, one more so than the other.
xrobevansx7 years ago
Keep in mind: if you pack the inside to the gills with jugs/ice/whatever, there will be less air to cool. There will be less air coming out and the fan will be working extra hard to push what little air there is in the cooler out the other side and around the little air channels in the cooler. Just a piece of advice. I would experiment with the amount of ice/air ratio which is optimal for performance. Don't assume "more ice is better."
nagutron7 years ago
This looks like a short-term solution. It's cheap, but extremely inefficient. You're essentially using your freezer as an air conditioner and then carrying the stored product (frozen water) by hand to a cooler, which will then leak heat back into your ice at some non-zero rate. In the long term, you'd probably be better off buying an actual air conditioner.
In the long term, you'd probably be better off buying an actual air conditioner.

Keep in mind... long term solutions require cash in short term. Luckily, I live in Florida where just about everywhere has central AC... But if AC wasn't available - my college budget wouldn't allow long term solutions ;)

If you want to cool off one room... no problem as long as that freezer isn't in that very same room. Or, even if it is -- you'll just make the temperature gradient even steeper if you don't disturb the ceiling :p
meddler (author) 7 years ago
I just thought of something else, you can attach a short section of dryer vent conduit to the fan and the hole and elevate the fan a bit above the hole to prevent any water getting to the fan.Especially if you already made the thing(me)and don't want to get another junk cooler...
meddler (author) 7 years ago
Yeah, i was thinking about moisture getting to the fan as well,my wife suggested lineing the bottom of the cooler with a towel. The reason i used jugs in the first place was to keep melted ice water from moving around. I'll have to try the fan in the top, also the jugs can just be put right back in the freezer and refrozen with out the need to buy bags of ice which ain't cheap. I know it's not the most efficient, but the way i see it is everything in the freezer is already frozen the cold contained in the frozen things goes a long way to freezing the water in the jugs, so i don't think the freezer is using all that much energy. But then i'm not an electrical engineer,that's just an opinion. I also have a second pair of jugs so one set is freezing while the other is being used so i can take advantage of the nighttime hours to freeze the other set.
ZeroFlop7 years ago
I like the idea. Some thoughts..... 1) Move the electrical fan to the top of the box instead of the side. If you have a leak in your jugs you could have a problem. 2) Once you move the electrical to a safer position you can then fill the chest with regular ice. The irregular ice chunks will increase you available surface area to transfer heat. 3) Use a baffle over the inside ot the exhaust to force air into the ice before leaving. This may not be as necessary if the fan is on the top blowing down into the ice/bottles/icepacks. 4) Any possibility of adding some solar cells to push the air? That would take this off the grid at peak energy use time. Freezing the ice would happen at night when there is excess energy.
Sgt.Waffles7 years ago
Thats Awesome! I could use that sitting out in the garage on hot summer nights. I was going to try to make something to that effect, but i couldnt quite figure it out. Thats Awesome, and i definatly will make it. Great instructable. +
rimar20007 years ago
Great idea! Don't pay attention to those that cackle. There are many people to who it doesn't go them by the brain anything original, except for suggesting changes to the ideas of the other ones.
meddler (author) 7 years ago
I'll have to try that idea with the zip lock bags,dataphool, i checked them this morning(i ran it last night)and the ice had all melted, however the jugs were still fairly cool to the touch. So i figure you should get a nights worth of use out of it or day as the case may be, then you would have to refreeze everything for the next run.Thanks for the positive feedback everyone
dataphool7 years ago
As pictured in your instructable, how long does the ice last? I realize that is an indeterminate time; but an average time is what I'm looking for. The amount of cool would be helpful. Guess I'll have to try it. Great idea!
stranoster7 years ago
Nice idea and nice cat! Might be a while before I use it though being in Australia and all. Danged reverse seasons. A good idea would be to combine these tow but with an extra box fan http://www.instructables.com/id/ER4PR6EV0WEP287WC6/?ALLSTEPS.
Great Work!
warlord7 years ago
hehe, cool! Reminds me a lot of a fog machine chiller:

Fog machine chiller