Introduction: Swamp Cooler

Picture of Swamp Cooler

Ok Where I come from it gets hot. So hot that beer evaporates while in the bottle.

Also the fact that my room gets a lot of afternoon sun does not make for a cool night in summer.

Being the person i am, I hacked an old (Newly bought) bucket to create a usb Aircon if you will.


Step 1: Gather Your Material (and Lose Your Mind)

Picture of Gather Your Material (and Lose Your Mind)

If this was a video game you'll have to travel far to get it. This i bought at a dolor store.

  1. A Bucket 20L
  2. A lid that fits said bucket
  3. A USB desktop fan
  4. Some cleaning cloths or thin porous material (40cm x 30cm)

The tools i used is only a guideline, so feel free to deviate from this list (we always do)

  1. A rotary tool (Dremel)
  2. A measuring tape
  3. A vernier
  4. Hot glue gun (with glue sticks)
  5. Your brain (do not use another tool for this, yours will be excellent)

Step 2: Let Us Mutilate

Picture of Let Us Mutilate

Not mutilate ummm.... cut yes cut.

Take the lid and drill a small pilot hole in the center

Use the vernier to determine the diameter of the fans cage minus the part were the screws go threw.

I got mine at 16mm minus 3.2mm for the rim. Leaving me with 12.8mm

Using the vernier set to 6.4mm (radius of the cage) i scraped a circle on the lid. (with the pilot hole as my anchor point)

Then we cut. Use the rotary tool or a sharp carpet knife cut out the circle you scraped.

it should look like the above picture.

Next use the cage to drill pilot holes for the screws threw the existing holes in the cage.


Step 3: Drill the Holes (you'll Not Find Oil Thou)

Picture of Drill the Holes (you'll Not Find Oil Thou)

Drill the holes you piloted in the lid.

Make sure they line up with the cage and is clean for a tight fit with the cage

Step 4: Now Marriage of the Cage.

Picture of Now Marriage of the Cage.

Split the cage. Save your screws

Place the bottom side under the lid and the top side of the cage on the top, the lid is between the cage now.

Secure the cage with the screws you kept. A dab of hot glue under the screws will stop them from pulling threw. My fan came with nuts so I skipped the glue part, but if you are worried that they may come lose you can dab them with glue to.

Congratulations, the lid is done. To the Bucket we go

Step 5: Buckets of Yet More Cutting.

Picture of Buckets of Yet More Cutting.

The bucket is your water vessel and the channel which controls the air coming in.

On the side cut a notch for the wire to fit. This is where you will put the wire threw.

Next measure the bucket and make a mark at the half point with a felt pen.

Measure the top half and mark the half as well.

This is where your holes will be made so go and trace that halfway point all around the bucket.

Now the fun starts.

Step 6: Captain There Is a Hole in the Bucket

Picture of Captain There Is a Hole in the Bucket

Depending on how many hole you want, mark a few circles around the bucket more or less 13cm.

Use the vernier again to scrape a circle with the halfway mark as the pivot point. Remember to use the radius (6.5cm) I made 4 holes perpendicular to each other.

This is where you can use your own ideas. I used two designs here as examples.

Cut out a circle or drill holes inside the circle.

This is your intake holes so feel free to experiment.

Step 7: Cloths and Holes.

Picture of Cloths and Holes.

We are at the cloths and why they are in the list.

The dimensions are 40cm x 30cm. If you can't find them and are using another material.

Fold them length wise and glue the top just above the hole. Making sure it covers the hole and that a large piece of it touches the bottom of the bucket.

Place a bead of glue under the hole and secure the cloth to it.

Almost done

Step 8: Water and Ice

Picture of Water and Ice

Fill the bucket with water till under the holes.

Add ice for a better effect. Wet the cloth all the way so it can act as a wick that keeps drawing water.

Put on the lid and plug it in to a USB plug and let the magic commence.

It takes a while to cool a whole room, but it lowers my room average from 25C" to 16C' threw the day.

A great thing is you can run it of as little as 6V so a addition of a small solar panel makes it a camping addition to make your friends jealous.



PS. Show me your variasions and final build and ask for any support.



: D

Technovation (author)2016-04-05

Not very effective in humid areas

Humidity IS the key. I'm in New Mexico (USA) and swamp coolers work great because our relative humidity is usually less than 20%, but the just don't work with 65 or 70% humidity like The east coast or the south. The water won't evaporate (much) which is where the cooling comes from, just as sweating cools down your body. (Melting ice will, of course cool things down).

Also, adding your evaporated water to a closed room raises the humidity, so the longer it runs, the less it cools. Our coolers are mounted outside and use all outside (dry) air as intake, and blow the cool, humidified air into the house. A 20 degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature (or so) is about all you can get out of them. The motors/fans do live in that high humidity, but do fairly well over time, but they do get a bit rusty.

JuanH60 (author)Brucesmith502016-08-02

Are these coolers more effective if the air is being PUSHED into the bucket and out through the pads?

JuanH60 (author)2016-08-02

Are these coolers more effective if the air is being PUSHED into the bucket and out through the pads?

handychicx made it! (author)2016-03-14

I used a 12v computer fan mounted on the lid and a swamp cooler blanket that i put inside the bucket.

JasonN61 (author)handychicx2016-05-13

Did you have your pc fan push the air through the bucket, or pull it through?

handychicx (author)JasonN612016-05-13

Here is a link to the plans I used to make my bucket swamp cooler.
To answer your initial question, the fan blows out of the bucket.

Bean_MD (author)handychicx2016-03-14

Wow. It looks great. I could not find that blanket here in small format. It had to be 10m x 10m. The duckt on the top gives a more professional look to it

CindiK1 (author)2016-03-24

Very COOL Indeed... no pun intended. ... well, maybe a tad bit of a Pun ^_^

rfletcher2 (author)2016-03-17

I am going to do this but one difference battery powered fan everything else for the most part will be roughly the same

rfletcher2 (author)rfletcher22016-03-17

I have air conditioners but they cost a furtune to run and fans alone don't work this should do fine

PieroG (author)2016-03-17

Not "threw".
"Threw" is the past tense of the verb "To Throw"

PieroG (author)2016-03-17

Not "threw".
"Threw" is the past tense of the verb "To Throw"

Mark 42 (author)2016-03-16

Swamp coolers work well in low humidity (e.g. in the desert), but not so good in high humidity.

A small one is worth experimenting with.

Just be aware, if you put ice in it, more heat was made to freeze that ice than the heat you will extract from the room with the ice - so if your freezer is not outdoors, or in the basement, you may end up warming your house in the long run.

RossT15 (author)2016-03-14

The only problem I see with this is the increased humidity from the evaporating water, this might give you condensation problems or even mold.

During the day 25 is fine outdoors for most people, indoors it is to warm, and at night indoors is is much to hot, so I can see why.

I have an idea to improve this design, I'll get back to you when I have tried it.

Thank you

Bean_MD (author)RossT152016-03-14

Please. This design has alot of flaws i can't adres now or i don't have the knowledge to adres

Stancolorado (author)Bean_MD2016-03-15

Then maybe you have no need to make a negative comment.

dbess (author)Bean_MD2016-03-14

not really just needs a few tweaks is all , add a small aquarium pump, use some small cooler pads cut down to fit and a spider to wet the pads .

dbess (author)2016-03-14

nice build why not use some small cooler pads? also add a small aquarium pump hook it to a spider and that would make a bad a$$ cooler..

nmohammad (author)2016-03-14

Deserved a vote for entertaining build process :)

The47thWarrior (author)2016-03-13

Got the same idea last summer!
Mine has different exits for fresh air and it's made with 2 buckets for better insulation.
Soon I'll post the instructable.
Nice job!

Bean_MD (author)The47thWarrior2016-03-14

I also made a larger 2 bucket one. Did the same job. I tinkered a few times on the design and using duckts and alot sealant I got it to cool air without killing my fan. Share the link to your instructable please. I'll support it and maby just build yours and donate mine

The47thWarrior (author)Bean_MD2016-03-14

I will be pleased to share it as soon as I can. I'm already writing the instructable.

gadsden (author)2016-03-14

Great project and instructable! Moving air is certainly the key in swampy places - I'm in Florida so I speak with authority on that point. There's plenty of moisture here but little air movement in densely populated areas - too many buildings blocking air pathways. However, in dry places you have to provide both moisture and moving air. In the 1940s my mom cooled her home in New Mexico using fans and hanging up thin curtains she kept soaked with water. This was before air conditioning (horrible time!). Even without electricity the water-soaked curtain idea was very helpful if you had breezes from outside.

Again, compliments on your work and sharing.

Bean_MD (author)gadsden2016-03-14

Thank you, I actually got this idea for the wet curtains that my grandmother did on the farm. I just modernised it.

ILykMakin (author)2016-03-13

You'll get faster results if you put it up on a table or shelf further from floor, nearer to ceiling, drawing in warmer air vs cooler: More convection.

Weird thing: I think stuff like this proves we share a hive mind of some sort. I rigged up this nearly identical unit but with a USB fan a few years back! Even used a black bucket because: Vader. :D

Bean_MD (author)ILykMakin2016-03-14

I read your comment, did research on hive mind, replying. I find it weird aswell. After I posted the instructable, i actually had to place it on a table to clean the work floor. And it made a huge difference. Sadly the space where it stood need to be occupied differently. I made a few stickers for this black bucket to make it more Vader.

jbillen (author)2016-03-13

Very nice project. I may have to try this out.
Please allow me to correct a couple of words for you though.
Threw means the same as toss, " I threw the ball". The correct word would be either "through" or "thru". Both are acceptable.
The other word is "lose" which means is the opposite of winning. The correct word is "loose".
I hope this doesn't offend you. You did a beautiful job with this project.

Bean_MD (author)jbillen2016-03-14

No offense taken. As you could have seem, English is not my native tongue, neither my second language. If i may, can I run my next project by you for a language check.

mid_life_crisis (author)jbillen2016-03-14

He used "lose" correctly at least once, as in "to misplace". In proper writing, "thru" is frowned upon. It is acceptable only as shorthand, as in "I was in a hurry so I used the drive-thru." "Through" is the appropriate choice.

To the original poster; nice job. I need to make one of these for my screened-in back porch. I wonder if a series of small holes on one side would make the thing kind of "directional" so it could throw cool air directly at someone. That would probably take a stronger fan though. I just had an image of this with a garden hose connected to it and fitted with a toilet tank float valve for level control. With the fan plugged into the wall, I could chill on the back porch for hours.

michael.kalbow (author)2016-03-13

I have a questions. Is the fan blowing air into the bucket or pulling air out of the bucket?

Pulling air out would mean drawing moist air across an electric motor that isn't designed for moist environments. That would make me a little nervous.

Bean_MD (author)michael.kalbow2016-03-13

It can be up to you. I tried both and they work great. I have found that blowing into the bucket with one of my cooling clothes lifted blows more air out. Sadly you'll need to add a fountain pump to keep that cloth wet aswell. But modify it and compare results. My plan was actually to add a duckt and use my large room fan instead of the small usb fan. But it did dampened the fans power if I enclosed it. I am currently using my Aircraft engineering knowledge to create n ducked turbine to move air faster and more efficient.

I'll love to receive feedback on your modification to this design.

W Bean

discostu956 (author)2016-03-06

That's a fairly impressive drop in temp. Thanks for sharing. I don't want to be "that guy", but is 25°c actually hot? Would be a mild summer day where I am, and I'm not in a hot part of the world. 16° would almost have me shivering under the blankets!!

Now if only I could find a similarly efficient method for heating our house over winter

Bean_MD (author)discostu9562016-03-07

That is in my room. The highest I've measured outside was 47C°
I have a idea for heating. Black pipe on the roof and a few radiators in the rooms wil heat up the house. My house on the farm has no electricity and strangely I like it that way. This is one of the ways we heat it in the winter. Thanks for the comment

discostu956 (author)Bean_MD2016-03-07

Cheers. 47 is certainly more like it! That would me your blessed with no tv in that house then.....I can only dream! I do have dreams along the black pipe idea, but the problem here ( and the reason our place is so cold in winter) is because we get no direct sun on our house at all over winter due to the trees on a slope above or place on northern side (southern hemisphere-just south of Sydney, Australia). The sun hits the very front of our roof for about a metre, so I thought of a raised up heat collector, maybe water that gets pumped around the house slowly to radiators. I would much prefer the opposite of what you made here!

Bean_MD (author)discostu9562016-03-09

I am busy with a consent of a usb room heater. It is currently in the planning, tinkering and design stages, but will be up and operational before winter gets a hold of us. If you have any ideas please inbox me, a addon to a idea is welcome.

RossT15 (author)Bean_MD2016-03-14

You can get little USB elements like in an electric kettle, that you just put in a cup to heat up the contents, if you could incorporate that into the bucket to warm the liquid, that might then give you a starting point, but it will increase the humidity in the room, using the current design. But I have ideas on that.

lwoodsum (author)discostu9562016-03-13

If you want efficient heating look into rocket mass heaters. Burns 75 to 90% less "wood" product. Depending on your location you COULD heat your home all winter with either your junk mail or fallen limbs from trees in your own yard.

discostu956 (author)lwoodsum2016-03-13

Cheers for that. I had looked at the rocket mass heaters, but they were so large. I never even considered scaling one right down in size due to its efficiency. A cold winters night here would be down to about 4°c lowest of low normally. Had a little bit of ice on my car once, and I measured 2°c once, but they are extremes. So shouldn't need to much to increase the comfort of the house. I'll look into scaling one of those down, thanks for the help

mrsnone (author)2016-03-13

I have seen these where you can just use a styrafoam cooler if you don't have a bucket available .. both holes on the lid.. fan on one end and the outlet on the other end using a curved elbow pvc pipe.

ChasS2 (author)2016-03-13

good job finally a project I'm capable of doing

SidA2 (author)2016-03-08

That's really smart to take advantage of evaporating water to cool off the water. What if you made an exhaust and a heat exchanger so that the humidity in your house or camping tent doesn't increase.

Bean_MD (author)SidA22016-03-08

I did really not think of that. I'll tinker my design a bit and upload a upgrade

ColleenF2 (author)2016-03-07

the USB fam is brilliant. you could use a phone recharge pack if your power was out, or maybe take it outside to create a cool spot on a patio. Or cool down a tent or a craft fair covered booth.

Bean_MD (author)ColleenF22016-03-07

I actually tried the phone power bank. Sadly it dit not last long. I have a solar panel that runs it. Thanks for the ideas on booth. Doing that tonight

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-03-06

Nice DIY cooling system.

Thank you.

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