Instructables
Picture of Figjam's Swamp Cooler

This is a rendition of figjam's solar Swamp cooler. it works pretty well and is great for keeping you cool when you are in the hot hot heat! This is a great piece of equipment have when you want to be able to cool things down while you are camping or at burningman (like I will be!).

 
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Step 1: Gather your gear

Picture of gather your gear
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Things you will need are pretty simple.

- submersible pump ($9.00): you can find them at your local hardware store. I went to harbor freight and they had a few to choose from! figjam's version uses a solar pump which is 12 volts and pumps about 42 gallons per hour. I loved the idea of having it be completely solar, but when I tried it out, there wasn't much power going through it, and if there is any over cast, it won't work at all. and for 20 bucks i didnt think it was worth it.so I opted for one that I can plug in that I'd 120 volts.

- cooling fan ($7.00): I bought this at Frys. it's a 12 volt 120 mm fan and goes at about 96 cfm. it pretty much means the pumping power. There are cheaper and different ones you can buy out there. I picked this one bc I was going to splice it to the solar pump, but when there wasn't enough power going to it like I wanted it to, I found a 12 volt ac adapter that worked perfectly for it!

- homedepot bucket ($7.00): I bought the bucket and the lid because it's the perfect travel size. Figjam drilled 2 inch holes into the sides, but I just did 1 inch ones and had more of them for air to get into the bucket.

- cooling pads (9.00): homedepot has some and they are pretty cheap. I bought one sheet which was 28th I think. be careful when cutting these because they get messy!

- hose and T connector ($4.00): again homedepot lol. I got these in the lawn and garden area. It's a 3/8 diameter hose and same for the T connector. you are just going to have to cut to fit.

- drainage hose pieces ($14.00): the size is about 4 inches for this. It fits completely over where the fan goes and makes for good air flow.

so you suck air through a dripping pad, dropping the temperature a nice 10-15 degrees.....how low does the humidity need to be. They still use these in places like New Mexico, they do work...but how dry does the air need to be?

I have lived most of my life in California's Mojave Desert, where swamp (or evap) coolers are in most homes. Our average daytime humidity is under 30. Swamp coolers are least effective when the day is overcast and working up to a rain. Interestingly, once it actually starts to rain, the swamp cooler works well. On a normal, dry summer day, a good swamp cooler can shave 40+ degrees off the temp.

victorg6546 (author)  spark master1 month ago
I have no idea about humidity, but I live in sacramento and works fine with me, plus the playa is incredibly arid and dry, which is exactly what I want for it.
throwedoff1 month ago

Your "swamp cooler" would be more effective if it had more than one little row of holes at the top of the pads to draw air through. Your design greatly limits the amount of heat transfer and evaporation you are able to achieve. If you look at a commercially built residential "swamp cooler" three of the four sides are completely louvered for air flow across the pads (sometimes all four sides are louvered in the case of roof mounted evaporative coolers). They are also scaled in size. The larger the space the larger the size of the evap cooler while the drive motors and air handlers (fans) see some variation in sizing, it is not necessary to scale the air delivery system up as much as the evaporation side of the unit when increasing capacity.

jjaminc1 month ago

I think I am missing something. I think one end of the hose go into the water in the bucket and one end to the pump. Where is the third end of the hose going to? I'm trying to understand the use of the pump. What is it pumping the water to?

phoe jjaminc1 month ago

I'm a bit perplexed about the pipework too, and think the instructions are missing a bit of description about how it's supposed to work.

I *think* the pump sits in the bottom of the bucket, which is part filled with water, and the output goes to a "T" at the top of the absorbent pads, soaking them from the top ? - connected like "---O" from the pump (to the left) to the top of the bucket (the "O" to the right)

The fan to move the air is then mounted to the lid of the bucket, and draws air through the holes in the bucket, through the damp pads, and the pipe above lets you make it slightly directional. The moist air probably provides evaporative cooling - when the water evaporates, it provides a cooling effect.

I suppose if you have a material that wicks the water well enough by itself, you could do away with the water pump completely - all it's likely to do is generate heat and warm the water up, which isn't really the idea (unless that helps the evaporative cooling effect ?)

victorg6546 (author)  phoe1 month ago
You've pretty much got the idea. The pump connects to a hose, the hose connects, and makes a closed circle. The water drips through the holes in the circle, into the cooling pads. The fan pumps the air out. lol its pretty simple.
billbucket1 month ago
I'll be at the burn this year too. Where will you be getting 120v on the playa?

You get 120v from the sound camp that is near/next to your plot. Bring a 100 foot cord, happy brownies or other sundry gifts, and see if they mind you plugging into their generator :)

victorg6546 (author)  billbucket1 month ago
I've actually built a solar generator. I will be posting an instructable on that prolly a little later today.
T_om1 month ago

Before people spend time and money on this, be advised that swamp coolers only work well in areas of low humidity. When we lived in Lancaster California (in the high desert above LA), our house had two swamp coolers that worked perfectly as air conditioning all summer. They cooled down the whole house. But we had very low humidity.

We live in Florida now and swamp coolers are useless. With high humidity they just make everything get soaking wet instead of cooler.

boocat T_om1 month ago

Great point. My grandmother lived in Sacramento fifty years ago and used a swamp cooler in her little apartment. It worked very well. It was basically a bladed fan mounted behind an upright, flattish wire box (reminiscent of a box springs under a mattress) that was filled with a mat made of straw. The bottom of the straw mat sat in a pan that always had a pitcher's worth of water poured into it, so the straw wicked it up and stayed damp. So much for 1960.

t.rohner boocat1 month ago

I like the idea.

But then, i'd like it with a smokestack for the airdraft. No el. power...

As you mentioned. Pretty useless in humid areas. Hopefully you have water in the deserts... Around here, it can be "hot" and humid, like at the moment i'd like to have a air conditioning. Or it can be hot and dry, which i like much better. (It happens here when the wind blows over the alps from the south. Around LA, it's called Santa Ana wind. Nice and dry, except when bushfires are raging...

Definitely not really cool in the swamps.

Bobey1 month ago
I know someone who did it with a cooler
MFCK Bobey1 month ago

I think you can get arrested for that..

nwlaurie MFCK1 month ago

Yeah ... maybe ... but worth it!

Will you guys cool it with the wise cracks, please?

(insert cymbal sound)

What exactly are the cooling pads and what department were they in? Pictures of the packages the parts come in are helpful for finding things like this in stores.

Okay, Google is your friend. It's a "replacement evaporative cooler pad".

victorg6546 (author)  mid_life_crisis1 month ago
All I did was ask the guy at home depot where they store the evap cooling pads. He took me straight to them. They were in the area where all the fans and ac units were.
ggallen1031 month ago

Dump some ice into the bucket to really give it a kick start - Of course you have to be able to get the ice - and at those temps, I'm sure it will only last for a couple hours. Or use the gel packs if you have access to a freezer to refreeze them.

victorg6546 (author)  ggallen1031 month ago
Ice sounds like a great idea! ice can be purchased at camp arctica at burningman, it's the only thing that can be bought there, except for coffee at center camp!
Carleyy1 month ago

Very cool! I've never seen it before. How does it compare to a store bought air conditioner?

victorg6546 (author)  Carleyy1 month ago
a store bought air conditioner is going to be leaps and bounds better. But this is great and portable and can be taken anywhere. It does work well enough to def cool my tent down by 20-30 degrees!