Introduction: Autonomous Self Powered Computer Cooler

Picture of Autonomous Self Powered Computer Cooler

This is a smart computer cooler that is capable of super cooling your computer by approximately 20-30 degrees Celsius. It is thermostatically controlled and is also able to power itself from the heat given off by your computer. I have been able to reduce my computer temperature from 31.3 degrees to 4.2 degrees Celsius.

This is just a proof of concept prototype. The final product will be much prettier. ;-) The final version will allow for multiple fan speed control, and possibly some fancy lights. I am just awaiting the extra parts to arrive.

What you will need:

- 12v Computer fan (mine was 21Watt)

- Thermoelectric Generator/Cooler

- (Peltier Plates, Copper plate, Copper heat sink, Thermal Paste, Zip Ties or Mechanics Wire, Electrical Merits, and a Small Computer Fan)

- 12v Thermostat (Available on eBay or from your local electronics store)

- light gauge electrical wires

- Scissors

- Screw Driver

- Piece of closed cell foam (to avoid scratching your desk)


- 12v Transformer (if you need more amperage)

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Step 1: Thermoelectric Generator/Cooler

Picture of Thermoelectric Generator/Cooler

This is a fairly simple device to build. It is pretty much a giant peltier plate CPU Cooler with a small 12v fan. Mine cost $7.50 to make. You can see all of the building Instructions on this Instuctable (

The generator uses the heat from your computer to generate electricity. This process directly cools the computer by dissipating the heat, and indirectly by supplying power to the thermostat and larger cooling fan.

Below is a video of the Thermoelectric Generator build.

Step 2: Connect the Thermoelectric Generator

Picture of Connect the Thermoelectric Generator

The next step is to connect the generator to the thermostat. Remember to swap the leads (+12, and Ground) because the generator is producing not receiving power.

The neutral lead should go to the +12 contact, and the live lead to the neutral contact.

NOTE: The colors are swapped not the power

Step 3: Connect the Fan

Picture of Connect the Fan

Connect a jumper wire from the +12 contact to the K1 contact. The K1 contact supplies power to the thermostat's 12v switch. Then connect the positive lead from the fan to the K0 contact (output from the

thermostat's 12v switch), and the neutral lead from the fan to the main neutral contact (GND).

The cooling system is now complete.

Note: the two extra wires on the fan are a tachometer and ground. Neither of which need to be connected.

Optionally you can also sever the leads of a 12v transformer and connect the positive to the +12v contact and the neutral to the neutral contact.

Step 4: Install on Computer

Picture of Install on Computer

Cut and place the foam insulating mat underneath the generator and make sure that the small computer fan is securely aimed into the heat sink. Next place the thermostat probe inside of the computer's main vent, using tape is necessary to make sure tat the probe cannot be sucked into the fan. Finally attach the thermostat control board and turn on your computer.

Step 5: Enjoy

Picture of Enjoy

Once your computer warms up the control board will automatically power up. Once it is on you can set your limit temperatures. I originally set mine to turn on at 25 degrees Celsius and turn off at 0. It seemed to steady out at around 11 degrees when editing and transcoding 4K video. I later increased my lower limit to 15 degrees to avoid the risk of condensation.

If you have any suggestions for improvement, or have any questions we
would love to hear from you and see what you have built. Feel free to comment below! :-)

Have a great day!


ScienceKitShop (author)2015-06-01

Very nice instructable. Well put together and explained. Keep up the great work!

Thank you very much!

Have a great day! :-)

GreatWhiteNorth49 (author)2015-05-25

Nice setup. Do you think you could get subzero if you liquid cooled the peltiers and ran the intake air though a heat sink or two?

Anyways it's a good instructable and deserving of my vote!

Yes its possible to go sub zero Celsius with a peltier and water cooling providing your delta v is adequate. meaning your peltier device has to be sufficiently large enough to cool the heat load of the cpu, and then some. So if the cpu puts out 125 watts of heat your peltier device has to have a capacity of say 150 watts or more. You could cool such a device with air but it would be a ridiculously large heat sink, so water would be much more practical. However going below the dew point can cause a whole other bunch of problems, which can also be overcome. Swiftech used to make devices for this when they were first starting out, and where way more badass. Ill post a picture when I get home sometime. I have one.

ptkrf (author)GreatWhiteNorth492015-05-28

you don't need to go subzero on your PC. If you drop temperature below 60°C, you don't need to go any further. Peltier in combination with water cooling is only useful for extreme (-ish) overclocking as it extends surface area.

I believe it would all depend on your peltier plates, and an external power supply would not hurt.

It definitely sounds like an interesting idea. Personally I am a little wary of mixing liquids and electronics, but I would love to see what you come up with!

Have a great day!

JohnShane (author)2015-05-25

I really enjoyed this. I believe I will try this on my Linux desktop it always seems to run a little hot for my liking. @GreatWhiteNorth49 liquid cooling sounds cool! Lol

IIwootII (author)2016-01-19

Really cool project! :)

Tspherix (author)2015-09-11

Perfectly awesome!

troop13 (author)2015-09-05

why do this on a mac pro? it has its own fans?

Just4Fun Media (author)troop132015-09-10

The Mac Pro does have its own fans, but when it is used for high quality and high rate video editing (ie 4K at 30fps), gaming, or when your programming tries to crash your computer it can get extremely hot.

Since trans coding video can take multiple hours in some cases, I wanted to make sure I would not damage my computer.

Have a great day! :-)

VinceL3 (author)2015-09-03

I feel like I'm missing something. So the thermoelectric generator powers the bug fan at the top for cooling but yet your temperatures are below ambient? Just a fan can't do that so what am I missing?

Just4Fun Media (author)VinceL32015-09-10

What you are missing is that the thermometer is not inside the computer, the temperature is that of the top of the aluminum computer case/heat sink. I chose to measure the temperature here to make sure that I would not create condensation by cooling any part of the computer past the dew point.

The CPU is still likely very close to ambient. It is just not melting :-)

Have a great day! :-)

Tspherix (author)2015-06-15

Nice! That mac pro is perfect for this in shape. Did you get any photos of the bottom of the mac alteration?

Just4Fun Media (author)Tspherix2015-09-10

I did not alter the bottom of the Mac at all. It is just a copper plate sitting directly on the aluminum case. The case of the mac is just a giant heat sink, so I am using it to my advantage. :-)

Have a great day! :-)

Ephonic (author)2015-06-14

Hello. I'm quite interested in making this for when I go camping. Do you think this would generate enough to charge a car battery when it's sitting over a hot campfire? Thank you :)

Just4Fun Media (author)Ephonic2015-09-10

It would all depend on what Peltier plates you use. To charge a battery you either need to have higher voltage than the battery, or higher amperage and a voltage regulator that can invert the current.

Have a great day! :-)

Lifestooshort69 (author)2015-05-25

What temp would you have to keep to avoid condensation? Nothing fries components like moisture :(

It would all depend on your humidity and dew point. You can usually check this on local weather reports. When in doubt lit it run a little warm!

Have a great day! :-)

IsaacS5 (author)Just4Fun Media2015-06-09

If it's a problem, I believe you could deal with the condensation by packing airtight artists eraser around the cpu on the front and back of the motherboard, so that it blocks out moisture. Im fairly sure thats what's done with basic phase change cooling, so I think it would work here.

JJack12345 (author)2015-05-25

Man imagine how cold you could get if you used a 100 Watt! I got a 125 sitting on the shelf...

I would live to see that! But you might need a external power source or a bunch of peliters. Good luck!

Have a great day! :-)

LeviB2 (author)2015-05-28

I'm confused, is this missing some pictures? How does the cold side of the peltier, connect to the CPU too cool it?

Just4Fun Media (author)LeviB22015-05-30

The cold side of the peltier does not connect to the CPU at all. the peltiers are being used mostly as a generator. They will cause some passive cooling as they pump heat to the heat sink but their main job is to power the fan and thermostat. A full explanation is available here: (Step 1)

Have a great day! :-)

JJack12345 (author)2015-05-25

Where do ya buy the peltiers?

I bought mine from a Chinese based company on eBay, but many specialty computer stores will stock them for CPU cooling.

Have a great day!

Testas.T (author)2015-05-25

ampage:-D maybe amperage? because word amperage is from word ampere.

Testas.T (author)Testas.T2015-05-25

and 21w computer fans doesn't exist usually they are about 1w

Just4Fun Media (author)Testas.T2015-05-25

15-25 Watt computer fans are quite common for computer cooling. Locally I can purchase up to 100 Watt fans but they would be overkill for this project.

Have a great day!

Testas.T (author)Just4Fun Media2015-05-26

so 100w fan must draw around 8 amps it's just ridiculous

Just4Fun Media (author)Testas.T2015-05-25

Thank you for the correction :-)

gameR1997 (author)2015-05-25

Sorryz keyboard set to l33t... I'm gonna use it on my Mac cuz it gets too hot when I'm playing FPS on bootcamp

gameR1997 (author)2015-05-25

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JohnShane (author)2015-05-25

@HussanAlesez it works by cooling the computer... Maybe try learning some English.

The plate on the bottom generates power to run the big fan on top which cools the thing

JohnShane (author)2015-05-25

No pun intended... Just kidding it totally was!

HussanAlesez (author)2015-05-25

How do this work? I no get...

Just4Fun Media (author)2015-05-25

So true! A small work bench and some hand tools could probably suffice, but it would make a bit of a mess. There is a fair amount of copper filings and dust after making the generator.

Have a great day!

About This Instructable



Bio: I am an inventive photographer, Pilot, and MacGyver. I love building and modifying things to aid in my adventures. Check out my Website! Have a ... More »
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