DIY Bucket A/C





Introduction: DIY Bucket A/C

About: We're homeowners sharing our DIY adventures as we learn to maintain, improve, decorate, and use tech in our homes.

Like us, you’ve probably had this project pinned for some time. Anyone who has ever worked in a hot garage, in summer, in Florida knows that even a tiny hint of cold air is welcome relief! I (Vicki) wanted to try the project but didn’t want to go to the expense and effort of ordering the needed styrofoam bucket liner that the project required.

Step 1: Watch Video

Step 2: Find an Insulated Container

I found this insulated vertical drink cooler that was perfect for only $2 at a yard sale. I already had the needed plastic tubing, fan, and hole saw cutter so the expense for this project was minimal!

Step 3: Gather Materials

  • Insulated bucket (this was picked up from a yard sale for $2)
  • Plastic or PVC tubing
  • Tape to seal tubing (optional)
  • Fan to fit top of bucket
  • Jugs of ice

Step 4: Drill Three Holes in Bucket

Using a hole saw bit, drill three holes to match the diameter of the plastic tubing you are using near the bottom of the bucket. Mine was 2 1/8”. In hindsight I should have drilled mine closer to the bottom. (I will plug the existing holes and re-drill them.) The theory for holes closer to the bottom is that cold air settles to the bottom. That way the fan is blowing out the coldest air possible. Science—go figure!

Step 5: Cut Three Sections of PVC Pipe

Cut three sections of plastic tubing or PVC pipe about 6" long. Place tubes into bucket. I did not secure mine, but they can be sealed into place with any number of products including wrap and seal tape.

Step 6: Add Frozen Jugs of Water and Place Fan on Top

Place frozen jugs of water into the bucket, place fan on top, turn on and enjoy the tiniest amount of cold air ever!

This really doesn’t produce any discernible cooling of the surrounding area but if you are right in front of the tube vents, there is a noticeable cooling. I wouldn’t say this is a fail as any sort of cooling in Florida is blessed relief but I wouldn’t count on a DIY bucket A/C to keep you cool.

This was a fun project/experiment of a pinned project.

For more details visit:



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    23 Discussions


    1 year ago

    If the freezer you're using to freeze the ice is in the house, be aware that you will be increasing the load of the house AC due to the freezer working harder. And if that freezer is in the garage with you, then you will be making the garage hotter. Just for your consideration.

    Try reversing the air and loading it with as many frozen jugs as you can. Run it for a while in a closed room. You might be surprised by the result. Diy is an ongoing experiment. I would call this a sucess. Now time to make it better!

    1 reply

    Um...this isn't an air CONDITIONER.

    This adds humidity to the air! This is a DIY humidifier.

    Air conditioners extract moisture, condense it and let it drip outside.

    2 replies

    air CONDITIONER - A mechanical device that change the condition (temperature, humidity, etc) of the air from its present state.

    So yes, it is an air conditioner :-)

    Time to learn something. This is an air conditioner. It's just a really simple one. Since it uses water frozen in jugs it will actually remove small amounts I water from the air in the form of condensation on the bottles. Even if you had bare ice in there it would still technically be an air conditioner.

    Ever wonder what a "ton of air conditioning" is? It turns out that it is the amount of thermal energy absorbed by one ton of ice transitioning from a solid to a liquid. The latent heat of fusion if you remember your High School science. Anyway, I live in Florida and agree that sometimes a cool dry breeze of air can be very refreshing.

    Great idea and smart project!....

    People remember NEVER EVER use dry ice. It is CO2 and will kill you. other than that these work real good especially if your camping.

    Was that some kind of cooler or something that you bought? I saw it with the Pepsi logo but I'm not sure I've seen anything like that around.

    1 reply

    2 years ago

    I love it. Sounds a fun project to try.

    1 reply

    Was going to say "cool idea", because it is! So
    you're making an evaporative air conditioner.

    1 reply

    If you were to put a divider in the cooler from the top to about 4/5 of the way down to separate the outlets from the ice, then blow air only over the section with the ice in it, the blown in air would have to pass over the ice before exiting the outlets. That way the air couldn't escape before it passed over the ice, and the divider would slow down the airflow a little bit allowing the warmer air to soak up the coldness of the ice a little bit more.

    It would be fun to also play around with adding some water in the bottom along with a small water pump like used in an aquarium with a little $10 radiator aka heat exchanger. Shoot, for $20 and a little bit of play around time, that could actually put out a fair amount of cool air!

    1 reply

    I would suggest slowing the air flow, if it passes to quickly over the ice there simply isn't enough time to absorb the heat.
    Also causing the air to flow over a greater surface area will help.
    Small cubes or baffles that force the air to remain in contact with the ice longer.