Homemade air conditioner

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.
hilldomain9 months 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.
hilldomain9 months 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).
hilldomain9 months 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?
theknurd9 months 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_theeng11 months 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. Mugs11 months 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.

billw1291 year 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.
UART1 year 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!
PIman6 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!
Until you find your more permanent cooling solution, it can help to keep a plastic jug of water in the car to sprinkle generously on the roof when it gets heated up by the sun. First you'll get some evaporative cooling, and then some conductive cooling. When the roof's too hot to touch, even water that's warm (from sitting in the car) can take a lot of the heat out of the metal in the roof and keep it from radiating into the interior. When my AC broke, I'd do this before opening all the windows, and it would make the car much cooler to get into on hot days. If you're sitting on hot days, it may well be worth it to close up your windows to wet down the roof once in a while.
A CC license is an intern license. Anyway, I hope you find a device to help cool you off. Running the car while parked all day is not good, especially when the companies only reimburse milage. A friend of mine suggested cutting three holes in the top of a large cooler filled with ice. Next, place three battery charged fans (one in each cut-out). One fan blowing down into the cooler and two blowing up.
i'm working on a mini air conditioner that uses a 12 volt boat pump, a mini fan, and a inverter for cars and stuff.
Let us know how it works out.
i'll post it soon
eskimojo PIman3 years ago
(part 2) So we wanted to tap into that potential for quick cooling while mobile and compact(ish). Luckily professional sports already did the foot work. They made a jersey that has tubing attached to it and then the tubing has cooled water run through it. This was our jerry-rigged version plan. 1 Jersey(of no sentimental value) as much clear tubing as needed(the kind you can get at a pet store) a cheapo electric-water pump(12v) or fuel pump(we work at an auto parts store). some wiring + accoutrements. small 12v battery water(as use would be limited) Cold source(ice packs, ice blocks/cubes, frozen water bottles) a water-tight container. sew the tubing to the jersey, concentrate on the upper back, shoulder, neck area, in zig-zag pattern, coil tubing around cold source, clamp all connections, attach pump to power source and you have yourself a quick and dirty cooling jersey! you can wear it and it will bring your core body temperature down.
eskimojo PIman3 years ago
Why try and cool the whole van when you can just gool personell(sp?)? My friend is fabricating a Big Daddy suit(from Bioshock 2) and we have heard horror stories about the heat generated in large suits so we had a brain storming session. Basically your blood along with being the life-essense in your body(providing nutrients and sugar to your body's components and removing toxins, exchanging oxygen/CO2, etc) is essentially the cooling/warming system of your body.
instead of a bent piece of copper pipe, may i sudjest going to a automotive shop and buy a replacement radiator and zip tie it to the back of the fan (or put it of the inside like you have your pipe if you have your pipe). I've seen them at auto zone and their about the size of your fan and only an inch or so thick.
hagrawal32 years ago
but this model has a problem i.e. the motor of the fan shorts as soon as water enters the motor
jwhite422 years ago
Hers my idea to fix the condensation, place the fan on top of the cooler and drill a hole through the fan into the top of the cooler and also insulate the lines running from and to the heat exchanger that should reduce if not kill the condensation and keep your water cooler longer
I'm trying to make my regular air conditioner into a portable air conditioner and I have great hopes that I will do it. So far I have learned that just about any duct will do but the ones I have made out of plastic drop cloth, cloth fabric, and my latest, the top of a styro-foam cooler with a 3"x8' duct going out the bathroom window, all have limitations. Also, when you bring your window air conditioner indoors you have to have something collect the condensate like a plastic rug or a box with a towel in it or something.

It really works great when you have everything right and saves so much energy. All you need is 8000 BTU's blowing right at you to keep you cool on the hottest day. Of course, when you leave your cool place the whole rest of your home is hot but who cares?

So far I am happiest with the styro-foam box top with a hole cut out for the 3"x8' air duct but it doesn't allow the hot air to flow away from the unit freely enough. I haven't yet found that perfect compromise between totally free air flow like you get in the window and some kind of control which I am working on. The fabric worked great but I felt bad knowing that all I had accomplished was slowing the air down to a stop after eight feet. Essentially, the fabric air duct turned into a fabric tail that just sort of held on to the hot air for a while. But it was enough to get the air condition working. If you don't have enough air flow in the back the air condition will not work except as a fan.

The beauty of my plan is that you can use your cheap air conditioner as a heater in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer by just changing the position of the air duct from the front to the back.

Has anyone worked on this and if so, what do I need to do to get the right air duct? I would like air duct that blows up like a balloon. In fact, my next step will be to try one of these 60 foot solar balloons which are 72 inches in diameter. The air condition is 60 inches around the box so the 72 inches will be great. I will attach one end of the solar balloon to the air condition and cut the off the other and throw it out the window and if that works.

If it works, then I can just move the balloon around from the small bathroom window to the defunct ducts from my former central air conditioning system and even up through the vent above the stove. Ideally I would like a very flexible, but strong, material, like the solar balloons. They look good.

Any ideas?

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