Introduction: Simple Cheap Air Conditioner(Cooler)

Picture of Simple Cheap Air Conditioner(Cooler)

In this instructable i will show you how to make an air conditioner(cooler) from cheap stuff that you get from any store.

Step 1: Parts Needed...

Picture of Parts Needed...

-A plastic box
-A 2.5'' pvc 90' elbow
-A small car fan
-A small piece of PVC tube
-Pipe Clamp

-Some cable ties

-A knife
-PVC Glue

Step 2: Attach the Fan

Picture of Attach the Fan

On the cap of the box you need to make a hole that fit the fan in just like the picture.Then make small holes around the fan and use the cable ties to hold down the fan secured.

Step 3: Put the Vent

Picture of Put the Vent

 Now make another hole on the cap that fits on your elbow.To attach the elbow glue a small piece of pvc tube on the elbow , pass the elbow trough the hole and use a pipe clamp (optional)  to secure the vent.That way you can move it to blow everywhere you want.

Step 4: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

 Put some ice blocks in the box ,connect the fan to a battery and ready to go.


stevebarnett made it! (author)2014-05-06

Same concept as yours but I used a 5 gallon pickle bucket from my favorite sub shop.

MarilynZ3 (author)2016-06-24

I am near Dallas so I well understand how a person would suffer without AC in their vehicle. I was recently in Cartagena, Columbia which is as hot and humid as Hong Kong or Bangkok...absolute sauna. Before we went, I made *scarves* for the two of us and put those water absorbing crystals in them:

They absolutely saved us. We were the only people with them in the tour group, but the rest were falling by the wayside and couldn't keep up...even those younger than us. They absorb so much water that it took them eight days to fully dry out again. My scarves had four *pockets* and I put about a 1/4 teaspoon of the crystals in each pocket and thought it wouldn't be enough but it was almost too much.

While I love the idea of this homemade AC unit, when you are out and about, these things can be lifesavers.

HADJISTYLLIS (author)2016-06-22

Thanks for your comments and suggestions and soon I will be making another cheap air-conditioned that would be more improved than this. I also wanted to say that this particular cooler can be used more for personal use or at small places and rooms. And thanks again for your comments and will repost a soon a new instructable.

nkdimyself (author)2016-06-08

Can I do this on a smaller scale like shoe box?

terribug (author)2011-07-31

Okay, all you tech-savvy people, I have a problem for you to solve! My car's AC is out, and I drive all over the Dallas./Fort Worth area as an in-home tutor. I am usually fried to a crisp by the end of the day, what with the 100+ heat, dryness, etc. Right now, my budget's so stretched, I have several dead presidents screaming in pain in my wallet, so fixing the AC is a no-go at this point. However, I have a huge collection (and have access to more) of junk. You know, old parts from this, little pieces of that; the stuff that dreams are made of! I need a cooler that is safe and secure to put in my mini-van (perhaps between the front seats?) that will bring the ambient temperature down so I am not drenched in sweat when I reach my students' homes. Some of the 'ibiles seem great for a stationary use, but since I am in a moving vehicle, might not be so great. What have you got for me? Thank you in advance!

konosuke (author)terribug2016-05-17

You can use a usb fan connected to a power bank put it under the seat, maybe?

NickS21 (author)terribug2015-07-22

Use a regular ice chest, make it with a 12v fan or two. put it in the passenger seat plug it in, face it to you and you got it, I got one in my van, my ac works in the van but I live in Fort Worth the Van is 25 years old and doesn't cool the whole vehicle properly, I actually use two in there lmao.

klee27x (author)terribug2013-07-27

I suggest a big container of ice water and a bandana. Dunk the bandana. Wear it on your head. Roll down the windows to increase the rate of evaporation. This got me through a cross country drive from Florida to California in the middle of the summer. It was so hot, I had to turn on my heater to keep the engine from overheating!

if you use a shorter, fatter box, it may be more stable...and seeing as how it uses an "oscillating car fan," It should work great in a car, just put it on the passenger seat, and point the nozzle [why not make it adjustable?!?] at yourself, and seatbelt it in!

let me know if this helps!


Jeehan (author)2016-03-24

I made it from a plastic barrel

zain_de (author)2015-09-06

I've used my CPU system fan and it cools more than the ordinary fan....

Shadowsfire (author)2013-08-25

If you froze jugs of water in the freezer they would make no mess as they thawed. No worry about splashing water in the car. My Air is our too and I might try this next trip inland.

NickS21 (author)Shadowsfire2015-07-22

True but my fans get a 10 degree difference with enclosed water compared to ice, you can make little holes in the jugs at top though.

Shadowsfire (author)Shadowsfire2013-08-25

Oh and you could drink the water as it thawed.

klee27x (author)2013-07-27

I tried to make something like this several years ago, when I had a car with no AC. My version was on steroids. I had a cooler of ice water in the back seat. A 12V pump circulated the water through my car's heater core. And tepid (big improvement) air came out through the vents. The only problem was a 10 lb bag of ice only lasted about 5 minutes. :(

allansplace (author)klee27x2014-08-23

Hi klee27x. I'm worried about your engine not getting up to operating temperature (usually 180-195 degrees). This would be good for you but not for your vehicle's engine. A hot engine will burn efficiently, but a cold one will have carbon and guk build-up on the insides. Any problem with that? Or does your engine's heater core not mix with your engine coolant / radiator?

NickS21 (author)allansplace2015-07-22

That is what a car thermostat is for. I hear this all the time in the car forums. When people want to run fans all the time in the engine, If you have a working thermostat the car will not cool too much.

ALIABBAS (author)2015-06-13

i have made all the apparatus but wind does not come out of the pipe even the fan is giving air with high pressure.please help me

NickS21 (author)ALIABBAS2015-07-22

Did you put the fan in to push or pull the air. Is your container to large or is your fan too small. The smaller the fan the smaller the container should be. The smaller the fan the smaller the exhaust in diameter.

Tip, use dryer vent or a bendable material and run it through a few inches bending it towards the fan, Not to close.

I have made several different types of these from cardboard boxes to expensive coolers even adding wheels and a motor to one so I could drive it around lol. All situations are different, but I have found them best to work in texas on just ice no water, causes too much humidity. if you can find a large enough container then put two fans in, one large on top one small on the side lining up with the top fan, Now put your outlets on the other side of the fan you put on the side, Use one pipe about 4 to 6 inches. Large 35 gallon totes work well with this.

One important note I use polystyrene foam which you can get at lowes, I use 1.5 inch thick and buy a large 4 foot x 8 sheet cause its cheaper that way and you will want to make more. Take the foam and cut a piece that fits tight in the bottom of the tote, now cut another piece to put on top, now cut the sides. get the top to where it is 1.5 inches from the top of the tote and cut tops for it also. Now when you cut your lid for the fan you also need to cut openings in the foam as well.

One more tip, dont use gallon bottles if you do put holes in the top to let the air escape, also if you use ice with dry ice on top, oh my oh my, hope you dont get frost bite.

NickS21 (author)NickS212015-07-22

Also it is very easy to make it solar. Just go to ebay pay 40 bucks for a 15 watt solor panel You can actually run a few fans with this, I have three of them running on one panel and could probably go past that, you will know when too much is too much cause the fans will slow down. I also have a stanley battery jumper with a cig adapter and use an inverter on it, I can run 5 of these on that and probably more all night long for camping.

people6 (author)2015-07-08

I found a youtube clip to coperment this topic.

ghomes (author)2015-06-22


shubham.biswas.9638 (author)2015-05-11

i used a r-22 refregerant feron to make it more cooler

Can you eleborate us how u used R22 in in this ac

jennifer.long.1800721 (author)2015-04-14

Would it be possible to use either frozen water bottles or reuseable freezer pack in this cooler. I would think that could keep the humidity down in areas where there is high humidity?

RedKobra (author)2015-03-28

Has anyone tried this with liquid nitrogen? :D

people6 (author)2015-03-03

here's a youtube vid about a solar powered air conditioner (Not mine)

people6 (author)2015-03-03

here's a youtube vid about a solar powered air conditioner (Not mine)

people6 (author)2015-03-03

coreym1 (author)2014-08-27

how bout putting ice in it to make it blow cool air

LadyRoz (author)2013-08-21

I would suggest adding a bottle of rubbing alcohol to the container. It actually keeps any melting ice cooler than the water by itself. It's an idea I use when camping, but you have to make sure that anything in your cooler is in waterproof containers.

BritneyZ (author)2013-08-05

Make this box and then Put Ice in it the wind will blow on the ice then come out cooler.

aranill357 (author)2013-07-24

Thanks for this, it'll be great for my dorm room! It's a small space and I don't make my own ice.

cpayton (author)2013-06-24

soooo, if you are making this too keep your house cool, AND you are using ice from your freezer, you should consider the following:

1: for your freezer to create ice, the mechanisms on the back of your freezer/refrigerator will generate heat.
2: this heat is ALWAYS more than the amount of cold produced. (example, if you cooled an item by 10 degrees, you generated more than 10 degrees of heat somewhere else)
3: the freezer is in your house.
4: making the ice therefore produced heat inside of your house (the back of the fridge)
5: the amount of cold produced through using the ice inside of this fan contraption will ALWAYS be less than the amount of heat you are producing inside your house radiating from the back of your fridge.
6: therefore using this thing with ice from your house will actually produce more heat inside your house.
7: to combat this you need to suck the heat off the back of your fridge and vent it outside.
8: this would be effective IF the ice was produced elsewhere.

mdwfg (author)cpayton2013-06-27

actually if you didn't realise this A/C unit, based on its size, is for personal use or you really thought the poster intended this for a whole house?

quatch (author)cpayton2013-06-24

Reposing what I worked out elsewhere, which is a nice parallel to your reply:

Ok, lets assume that you could cool your room either with a single bag of ice in this device, OR a single window air conditioner. Which would be cheaper, assuming you needed one bag of ice per day?

A small air conditioner is defined as using less than 7.5 amps. Lets assume 7.5. Then at 120V, we use 7.5*120=900W *24hrs= 21.6kWh. In ontario (averaged over 24hrs), energy is 9.05c/kWh, so we use 21.6kWh*0.0905$=$1.96 of electricity per day

So, in the absolute worst case (max amperage, 24hr at full power) the AC unit less (or equal if you have cheap ice) electricity as a bag of ice costs.

So, in the best case of the proposed ice cooling (1 bag/day, free electricity, free transportation of ice), it isn't worth it.

Edit: or we can look at it this way: A really efficient AC unit has an EER of 10. This means that (if it is the 7.5A unit above), it produces 9000 Btu of cooling, or 9495 kJ. The enthalpy of fusion (energy to melt) of ice is 334 kJ/kg. So every hour this AC unit produces cooling equivalent to melting about 28kg of ice. A bad EER might be about 5, so 14kg of ice. I think a bag of ice is around 2kg? And this is per hour.

udannlin (author)quatch2013-06-25

most people have their freezer already running 24/7 and would be able to create ice without incurring more costs.

quatch (author)udannlin2013-06-25

Thats not how freezers work. Your freezer does a little work all the time maintaining temperature, as the insulation is only so good. It does a lot of work freezing new stuff you add. So you incur costs equal to the chilling ability of the freezer to make that ice (it takes that same 334kJ/kg to freeze ice as it does to melt it). Substitute some numbers for your freezer to my above equation to see how much it costs to freeze ice in your freezer. Chances are it is similar to the AC (both are moving heat from inside to outside).

Laws of thermodynamics and all that says it takes more energy (dissipated as heat out the back of the freezer) to freeze water than is available to use as chilling when you melt it. It comes from the inability to be perfectly efficient.

An AC unit has one advantage over the ice-in-freezer. The water that is condensed out of your air is sprayed by the fan over the external cooling coil, and is used to increase efficiency by evaporating water (huge latent heat sink), rather than just passing air over the coils/radiator (which both AC, freezers, and fridges do)

TL;DR: no free lunch, you pay electricity to create ice, and it is less efficient than an AC unit.

cpayton (author)cpayton2013-06-24

assuming of course this bin is supposed to be filled with ice.

udannlin (author)2013-06-25

You are also neglecting the practical purpose of this device. It can selectively cool just a portion of the room where people are gathering rather than the whole room. Same as a space heater versus central heating.

udannlin (author)2013-06-25

instead of a plastic bin, consider using a insulated cooler. it would make the ice last much longer. Great idea!

thedorment (author)2013-06-25

if you have a big enough freezer buy 3 of these containers and keep rotating the same ones as they melt refreeze em (add water as necessary) great for tents or small trailers

peetabix (author)2013-06-24

Great idea.
Just thought that if its made big enough your could put your laptop/computer in there too keep it cool. I know my laptop overheats sometimes.

vgalica (author)2013-06-24

This is such an awesome idea & I have 2 fans like that just being useless right now....not after today they wont be

PurpleShoeWoman (author)2013-06-24

You know, that is a really "COOL" idea. :-)

kbuczyński (author)2013-06-20

I did and it works very well.
I cool the bottles with ice and ice cubes.
I have a 12v fan about computer power supply.
Temperature: 19 * C
air outlet (cm): about 2m
Power supply: battery
Very good idea, thanks.

ferdinandcilot (author)2013-05-17


RoeyLeon (author)2013-01-28

very cool idea !

arifpulikoor (author)2012-08-17

woh excellent what a coooool............

volkermord (author)2012-06-22

Did this earlier today, took about 45mins-1hr to do, that included the time it took me to scrap a fan from a burnt up video card...
Seems to work well, going to try it with iced 2liters once they freeze.

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Bio: Mechanical Engineering
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