Before I get started, I have to give props to Geoff Milburn, at whose plan it was I copied. I'm not smart enough to think up something like this on my own. That being said, one of the places I work has no AC, but I'm allowed to have fans, so this seemed like a good project for me. It's not perfect yet, but it does cool the air better than just a fan.
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Step 1: Attach copper tubing to the fan

I took the grate off of my fan, so I could put the heat exchanger on the inside, hopefully making it look better. I'm using copper tubing as the heat exchanger, although you could use something else, as copper is not cheap, and not easy to work with. As you can see in the second photo, it's very easy to kink the tubing, in which case, you stop the flow of water. I grabbed a hole saw to use as a die to wrap the tubing around, and the teeth held nicely against the grate of the fan. As I was going along, I used zip ties to hold the tubing to the grate. Of course, because this will be inside the fan, make sure to clip off the loose ends. Also, make sure that you have both ends of the copper tubing sticking out of the fan, so you can hook up the tubes to the pump.
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If I pump hot water in, will it heat a small room?
Mason Wright6 months ago
Try adding salt to the ice/water combo it should make the water drop to 32 degrees
John Culbertson made it!8 months ago

Just assembled one of these, and it works great. Here is my list of materials used:

-120 GPH Fountain pump

-2 gallon water cooler from Lowes

-Honeywell 8" Fan

-1/4" OD copper pipe

-1/4" ID Vinyl tubing

Favorite part about this project is how fast it goes together I first read this post about 4 hours ago and now I am sitting at my desk with nice cool air blowing on me.

Great instrucable, thanks for posting.


Hey I am trying the same thing you have but I am not getting very positive results:

130 GPH Fountain Pump

22Qt. Styrofoam Cool from Wal-mart

12" Honeywell Fan

1/4" OD copper pipe (10 ft.) I plan to get more tomorrow (details why below)

1/4" ID Plastic tubing.

I have put everything from Ice to frozen water bottles to frozen cooler packs and only once have I seen condensation on the copper tubbing. It was originally in a 5 gallon Homedepot bucket but the ice seem to melt and the temperature rose very fast so I switched it to the Styrofoam cooler.

I am thinking of adding more copper tubing to the back as some people on here have done so it will allow the air to suck in cold but I am not sure if this will help. Any advise is appreciated. I live in Colorado and live right next to the furnace with alot of electronics in my room. It gets very warm in here.

Any advise is appreciated.

2014-06-02 02.19.58 HDR.jpg

Adding additional copper tubing will make the biggest difference, and you also really need to load down the ice bath; I use a combination of water, ice cubes and frozen water bottles and try to completely fill my little 2 gallon cooler with as much ice as possible.

I have used this more since my post above and realized with a devise like this you really need to manage expectations, this will not appreciably cool down even a small room with this. I have mainly used it blasting right at my face while I was working at my desk and positioned by an open window aiming at my bed before I go to sleep when it gets over 100F, for these applications it works pretty well for about an hour or two with my little 2 gallon cooler.

Hope this helps.

Well I added 20 ft. (30ft. total) more copper tubbing to it. around the front and the rest around the back. I have also put a trashbag in the cooler to keep from leaks. Unfortunately after all that, there is still no difference my room gets very warm regardless unless I have the window open (which has no screen and bugs are getting in all the time which is undesirable) and the door is open but there is no privacy.

I am left very disappointed because this idea DOES work for others so why not for me? what am I doing wrong? I would be pleased if this even cooled the room two degrees but nothing.

I am wondering if these ideas will help.

1. Decrease the amount of water in the cooler.

The cooler is a 22 Qt. Cooler that is halfway filled. more than enough to submerge the 130GPH pump. If I dropped the water level to just submerged level (with or without cold packs or ice) would that mean that since there is less water to cool it will stay cooler longer as there is less to cool?

2. Increase the fan size.

this is a 12" Honeywell but alot of people I see are using much bigger box fans. Would this increase airflow around the room and cooling it? My understanding is that in a closed environment like I am making is to cycle to air through the fan that will cool the air and cool the room.

3. Build a intake and outake for the air on the fan

The way I figure it is that if I build a intake around the back of the fan it will direct the air directly through the back coils where the water intake is at its coolest. And a outake to help control the fans direction. maybe funnel it down so the fans air is more centralized and condensed?

4. Use Saltwater Filled water Bottles. Use Salt Water

Since I drink alot of bottled waters I am wondering if refilling them with Water with salt will keep the cooler colder longer. I never took chemistry but my undestanding is that salt lowers waters freezing point and therefore will keep a cold source longer?

5. Use larger Copper Tubing more copper tubbing?

More Cooling surface area?

Though its not the hottest of the season I really want this to work at this point just to see it work and have the satisfaction of having it work. Yeah its bad enough my room never goes below 80 (and I hate warm) but I have invested alot in to this so any advise is apreciated

2014-06-03 01.27.51 HDR.jpg2014-06-03 01.28.18 HDR.jpg
ehensel1 (author)  Alamarus8 months ago
My first thoughts about the condensation go directly to the ambient humidity in the air. CO is generally less humid, and being that the room is right next to a furnace, you could just have less humidity in the air. To test this theory, grab a glass of ice water, and just let it sit for a little while in the room. If there's no condensation on the glass, it stands to reason that you're not going to see much, if at all on the copper coil. This does not mean you're not getting heat transfer. Your build looks very solid, and should be working just fine. Let me know if this helps, or if you make any tweaks that do.
Steffenmatt8 months ago

I also had try this it's working quiet well.

If you really want to supe this up you could do the following:

1. Switch from an ice bath to a Ethylene Glycol, Ethanol, and dry ice slurry

2. This would require a different pump; a homemade peristaltic pump should do the trick.

3. Then just swap out the basic Vinyl tubing for some tygon tubing that can go down to -100F

I am very tempted to build this for field use in the Mojave desert this summer.

Note: this is very dangerous on nearly every level. The Ethylene Glycol (AKA anti-freeze) is poisonous and sweet, so keep away from pets. The Ethanol is of course flammable, and of course you would be pumping this through a system with at least two brushed DC motors, so leaks could lead to fires quickly. Hmmm... maybe this isn't such a good idea after all.

ehensel1 (author) 8 months ago

That's awesome! You even took the time to bend the copper all nice, into a circular shape. With the fan constantly blowing, you shouldn't have condensation problems, unless it's really humid out, but if you do, let me know if you come up with solutions!

Bending the copper tubing was actually really easy because it already came in a coil about the size of the fan.

So far I have had no problems with condensation and don't expect any, it is to dry here is SoCal.

hilldomain1 year ago
wouldn't adding a block of ice in front of the fan do the same job?
the cool air this produces should also be at least slightly drier (see the discussion of condensation in other comments) than the surrounding air rather than slightly damper as it would be if you used ice directly.
hilldomain1 year ago
is there a risk of a short or electricution with the fan motor and condensation issue?
club813 years ago
Doesnt your ac make alot of condensation???
I am trying to figure out a way to keep the condensation from becoming a lake in my living room. Maybe I'll find a way to drink it.
put a tray under the fan with a hole in it and stick the whole thing back on top of the cooler to drain into?
An easy quick fix for condensation making a mess is to direct it with a piece of string. A water droplet will run down a string (like sewing thread) as long as it's at a steep enough angle; almost like a wick. If the condensation is beading up and dripping off of a particular point on the tubing, tie a piece of thread there and run it down to a bucket/pan for collection. Then, at least, it won't be pooling up on your floor.
Try using a larger rubber hose, insert the condensated one inside it and gravity-drip it back into the tank for better efficiency (fan must be higher than tank & coil loop must end at bottom of fan or make a drip pan and hook hose to that).
hilldomain1 year ago
would using a smaller diameter copper tubing increase water preasure and speed up the water flow? also would there be less kinks if you used a circular shape for the copper instead of back and forth?
theknurd1 year ago
You could also try making a drip-loop (like they do for external coaxial cable installations so that rain doesn't run into the coaxial sockets/connectors) at the bottom of the copper winding, then you could place a bucket or whatnot to catch the drip. It doesn't eliminate the mess, but it may help to contain it.
ra_theeng1 year ago
There are a lot of valid points brought up as a far a thermodynamics and inefficiencies are concerned, and I would certainly not recommend purchasing and building this particular system and shutting down your HVAC in an effort to save money on the electricity bill.

However, consider the scenario. Most work environments provide A/C for their office workers, yet, they have the thermostat set rediculously high, in their own effort to conserve on overhead. But, these work places also (usually) provide free ice and de-ionized drinking water (though distilled would be preferred for the system) for employees which is the basis of this particular design.

Sure it is more inefficient, and hence, more costly, but it is certainly a creative/effective means of "beating the system". If every office worker in the company had one of these, it might take an educated executive decision to lower the thermostat and do away with ice-cooled fans.
M.R. Mugs1 year ago
I was living in a small 2nd floor apt. without AC. I had a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bath. The kitchen had a ceiling fan and a metal double sink. I filled the sinks with ice, open the doors underneath and fit a piece of cardboard between the two bowls going from the bottom of the cabinet up to the sink but leaving a space at the rear. I then put a box fan in front of the one opening facing out and set the ceiling fan to draw up. The box fan would draw air in to the opened cabinet under the one now ice cold sink, around behind the cardboard, and then under the other ice cold sink and blow it back into the room. The ceiling fan would draw the cool air up to where it would "fall" back down in the living room. This of course didn't work as well as AC but it made it bearable in the small hot apt. I kept the stoppers in the sink to catch the water as it melted and just added more ice, and of course draining the water when needed.
Justdoofus3 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
I think you need to think about your claims. People are using this information for their own projects and false information will give them false hope about there outcomes. Four heater cores brought the temprature down colder than ice? Ice will only bring temp down to 32° in perfect conditions. Also to get any "cooling" from a fridge compressor you would need a condenser coil, evaporator coil and a expansion valve. An air condioner does not create cold, because "cold" is just the something is less hot, All an airconditioner does is move energy (heat) from one place to another (inside to outside), or in the case of a ice water system it takes heat out of the air and puts it into the ice water. So your compressor hooked to a heater core hooked back into the compressor would just circulate the coolant not compress it, and the heat from friction in the compressor woud heat the room up.
(removed by author or community request)
Justdoofus, First of all, I was not trying to undermine you. I was merely questioning the infromation you provided. I did not want it to mislead other instructables readers. For instance, this sentance "I have made one with 4 heater cores and it brought the temprature down into the twentys .." Seems to imply that you cooled the room down to the twentys. Also when you state " I have taken the output of the refriderator's compressor line and connected it into the input of the heater core, and the output into the input of the compressor .. ." It makes it sound like you did just that, hooked a compressor to a heater core and the heater core into the compressor. How am I or anyone else going to draw any other conclusion out of that? Thus the sentance is misleading. Did you read what it says in the little red box below the comment box? Now in your last post you personally attack me

I sincerely apologize for my immature answer to your question, I didn't mean to reply like that, let's just say I wasn't in the best of moods. So I apologize for that.

.. Yeah, I reread what I posted, and I see the confusion here, I hope you forgive me for what I said, and I honestly didn't mean to attack you.

billw1292 years ago
I have the solution to all of the rust and saltwater problems. Just get a pump that does not need to be submerged. Get one that has an intake and output nipple on it for hooking up to tubing then run from your output to a plastic tube that goes to the coil of copper then from the copper output put a plastic tube that goes in to the cooler and forms another coil. then back in to your pump. Fill the system with antifreeze. Now your copper tubing is isolated from the salt water and you actually get some rust prevention from the anti freeze. Oh and BTW fill the cooler with ice, rock salt, and salt water this will super cool it. It will probably form Ice on the coil rather then condensation.
UART2 years ago
For those of you having condensation problems, you'll have to take your condensation hoses (coil supply lines) and put them into a bigger plastic hose. This will insulate the lines AND return cooler water into the ice tank, making it more efficient. The only thing you'll have to do is elevate your fan and build a drip pan out of either cut-ziploc or larger rubber hose cut half way placed at bottom, then feed that to the larger hose to 'steer' condensation into the ice tank. For even best results, use dry ice (if you can) and NOW you can target temps in the twenties!
PIman7 years ago
I am a PI and want to make a rig to cool my van(130 F). I need suggestions (& spelling tips).
STC here: You want to cool a van, huh... OK, do this -- Get a car or truck heater core from a junk yard, any kind.. Now get a bilge pump (pump for draining water out of a boat). Ice chest & hose to fit. Put the pump in ice chest with hose connected to out put of pump. Run hose to heater core & output of heater core back to ice chest. Now connect a small fan in front of heater core so the fan is pulling air through the heater core, not pushing it. As you know: You can do more work with a vacuum than with pressure. Place crushed ice in chest with one gallon of water. Now as the fan & pump are 12 volt just fix a plug so they can be plugged into the lighter socket. WALA COLD AIR................ If you put the heater core & the fan in a small box it will work much better. I used this setup some time back in my little motorhome when we were camping in the boonies. Had us looking for the covers... Nother though, If you had a solar panel that put out enough current, you could run this thing all day from it and keep that van cool all day, just add some ice as required. will work to keep a tent cool too.. many uses. STC we gone
hey hae u done this project ????
and if yes then does it cools as ac or not
yes it cools the as a ac i have tried atleast makes 5-10 degree difference
I am living in India and here there is so much hot climate, i have made so much thing from instructables Please tell me what, if i use a radiator of car and fan and make the same as above shown, so it will work or not?? your reply is important for me.
I'm interested in cooling down my car too for Private Investigating. I'll just perhaps get a portable a/c unit and small gas powered generator. (silent generator).
How would you not die from the fumes? My small fan makes a loud noise. I have rigged s cooler with a fan that blows in?downward from the top an fore air over ice blocks and then out vent. Melts in the hot van, but i works for a short time. Any info on ac units would be great.
Pop the trunk a little and drag an extension cord around to the inside through the window into you a/c unit. Swamp coolers are cheaper than the a/c units. If you have a van you can mount the generator to the roof and cover it with a plastic box to protect it from the rain. The charging power pack inverters are not good because the watts are not enough. Gas powered generators are the best.
Swamp coolers work well in dry areas mine is humid(very). In the PI biz the box on the roof would be noted and then expose me. I like the concept though. Where are you a PI?
I'm not a PI yet----just training to be one down in Broward county Florida. Still deciding due to wear-and-tare on the car. I may just stick with my night job.
I'm currently working as an intern to get my CC license and in about two years my C and hopefully go on to my Agency license if all goes well. It's fun work, but very HOT!
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