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.
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.