Introduction: Ice Box Air Conditioner

Picture of Ice Box Air Conditioner

This gadget will save your life in the summertime!
Out of desperation, in the summer of 2002, I made this improvised "air condition" unit. 2002 was the warmest summer in years, and i almost melted!

This might sound like a joke, but it truly does work. You don't need to cool down the entire room to feel comfortable. Cooling down the air in your immediate suroundings is sufficent to keep your cool.

Read on to find out how to stay cool using scrap parts you probably have lying around already.

Please rate it, if you like it :)

Step 1: Cutting Out the Parts

Picture of Cutting Out the Parts

To make my air conditioner, i used:
1 2-liter ice box
2 ice box lids
1 80mm PC fan
1 fan grill
1 12 Volt transformer, or any other power source from 5-12 volts.

Step 2: Mounting the Nozzle and Fan

Picture of Mounting the Nozzle and Fan

Step 3: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy

Fill the container with ice. Or ice cream, if you like that vanilla aroma in the air :)

The temperature transfer happens at the surface of the ice, so the more surface, the colder the air will get. Ice cubes makes really great cold air, but melt fast. A solid block of ice doesn't get you that cool air, but can last for hours.

Hope this can save your summer too!
Rate it if you like it :-)


ridas (author)2015-06-10

what is the side effects of dry ice on lungs ???

if we are make homemade air conditioner is it safe for us

Partybot (author)ridas2015-07-08

Dry ice is frozen CO2. Releasing a cloud of CO2 in a small enclosed space is dangerous and should not be done as it could cause asphyxiation. Only use normal ice.

NewD (author)ridas2015-07-07

and no one answered....

ridas (author)2015-06-10

lmcguire (author)2011-08-20

construction of vent isnt necessary. cut a slit and tilt upward. also instead of ice you must replace use ice packs or capped plastic bottles of ice. modern ice packs stay frozen much longer than water. will work much better than a solid block because more frozen surface is exposed. i knew a guy who would do this and pour rock salt over the ice. i dont know how much cooler that would make the air but i would think it would be a bit cooler.

Mastros (author)lmcguire2011-10-11

Adding salt to the water will make the ice taking longer to melt. Perhaps it alters the melting point, I guess. And one should try for as larger surface as possible, by putting the ice in smaller bottles rather than in just a big one.
Also, force the air to travel as much over the ice (ice containers, ice cubes) as possible, before letting it come out to the room.
I've just read these in other comments, somewhere here.

SuperTech-IT (author)Mastros2013-06-16

I think you meant the salt will make the ice not last as long.
Now if you were to put salt water in the freezer along side your ice tray, putting the ice water (or maybe it actually froze) in the container first and then add the ice to it, and the cubes may actually last longer because it will be colder than the ice. Unfortunately, the salt may cause the ice to still melt faster. Someone would have to try it to find out for sure!

lmcguire (author)2011-08-20

no need to construct the paper vent. just make a slit and tilt it up.

interfazhumana (author)2010-12-09

Wonderful! Now I'm going to make one with a heinekeen keg, let's see what happens :)

JdotN15 (author)2010-11-06

us a frozen heatsink lmaooo

jvan0907 (author)2010-08-17

Let me guess 5V Hmmm. USB powerd would be usefull

Gonazar (author)2008-07-09

If you used crushed ice or a bunch of ice cubes, supposedly adding table salt will stop it from melting faster... i dunno i think i saw that on popular mechanics when they made ice cream. =P

MrBippers (author)Gonazar2008-07-09

Adding salt to water lowers the freezing point. It's done with ice cream to allow the water to get colder than zero degrees Celsius. Adding the salt will also lower the specific heat, the amount of heat required to change the temperature, of the water resulting in the ice melting faster.

airsofter1 (author)MrBippers2010-07-19

Yes the ice will melt faster but the air will be cooler coming out. Your choice if you want it to be cooler for a short amount of time or warmer for a long time.

u mean kinda like an accelerant?

airsofter1 (author)2010-07-17

What type of connecter did your fan have?

tiggerbob (author)2010-07-11

One possible way to cool your house is by an evaporative cooler which uses water evaporation to cool the air. This works well in dry climates; however, in more humid climates, one would need to dry out the air before it enters the cooler. One possible way to do this is to make a frame with screen over both of the open areas.The frame is filled with pellets of water softner salt and set over the intake of the evaporative cooler. When the salt gets too moist from removing water, one could set the frame with the salt still in it in bright sunlight. it would be a good idea to build two frames and fill them with salt so while one is in use, the other could be drying.

handyman1 (author)2008-07-10

Try making pykrete. Check it out.

johnny3h (author)handyman12010-04-16

Your suggestion of trying Pykrete is neat, BUT... even though Pykerete WILL melt slower, that is because the wood fibers act as an INSULATOR, AND thus SLOW the transfer of heat.

That slowing of heat transfer, although extending the "life" of the ice, conversly slows the absortion of heat which is the point of any air conditionsing/cooling device.

Good thought, but bad idea.

Pykrete, I know its a special kind of ice hmm... isn't it 15% sawdust and 85% water I also know its stronger than average ice and it melts slower But I don't get what you want to do with it, I mean no one nows wat to do wid it

guy90 (author)2009-07-31

Well good instructable! This will be handy for the summer, and yup it looks professional ; ) I'll spray mine silver, to add to to that effect

rgvkid (author)2009-07-21

I tried something similar today with no luck. Walmart: 9" desk fan $10.50, Styrofoam Ice Box $7, 2 bags of ice $3. I cut a hole to sit the fan on the top facing into the ice box. I cut slots on the other side of box for exit. The ice melted fast and once it did it just felt like it was blowing air through the outlets. I tried closing outlets and to see if there would circulate better and come out cooler but to no luck. Even when i first put the ice in i wasn't impressed. I then tried sliding in to panels of expanded metal sitting in the ice water and between the air inlet and out let hopeing it would help circulate the air and or the steel would get cold from the ice and cool the air as it passes through, but made no difference. I have the fan on low. If the fan was any small i don't think it would make a difference in my small shop office space. I wanted to try the Copper piping on the fan with a water pump but the only pumps i found at Home Depot started at $18 plus the Copper piping would have been another $10. Plus the vinyl tubing would have been another $5-6. I can find a used Window AC for $50 but i wanted something i could move around. Oh well, I gave it a try. I ended up using theice to chill my 6 pack of IBC Root Beer i got while at Walmart.

MrNagrom (author)2008-06-10

i don't understand why people don't just buy ac units.. you can get one for 50 bucks.

datoorion (author)MrNagrom2008-07-31

cause im trying to make one for my camper sitting in truck bed for burning man... without a generator

MrNagrom (author)datoorion2008-07-31

buy a generator.. you'll thank yourself for it when you're sleeping in the cool instead of wondering why a foam container full of ice isn't actuallly doing anything and you camper is suddenly kickin away at 50000% humidity. you can buy one of those super tiny ac's for something that small. deserts are too hot to not have ac. last year our rv was frozen solid on the inside the whole time... i can't do heat for very long (the finn in me rejects it outright).

Ganoderma (author)MrNagrom2009-06-26

hmm... I always thought it would start to rain if humidity is over 100%...

dabombmaker (author)MrNagrom2009-06-09

50000% humidity? you might wanna check ur math on that one.

Morgo (author)MrNagrom2009-05-04

1) portability - you could easily use this system in tents for camping if you use a battery powered fan. 2) college dorms - many old dorms don't allow air conditioners because the wiring puts a lot of dorms on the same circuit and an AC's power requirements can blow the circuit. 3) we build them because we can

farhanians (author)MrNagrom2008-06-19


jaysbob (author)farhanians2008-07-09

at most american big box stores. but the real problem with an AC is not the initial cost but the substantial cost of supplying it with the electric lifeblood it feeds on. also if you really want to stretch it there's the environmental impact.

Shadowmang (author)jaysbob2008-07-09

at my house we have a swamp cooler.... basically a wet filter with a big fan behind it, and the evaporation makes the air cool down. It dumps tons cold air into your house :D I'm pretty sure it costs less than your usual ac unit... but its a lot bigger...

Rishnai (author)Shadowmang2008-07-09

It's also a pain when the natural humidity spikes and the swamp can't cool the air enough, fast enough. Then you get a very, very hot day or three. Other than that, you're right, they dump several tons of cold air, very quickly!

lukeyj15 (author)Rishnai2009-01-29

In Melbourne, Australia we've just had 3 days over 40C (104 F) in the SHADE

Shadowmang (author)Rishnai2008-07-12

good point but I live in a very dry place. Barely any humidity here.

Rishnai (author)Shadowmang2008-07-13

Ah, I miss the times when I could tell people who complained about the 110 degree heat that At least it's a DRY heat."

farhanians (author)Rishnai2008-07-14

yah.. wow imagine 110degree HUMID AIR around you. i think your sweat wont even evaporate LOL

Rishnai (author)farhanians2008-07-21

That's why I don't go to Misery --oopps, Missouri-- in the summer anymore.

jcruz620 (author)MrNagrom2008-08-05

ahem.. sorry but this website is NOT for the creatively impaired.. this place celebrates ingenuity.. if you can't, then you're wasting your time posting.. the creativity, ingenuity, and understanding and experience of the logic applied in these experiments and projects is what this website's about.. as for Chr, someone mentioned antifreeze in the comments below.. what if someone were to pipe antifreeze through the system, or perhaps have antifreeze "cartridges" (normally stored in the freezer) to replace the water with?

Cchange4us (author)jcruz6202009-01-18

give this guy a brake hes having some fun and experimenting

bwpatton1 (author)MrNagrom2008-12-17

Where can you buy one for $50. Im looking to make an air conditioner for my room, b/c I like my room cooler than my parents do. (i dont really like window units, {no temperature control})

airwick (author)2009-06-12

this only works if you get the ice from outside your place. if you get the ice from your own ice-maker inside your place, you are doing nothing but raising the overall temp of your place with some spot cooling.

jackass9391 (author)2006-11-28

i like it. simple and im guessing effective.

Point but can you find a way to on and off the thing w/ ice in it ?

schicanoloco (author)2009-05-09

This is good one! Very simple and im sure very effective... I'm going to make a scaled up version using a box fan and plastic bins and maybe even some cloth that would absorb the water that the iced melted into.. Then it will take advantage of evaporation as well!

Morgo (author)2009-05-04

what if you were to get a conductive tubing, like copper, coil it within the container (or cooler) and direct the fan's exhaust into the tubing, using a plastic funnel and some waterproof glue/tape? then you can dump in the ice which settles around the tubing and cools it. the fan blows the air through the tubing, around the ice, and out the other side? would that improve the system?

datoorion (author)2008-07-31

omg.. so glad i found this site :D sooo awesome... thermaldynamics are a science in of itself... but remember it takes warm air to make cool air... much like a swamp cooler we see everyday here in the nevada desert, it helps to pull warm air from outside to cool it for the inside

datoorion (author)datoorion2008-07-31

comment on myself .... warm air melts ice much faster too... a recirculating system is much more ideal or constant supply of 50 degree water at least... im personally up for any ideas or corrections... by no means a know it all here but i have learned a thing or two... looking to build a "green" system that will keep us comfortable during the nasty hot (and respectivly dry) days in the blackrock dessert for a week

MrNagrom (author)2008-07-14

i guess i'm a little biased.. i've got a 15000 btu ac connected to a power outlet that i don't pay the bill on...

farhanians (author)2008-07-11

Cool. but how much is you fan pusing? in cfm? haha nice instructble

polaking (author)2008-04-14

I just made this (but with USB instead) and it didn't turn out too well I think. I haven't put in any ice but with the fan alone, it doesn't seem to be blowing any air out even though I created a hole for air to enter... Any ideas?

About This Instructable




Bio: I like microcontrollers and LEDs :D
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