Air Conditoned Tent for Those Hot Months

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Intro: Air Conditoned Tent for Those Hot Months

Well for those who live in areas where it is almost impossible to tent camp during the hot part of the year this is should be a welcome cost efficient solution. Hot camping is no fun, epically in places where it does not cool down very much at night and is humid like Florida. So I was looking for ways to air condition my tent since I have a 5000btu window mounted air conditioner at my disposal. After looking I found 2 methods which look very promising. The AC Boot (http://acboot.com/) and this nice creation by Andrew Davis (http://www.byandrewdavis.com/2009/06/air-conditioning-for-you-tent-camping-in-the-heat) I decided to build something like the ac boot since I needed to travel light and didn't want to bring along all that ducting required for the second idea.

Step 1: Gather Materials

- 1 Tent (Cost: free hopefully)
- 5000 BTU Window Mounted Air Conditioner Arpox. (Cost Variable)
- 2 Yards of Ripstop Nylon which will be more than enough (Cost: Aprox. $14.00)
- 1 Bottle of Fabric Glue INSERT NAME OF GLUE HERE (Cost: $6-10)
- Bungee Cords (Cost: $3-5)

Note: Sundays a lot of the craft stores have 40% off coupons which can save you some money on the glue or fabric.

Links:
http://www.joann.com/joann/catalog.jsp?CATID=cat3071&PRODID=xprd560961
http://www.beacon1.com/cgfab.html

Step 2: General Plan

First measure the size of the air conditioner, and then apply this to the tent and ripstop fabric with a marker. Use spray on glue or Beacon fabric glue to apply the re enforcing fabric to the outside of the tent. Once done with outside the ducting part of the project needs to be created by measuring the size of the air conditioner unit and leaving a few extra inches on that end for easy fitment. On the other end the duct will need to fit the size of the hole which has been reinforced already and the duct will be adhered to the inside of the tent (see diagram below).

The black is where the hole will be for the ac, the white is the duct which is cut out to fit to the tent. The tent is the gray part while the red will be a piece of fabric like on the outside to reinforce over the top of the duct connection point.

EDIT: After using the unit sticking the A/C unit so it was in the tent was better than having the connecting tube, better flow of air.

Step 3: First Step

Clean the tent if it has been sitting around, the glue will work much better on a clean surface water and a rag will work good.

Then you need to select an area where you want to put the A/C unit, you need to take into account how high up the unit will be off the ground and not to have to cut through the lower tarp like moisture barrier. I have some simple diagrams below to help in choosing a proper location.

Measure the size of the A/C unit so that you can have it fit when you cut out your reinforcing material and the tube to connect the A/C.

Step 4: Trace and Cut Material

Apply the sizes which you took of the A/C unit to the ripstop fabric with a marker. Use spray on glue or Beacon FABRI-TAC glue to apply the re enforcing fabric to the outside of the tent. NOTE: its easier to collapse the tent and pull it taught so there are less wrinkles when gluing the fabric on, I used some heavy lead I had laying around. This reinforcement will help so when you cut the hole out of the tent it will not start to rip the tent (thus the name Ripstop)

Once the fabric is applied and the glue is set well you can cut out the tent material in the middle of the reinforcer.

Now you could put the Ac unit in the hole if the fit is right, Mine fit perfectly with small gaps around the bottom and it cooled off the tent very fast, the OAT (Outside Air Temperature) Was approx. 89 F and the inside was below 75F within 2 Minutes.

The next step we start to build the A/C tunnel.

Step 5: Creating the Connecting Tube

Ok so you need to measure the distance around the A/C unit at its longest points so the tunnel will fit around the unit without ripping. My Unit was About 64 Inches around, So i had about 66-70 inches for the circumference of the tunnel fabric. It is up to you for the length of the tunnel but longer will only make it easier to cut down or just fold over later. Mine was more than enough so I folded it back a few times to make it shorter.

Make sure when cutting and measuring the fabric for the tunnel to account for a few inches of overlap when you glue the tube together. 2 to 3 inches should be more than enough overlap to make a strong bond, press and make sure the glue does not bond to the bottom part of the tube.

Now you need to measure the 4 corners in the hole of the tent and apply them to the tunnel to make flaps to connect to the tent. I used about 3 to 4 inches of flap length to secure the tunnel to the tent.

Once everything is done you can use bungee cords to secure the tunnel to the A/C unit and then roll the tunnel up to fit better, the tunnel should be stretched so it does not sag and reduce air flow but do not pull too tight.

EDIT: Once again the tube could be shorter since I ended up having the actual A/C unit poking into the tent (see picture).

Step 6: Testing

Well i'm leaving for the Florida Keys tomorrow for 5 nights and last few times I was tent camping there over the summer it was hell at night sweating and waking up multiple times because of the humidity and the heat. So I will add pictures and info on how the tent held up.

Update, Back from Bahia Honda State park and it worked really great, ended up not using the tunnel like previously intended but the tunnel was more of a weather shroud which kept water out and cold air in. Condensation which drips out of the unit needs to be taken in account ours just dripped off the side which was next to the tent, it never got anything important wet. The A/C really made sleeping comfortable, it got pretty cold and turned the temp down a lot of the time, and it kept us in bed longer than we wanted to since it was so nice in there. But once the sun was directly on the tent in the afternoon it was impossible to cool down, so if you want to use it during the day I suggest getting a tarp over the tent which I saw a lot of others around us do. There were many other people who had Air Conditioners in their tent with duct tape. They used wood stands for their units like 2x4's and plywood any of those would seem fitting as long as the weight is not too far to one side.

I'm looking forward to tent camping in the summer again now, and I hope that this is helpful to some of you even though the summer is winding down already.

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    83 Discussions

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    farna

    2 months ago

    Remember, there is a "be nice" policy for posts. If you don't like the idea simply don't post.

    The comments about no insulation so the AC runs a lot are valid. A tarp over the tent will help, and if you can set it so there is a space between the tent and tarp it will be better. In the USAF we air condition tensts in the desert. The tents have a stand-off top (we called it a "fly") that is supported 12" away from the tent top. That will drop the inside temp about 10 degrees in the daytime. The tents also have a liner which is a white cotton-like (some blend) material that ties up inside the rigd tent frame with about a 6" air space between the tent walls and inside. That acts like a layer of insulation. These were 16' x 32' TEMPER tents. They also had a fabric duct that ran down the center to more evenly distribute cool (and warm) air over the length.


    I can see using the AC as you have it at night only, turned down just enough to be cool enough to sleep. Trying to use it in a hot climate in the day time for very long wouldn't be a good idea unless you were set up for it. A pop-up over the tent, shading it, would help, or a really shady camp site. The ul;timate would be a tent within a tent -- the inner just a bit smaller than the outer. That would improve the temp inside even without the AC -- either a pop-up/shade or the inner tent (or both) would help.

    Since you have a tent (preferably tents) set up this way you may as well get a small heat/cool unit so it can be used year round, though a small ceramic heater or electric blanket would be more efficient for the winter.

    2 replies
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    winneremerald12farna

    Reply 7 weeks ago

    Somebody listen to this guy! Or girl. I mean, there's even an Instructable on "Being Nice"

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    bgreen3farna

    Reply 2 months ago

    I'm not being rude to the OP when I say it's a bad idea. In a time of strained resources and environmental concerns, some ideas are more ethical and well thought out than others. This idea is not "nice" to the environment, and that matters more than the pretense of niceties and saccharine compliments from one maker to another. This is a bad. If you want AC in a portable structure, look up the hexayurt. It uses rigid, reflective foam board insulation. Not fabric that is 0.2mm thick.

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    zmatt

    2 months ago

    This is not something to be used long term. It’s just for a few hours a night for a couple days. If you guys are really concerned about the amount of electricity that this uses compared to just about every other thing you use/consume in life then you are ignorant. Please refrain from posting more “eco” concerns.

    1 reply
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    bgreen3

    2 months ago

    This is a horrible idea. Very environmentally unfriendly. You have zero insulation, so you are essentially trying to air condition the outdoors. And how do you power it? A generator running nonstop?? Seriously, get a camper or stop pretending to camp. I would hate have someone with this setup as my campsite neighbor. If you love the outdoors, you should care about your carbon footprint and this is insanely inefficient.

    Get a fan instead.

    6 replies
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    winneremerald12bgreen3

    Reply 2 months ago

    But a fan will just make the air inside the tent circulate, and there’s no freshness to it.

    Still, I agree with you.

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    bgreen3winneremerald12

    Reply 2 months ago

    Unless air is being exchanged with the outside, there's no "freshness" to AC either. A fan makes a huge difference in cooling, amplifying the evaporative effect of sweat. Additionally, turbulence on the boundary layer of a surface increases thermal transfer by convection. FWIW- I design and engineer solar/thermal machinery. My interests are in the use of energy, specifically clean energy and efficiency and this is the opposite of both.

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    rudolphbgreen3

    Reply 2 months ago

    Of course, one could argue that using a camper is also "pretending to camp."

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    bgreen3rudolph

    Reply 2 months ago

    Absolutely. But at least it's an somewhat insulated box, not a piece of cloth less than .2mm thick. I understand some people have medical conditions or little kids but still want to be close to the nature that "glamping" provides. Using AC in a tent makes zero sense. Might as well place on on the beach in open air and just let it blow on you, knowing that somewhere in the distance coal is being burnt to give that person comfort.

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    Mollysmama

    Reply 2 months ago

    Continuation of comment......Attitude.
    The second one was definitely yours. If you want to get a point across, leave out your better than attitude.
    Make a wonderful day!

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    zmattve2vfd

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, Almost all of the tent sites in Florida have power so its not a problem but some states aren't like that. A generator would do the job but I think that might be too much work for the A/C.

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    JakeBlantonmikedoth

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Sleep with foam earplugs... They will cut down about 29-31 dB of the noise... They're also really good if the other people in your tent tend to snore rather loudly... The only drawback is that you might not be able to hear your alarm clock... But one could argue that on vacation, you shouldn't be letting your life be controlled by an alarm clock... :)

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    nic.bryan.73JakeBlanton

    Reply 2 months ago

    My parents are of the opinion that camping is an adventure, not a vacation, so it's all scheduled. Which makes sleeping on my phone a viable option with earplugs.

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    zmattmikedoth

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Heh its completely worth it in this heat and humidity, plus its not that noisy if you get a somewhat good unit. Its still a cheap way to camp comfortably in the summer.

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    tippmannphreakzmatt

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yup. I live in NorthWest Florida and I feel your pain. Waking up soaking wet from sweat sucks!