Picture of beer cooler air conditioner

A portable air conditioner made with 12 volt fans, a Styrofoam beer cooler, an air vent, and frozen beer, that will work on USB, AC adapter for an electrical outlet, or a 12V car lighter.

I made this portable air conditioner to use at a craft fair that I go to every Saturday to sell my art.

The only power available to me at the fair is either through my laptop, through rechargeable batteries, or through my cars 12 volt lighter and it is hot as Hades, so I hacked this together, since I always have the cooler full of beer with me anyway.

If you aren't a beer drinker, or find yourself in a situation where you can't freeze your beer, you can also use bagged ice.

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of materials

You will need one Styrofoam beer cooler that you can get at the Dollar General Store for $2.50, an air vent that can be bought at a goodwill or thrift store for $1, three computer cooling fans that can run off USB or an AC adapter that can be bought at Wal*mart for $4 each, and a 12 pack of beer in aluminum cans.

Altogether, this project cost me about 30 bucks in start-up funds, including the beer, or about 35 bucks including beer and ice.

If you are using only ice, your cost will be about 20 bucks.

Step 2: Cut holes for fans

Picture of Cut holes for fans

Lay the fans down on top of the cooler lid and trace circles around them. Use a knife to cut the circles.

Once the circles are cut, lay the fans down into the holes.

I had to use a small amount of duct tape to reinforce around the cut circles.

The fans should be facing out and blowing air out. They are going to draw the air in through the vent and over the beer cans/ice and then out the top, instead of pushing the air over the cans.

After numerous tests, I found that the air was much cooler and more powerful if the fans drew the air through the vent and over the cans, rather than push it over the cans and out the vent.

Triclaw1 year ago

try putting beer in then ice and salt the ice. it will be super cold longer

sweetrocketsky (author)  Triclaw1 year ago

Good suggestion, as far as increasing the cooling factor, but I put salt in the ice once and it got all over the cans and then in my mouth when I drank the beer. Yuck. I actually used this without ice for less condensation. My craft fair only lasts three hours.