Introduction: DIY Mini Air Conditioner

In this Instructable I will show you have to make your own mini air cooler with houshold items.

Step 1: How Does It Work?

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An air conditioner works by pulling hot air inside a container, cool it down and then push the cold air out. This is the main difference from an ordinary fan that simply moves air, instead of cooling it down.

Step 2: Materials

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  • 12V computer fan
  • 12V AC adapter
  • Ice
  • Hot glue
  • Cutting knife
  • Tape

Step 3: Start Building!

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Take your container, a milk package works great, and cut an opening for the computer fan. Put the fan as far away from the exhaust as possible. This will ensure optimal cooling effect once we add the ice.

Step 4: Glue the Fan in Place

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I like to use hot glue for these types of projects. You do not want leaks, make sure to seal all gaps. Except the exhaust obviously.

Step 5: Optional: Solder on a Connector

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Why would you want to do this? You can make it portable! Simply unplug the AC adapter and connect the fan to a 12V battery, such as a 3S Lipo.

Step 6: Add the Ice

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Step 7: How Effective Is It?

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You too hate loud fans blowing on you? A computer fan is made to be very quiet! This makes it perfect to use while reading, at front of the computer or any other place you don't want to be disturbed.

Start temp: 22°C or 71.6F
End temp: 15°C or 59F

Step 8: Enjoy

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I like to use mine while editing videos or playing games as the computer heats up the room.

Thanks for reading my Instructable!

Want to see more projects? Watch my YouTube channel here:


tliguori330 (author)2017-11-15

I dig it, nice and easy, any problems with condensation on the outside? Im sure there are multiple solutions to that problem

thehammer223 (author)2017-09-01

im not gonna lie this is the first project i found that i dont need to buy anything for, instead of a 15v output i used a usb and connected it to my pc. but now i can play overwatch without melting in my leather chair.

JanS151 (author)2017-07-06

Fantastic .. Love this .. I want to make one for my Moms appointment. What about freezing the container with water. Will the fan handle the freeze/thaw?

Dr KAZ (author)2017-06-26

Best Instructable I saw in a loooong time.

Well written.Good pics. Few steps. Easy to build. Quick. Cheap. Gives an observable result. Withstands nasty/unnecessary/duh comments etc. etc.

Well done Simon!

RalphK (author)2016-07-16

cool project !!!!!!!!!

koecke (author)RalphK2017-06-26

ba-dum tssss

3967 (author)2016-07-12

Haha , remember how milk smells after some days? and then use this package as air conditioner xD

Cliffystones (author)39672016-07-12

2 words here. Sodium Hydrochloride. For you non-tech folks that's chlorine bleach :)

But I get your point. Probably better to use a container that had water or even juice in it.

In defense of the original builder, this is simply a micro-sized swamp cooler. Something akin to those "USB Powered Fans" that put a tiny breeze right at your fingertips/sweating forehead. Only with the ice, this becomes one of those, only on micro-steroids. A nice little cold breeze to take the edge off of an otherwise uncomfortably warm environment. Sure it could be modded/enlarged/ altered etc. But kudos to the builder. The rest of you folks need to heed the expression "Don't slap a gift horse in the face".

it's "don't look a gift horse in the mouth", right? because now i'm confused.

Yeah, today I told my friend that another friend had something up his arm besides his sleeve:( But, back to the horse thing. Check this video out:

You ARE right.. but don't slap a horse anyway.

Confusion is fun sometimes.

You just probably are right. I get those "old sayings" mixed-up all the time. Could be "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" I'm confused with.

But the ideas on this site are all at least descent to absolutely awesome. Even if what I see isn't for me, many times the ideas presented lead me to ideas along other lines that I hadn't thought of. I've seen coolers like this made from 5 gallon buckets, that the creator used to cool his tent at the Burning Man festival. But I hadn't thought of a micro-mini personal version, it's pretty cool.

I thought it was, "don't slap the gift horse that feels you up." Is that not accurate either?

3967 (author)Cliffystones2016-07-12

Yes i know. But it was too funny, so i had to write it. :)

BetsyFartBlossom (author)39672016-07-12

Yes, Cliffystones, it was funny, I laughed:)

I'm not going to inquire as to your choosing your profile name :). But i have to ask, have you ever bred cockatiels? I had a mated pair many years ago who produced many offspring. Funnest, most friendly, cutest birds, kinda like having a miniature dog, except they can't be house-trained.

Nah, just the one male, Perkins. He was the bird who came to dinner. He was my daughters bird, and when she went on vacation I took him for 2 weeks. That was 18 years ago, he's been here ever since. He only poops in a couple of places, and down several pictures:) I love that little guy. He doesn't have a cage, I wouldn't want to live cooped up. He flies around the house and only got out once, 14 years ago. He was gone for 10 days, near death when I got him back. He's not too interested in going by outside doors any more:) He sleeps on the back of the 1/2 bathroom door. I put a length of plastic gutter on the door and he gets in there and goes to sleep:) Can't fall out of bed that way! He used to sleep on the top of the door and I nearly slammed his foot in the door, so I had to come up with something for him. Now everyone's happy! Betsyfartblossom is my cat who has seriously pestilential, to near fatal, gas attacks while sleeping on my chest, butt towards my face:( But I love her too. Perkins taunts her a lot.

Cliffystones (author)39672016-07-12

I'm "Mr. Scarasm" myself. I just need to remember to add that smiley face so folks will know I'm joking!

ScottW24 (author)2016-07-12

I always giggle at all these 'ice' based coolers people are posting on here. To make ice requires refrigeration. Refrigeration works by using heat exchangers. Heat exchangers make the outside coils of the fridge hotter than they make the inside contents cooler. Which means to make ice, the net sum result is to warm up your house.

KrazyKyle (author)ScottW242016-10-09

I agree with Scott. A more practical material would be water. The air moving over it would evaporate, cooling the air. It would be much slower, but last longer.

funman1 (author)ScottW242016-07-12

EXACTLY!! If you made the ice in your freezer in your house then this is the SAME as opening the freezer door in your house and saying you're "cooling your house" LOL...

earth2matt (author)funman12016-07-12

You are all missing the point. This does heat your house slightly. 100mA x 5v = 0.5W added to your space - however, for that, less than a light bulb heat you get cool air where you need it rather than run your 500W air conditioner in your whole house! This is 1000x more efficient and saves $

ChristianS145 (author)earth2matt2016-09-11

Right on EarthtoMatt ! make yourself comfortable, do not cool the whole house at tremendous cost to oneself or the environment, same as my kid wanting to turn on heat to 75 in winter as he ran naked in the house, shame on us,

ChristianS145 (author)ScottW242016-09-11

You guys are so anal about trivial part of projects, 1-of course it should be cleaned properly, dheu why even keep mentioning it at all , 2- of course at the end it is a net minus towards the balance of this Earth, what this great kid did is a simple device that creates a welcomed cool and soothing air flow as he works on his computer, of course the rest of the house maintains its average temperature , great job Kid do not ever let these anal wanna be bloggers stating the obvious slow you down,

KiyotakaI1 (author)2016-09-15

So after all that BS jargon it still keeps me cooler for cheap correct?

matash75 (author)2016-07-12

Make it with a flap wide enough to take an ice cube tray, so you would have a larger ice surface that can be replaced easily and last longer than individual cubes.

dougstrickland (author)matash752016-07-12

Why not just fill the bottom of the milk container with water, put the whole thing in the freezer, and then use it?

Icecubes have more surface area and the air has to travel a longer distance between the cubes.

Althought, a solid iceblock would last a bit longer.

Yes but less cooling, there is no free ride, so to last longer less cool move less air by changing fan voltage by resistors or miniature PWM controller.

To be most efficient in thermal transfer, you need adequate surface area, by flooding and freezing you end up with a block of ice which has only its top for surface area, this would then decrease thermsl transfer rate efficiency.

will freeze the fan

billy_kolb (author)ElizabethB882016-07-12

Just a question: Do cheap fans freeze? Car fans don't freeze.

I personally don't believe so, since the fan doesn't suck cold air.

exxxxxcelllllent !

msuzuki777 (author)2016-07-12

Nice project.

For those people whose ice cubes won't fit in the hole, you can also carefully fill the container (fan up) about 1/3 full of water and put the whole thing in the freezer.

I disagree with the scoffers , this does condition the air. Where I come from, hot and dry, it's often the preferred method of cooling called a swamp cooler.


ChristianS145 (author)msuzuki7772016-09-11

To be most efficient in thermal transfer, you need adequate surface area, by flooding and freezing you end up with a block of ice which has only its top for surface area, this would then decrease thermsl transfer rate efficiency.

VioletH (author)2016-07-12

this is what we used to call a swamp cooler. Dry ice ould work better and cause less humidity just fyi.

ChristianS145 (author)VioletH2016-09-11

If you use dry ice, where will the CO2 go ? LOL but true .

AUGUSTO VJ (author)2016-08-10

It is really an awesome idea!!

scott.cairo made it! (author)2016-08-03

Here you go, I made a gasket round a fan sized hole so as to get bigger ice cubes in quicker, the rubber bands holding the fan on were a bit too strong so buckled the carton but works great

firepuncher (author)2016-07-12

Folks, an air conditioner is not just for cooling. It is to condition the air, specifically to remove humidity which at any temperature tends to make for greater comfort. Obviously there are limits to that. You don't want it too dry in the winter. It is all about comfort. Cooling is another thing most air conditioners do, but cooling while adding copious amounts of moisture to the indoor environment really defeats the purpose and is nothing more than a swamp cooler. Great for your patio for relief from the heat when you can't change the humidity, but terrible indoors. To take this to an extreme, as some people have with larger designs, you can increase the humidity enough in a house to cause mold on inside surfaces and even rotting of external wall components. Basically come up with a way to dehumidify the air and you will be far more comfortable than with this type of cooler. Sorry

primoweb (author)firepuncher2016-07-12

So use those ice packs you can buy in the store that don't melt. They will not add any humidity to the air and will collect some condensation... just need a way to drain it every so often... but I doubt it'll matter much as the ice pack won't last that long in the first place. could easily put a straw downspout or even a water bottle screwed into the milk jug (at the bottom of course) It'll need to be air tight and tilted such that the condensation runs into it.. and again, emptied every so often..

billy_kolb (author)primoweb2016-07-29

Maybe make your own design ice pack, the size of the available space in your freezer, so the ice pack will last longer.

firepuncher (author)primoweb2016-07-12

Yes, if the air in the room is high humidity then containing the ice so as to isolate it from the air would work, and a drain could be set up I imagine. Even a plastic bag for the ice cubes in a pinch. Of course any membrane is going to slow heat transfer, which could be compensated for with a larger blower, but then the complexity grows and the next ting you know we have an AC unit LoL In the end it is a neat little unit and well thought out for what it is. I would use it outdoors though

Firepuncher, just say "That's nice" and let it go. Don't overthink and over analyze stuff. When you do, it makes the other person feel small, and you wouldn't want that, would you???

terrabuilder (author)firepuncher2016-07-14

Swamp coolers were specifically for arid climates conducive to the Southwest, where I made my home for 16 years in the State of New-Mexico. You can have high humidity as long as there is sufficient air circulation. It is when air is trapped or stagnated that mold will find a breeding place. In support of "firepuncher", the City of Phoenix has converted to refrigerated air, only because of everyone watering their lawns, like they enjoyed when living back east. The Phoenix area is a valley where air can stagnate, causing high humidity from all that watering. The City of Albuquerque is getting close to that venue as well, which is also a valley where air can stagnate. In addition, swamp coolers are 1/3 the cost to run over refrigerated air, because a compressor is not needed, which is the bulk of the power consumption of refrigerated air. There has been a movement in the Southwest to convert lawns into Xerescaping, which uses different colored gravels as a ground cover and planting succulents conducive to the environment.

VioletH (author)firepuncher2016-07-12

depends on how hot it is, looks like he is using this in a already air conditioned space.

M4n0v3y (author)firepuncher2016-07-12

so, that was a kind of simple to do! But an air filter and a Peltier should be added to the project. If I have some time I intent to improve this idea! Its just funny to do!

primoweb (author)M4n0v3y2016-07-12

I doubt using a peltier would do anything but waste energy and create a whole bunch of heat.

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Simon Sörensen and I am the creator of RCLifeOn. I´m 19 years old and live in a town called Trollh ... More »
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