Super Beverage Cooler

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Introduction: Super Beverage Cooler

To create an instant beverage cooler from an old water cooler.
Replace the compressor with a bigger one, replace the condensor with a bigger one, chop a couple feet out of the middle, charge it with propane & fill the tank with brine!

Step 1: Out With the Old

After the sheet metal & plastic sides are removed, this it what is left.

Step 2: Cutting It Down

We cut the metal rails down to just longer than the combined height of the compressor and the tank.
(oops, no pic)

Step 3: Discard the Old Condensor

Chopped out the old condensor & started putting it all back together.

Step 4: The New Condesor

The new condesor.
From an old window AC unit.
It's much shorter & also has a much larger capacity.

Step 5: Compressor

The original compressor was about 1/10 horse, the new one is 1/4 horse. Fits on the same mounts, though!
We added that coil of copper tubing above it to prevent the compressor drawing liquid from the evaporator.
We used the original cap tube, as the chart called for 43" of #1 & we had 60" of #5. I calculated them out to about the same volume. So it should work?

Step 6: Coil & Compressor

A little closer view

Step 7: Fans

We put a pair of 24V 5" fans on the condesor to keep things cool. Hooked up a 24V transformer to the thermostat to only let it run with the compressor.

Step 8: From the Front

The stainless steel pot on top is where the water jug normally goes. We filled it with salt & water 'till it wasn't too icy...

Removed & plugged the valves from the front.

This unit had a hot water supply, too. We removed it.


I'm geusstimating about 22% salt in the brine solution

Step 9: BRRRRRR!

10 degrees F!!

It cools a can of room temp beverage to low 30's in about 2 minutes.

Step 10: Skylar Gives It Bling!

Yes, he really added these wheels. No, they don't actually support any weight. He fabricated a bracket that bolts to the side of the cooler & holds them about a 1/4" off the ground.

Step 11: Working on a Lid...

Built a lid out of a "foraged" piece of aluminum.
And a grill out of expanded steel.

After much thermostat adjusting, the brine runs between 12F & 18F.

The compressor runs VERY cool & quiet.

Propane is a darn good low temp refrigerant.

(oops, lost the pic)

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    25 Comments

    Got a link to the chart?

    nice i would like to make 1

    I'm not sure that I'd dare to keep that baby around the house but it's a damn cool project (no pun intended), that's for sure.

    1.2 oz of propane scares you?my hobby torch uses 12 or 16 oz cans .my pocket torch for radio shack holds about an oz of butane and its clear plastic :O

    I loved your instructable and I'm considering making a mod like this, but there is one piece of information I haven't stumbled upon yet: How do you calculate the necessary amount of propane to charge the circuit with? Do you just use a pressure regulator and leave the tank to fill the system to the pressure set in the regulator or do you make some kind of calculation based on the ideal gas law? Also, what kind of oil can be used with propane? Mineral?

    Well, I hate to be this way. But, if you don't know, you really shouldn't mess around with refrigeration. The government REALLY frowns on it. If you're really interested, I would suggest contacting your local technical college. They most likely have a 1 quarter class for getting your EPA universal refrigeration card. Not only will you learn the safe & legal methods of handling refrigerants, you will learn about oils, expansion devices & charging.

    Well, there is no EPA or US government to worry about here (not in the US). Still, I was wondering how you managed to calculate the amount of refrigerant needed. I've been hunting through the US Army refrigeration course and I can't find that in any part of it.

    The amp draw of the motor is a given. It will draw more or less, depending upon the charge. You just fill it to around the amount it's supposed to have (should be able to get from device's data sheet/plate), then use an amp meter to fine tune it.

    This particular type of cooler uses a very small tube, called a cap tube for metering the refrigerant. The diameter & length were found on the data plate. The temperature/pressure chart said for propane, I should use a different length/diameter. But, I calculated it out, volume wise, and they were very close numbers, so I used the original cap tube(the numbers are in the instructable).

    Basic refrigeration:
    If you hold up an aerosol can & spray it, the escaping gas is very cold, because it is expanding. If you did that in a sealed system, with a means to heat up the gas, collect it, recompress it & send it back to your spray can, you have a basic refrigeration system.

    The liquid refrigerant is squirted through the metering device, into the evaporator, where it becomes a (compressible) gas, by both expansion & being heated (by the heat from what you're trying to cool!), then it goes to the compressor, where it is compressed, then on to the condensor, where it gives off its heat to ambient (the room, usually) & goes back to a liquid. Rinse, repeat...
    animated refrigeration cycle
    detailed picture

    Thank you! It's just the pieces of information I was trying to find, the only issue is that the motor didn't have the data plate on it, so I'll have to try something else. Cool ideas!